Ruth. Gretzky, JordanWhoever put this list together, despite having taken a long, hard, deep drink from the the "I love Michael Jordan" well, is totally on drugs.
First the list needs to be confined to sports where, recognition in the mainstream media, dollars generated, and depth of the sport to the junior levels. I will not comment on sports outside of these. This shows no disrespect for sports like Surfing, which are tremendously athletic and where someone like Kelly Slater may never come around again. But we have to start somewhere.
Lets leave stats aside for a moment in talking about 3 players. Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan. Simply on the impact they made in transforming the sport. To fundamentally changing it. To not just increasing the market share, but to ensure its viability, and to make it more sustainable and profitable than it ever had been. Michael Jordan pales in comparison to Wayne Gretzky. Add stats, and Jordan pales there too. To say that Jordan would have won 8 straight championships if he had not retired is very plausible. Equally one could say that Gretzky could have won as many if he had not been sold to LA. And he took them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Gretzky took a sport and changed it for everyone. It went from a minor-major sport to a major-major one. Expansion, media, marketing, you name it. Also he improved the entire game. New rules were effected, and the way the game was played fundamentally changed because of one player. This went down to the junior levels. Jordan was a phenomenomal player, but basketball had been previously elevated by the likes of Magic and Bird, and many others. Jordan increased market share, but not in a transformational way. Jordan is arguably the best overall basketball player ever, but his contribution to basketball is not on the same level as that of Gretzky to Hockey. In fact its no where close, and this is no insult to Jordans accomplishments. Its just bias. You need to look at the impact without favoring one sport over the other. Just simply put the accomplishments together and the sports income and mainstream recognition side-by-side. Then add both players and watch it unfold. Gretzky was clearly the transformational player on par to only Ruth in the impact to the sport. Gretzky towers above Jordan as to the contribution made to an individual sport.
Now to Ruth. In Ruth time, there was only baseball. The other sports existed, but were relative minor after thoughts. Baseball was Americas sport and at a time post the blacksox scandal of 1919, baseball was on the verge of becoming extinct. Due to decreased atendance and people losing interest due to mob influence and fixing, clubs in less populated markets would have closed up. Expansion teams could not have been considered. Ruth single-handedly re-invigorated the sport, and then went on to set ridiculous records. Many of which still stand. The home run was not a part of baseball prior to Ruth. Focus was on getting on base. Ruth not only hit for power, but he invented it. His early prime years were spent pitching and he set the world series record for consecutive scoreless innings for till Whitey Ford broke in the late fifties, 40 years later give or take. Given those prime years given to his pitching talents, and assuming 30 less than his record HR per AB average of 11. , he would had over 900 home runs easily. Even today modern scholars who re-invent new statistics to rexamine players contribution continue to be amazed at what Ruth accomplished. Simply put he was and is the most productive basball player ever. And it can easily be argued that he could have made the Hall as a pitcher if he remained one. No, Ruths spot at # 1 is secure despite the attempts of those who consider otherwise. Runs per AB, RBI per AB, onbase percentage, home runs per AB, Slugging. He is # 1 or in the top 3. We use terms Ruthian, or he is the Babe Ruth of his sport to describe excellence. When in fact he was the original. Ruth was larger than life, was paid more per season in the 1920's than players would make 30 years later. Ruth not only saved baseball, but transitioned it from the deadball era to the modern live ball era. He remains an enigma of athleticism. Large, not sculpted, but could operate with amazing effciency. No, it is clear that Ruth is overall #1. And Gretzky 2. The list can be argued from there on.
PERFECT! - No one can really disagree (and be considered serious) that Gretzky was the Greatest Hockey Player of all-time; or that Ruth was the GREATEST SPORTS LEGEND EVER (and thereby the greatest baseball player ever). There are quite a few that you can say are the greatest basketball player ever. Chamberlain, I believe, is the best; but you also have Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson (every bit as good as Jordan), Magic Johnson (could play all five positions). Ruth, Gretzky, take your pick in basketball or football (Jim Brown would be my guy in football). - visitor