Players With the Best Final Seasons in Sports History

Source: Phillip MacCallum / Getty Images

10. Ken Dryden
> Season: 1978-79
> Age: 31
> Position, team: Goaltender, Montreal Canadiens
> Key stat: 2.30 goals against average, Vezina Trophy

Ken Dryden was at times unbeatable in his final season as goalie for the Montreal Canadiens. He led the NHL with a 2.30 goals against average and recorded a league-high five shutouts that season. Dryden’s great netminding continued into the playoffs, where he helped the Habs lift their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. Dryden was also honored with the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie.

Source: Sport Magazine Archives / Wikimedia Commons

9. Dave DeBusschere
> Season: 1973-74
> Age: 33
> Position, team: Power forward, New York Knicks
> Key stat: 46.1% shooting, 18.1 points per game

New York Knicks legend Dave DeBusschere posted his best shooting season in his final season. His 46.1% field goal percentage and 75.6% free throw percentage were both career highs. His 18.1 points per game fell just short of a career high.

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8. Jean Beliveau
> Season: 1970-71
> Age: 39
> Position, team: Center, Montreal Canadiens
> Key stat: 76 points, Stanley Cup

In his 20th season, Jean Beliveau was able to have one of the best of his Hall of Fame career. He tallied 76 points in 70 games — the most he had played in 15 years. Beliveau registered 51 assists, his highest total in a decade. He was able to rely on his experience in the playoffs, notching an NHL-high 16 assists to propel the Canadiens to another Stanley Cup — Beliveau’s 10th.

Source: Malcolm W. Emmons / The Sporting News Archives / Wikimedia Commons

7. Jim Brown
> Season: 1965
> Age: 29
> Position, team: Fullback, Cleveland Browns
> Key stat: 1,544 rush yards, 17 touchdowns

Jim Brown led the NFL in just about every rushing category possible in his final season in 1965 — yards, attempts, touchdowns, yards per game, and more. Brown likely could have kept dominating NFL defenses, but he decided to go into acting and starred in “The Dirty Dozen” in the offseason. After Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell began fining him for missing training camp, Brown retired.

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6. David Ortiz
> Season: 2016
> Age: 40
> Position, team: Designated hitter, Boston Red Sox
> Key stat: .315 batting average, 127 RBIs

It’s rare that pro athletes play into their 40s. But having a player like David Ortiz being arguably the best hitter in the majors at that age is unprecedented. Big Papi led the AL with 48 doubles, 127 RBIs, and a 1.021 OPS. No batter has ever put together a better final season.