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  #51  
Old 09-11-2019, 10:19 AM
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ILike I said, I'm not a big sports fan. But I was wondering about some of the pitchers I've heard of over the years, who were trumpeted as phenoms, but whose careers didn't last (for whatever reason.) Like Fidrytch (sp?), Valenzuela, or Gooden.
Maybe there would be fodder for another threads of All-Time Greatest Might-Have-Beens!
Mark Fidrych is probably the best example there: he had his amazing rookie season in '76, but he never really recovered from injuries he suffered in '77, and had only 27 starts over the rest of his career.

Valenzuela played for seventeen seasons, but it was a case of being great in his first six seasons, and then being pretty average for the rest of his career.

Gooden, similarly, was great for his first few years, then had a long tail of being an average to below-average pitcher. In his case, of course, we're pretty sure as to the why (substance abuse).
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:18 AM
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None of those guys is often considered an "all-time great", though, no matter what they might have become without their injuries. There's no end to that sort of speculation. Tony Conigliaro isn't either.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:30 AM
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Secretariat raced 21 times over the course of a year and a half (winning sixteen.) As horses go that's actually a pretty long career.
An actual contender from horse racing has to be 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. He won his career debut on February 18, and won the Belmont Stakes - his last race - on June 9. His career lasted 6 races and 113 days.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:33 AM
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Rob Gronkowski played (so far ) 9 season for the Pats (2010-2018) but 2013 and 2016 were essentially half seasons and he only played all 16 games twice. He'll probably make the HOF and would be considered one of the best TEs to ever play the game.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:44 AM
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The only other baseball Hall of Famer I can think of who only played ten years is Jackie Robinson, who was one hell of a ballplayer.
Dizzy Dean (who I talked about upthread) is listed as having played 12 seasons, but his rookie "year" consisted of one game in September. His last two seasons also showed one game each and were essentially stunts. Dean played six full seasons, parts of three more, and then three seasons of one appearance, each.

Addie Joss actually played only 9 seasons in the major leagues before he fell ill with meningitis during spring training, and died two days after the 1911 season opened. For decades he was blocked from the Hall of Fame on the grounds he hadn't participated in "10 championship seasons." The rule was finally waived for him and he was admitted into the Hall in 1977.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:15 PM
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In Golf, it would have to probably be Bobby Jones. He retired at age 28, after winning the US Open, US Amateur, British Open and British Amateur in 1930. He won those 4 tournaments in 4 months and no one has duplicated that feat in a lifetime

He won 13 of those championships, and won 7 professional majors out of 15 attempts.
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  #57  
Old 09-11-2019, 12:18 PM
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Footballer Marco van Basten was forced to retire at 28 through injury - basically played for ten years, and would be considered an all time great centre forward. Indisputably the best centre forward of his era and prob in the conversation for best ever at that position - although as the most high profile position on the pitch (your job is to score the goals) there's obv massive competition there.

Beautifully technical player - really had everything. Could have played any position on the pitch and been good at the minimum.
  #58  
Old 09-11-2019, 12:33 PM
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The only other baseball Hall of Famer I can think of who only played ten years is Jackie Robinson, who was one hell of a ballplayer.
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HOF member Ralph Kiner only played 10 years before retiring due to a back injury.
Although Kiner is a HOFer, he wouldn't be considered an "all time great" of the caliber of Robinson, however.
  #59  
Old 09-11-2019, 12:37 PM
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None of those guys is often considered an "all-time great", though, no matter what they might have become without their injuries. There's no end to that sort of speculation. Tony Conigliaro isn't either.
I came in mention Red Sox pitcher Tony C. Who knows how great he might have been if his career hadn't been but short by that ill-pitched ball?
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:59 PM
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Have to admit the name Terrell Davis meant nothing to me. Makes me wonder about whether how much name recognition an "all-time great" ought to have among non-fans... Is TD in (or expected to get into) the HoF?
He is in the HoF. I'm too lazy to look it up but I want to say it was around 2016? Maybe 2017? Sometime around there.

