You think just because every network, newspaper, magazine,
pamphlet, Web page, talk show, ham radio operator, beeper
service and corner nut screaming at traffic has come out with
one of those godawful 20th-century lists that I'm going to stoop
that low just to bang out an easy column?
Unfortunately, after the 4,007th one of these lists there are
only a few ridiculous categories left. And the winners are....
Greatest Four-Legged Athlete Gallant Fox, who was not only a
Triple Crown winner (1930) but also sired one (Omaha, '35).
October 10, 1999
Greatest Athlete No Matter What the Spacklebrains at ESPN Think
If you knew somebody who entered eight of 10 events in the
national AAU track meet and won five of them outright and tied
for first in another; who won two gold medals in the 1932
Olympics and lost a third on a technicality; who took up golf
and won 82 tournaments as an amateur and a pro; who was a
three-time All-America in basketball; who won championships of
one sort or another in billiards, cycling, shooting, speed
skating, squash, swimming and tennis; and who pitched in several
major league exhibition games, wouldn't you say that's the
greatest athlete you've ever heard of? That's Babe Didrikson
Greatest Athlete Who Could Turn You into a Lump Gordie Howe, who
was his own goon.
Chickenest Athlete Eric Dickerson, who never met a sideline he
Dumbest Athlete Atlanta Braves righthander John Smoltz, who
suffered a chest burn trying to steam wrinkles out of his shirt
while wearing it.
Greatest Groupie Mamie Van Doren, the star of such classics as
Sex Kittens Go to College, who had a body that could make a monk
bite a hole in a church pew and left a trail of dazed
jocks--from Jack Dempsey to Bo Belinsky to Joe Namath--without
ever mussing her beehive.
Greatest Guy Charles Barkley, who's also the funniest, smartest
and most honest. Scottie Pippen ripping Sir Cumference as a
career failure? Please. Without Michael Jordan, Pippen is the
world's tallest Domino's deliveryman.
Worst Guy Bill Russell, who had all the warmth and charm of a
New Jersey DMV clerk.
Best Uni Mamie's, usually.
Best Number on a Uni The [backward 7] of minor league ballplayer
John Neves, who wore it for what his name spells backward.
Best Blockbuster Trade New York Yankees pitcher Fritz Peterson's
October 1972 swapping of his wife and kids for those of fellow
Yanks pitcher Mike Kekich.
Worst Trade Kekich's, because Peterson's wife and kids were gone
by the '73 season.
Classiest Act Cornell football coach Carl Snavely's decision to
give back his undefeated 1940 team's victory over Dartmouth when
films proved the Big Red won on an illegal "fifth" down.
Crassiest Act Colorado football coach Bill McCartney's refusal to
give back his team's 1990 victory over Missouri when films proved
the eventual national champion Buffaloes won on an illegal
Dumbest Question To Don Larsen, after his 1956 World Series
perfect game: "Is it the best game you've ever pitched?"
Dumbest Answer From Otis Armstrong, Denver Broncos halfback in
the '70s, on his team's future: "We've got our backs to the
Best Line Anybody Ever Wrote Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times,
about the Indy 500, in the 1960s: "Gentlemen, start your coffins."
Best Line Anybody Ever Uttered under Pressure Nineteen thirties
and forties radio legend Bill Stern's description of a breakaway
college football run by Army: "It's Doc Blanchard all by himself
...down to the 30! The 20! The 10!" Suddenly, Stern realized it
wasn't Blanchard with the ball. He never missed a beat. "And he
laterals off to Glenn Davis, who goes over for the touchdown!"
Best Line Uttered During the Commission of a Felony Seven-footer
Reggie Harding, a former Detroit Piston, frequented a
neighborhood liquor store. One day he put on a stocking mask and
robbed the place at gunpoint. "What are you doing, Reggie?" the
store manager asked. Harding replied, "It ain't me, man!"
Best Line Uttered by Yogi Berra, Which Makes It the Best Line,
Period Asked what time it was, Yogi said, "You mean now?"
Chickenest Athlete of the Century: Eric Dickerson, who never met
a sideline he didn't love.