Notable Leap Day stats and events across major sports

ByAnthony Gharib ESPN logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024

One of the oddest details in the Gregorian calendar occurs on Thursday -- leap day, an extra day that occurs at the end of February every four years.

There are 50 current and former players across the NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL/WNBA that were born on leap day, notably Tyrese Haliburton (NBA), Eric Kendricks (NFL), Darryl Williams (MLB) and Simon Gagne (NHL), according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Of the nine NHL players born on leap day, Gagne became the only player to score on his birthday, in 2004.

Here are more fun facts and notable events from sports on Feb. 29:

6:There have been six players to score at least 40 points, the most recent being Russell Westbrook in 2020. Oscar Robertson's 43 points in 1964 is the highest total -- he also had 10 rebounds and assists for his 22nd triple double that season. Paul Arizin did it first in 1950.

In NBA history, eight players have scored exactly 29 points on leap day, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Derrick Rose and Rodney Stuckey each did it last, in 2012.

7: Hat tricks don't come easy in the NHL, but on leap day in 2016, there were two, from Patric Hornqvist and Brayden Schenn, pushing the all-time total to seven. Jimmy Ward had the first, in 1936.

In terms of championships during a leap year, the New York Yankees have the most across the NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL, with seven. The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Montreal Canadiens are tied for second with six.

.818: The Celtics, who do not play on Thursday, are the winningest NBA team on leap day, with a 9-2 record and .818 win percentage.

The Golden State Warriors are second with eight and the Lakers are third with nine -- both teams play tonight.

Boston (1948-1980) and thePhiladelphia 76ers (1976-1992) hold the longest leap day winning streaks in NBA history at five games, per Elias.

The Toronto Maple Leafs won five games on leap day between 1936-1964 and hold the record for the longest NHL win streak on the 29th. The San Jose Sharks have the longest active NHL streak at four games -- they face the Anaheim Ducks at home on Thursday.

1996: Two days after being traded from the Los Angeles Kings, Wayne Gretzky made his debut for the St. Louis Blues on leap day in 1996. Unsurprisingly, the Great One scored a goal in the game against the Vancouver Canucks.

1980: Gordie Howe's 800th career goal came on February 29, 1980.

At 51 years old, the Detroit Red Wings icon became the first player to reach that figure, and remains the only player to score a goal at 50 years or older. Gretzky (894) and Alex Ovechkin (838) are the only two other players to score 800 career goals.

1972:After another All-Star season, Hank Aaron agreed to a three-year, $600,000 contract to resign with the Atlanta Braves. At the time, Aaron became the highest-paid player in the MLB.

For context, Shohei Ohtani's 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason made him the highest-paid player in North American sports history.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this article.