I don't think he played long enough to merit his HoF induction, nor do I think he really was one of the greatest RBs to ever play the game (meriting an induction to the HoF) but he won Super Bowls and that counts for a lot so whaddyagonnado?
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  #61  
Old 09-11-2019, 01:06 PM
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He is in the HoF. I'm too lazy to look it up but I want to say it was around 2016? Maybe 2017? Sometime around there.

I don't think he played long enough to merit his HoF induction, nor do I think he really was one of the greatest RBs to ever play the game (meriting an induction to the HoF) but he won Super Bowls and that counts for a lot so whaddyagonnado?
Davis was inducted in 2017, in his 11th year of eligibility. For years, the debate around Davis centered around, as you note, whether he had been good enough, for long enough*. And, the fact that Gale Sayers was in the HoF, with a similar injury-shortened career, was regularly referenced by Davis's supporters as justification for his inclusion.

* - he had a good rookie season, then three exceptional seasons, including breaking the 2000-yard-season milestone, then finally three seasons in which he played little, due to the injuries.

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  #62  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:05 PM
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I came in mention Red Sox pitcher Tony C. Who knows how great he might have been if his career hadn't been but short by that ill-pitched ball?
Red Sox Pitcher?
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  #63  
Old 09-11-2019, 08:01 PM
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Although Kiner is a HOFer, he wouldn't be considered an "all time great" of the caliber of Robinson, however.
True but he definitely meets the 10-years-only thing.

I thought of another, Iron Joe McGinnity.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:20 PM
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I was thinking about racing drivers, but trying to match with the criteria is tough. If 6 seasons in Formula 1 is short enough, then Senna, if "everyone is expecting big things out of him once he gets out of the minors" then Adam Petty.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:55 PM
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True but he definitely meets the 10-years-only thing.

I thought of another, Iron Joe McGinnity.
Was going to say Old Hoss, but he went 11 years.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:08 PM
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If guys like Jim Brown and Gronkowski are being nominated...

I've got to go with 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.
He played for eight seasons, the last limited to six games due to injury. In his seven full(ish) seasons he was 1st-team All-Pro five times, 2nd-team once, was voted to the ProBowl all seven, led the league in tackles twice, including his rookie year in which he won Defensive Rookie of the Year.

He was certainly the best 49ers linebacker in my lifetime, likely ever. He was probably the best inside linebacker in the league for most of his career.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:13 PM
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I remember Willis. He was pretty special.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:24 AM
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  #69  
Old 09-12-2019, 05:00 AM
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I was thinking about racing drivers, but trying to match with the criteria is tough. If 6 seasons in Formula 1 is short enough, then Senna, if "everyone is expecting big things out of him once he gets out of the minors" then Adam Petty.
Senna's F1 debut was in 1984, so he had 10 full seasons before he was killed near the start of his 11th.

A better candidate, looking back a bit further, would be Jim Clark, whose first F1 race was in 1960, giving him 9 active years to his death in 1968. Both Senna and Clark are definitely in the pantheon of all-time greats.

Then there was Fangio, who had 24 wins in 51 starts between 1950 and 1958, with a year out in 1952.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:46 AM
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In Australian sport great players usually play at a representative level - for their state and in international contests. In 1971 Geoff Starling, after only a few senior games, became the youngest player ever to play for Australia. He continued to play at this level for 3 years and was considered likely to end up one of the greats. In 1974 he contracted a debilitating illness that caused him to lose weight and suffer constant fatigue. Years later, too late to resume his career, a woman reading an article about Starling contacted him to tell him that she thought he had Addison's disease. Tests proved her right.
The sport he played in would be helpful.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:29 AM
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You could always Google it but for the record Starling played Rugby League, a Balmain boy.

Herb Elliot

The dominant middle distance runner of his age, running sub four minute miles 17 times. Never beaten over 1,500m or the mile.

In 1958 aged 20 he broke the world mile record by nearly 3 seconds (3:54.5) then shortly after broke the 1,500m record by a similar margin (3.36.0)

At the Rome Olympics 1960 Elliot won the 1,500 breaking his own world record. (3:35.6)
That time would have won gold in 10 of the 14 Olympic finals run since.

