Wednesday, November 10
Seven pro baseball players lead way
 
  Sept. 14, 1999

A week after celebrating its 20th anniversary, ESPN unveiled its SportsCentury list of the 20 greatest North American athletes at a press conference today at the brand new flagship ESPN Zone in New York's Times Square, which opens tonight. Several of the athletes from the list were in attendance.

The alphabetical list, which includes 13 living athletes, features seven pro baseball players, four pro basketball players, four track and field stars, two boxers, two golfers, two football players, a hockey player and a tennis player. Those totals include multi-sport stars Jim Thorpe (track and field, baseball, football) and Babe Didrikson (track and field, golf). Coupled with the previously released athletes 100-21, this announcement finalizes all the names on the SportsCentury top 100 list.

SPORTSCENTURY'S 20 GREATEST ATHLETES (alphabetical)
Hank Aaron Muhammad Ali Jim Brown Wilt Chamberlain
Ty Cobb Babe Didrikson Wayne Gretzky Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan Carl Lewis Joe Louis Willie Mays
Martina Navratilova Jack Nicklaus Jesse Owens Jackie Robinson
Bill Russell Babe Ruth Jim Thorpe Ted Williams

ESPN's weekly countdown of the 50 greatest athletes of the century, which began in January, has been a highlight of the network's 18-month SportsCentury project, presented by GM. A distinguished 48-member panel submitted votes for their top 50, based on athletic ability alone, and the results have been documented through weekly 30-minute programs.

ESPN will continue to announce the rankings on a weekly basis prior to the Friday night programs (generally televised at 10:30 p.m. ET). The countdown will continue with athlete no. 20, this Friday night, Sept. 17 at 10:30 p.m. ESPN will reach the top 10 in December when the network will present two athlete shows each week, and the countdown will culminate with an hour-long special on ABC, Dec. 26, highlighting the top two athletes of the century.

SportsCentury book highlights all 100

On Sept. 22, Hyperion will release ESPN SportsCentury, the definitive book on sports in the 20th century highlighted by original essays on the century's most identifiable athletes by 10 top authors. In addition to the essays, the hard-cover "coffee table-style" commemorative book includes profiles, items by ESPN commentators, interesting facts, pictures and more -- a thorough recap on the past 100 years in sports. Along with the essays, the book will offer mini-profiles on each athlete on the SportsCentury top 100 list.

SPORTSCENTURY TOP 100 LIST (by sport)
  Entire top 100 Top 50 only Top 20 only
Baseball 23*+ 11+ 7+
Football 20*+ 9+ 2+
Track and field 12+x 7+x 4+x
Basketball 11 8 4
Tennis 8 4 1
Boxing 7 3 2
Golf 6x 5x 2x
Hockey 6 3 1
Horse racing 5 (2 jockeys, 3 horses) 1 (horse) 0
Auto racing 3 0 0
Swimming/Diving 2 1 0
Speed skating 2 1 0

* Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders counted as baseball and football
+ Jim Thrope counted as baseball, football and track and field
x Babe Didrikson counted as golf and track and field

100 great athletes who didn't make the list

Even though the rankings of the top 20 have not been released, the list of names on the top 100 SportsCentury list is now complete (see page 3). To illustrate the great athletes that make up the list, consider these standouts who didn't get enough votes to break the top 100.

