- Ten-time All-Star
- 1995 World Series MVP
- Two-time Cy Young Award Winner (1991 and 1998)
- Five-time NL wins leader
Tom was also a superb hockey player as a youngster. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL amateur draft.
Mr. October was great; Jerry West, John Riggins and Willie McCovey were real good; Hank Aaron was the BEST professional athlete to wear the number 44. Hank, of course, is the all-time MLB leader in home runs with 755, since 1974 (as of 2006.) Some more of Hank's qualifying statistics:
Did you know.....Hank's brother Tommie played professional baseball for the Braves as well? (photo courtesy wikipedia.com)
Eck, the Hall of Fame Major League Baseball pitcher, is our pick for the best athlete to wear number 43. Dennis Eckersley was primarily a starting pitcher with the Indians, Red Sox and Cubs from 1975 through 1986. It was in 1987 with the Oakland Athletics, that Eck started compiling his impressive career saves total of 390 as a reliever (three of these were between the years of 1975 and 1986.)
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, "Dennis Eckersley blazed a unique path as a big league pitcher, one that most likely will never be repeated. He began as a young hotshot starting pitcher, mowing down hitters with a blazing fastball. But years later, when it looked as if he was just another washed up hurler just happy to be hanging on, he was transformed, thanks to his pinpoint control, into the game's top reliever. This success story ends with the game's ultimate happy ending - election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame." Read the full Hall of Fame baseball biography for Dennis Eckersley by clicking here:
MLB HOF Dennis Eckersley
Some of Eck's credentials:
Did you know......Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz are the only two pitchers in baseball history who have recorded both 20-win and 50-save seasons?
(photo courtesy of usatoday.com)
No question here. The man to break the color barrier in major league baseball is the best athlete to ever wear the number 42. The number 42 is now retired for every major league baseball team (with grandfathering for those players wearing the number 42 when the decision was made to retire it across baseball, i.e. Mariano Rivera,) because it was Jackie Robinson's uniform number. According to Henry Aaron on TIME.com's article about the most important people of the century, "He thrilled fans, shattered baseball's color barrier and changed the face of the nation." Other than breaking baseball's color barrier, here are Jackie's other creds:
Did you know.....Jackie played baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League? (photo courtesy of achievement.org)
This was an easy one. "Tom Terrific" is THE best to ever wear the number 41. The only player ever to be commemorated with a New York Mets cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Seaver made his mark with Amazin's in the 1960s and 1970s. (By the way, Seaver was elected to the Hall in 1992 with highest percentage of votes ever at 98.84%.) Seaver's creds:
Did you know......Tom struck out a record 10 consecutive batters in 1970? (photo courtesy baseballhalloffame.org)
"The Kansas Comet," Gale Sayers, is our pick for the best athlete to wear the number 40. Sayers was a running back with the Chicago Bears who some compare to Barry Sanders, and who many include in the list of top 5 running backs ever to grace the gridiron in the NFL. Injuries limited Sayers to a brief pro football career, from 1965 through 1971. Here are some of Gale's creds:
Did you know.....Gale wrote a biography of his playing career entitled "I Am Third," ? Get it by clicking the link in the post title.