He retired shortly after aged 22.
  #72  
Old 09-12-2019, 08:24 AM
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An actual contender from horse racing has to be 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. ...
Whether he would make it into the HoF following drug testing...

Quote:
Herb Elliot ...

In 1958 aged 20 he broke the world mile record by nearly 3 seconds (3:54.5) then shortly after broke the 1,500m record by a similar margin (3.36.0) ...

He retired shortly after aged 22.
That truly is impressive since, barring injury, distance runners generally peak well after 22.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:59 AM
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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark...ch?wprov=sfti1

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Old 09-12-2019, 09:23 AM
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Fidrych is an interesting case. He absolutely had a wonderful season in 1976.

I do not believe he would have ended up being an all time great had he stayed healthy - at least, I think the odds were stacked heavily against him. Fidrych in his big rookie year pitched 250 innings and in those 250 innings struck out just 97 men, which is 3.5 men per nine innings. That was very low even for 1976. I cannot think of ANY modern starting pitcher who was successful for a long period of time who struck out so few men. Batters' batting average on balls in play against Fidrych was 27 points lower than the AL norm, which isn't a sustainable skill.

There are other pitchers who's had big success in their rookie and sophomore years with low strikeouts rates. Virtually all of them blew up in a few years.
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  #75  
Old 09-12-2019, 10:38 AM
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Senna's F1 debut was in 1984, so he had 10 full seasons before he was killed near the start of his 11th.

A better candidate, looking back a bit further, would be Jim Clark, whose first F1 race was in 1960, giving him 9 active years to his death in 1968. Both Senna and Clark are definitely in the pantheon of all-time greats.

Then there was Fangio, who had 24 wins in 51 starts between 1950 and 1958, with a year out in 1952.
I thought of Senna and Clark, too. I knew each died in his prime, but had to look up how long their careers were.

I'll check on Mark Donohue when I have some time. He raced in several different series so I'm not sure where to consider the beginning of his career. If you just count Can-Am, it's probably only a few years.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:40 AM
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Jim Thorpe?

He's widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of his era.

He is most famous for his his performance in the 1912 Olympics, the only Olympics he ever competed in. He won gold in the pentathlon, and he dominated the decathlon, the first one he had ever competed in, including the first javelin event he had ever competed in. Then he dominated the decathlon in the AAU championships later that year. Then had his amateur status revoked due to having played baseball in a semi-pro league. Never competed in track and field again.

After that, he bounced around several Major League Baseball teams, playing parts of 6 seasons between 1913 and 1919. He also bounced around a number of semi-pro American football teams between 1913 and 1920, before the NFL was founded. He was a founding member of the APFA in 1920, which became the NFL in 1922. He played only 52 games in the APFA/NFL between 1920 and 1928. He also played for a semi-pro barnstorming basketball team during the 1920s, but few details of that are known.

Prior to all of that, he also played four years of collegiate football, where he was widely regarded as a dominant player at several positions, and two years of collegiate track and field, where he also excelled.

Although his total athletic career was fairly lengthy, that was because he played so many different sports. He's in the halls of fame for Pro Football (only 52 games over parts of 9 seasons), college football (a full collegiate career but that's only 4 years), American Olympic teams (was only on one), and the national track and field competition (only two years of collegiate track and field competition and one AAU appearance).

Last edited by gdave; 09-12-2019 at 10:41 AM. Reason: formatting/grammar errors
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:32 AM
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Thorpe was one of those odd “Jack of all trades, Master of all” sort of athletes.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:14 PM
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Ooh - good call on Thorpe. Surprised no one mentioned him earlier.
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:36 PM
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An actual contender from horse racing has to be 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. He won his career debut on February 18, and won the Belmont Stakes - his last race - on June 9. His career lasted 6 races and 113 days.
My timing on this post could have been better.
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:24 PM
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Ernie Davis. Heisman Trophy winner and member of the college football Hall of Fame.

