votes open for ESPN New York Hall of Fame

9 08 2011

Since I moved to the greater metropolitan New York area a little over a year ago, I listen to a lot of ESPN New York radio.  Well before I’d ever moved here, I’ve always been intrigued by New York sports – probably because it’s where you start and finish as far as the history of baseball.  The history of New York sports really became legend during the Babe Ruth era, but it’s actually the 1950’s that really solidifies it – at least for baseball.  During that time, 2 of the 3 best center fielders of all-time and 3 of the best 8 or so all played in New York City.  From 1949 to 1964 – there was only one year where a New York team wasn’t in the World Series (who can name the year and the participants?).  My impression of living here is that it’s got the NFL crazies like every other American city, but it’s really a baseball town first and the Knicks would be 1A if they ever go their act together.

This mirrors my preferences in sports.  I was a Bengals season ticket holder for 5 years, but that’s just out of convenience.  Going to 8 games a year while living in  was doable and a good way to hang out with friends who did the same.  But the NFL is a distant 3rd for me – actually 4th because I love college football (this is the one place where NYC deviates from me – the college football is BAD here, and Rutgers v. UConn football doesn’t really inspire the locals either).  So – though I’m not a fan of any New York teams (except I’ve kind of adopted the Knicks) – it’s always interested me as much as any sports city outside of Southern Ohio.

Today I learned that ESPN New York is having an inaugural “New York Hall of Fame”.  This, to me, is a great idea.  You can vote for the Hall of Fame here.  There are 20 sports icons – only retired players count (so no Jeter) – and the most notable snub out of the top 20 is Patrick Ewing.  I also thought Duke Snider was just as big as a snub.  Other names that could have been on there Wellington Mara (possibly the most influential owner in NFL history), Michael Strahan (single season sack record, Giants all-time leader), and Bill Parcells (2 super bowls with the Giants, also coached the Jets to the AFC title) were notable exclusions.

You vote for the top 5.  I tend to be biased toward baseball, but this goes well with this city.  I’ll say this – and the couple of radio personalities and writers they’ve interviewed all agreed – the top 5 could be fairly open, but every ballot should start with Babe Ruth.  There just isn’t any argument that he’s not in the top 5, and in fact, I can’t see any argument that he’s not #1.  For my vote, I felt like I didn’t really have to think hard about it until I got to #4.  Here were my votes, in the order I’d put them:

1) Babe Ruth – greatest baseball player that ever lived

2) Jackie Robinson – possibly the only ball player with greater influence on the sport and the sports world than Ruth would be Robinson

3) Lou Gehrig – the thing I said about Jackie Robinson – Gehrig could arguably be 3rd on the list of influential baseball players.  A triple crown winner, the greatest first baseman ever, the Iron Man well before Ripken, and a 6x World Series champion.  He was the first Yankee captain, and the disease that killed him has borne his name ever since.  I had to think about him being 3rd on this list, but once I did – 4th wasn’t even close.

4) Lawrence Taylor – considered by many (myself included) to be the greatest defensive player of all time.  The first Tecmo Bowl is proof enough for me!

5) Mickey Mantle – The last spot for me seemed to be between 3 center fielders.  Both the Mick and Joe DiMaggio were New York Yankee icons, an I struggled because Willie Mays is, by almost any measure, the best of the 3.  But on a New York list, it doesn’t make sense to include Mays above these guys – he played much more of his career in San Francisco than New York, while Mantle and DiMaggio were true icons.  From there, I just picked Mantle because he had the better career.

If I had to pick a next 5, it would be (in this order) – the Yankee Clipper, Yogi Berra, Walt Frazier, Mara (who isn’t on the top 20 list), and Mays or Christy Mathewson.

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2 responses

26 11 2011
jonnythegreek

This is a fantastic blog! Keep up the good work. I loved your pieces on the 1964 topps giant series, and the stand-ups.

26 11 2011
chuckneo

Thanks!

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