Who’s The Greatest NY Athlete Ever?

Even though I’ve lived in California for a long time, I still subscribe to New York magazine. Can’t help myself. I love their articles, and the recent one in which Will Leitch asked a panel of experts (including Al Leiter) whom they thought qualified as New York’s Greatest Athlete Ever was one of my faves. Among the candidates:
Joe Namath
Lawrence Taylor
Patrick Ewing
Phil Esposito
John McEnroe
Babe Ruth
Lou Gehrig
Joe DiMaggio
Willie Mays
Derek Jeter
It’s a really interesting article and I urge people to read it if they haven’t already – and then weigh in. A case was certainly made for Jeter, Gehrig and Ruth but Mays had one very loyal supporter. If they had asked me, I’d have said “Mariano Rivera,” but I’m not objective when it comes to him.
Turning to present day events, it appears that Rafael Soriano will be officially introduced by the Yankees tomorrow. I’ve read so much about his temperament; how he refused to pitch more than one inning for the Rays and had hissy fits about this or that. We don’t need divas on this team, so if he pulls any crap I have no doubt that the aforementioned Mo will take him aside and gently but firmly explain the facts of life in Yankeeville.


  1. kpaul2009

    Jane, I discovered your blog about a year ago and have read it everyday since. I like your writing style and sense of humor. The pictures you add enhance the humor. I’ve never commented to your posts before, but felt like I owed you for all the laughs. I wouldn’t worry about Soriano because of what the press says. I’d put a lot more stock into what his pitching coach has to say. Here is a link to what Jim Hickey had to say. I hope this makes you feel a little better, and keep up the good work.


  2. Jane Heller

    I was a big NBA fan in the 70s, Matt, so I think of guys like Walt Frazier and Willis Reed, but the Knicks weren’t a dynasty in the same way the Yankees were so I’d go with either Ruth, Gehrig or Jeter.

    Kpaul, I’m thrilled to know you’ve been reading and enjoying the blog and that you decided to comment. And thanks for the link to the Hickey comments. I’d read them the other day and they did make me feel somewhat better about Soriano’s prima donna nature. I hope he has, indeed, turned a corner and matured. He really could help us this year.

    I don’t see why Gretzky would be on a list of Greatest NY Athletes, Mark. Some of the argument for Gehrig was that he not only played in NY for his entire career, but was born and raised there. That makes him NY through and through.

    If you read the article, Jeff, I think the panel had good reason for skipping over Namath. He basically had only one great season, as big a legend as he became off the field. Babe makes more sense.

  3. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Yeah…I gotta agree with the opinions already opined…it’s just gotta be Jidge, The Big Bam, Number 3…nobody ever like him, before or since…!
    Jane, aren’t you just a wee bit surprised that The Mick didn’t make this List? Okay, there coulda/shoulda been at least one Brooklyn Bum on there too, like Duke Snider, or Pee Wee…ooops…news flash…just reread your fine print that said “AMONG the candidates…” Well, excuuse me, but that’s what I think…
    And HOW did Phil Esposito, the Boston Bruin, get on that list? I don’t care if he played and GM’d awhile in NY…don’t matter…no Cups, no glory…don’t y’all remember the signs they had in Bahston when the big guy was scoring piles of goals (and winning 2 Cups, BTW) for THEM?: “Jesus Saves…and Esposito scores on the rebound!” May as well have Mark Messier on the list instead…
    And as of right now, I’m sure that Faithful Blogger Diane would vote for Mark Sanchez or Rex “The Toe” Ryan…she must be in 6th Heaven for her J-E-T-S…you GO, Girl!!
    Back to beisbol. Good to have The New Raffy, and yes, a session or two with Mo should do the trick…

  4. Jane Heller

    I was surprised that The Mick wasn’t on their list of candidates, Dave. Did they think he was too much of an Okie? Puzzling, to say the least. That said, I can see why Leiter went with Mays. He may have had ties to the Giants, but he was a four-tool player, as they say.

    But was Babe Ruth the best NY player ever, Paul? Maybe the fact that he was from Baltimore or played in Boston took him down in the conversation a bit. But I’d have to agree he should be up there.

    It’s a great debate, Renegade, and I enjoyed reading the pros and cons from the panel (and the commenters here). I figured the winner would have to come from baseball, as opposed to the other sports mentioned, and offense certainly does get people’s attention.

  5. raysrenegade

    That is a debate that can range on forever with pros and cons of each person mentioned, but the reality is that Babe Ruth is considered by many to be the best ball player ever….So you have to start with that monster.
    But since he was born in Baltimore, does that take some of the steam out of his deabte….No, but it sure adds to the AL East fire.
    I will pick a hybrid of Gehrig-Ruth-Dimaggio and Mantle to be the best ever. For some reason the offensive pulse of the game gets me more than K’s and double plays…But that is just me.

    Rays Renegade

  6. mondoas

    When I look at the choices above I look hard at the question. They are asking who do you believe was the greatest ATHLETE. My version of an athlete is someone who was fast and someone who had great lateral movement and explosion in what they did. I love the Yankees BUT Ruth wasn’t an athlete that could do those things but he could hit a baseball. To me, the best athlete above was LT w/o a doubt. The athlete from the period of the 20’s and 30’s couldn’t compare to today’s athlete. Put the aforementioned people in a contest where they had to run 40’s, do cone drills,a vertical jump and strength testing and LT would destroy them. Although I played 5 years in the NFL, my #1 love will always be baseball and I am not being biased when I chose a football player. I just know what constitutes being an athlete. Of course, that is my opinion and I will always respect what others feel too.

  7. Jane Heller

    It’s funny because my husband picked LT too, mondoas. He thought he was the best athlete but he said the personal issues probably took him out of the running and ruined his legacy.

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