Never played in the pros, dying of leukemia at age 23.
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:48 PM
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You could always Google it but for the record Starling played Rugby League, a Balmain boy.



.
Thanks Captain Obvious. It may make logic to you for 80,000 viewers to google it rather than one person supply context- not so much to me.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:05 PM
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Alberto Ascari is another candidate from Formula One. His F1 career ran from 1950 to 1955, but he only raced the full season in 1951, 1952 and 1953, finishing second in the championship in '51 and winning the title in '52 and '53.

Ascari drove in 33 Grands Prix. Since the season has so many more races nowadays, 33 GPs works out to only about a year and a half by modern standards.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:41 PM
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Senna's F1 debut was in 1984, so he had 10 full seasons before he was killed near the start of his 11th.
Ah, right, think I misread the start of his time at McLaren with his debut.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:44 PM
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The only other baseball Hall of Famer I can think of who only played ten years is Jackie Robinson, who was one hell of a ballplayer.
Robinson was already age 28 by his rookie year in 1947 due to the color-line and WW2 so he cannot be blamed for his relatively short MLB career, of course.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:49 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Cook


The NFL Network NFL Top Ten series named Cook the #1 One Shot Wonder in NFL history.


His 9.411 yards per pass attempt and 17.5 yard per completion are rookie records that still stand. Cook was UPI's choice for AFL Rookie of the year.
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:38 PM
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Thanks Captain Obvious. It may make logic to you for 80,000 viewers to google it ....
This is true but given this thread is not so much about world class athletes who had short careers and more so about US foot/base/basket ball athletes who had minimum 10 year stellar domestic careers with their club, the proportion of the 1,700 views without name recognition less the number of folk who know was rugby league is, divided by the number who care about league, carry the 5 and drop the quotient leaves a residual so numerous as their annual convention could be convened in a phone booth.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:19 PM
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Bobby Orr probably deserves a mention - he scores big on the "all-time great" metric.

His career was seriously truncated by injuries - he played in 657 total games. Compare this to 1487 for Wayne Gretzky and 1767 for Gordie Howe, a couple of other guys who qualify as all-time greats.
Along with Orr, I'd say Mike Bossy, too. 752 games over 10 total seasons, 573 goals, 1126 points.

Last edited by zbuzz; 09-12-2019 at 11:21 PM. Reason: he edits, he scores!
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:28 PM
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For Australian Rules Football, I would nominate John Coleman, who played just five and a half seasons.

Yet he was still named in the AFL Team of the Century.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:18 AM
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And I'll second the notion that 8-10 seasons is not a "short" sporting career.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:10 AM
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And I'll second the notion that 8-10 seasons is not a "short" sporting career.
What constitutes short depends, of course, on the sport. 8-10 years is actually a LONG career in a lot of Olympic sports, for instance; Usain Bolt's Olympic career spans nine calendar years and his level of dominance is totally unprecedented. I'd agree 8-10 seasons is not short for, say, a boxer, or an American football player who would be considered an all time great. It's a little (but not very) short for an all time great in hockey. It's short for an all time great in basketball. It's definitely short for an all time great in baseball or soccer.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:21 AM
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Marco Van Basten has less then 10 years in soccer. So did Eric Cantona.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:36 AM
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I can't speak for Van Basten as he was before my time, though a good case has already been made for him upthread. But I wouldn't call Cantona an "all-time great". Sure, he was the final piece in the jigsaw for Ferguson's first dominant United team (and also won the league with Leeds, just prior to that) but he was known as much for his enigmatic personality and violent streak (a combination of which probably cost him a decent international career) as he was for his footballing skills.