(photo courtesy of sayers.com)
The three-time MVP and eight-time All-Star is our choice for the best professional athlete to ever wear the number 39. In a mere ten seasons for the Dodgers, Roy Campanella amassed 242 home-runs with a .276 batting average. Not too bad for an all-star caliber catcher. Campanella, who was the first catcher to break baseball's color barrier, was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. (photo courtesy of roycampanella.com)
An unpopular number with the athletes, 38 has been worn by few superb athletes. Of those that have chosen to wear 38, Curtis Montague Schilling is our choice for the best ever to don the number. Curt has pitched for several MLB teams in his career. He started with the Orioles, had a brief stay with the Astros, spent a majority of his career with the Phillies, and won MLB championships with both the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. Here are some of Curt's credentials for being the best athlete to wear the number 38 (through 2006):
Did you know.....Curt is a staunch advocate of ALS sufferers? (photo courtesy of fansedge.com)
The versatile 1948 Heisman Trophy winner from SMU, and Hall of Famer who played his entire career with the Detroit Lions is our choice for the best athlete to wear number 37. In 1950, the diminuitive (5'11", 173 lb.) Doak won the Rookie of the Year of the NFL, was all-NFL, and the scoring-champion of the NFL. Wow. Doak was all-NFL and a Pro Bowler in five of his short six-year career. Imagine if he continued to play longer. This guy was a stud. And he could do it all; throw, catch, intercept, kick...you name it, he did it. (photo courtesy profootballhof.com)
No we are not talking about the former ESPN anchor, although she is impressive also. The best athlete to wear the number 36 is former Phillie great and Hall of Fame pitcher, Robin Roberts. Some career average stats:
Some career season-high stats:
The guy was a pitching stud. (photo courtesy athlonsports.com)
The National Hockey League goalie, most notably for the Chicago Blackhawks, Tony Esposito is the best athlete to wear the number 35. Tony, who was one of the first to utilize the butterfly style of goaltending, was elected to the NHL Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1970, Mr. Esposito was the winner of both the Calder and Vezina trophies, as well as a runner up for the Hart trophy. That year he also set a modern day record with fifteen shutouts.
(image courtesy of wikipedia.com and nhl.com)
Sweetness comes in as the best athlete to wear number 34. He is in my opinion, the best running back to ever play football in the NFL. He could run through, over or around you. Sir Sweetness used his skills to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher from 1984 through 2002. (Emmitt Smith now holds that title.) Walter Payton was the NFL and Pro Bowl MVP in 1977. Walter was elected to the Pro Bowl nine times, and held the record for most consecutive years with 1,000 plus yards (10.)
The best athlete to wear number 33 is Tony Dorsett. The Pennsylvania native and Heisman trophy winner in 1976 was the 1st draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1977. He went on to be one of the best running backs in NFL History. He led the Cowboys in rushing yards and touchdowns in is rookie season, despite not starting until the 10th game of the season. He was a four time pro-bowler, playing in two Super Bowls and five NFC championship games. Tony rushed for 12, 739 yards in his career. Tony set a record for a touchdown from scrimmage with a 99-yard scoot against the Vikings during a Monday night game. (photo courtesy of allposters.com)
The best lefthander to ever pitch in the major leagues, Sandy Koufax, is the best athlete to wear the number 32. The Brooklyn and LA Dodger played a mere 12 seasons. In those 12 seasons, though, he proved to be a pitching behemoth. He won five consecutive era titles, posting a career 2.76 mark. He also won 25 or more games three times, was the NL MVP in 1963, won three Cy Young Awards (1963, '65 and '66,) and two World Series MVPs (1963 and '65.) 'Nuff said. (picture courtesy of quietfm.com)
The last player taken by the Dodgers in the 1988 draft, Mike Piazza, is the best athlete to wear the number 31. Although it is apparent that his talent wasn't forseen by the major leagues, Mike proved himself to be extremely proficient as a hitter. He is the best hitting catcher in major league history. Mike is the all-time leader in home runs by a catcher at 415 (as of 8/22/06,) and holds a .309 career batting average. Although Mike Piazza was well known as the MVP of the New York Mets, he has his most outstanding year with the LA Dodgers. In 1997, Mike belted a gaudy .362 to go along with 40 homers and 124 RBI. (photo courtesy of baseballXXL.de)
The career New Jersey Devil and top NHL goalie, Martin Brodeur is the pick for the best professional athlete to wear the number 30. With Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000 and 2003, Martin is recognized as one of the top, if not the top, goalie in the NHL. (He has also been Canada's starting goalie in recent international play.) Here are some of his creds:
Did you know.....Marty's dad, Denis, played in the 1956 Olympics for Canada as goaltender?
