Best Sportsperson in their field - ever

I can think of two Aussie examples of a sportsman or woman who were the best in their sport at the time, and their results will never be bettered.

Heather Mackay was a squash player who never lost a match in her professional career (1962-77). She won the British Open (the defacto world championship) sixteen times in succession.

Don Bradman may not have had the most natural skills for a cricketer, but his batting is universally acknowledged as the best ever. By the most-used scale of comparison, batting average, he is 50% better than anyone else, and 150% better than most. A statistical analysis of the history of batting averages put his effort as 1-in-a-million, when there have been only 10,000-odd first class cricketers in its 150 year history.

Any others you can think of?

Moderator’s Note: Moving to IMHO.

Hockey: Gretzky

Basketball: Jordan

Golf: Tiger

Soccer: Pele

(all obvious choices, I guess, but they’re obvious for a reason)

babe ruth in baseball is pretty widely agreed upon

Biiliards: Walter Lindrum

I can’t imagine there will ever be a baseball player, including Barry Bonds, who revolutionized the sport the way Babe Ruth did.

Up until 1918, the most homeruns hit in one season was Ned Williamson’s 27. Ruth hit 29 the next year, an astronomical 54 the year after that, and 59 in 1921.

When Ruth’s career began, Roger Connor held the all-time record for most homeruns in a career, with 138. When Ruth was done, he had hit 714.

Astonishing, if you ask me.

I would say that for a couple of years in the late 1930’s, Joe Louis was unbeatable by any heavyweight fighter before or since. Although may Rocky Marciano’s awkwardness and power might have given even Louis trouble.

Hockey: Gretzky (The Great One…labeled since he was 9 years old)…in one of the best spectator sports to watch…

Basketball: Jordan, but Kobe Bryant will replace him barring any future tragedy

Golf: Nicklaus, but Tiger Woods will replace him barring any future tragedy

Cycling: Lance Armstrong with gas in the tank left…

Football (American): Walter Payton (“Sweetness”)

Baseball: Pitcher - Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan? His career record was just barely over .500…

Ryan hung on too long, like Jordan is doing now…

Adding to Ruth’s qualifications as the greatest baseball player was the fact that he was a very good pitcher as well. I’d definitely choose him as “best baseball player”.

Baseball: Pitcher- Sandy Koufax
Baseball: Position Player- Babe Ruth

NASCAR Winston Cup racing- Dale Earnhardt

Koufax was in a class by himself during his career, and Ruth was better than Bonds because he didn’t have the advantage of body armor, juiced balls, and being in the same division as Colorado.

Earnhardt is my pick because, even though Richard Petty has more career wins, the Intimidator made NASCAR what it is now through his shrewd business decisions and mass crowd appeal.

Hockey - The Great One. I do, however, think that Peter Forsberg doesn’t get nearly the respect he should. He’s the total package. He’s no Gretzky though.

Soccer - I’m too young to have seen Pele first hand so I’m going with Diego Maradona. From what I understand, Pele had quite the supporting cast but I don’t mean to minimize his accomplishments in any way.

Football - Jerry Rice. Nobody dominates their position like he does. I’ve read arguements for Larry Allen is the most dominating in his position however (this is from a sports illustrated article I read a while back but their isn’t many stats on offensive linemen to back that up).

Basketball - Jordan, as much as I hate to admit it.

Golf - Tiger

Baseball - Babe

Cycling - Miguel Indurain has still won one more than Lance Armstrong. We need to hold off a few years before we call this one. Lance made a truly remarkable comeback but we do need to give it a few years. Miguel Indurain.

Tennis Racket Hockey - Me. I’m pretty sure I invented it so I’m fairly confident in this one.

Exactly who I was thinking of when I opened the thread. Great choice.

For the last few years of his career, definitely. Begs the question, though, best in the field for a career, or best for one season, or, in Koufax’s case, five seasons? Guys like Walter Johnson or Cy Young can probably be placed above Koufax career-wise.

The best sportsman in the field is me. Because I am standing in a field all on my own.

Good point, and one I hadn’t really thought about. I can see those two guys being in the running for career, and I might throw guys like Bob Gibson and even Tom Glavine in there (I know, more rest between starts for Glavine, but he has to pitch to bigger and stronger guys with a juiced ball and a smaller mound.)

If, on the other hand, we look at only a part of the career, I nominate Randy “Big Unit” Johnson (Mariners to present) and Pedro Martinez (Red Sox tenure).

Pete Sampras :Tennis. Though he doesn’t have the French I think his amazing career grand slam record makes him the all-time no.1 especially when you consider that professional tennis is vastly more competitive than anything that the likes of Laver faced.

Ed Moses: 400 metres hurdles. Won a huge number of consecutive races

Sergei Bubka: Pole vault. Dominated the sport for more than a decade during which he kept breaking his own world record.

Carl Lewis: all-round track-and-field. 9 gold medals across 4 Olympic games including 4 in 1984. IIRC four consecutive medals in the long-jump.

Football-running back-Jim Brown,fullback power with halfback speed.A 5.1 yd career avg.
QB-Johnny U.Could hit a dime at 50 yds.The master at throwing where the receiver will be,that’s 2nd and 3rd targets.

Heavyweight boxer-Rocky Marciano=takes a licking and keeps on ticking.Threw the hardest punch of any I’ve seen.Ask Jersey Joe.Would absolutely not be beaten by anyone.Ask the rest.

Most promising baseball career cut short-Herb Score.If not for that liner from Mcdougald,he’d probably have records that the rest would be shooting for.

Pound for pound best athlete-Willie Shoemaker a small man in a small man’s sport that dominated the winners circle for over 30 years wherever he hung his tack=and consistently in the top 5 the next 10.And if you think manuevering a 1/2 ton thorougbred around a track at full speed doesn’t call for immense athletic skills-try it sometime.

The British rower Steve Redgrave set a record by winning a gold medal at four successive Olympic games.