Greatest Athletes & Sports Moments Introduction

About the greatest athletes and sports moments in modern history as voted on by an older AP poll and our new poll.

Greatest Athletes and Events of Modern Times

In the year 1950, the Associated Press took a Midcentury Poll of leading sports editors throughout the U.S. to determine a consensus on who were the greatest male and female athletes and what were the greatest athletic moments of the first 50 years of this century. The results of that 1950 poll were as follows:

10 Greatest Male Athletes: 1. Jim Thorpe, track and field, football, baseball; 2. Babe Ruth, baseball; 3. Jack Dempsey, boxing; 4. Ty Cobb, baseball; 5. Bobby Jones, golf; 6. Joe Louis, boxing; 7. Red Grange, football; 8. Jesse Owens, track; 9. Lou Gehrig, baseball; 10. Bronko Nagurski, football.

10 Greatest Female Athletes: 1. "Babe" Didriksen Zaharias (Preferred family spelling.), golf, track and field; 2. Helen Wills Moody, tennis; 3. Stella Walsh, track and field; 4. Fanny Blankers-Koen, track and field; 5. Gertrude Ederle, swimming; 6. Suzanne Lenglen, tennis; 7. Alice Marble, tennis; 8. Anne Curtis, swimming; 9. Sonja Henie, figure skating; 10. Helen Stephens, track and field.

10 Most Dramatic Events: 1. Dempsey-Firpo fight (1923); 2. Babe Ruth "calling" World Series home run (1932); 3. Dempsey-Tunney "long count" fight (1927); 4. Lou Gehrig's farewell appearance (1939); 5. Grover Alexander's strikeout of Tony Lazzeri in the World Series (1926); 6. Notre Dame's 18-13 football victory over Ohio State (1935); 7. Red Grange's five touchdowns against Michigan (1924); 8. Jack Dempsey's knockout of Jess Willard (1919); 9. Holy Cross's 55-12 football victory over Boston College (1942); 10. Navy's 21-21 football tie with Army (1948).

Because 27 years have passed since that Associated Press Poll was taken, and because there have been so many added superior athletes and memorable events around the world in that period, We decided to undertake an up-to-date poll of a select list of the leading sports editors and columnists in the U.S. To these sports experts we posed three questions:

"In your opinion, who were the 15 greatest male athletes from 1900 to 1977? Who were the 15 greatest female athletes from 1900 to 1977? What were the 15 most dramatic sports events from 1900 to 1977? The athletes you choose may have performed in any sport and have come from any nation in the world. The dramatic events may have occurred in any sport anyplace on earth."

Thirty-five sports editors and writers participated in our poll. All of their first choices were given 10 points in our tabulation, their second choices 9 points, their third 8 points, and so on.

Sports Editors and Writers Who Voted

Rick Bailey, Lexington Leader (Ky.); Robert F. Baird, Jr., Bridgeport Post (Conn.); Bob Bassine, West Palm Beach Post (Fla.); Don Bloom, Sacramento Union (Calif.); John F. Buckley, Worcester Gazette (Mass.); Robert L. Burnes, St. Louis Globe-Democrat (Mo.); Jim Dawson, Riverside Press-Enterprise (Calif.); Joe Doyle, South Bend Tribune (Ind.); Louis Duino, San Jose Mercury (Calif.); Larry Eldridge, Christian Science Monitor; Bill Fluty, Evansville Courier (Ind.); Joe Hendrickson, Pasadena Star News (Calif.); Sam Heys, Columbus Enquirer (Ga.); Bill Hord, Omaha World-Herald (Neb.); William O. Johnson, Jr., Sports Illustrated; Ronnie Joyce, Pensacola News Journal (Fla.); Jerry Jurgens (retired), Quad-City Times (Ia.); Bill Kastelz, Florida Times-Union; Bernie Lincicome, Fort Lauderdale News (Fla.); Paul Logan, Albuquerque Journal (N.M.): Al Ludwick, Augusta Herald (Ga.); Jack MacGruder, Colorado Springs Gazette-Times (Colo.); Hubert Mizell, St. Petersburg Times (Fla.); Soren Nielsen, Binghamton Sun-Bulletin (N.Y.); Jack Ogden, Cedar Rapids Gazette (Ia.); Dick Peebles, Houston Chronicle (Tex.); Arthur Rosenbaum, San Francisco Chronicle (Calif.); David Schultz, Springfield Daily News (Mo.); Ed Senyczko, Lansing State Journal (Mich.); Lud Shahbazian, Union City Dispatch (N.J.); Dave Smith, Boston Globe (Mass.); Marco Smolich, Sacramento Bee (Calif.); Dan Stoneking, Minneapolis Star (Minn.); Bob Valli, Oakland Tribune (Calif.); Dave Wik, Palo Alto Times (Calif.).

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