(photo courtesy of nhl.com)Brodeur
Another tough one. When I first thought about who number 29 would be, Eric Dickerson seemed like a lock. However....if you look at Rod Carew's career numbers, they are quite overwhelming. Here you go:
Did you know.....Rod Carew's number 29 has been retired by both the Twins and the Angels? (photo courtesy of southwestern.edu)
Sox fans (both Red and White,) will be dissapointed to know that Juan Marichal is the best athlete to ever wear the number 27. Of course, they'll be dissapointed because although Carlton Fisk was a strong consideration here, Marichal receives the honor. Known for his high leg kick pitch delivery, Juan broke into the bigs on July 19, 1960 with the San Francisco Giants. In his debut game, he shut out the Philadelphia Phillies with one hit. Some start. It was the beginning of a Hall of Fame career. His acheivements:
Did you know......Juan Marichal's nickname is the "Dominican Dandy?" (photo courtesy of latinosportslegends.com)
Another tough one. Billy Williams, of the Chicago Cubs, was a real consideration here, but the title of best athlete to wear the number 26 goes to the long-time Red Sox star, Wade Boggs. Boggs, a recent Hall of Famer, who retired with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and won the World Series with the Yankees, was one of the best pure hitters in the game. He started off of course with the Sox, and batted a mere .349 in his rookie season! This would have given him the batting title, but he was 121 at-bats short of the requirement. For an encore, in his sophmore season he hit .361 for the year. In fact, Boggs hit over .360 in four of his first seven seasons. He could flat out hit. Here's some statistical proof:
Did you know.....Wade was very superstitious and ate chicken before every game? (photo courtesy of psacard.com)
The "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays is the best athlete to wear the number 24. Willie was a true "five tool" athlete, hitting for average and power, throwing well, fielding well, and running the bases with speed. He was an athlete is every sense of the word, and it was evident in his statistics. Willie's athleticism with the Giants (and Mets for a short time,) helped him acheive the following:
Did you know....the Giants ballpark is currently located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, with a statue of Willie outside surrounded by 24 palm trees, and a right-field wall that stands at 24-feet high, all in honor of Willie?
(photo courtesy of sanfranciso.giants.mlb.com)giants
The pick for the best athlete to wear number 21 may be the most difficult choice of them all. It was neck and neck on this decision. Warren Spahn versus Roberto Clemente. Pitcher versus Hitter. In the end, Roberto's offensive prowess, combined with his defensive strength, proved to be the tie breaker.
Here are some of "Bob" Clemente's acheivements:
Here is an interesting story about Roberto Clemente, relayed by my brother, who is a new resident of Pittsburgh. My brother was sitting in a bar in Pittsburgh, when his new neighbor walked in. They started chatting about sports and the subject of Roberto Clemente came up. His neighbor told him that he went to a Pirates game as a child and while the Pirates were warming up, he went down to field level to get Clemente's autograph. He sought out Clemente, and handed him his baseball glove to be signed. Clemente took the glove and walked away. Strange, huh? Well, when Clemente came back, the glove was signed by the entire Pirates team. That's the kind of guy Roberto Clemente was.
There was an amount of competetion here to determine the best athlete to wear number 19. But certaintly not enough strong competetion to overcome Johnny Unitas, who some consider the best quarterback to ever take to the gridiron. When Johnny U retired, he held most of the NFL passing records. An amount of those records have been overtaken, however one remains. Johnny threw a touchdown pass in 47 straight games. A task comparable to Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak. Some say this record, somewhat like the say of Joe's record, will not be broken. That is to be determined by the future star QBs of the NFL. However, one thing is certain: Johnny Unitas was one of the best quarterbacks, and players, the NFL has ever seen.
