Monthly Archives: October 2014

Who are the Best Four ever?

This morning while watching “Mike & Mike” on ESPN, a debate arose as to which city has spawned the best athletes in the big four sports with Boston being touted as #1. The listener who did this listed the following three athletes: Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Ted Williams.

"Mike & Mike" hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic

“Mike & Mike” hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic

That got me thinking.

Greeny and Golic decided that Bird wouldn’t even be the best basketball player on the list, subbing in Bill Russell. And when they tossed in Tom Brady as the best football player from Boston, they had a tough Top 4 to beat.

But it seemed that the ESPN duo did much of their estimating between Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles based on emotion and remembrance. So being the stat freak that I am, I decided to try and see exactly how history might answer this question.

I quickly Googled the Top 100 players in each of the four major sports – Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL). After a substantial amount of format editing in compiling lists from four different sites, I finally had something of an answer.

Before I reveal my findings I just want to say that these results are the best available, as I could not find all four lists from one source. I took them from the most reliable sources I could find, but these are not based on stats but on nationwide polls conducted at various points. One list came from ESPN (MLB) and I’m sure they likely have Top 100s for the other three as well. I just couldn’t find them.

That said, here we go!

The assertion that Boston has the best four athletes in the four major sports proves accurate. The following list, as will the others that follow, will include the top players, in order, from MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL with their sport rank in parenthesis and that city’s rank average on the final line.

  • Ted Williams (4)
  • Tom Brady (9)
  • Bill Russell (3)
  • Bobby Orr (2)
  • Boston = 4.50

Oddly enough, the next closest city wasn’t even in Mike & Mike’s initial discussion, although they did bring them into the discussion later. That city: Detroit.

  • Ty Cobb (6)
  • Barry Sanders (4)
  • Isaiah Thomas (25)
  • Gordie Howe (3)
  • Detroit = 9.50

Number three on the list is Chicago.

  • Eddie Collins (42)
  • Walter Payton (3)
  • Michael Jordan (1)
  • Bobby Hull (8)
  • Chicago = 13.50

New York was just a fraction behind the “Windy City” in fourth place.

  • Babe Ruth (1)
  • Lawrence Taylor (5)
  • Willis Reed (30)
  • Denis Potvan (19)
  • New York = 13.75

Los Angeles fell into fifth place, but proved to be an interesting rank due to Wayne Gretzky. If you look at “The Great One” statistically, he really did most of his damage in Montreal. But his popularity really grew when he hit the media center of Los Angeles. If you leave Gretzky in Montreal, that makes the top NHL player in Los Angeles as Marcel Dionne at #38 and with a city average of 26.75. But for the sake of the argument, we’ll include Gretzky in the City of Angels.

  • Sandy Koufax (44)
  • Eric Dickerson (23)
  • Kareem Abduhl-Jabbar (2)
  • Wayne Gretzky (1)
  • Los Angeles = 17.50

So there you have it. I’m not really sure what this all means, but it interesting to look at where guys played and what impact they have had on the sporting world we live in.



  • MLB Top 100 –
  • NFL Top 100 –
  • NBA Top 100 – Inside
  • NHL Top 100 – The Hockey News
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