That's really what the OP will boil down to - a lot of all-time greats with shorter than average careers have already been identified, but if we're looking for the absolute shortest, the debate is whether they qualify as "all-time great". It really has the makings of one of those epic multi-thread SDMB polls, where we get shortlists for each sport, debate who is the best candidate for each, then run them off against each other. I don't have time to do the admin, but I would participate if anyone would care to take up the baton...
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:14 AM
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I'd agree 8-10 seasons is not short for, say, a boxer
I'm skeptical of that. 8 years would be a long time for a boxer to actually reign as world champion, for to have an entire career last 8 years would be very unusual. I listed Rocky Marciano above as an example of a guy with an 8 year career. But how many other "all time great" boxers had careers that short?
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:53 AM
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Not many, but that rather begs the question - we're not looking at the average career length of all-time greats, we're looking for all-time greats who had relatively short careers.

Having said that I agree with your main point that many boxers have a fairly long career in terms of years, so 8 years is relatively short. I'm no boxing expert, but my impression is that contenders for world title fights typically have around 20-30 fights under their belts, and due to the nature of the sport this takes a number of years. You have to prove yourself at the lower ranks before being given a shot at a title. It's rare for an underdog to surprise someone who is expected to beat them easily, though of course it does happen.
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Old 09-13-2019, 11:03 AM
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Not many, but that rather begs the question - we're not looking at the average career length of all-time greats, we're looking for all-time greats who had relatively short careers.
These seem like flip sides of the same coin. To use the example we're discussing, if "8-10 seasons is not short for, say, a boxer", then an all-time great boxer whose career lasted 8 years would not be an example of "all-time greats who had relatively short careers". But if 8-10 years is short for a boxer, then an all-time great whose career lasted that long would fit the bill.

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I'm no boxing expert, but my impression is that contenders for world title fights typically have around 20-30 fights under their belts, and due to the nature of the sport this takes a number of years. You have to prove yourself at the lower ranks before being given a shot at a title.
That's part of it. But even guys who become champions at young ages (e.g. Tyson) typically have careers which last a lot longer. Once you have a name for yourself you can make big bucks fighting for years and years later, and most big time boxers don't walk away from that.
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Old 09-13-2019, 02:51 PM
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It's short for an all time great in basketball.
Are we talking about Muggsy Bogues now?
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:52 PM
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Earl Campbell - Was a big star and won the Heisman Trophy in college in 1977, had a breakout rookie season in the NFL, played 5-6 great seasons for a bad team (Houston) , traded to another bad team (Saints) for a couple more seasons, then walked away after 8 years.

The 1977 Heisman winner, Billy Sims, had 4 all star years with the Lions but then a knee injury ended his career. He ended up having to sell his Heisman trophy.
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Old 09-13-2019, 04:55 PM
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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark...ch?wprov=sfti1

I nominate “The Bird!”


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Damn, I just read his wiki page, his death was pretty brutal

"According to the Worcester District Attorney's office, a family friend found Fidrych dead beneath his ten-wheel dump truck at his Northborough home around 2:30 p.m, April 13, 2009. He appeared to have been working on the truck at the time of the accident.[28] Authorities said Fidrych suffocated after his clothes had become entangled with a spinning power takeoff shaft on the truck. "

Last edited by xizor; 09-13-2019 at 04:55 PM.
  #99  
Old 09-13-2019, 05:59 PM
Busy Scissors is offline
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Talking boxers, Andre Ward in recent years had a normal sort of career length in terms of years (13 years a pro) but only fought 32 times - that's pretty sedate for someone who's the top dog in the division. Once he became world champion he got very inactive, but is probably the greatest supermiddleweight fighter of all time.
That's not the same thing as being the greatest welterweight, or heavyweight, not by a long chalk, as the supermid division is only 30 or so years old, but it's still a remarkable track record of quality over quanitity.

Notoriously difficult fighter to rank, Ward, as he was a boring, spoiling fighter (had no fanbase outside of hardcore boxing fans) but he got the job done and beat all comers, retiring 32-0 (plus an Olympic gold medal). Made fearsome, explosive fighters like Froch and Kovalev look limited and out of their league.

Last edited by Busy Scissors; 09-13-2019 at 06:00 PM.
  #100  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:14 PM
Mahaloth is online now
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What player of a sport played the least and made the Hall-of-fame? I mean in a non-honorary way and as a player, specifically, not a coach later.
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