As Dizzy said, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up." And his stats and acheivements indeed back up his nomination as the best athlete to wear number 17. Dizzy pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs between 1930 and 1941. He also made a comeback with the St. Louis Browns in 1947. Part of the 1934 "Gashouse Gang," Dizzy was the last player to win 30 games until 1974 (he went 30-7 in 1934.) Dizzy was the NL MVP in 1934, and led the NL for four consecutive years in both complete games and strikeouts. Dizzy was certainly quotable, coming up with these statements:
(quotes courtesy of dizzydean.com)
Did you know.....Dizzy pitched alongside his brother Paul "Daffy" Dean, with the Cardinals? (photo courtesy of sportsecyclopedia.com)
"Joe Cool" is the best athlete to wear number 16. How did Joe get that nickname? Here's an example of his demeanor that shows why: It's the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXIII, with 3:10 left on the clock, the 49ers at their own eight yard line and down 16-13 to the Bengals. Harris Barton, a lineman for the 49ers at the time, explains, "Right before that series, we're standing on the sidelines, and he says, `Look up there.' He's pointing up in the stands. He says, `That's John Candy.' '' They went on to score and win the Super Bowl. Here are some of Joe's credentials:
Some consider Joe to be the best quarterback to ever play the game. Did you know....that Joe produces wine under the label Montagia? (photo courtesy of espn.com)
Athough Thurman Munson gets strong consideration here, and could be the sentimental favorite, Bart Starr is the best athlete to wear number 15, based largely on his statistics, awards and championships. This Alabama boy was drafted number 200 in the 1956 NFL draft. He went on to quarterback the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships. Bart was the 1966 NFL MVP and led the Packers to victory in the first two Superbowls (1967 and 1968.) Did you know.....Bart Starr's real first name is Bryan? (photo courtesy of bartstarr.com)
"Let's play two!" Now wearing number 14 for the best athletes by the numbers, is "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks. Ernie's number 14 was the first number to be retired by the Chicago Cubs. Ernie, who played in the Negro leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs, became the Cubs first black player in 1953. According to The Sporting News, Ernie ranks at number 38 on the 100 greatest baseball players list. Ernie Banks won the NL MVP in 1958 and 1959, when the Cubs weren't among the teams contending for the playoffs. Here are some key Ernie Banks stats:
Did you know......Ernie, as a coach for the Cubs, filled in at manager for a couple innings in 1973, technically making him the first black manager in the majors? (photo courtesy of athlonsports.com)
"Dan the Man" is the best athlete to don the number 13. 13 was a lucky number for Dan Marino as he put up some unbelievable passing numbers over his long career with the fish. Dan played his entire career for the Miami Dolphins, spanning the years 1983 through 1999. He had a cannon for an arm, and could put the ball right in the receivers hands going long down the sideline. In 1984, Dan passed for 5,084 yards! Just one of his many records. He also threw for 48 TDs in 1984, which was a record for years, until recently broken by Peyton Manning. Marino was the NFL's MVP in 1984. Some more key Marino stats are: thirteen seasons with 20 or more touchdowns, 420 touchdowns for his career, 61,361 yards passing for his career, 60 games with 300 or more yards passing, 21 games with four or more touchdowns in his career. These are all records, and the list could go on for a country mile. Did you know......Dan was the first rookie QB to be selected to start in the Pro Bowl? (photo courtesy of espn.com)
The best athlete to wear the number 11 is Mark Messier, "the Captain." Messier guaranteed the New York Rangers would win game six against the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup playoff semi-finals of 1994, and they did. Messier then laced up his hockey skates and led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship, their first in 54 years. Here are some of Messier's credentials:
Did you know.....Mark Messier played for the Mets. The Spruce Grove Mets of the AJHL that is. (photo courtesy of espn.com)
The best athlete to wear number 10 is "the flower," Guy LaFleur. The flower was a 17-year veteran of the NHL, playing for the Canadiens (most of his career,) the Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques. Here are some of his key stats:
Did you know.....Guy was ranked by the Hockey News in 1997 as the 11th greatest NHL player of all-time? (photo courtesy of allposters.com)
Gordie Howe's acheivements in professional hockey were enough to give him the nod over Ted Williams, who could arguably be considered the best here (his website even has a Number 9 store.) Gordie Howe is second or third in a multitude of professional hockey statistical categories, and that is only because the "Great One" is currently first in those categories. Howe retired as the leader. In fact, Gordie's nickname is "Mr. Hockey." He is by far the best athlete to ever wear an NHL jersey with the number 9 on it. Here are some notable Howe statistics:
Did you know....Gordie Howe played professional hockey at age 70? He played one shift in 1997 for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. (photo courtesy of nhl.com)red wings