Thursday July 9th, 2009

During these daunting economic days, the sports fan, more than ever, deserves real bang for the buck. In that context, the Thrill Lists were born. These enumerate the athletes, past and present, who most infallibly have kept us on the edge of our seats; the men and women (and horses) whom we would pay to see.

Scanning the 15 Thrill Lists compiled by SI experts, the most striking thing isn't always who is on them but who isn't. In the tennis list, Fabrice Santoro is on, but Martina Navratilova is not. Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe are absent from my hockey list, but Paul Coffey and Pavel Bure are in full stride, virtually scooting up the ice. Laura Davies is a top 10 Thrill List golfer, but the esteemed Bobby Jones missed the cut.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Some place other than the baseball Thrill List.

But that's the point. These lists are not mere compilations of all-time bests in their respective sports but all-time bests at quickening the pulse and evoking a visceral response from those fortunate enough to have witnessed their artistry.

No Wilt Chamberlain or Larry Bird?

Evonne Goolagong instead of countryman Rocket Rod Laver?

Let the debate begin -- and we invite you to chime in with your comments here. With's Thrill Lists, the only shame would be if the chatter were less than thrilling.

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