Grover Cleveland Alexander
Earl Anthony
Arthur Ashe
Ernie Banks
Rick Barry
Chuck Bednarik
Johnny Bench
Patty Berg
Yogi Berra
Matt Biondi
Wade Boggs
Barry Bonds
Terry Bradshaw
Lou Brock
Dick Button
Roy Campanella
Rod Carew
Steve Carlton
Rocky Colavito
Cigar
Roger Clemens
Dennis Conner
Maureen Connolly
Dizzy Dean
Gail Devers
Eric Dickerson
Tony Dorsett
Dale Earnhardt
Dennis Eckersley
John Elway
Ray Ewry
Bob Feller
Bobby Fischer
Whitey Ford
George Foreman
Jimmie Foxx
Walt Frazier
Dan Gable
Jeff Gordon
Hank Greenberg
Ken Griffey Jr.
Lefty Grove
Tony Gwynn
Marvin Hagler
Mia Hamm
Franco Harris
John Havlicek
Bob Hayes
Elvin Hayes
Thomas Hearns
Rickey Henderson
Larry Holmes
Evander Holyfield
Joe Jackson
Reggie Jackson
Deacon Jones
Florence Griffith Joyner
Al Kaline
Harmon Killebrew
Ralph Kiner
Karch Kiraly
Steve Largent
Greg LeMond
Sugar Ray Leonard
Nancy Lieberman-Cline
Nancy Lopez
Greg Maddux
Karl Malone
Pete Maravich
Christy Mathewson
Wille McCovey
John McEnroe
Mark McGwire
Rick Mears
Ann Meyers
Calvin Murphy
Byron Nelson
Dan O'Brien
Mel Ott
Bob Pettit
Cal Ripken Jr.
Frank Robinson
Nolan Ryan
Gene Sarazen
Mike Schmidt
Tom Seaver
Mary Decker Slaney
Duke Snider
Warren Spahn
Tris Speaker
Willie Stargell
Bart Starr
Roger Staubach
Fran Tarkenton
Isiah Thomas
Y.A. Tittle
Herschel Walker
Bill Walton
Tiger Woods
SportsCentury list: 21-100 numeric
21. Gordie Howe
22. Joe DiMaggio
23. Jackie Joyner-Kersee
24. Sugar Ray Robinson
25. Joe Montana
26. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
27. Jerry Rice
28. Red Grange
29. Arnold Palmer
30. Larry Bird
31. Bobby Orr
32. Johnny Unitas
33. Mark Spitz
34. Lou Gehrig
35. Secretariat
36. Oscar Robertson
37. Mickey Mantle
38. Ben Hogan
39. Walter Payton
40. Lawrence Taylor
41. Wilma Rudolph
42. Sandy Koufax
43. Julius Erving
44. Bobby Jones
45. Bill Tilden
46. Eric Heiden
47. Edwin Moses
48. Pete Sampras
49. O.J. Simpson
50. Chris Evert
51. Rocky Marciano
52. Jack Dempsey
53. Rafer Johnson
54. Greg Louganis
55. Mario Lemieux
56. Pete Rose
57. Willie Shoemaker
58. Elgin Baylor
59. Billie Jean King
60. Walter Johnson
61. Stan Musial
62. Jerry West
63. Satchel Paige
64. Sammy Baugh
65. Althea Gibson
66. Eddie Arcaro
67. Bob Gibson
68. Al Oerter
69. Bonnie Blair
70. Dick Butkus
71. Roberto Clemente
72. Bo Jackson
73. Josh Gibson
74. Deion Sanders
75. Dan Marino
76. Barry Sanders
77. Cy Young
78. Bob Mathias
79. Gale Sayers
80. A.J. Foyt
81. Jimmy Connors
82. Bobby Hull
83. Honus Wagner
84. Man o' War
85. Maurice Richard
86. Otto Graham
87. Henry Armstrong
88. Joe Namath
89. Rogers Hornsby
90. Richard Petty
91. Bob Beamon
92. Mario Andretti
93. Don Hutson
94. Bob Cousy
95. George Blanda
96. Michael Johnson
97. Citation
98. Don Budge
99. Sam Snead
100. Jack Johnson
SportsCentury list: Top 100
Hank Aaron (TBD)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (26)
Muhammad Ali (TBD)
Mario Andretti (92)
Eddie Arcaro (66)
Henry Armstrong (87)
Sammy Baugh (64)
Elgin Baylor (58)
Bob Beamon (91)
Larry Bird (30)
Bonnie Blair (69)
George Blanda (95)
Jim Brown (TBD)
Don Budge (98)
Dick Butkus (70)
Citation (97)
Wilt Chamberlain (TBD)
Roberto Clemente (71)
Ty Cobb (TBD)
Jimmy Connors (81)
Bob Cousy (94)
Jack Dempsey (52)
Bade Didrikson (TBD)
Joe DiMaggio (22)
Julius Erving (43)
Chris Evert (50)
A.J. Foyt (80)
Lou Gehrig (34)
Althea Gibson (65)
Bob Gibson (67)
Josh Gibson (73)
Otto Graham (86)
Red Grange (28)
Wayne Gretzky (TBD)
Eric Heiden (46)
Ben Hogan (38)
Rogers Hornsby (89)
Gordie Howe (21)
Bobby Hull (82)
Don Hutson (93)
Bo Jackson (72)
Jack Johnson (100)
Magic Johnson (TBD)
Michael Johnson (96)
Rafer Johnson (53)
Walter Johnson (60)
Bobby Jones (44)
Michael Jordan (TBD)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (23)
Billie Jean King (59)
Sandy Koufax (42)
Mario Lemieux (55)
Carl Lewis (TBD)
Greg Louganis (54)
Joe Louis (TBD)
Man o' War (84)
Mickey Mantle (37)
Rocky Marciano (51)
Dan Marino (75)
Bob Mathias (78)
Willie Mays (TBD)
Joe Montana (25)
Edwin Moses (47)
Stan Musial (61)
Joe Namath (88)
Martina Navratilova (TBD)
Jack Nicklaus (TBD)
Al Oerter (68)
Bobby Orr (31)
Jesse Owens (TBD)
Satchel Paige (63)
Arnold Palmer (29)
Walter Payton (39)
Richard Petty (90)
Jerry Rice (27)
Maurice Richard (85)
Oscar Robertson (36)
Jackie Robinson (TBD)
Sugar Ray Robinson (24)
Pete Rose (56)
Wilma Rudolph (41)
Bill Russell (TBD)
Babe Ruth (TBD)
Pete Sampras (48)
Barry Sanders (76)
Deion Sanders (74)
Gale Sayers (79)
Secretariat (35)
Willie Shoemaker (57)
O.J. Simpson (49)
Sam Snead (99)
Mark Spitz (33)
Lawrence Taylor (40)
Jim Thorpe (TBD)
Bill Tilden (45)
Johnny Unitas (32)
Honus Wagner (83)
Jerry West (62)
Ted Williams (TBD)
Cy Young (77)

 


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