Blog Entry

The Ranking of the Greatest New York Athletes

Posted on: March 19, 2011 12:15 am
According to a Sienna College Institute Sports Poll that was released on Wednesday, Derek Jeter was named the greatest New York Athlete of all-time. Jeter accounted for 14 percent of the vote while Babe Ruth had 11 percent. Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle tied for third while Joe Namath finished 5th. In addition, according to the report, 30 percent of those polled said that the Yankees were their favorite team.

As good as Jeter has been throughout his career, it's hard to believe that the majority of people out there consider him the greatest New  York Athlete of all-time. Part of the reason may have something to do with not being able to watch others play. While Ruth's name is legend, the majority of the people living in the world today never saw the Sultan of Swing play in person. The same holds true for Joe DiMaggio.

As far as Mantle is concerned, that is another story. In Mantle's 18 seasons in Major League Baseball, he led the Yankees to 12 World Series appearances and 7 World Series Rings. Mantle also had 3 MVP Awards to go along with 16 all-star appearances. There really shouldn't be any question as to who the better player is.

Looking to Broadway Joe, the only non-baseball player mentioned, Namath was the heart and soul of New York football. It doesn't get any better than Namath guaranteeing victory before Super Bowl III and launching the AFL and the New York Jets into legitimacy.

Any other New York player, for any sport, didn't receive enough recognition to be noted in the report which is surprising. Certainly you would think Lou Gherig's name would pop into the conversation somewhere. 

However, even if we had to rank the five mentioned here, would Jeter be your pick as the greatest New York Athlete ever? He certainly wouldn't be mine.....

1. Babe Ruth, New York Yankees

Just as hard as it would be to imagine basketball without Michael Jordan, or boxing without Muhammad Ali, it would be just as hard to imagine baseball without "the Babe". Ruth was a legend in every sense of the word. He was one of the first five players ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ruth helped the Yankees to seven world series, in which they won four of them. His career 714 home runs stood a record for 39 years and his career .342 batting average is 10th best all time.  Even to this day, it seems as if as soon as a kid learns what baseball is, they know everything there is to know about the great Bambino regardless of where they live. 

2. Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees

Joe Dimaggio is considered one of the best all-around players of all-time. A 3 time MVP and 13 time All-Star, DiMaggio was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. The "Yankee Clipper" is the only player in baseball history to be elected to the All-Star game in every single season he played. DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak in 1941 is one of the baseball records that is likely to never be broken, not even by the Yankees all-time hit leader Derek Jeter.

3. Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees

Mickey Mantle was one of the most feared hitters to ever play the game. He might be the best switch hitting player to ever play the game and certainly the one with the most power. He led the Yankees to 12 world series in his 14 years, something that simply cannot be taken lightly. With that, Mantle still to this day owns the record for the most HR, RBI, Base on Balls, and strikeouts in World Series play. Mantle is also one of the few players in history to win the triple crown, as he did during his 1956 season. While we've seen some fantastic plays from Derek Jeter in his career, there really hasn't been an MVP like season that stood out.

4. Joe Namath, New York Jets

When it comes to New York football, there is no bigger name than Joe Namath. "Broadway Joe" is the reason that the AFL survived contraction and was able to merge. While there have been several other good football players play on New York teams, the spotlight in football has, and will always fall on the quarterback. Especially the one's that guarantee victory. While it might be unfair to compare players of different sports, it can at least be said that Namath was one of the most transformational figures in his league. For that reason alone, his greatest rises above Jeter.

5. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

This post wasn't made to discredit what Jeter has accomplished throughout his career. Simply put, Jeter is a great baseball player in every sense of the word. However, to call him the greatest New York athlete ever is a HUGE stretch, especially considering the many greats that have put on a Yankee uniform. Throughout his career, Jeter has led the Yankees to 7 world series appearances (5 victories) and has been an 11 time All-Star. He is one of the very few players around in the modern era that has played for the same team throughout his career and it will be fun watching Jeter this season as he pursues his 3,000th career hit. But let's not glorify the great moments today without remembering those of our past. For it is because Jeter is the most relevant player today that he is considered the greatest and the report doesn't seem to be very objective.
Category: MLB
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