Three months, one week and two days. That's how long it took to shape a list, start to finish, of the 175 greatest athletes in Maryland history.
The Sun published the rankings today, from top to bottom. Me? I feel like I just completed a daunting history final in college.
Beginning the project, in February, I wondered how we'd ever come up with 175 names. Silly me. Turns out, there were so many sportsmen and women deserving of recognition that we probably trimmed another 175 off.
Early on, it became clear that the key here wasn't so much creating the list of athletes. It was creating of list of experts who could help to come up with the list of athletes.
Perhaps 25 people – sportswriters, coaches, historians and hall of fame archivists – offered input, and many helped shepherd the list to completion. (A special thanks to Sun staffers Andy Knobel, Childs Walker and Paul McCardell).
With hundreds of names in tow, we lumped them together by sport – basketball, baseball, football, etc. – and then rated all athletes in that group. Then we set about meshing those lists which, frankly, was like comparing apples to oranges. How, you ask, could we bestow a No. 33 ranking to
That's where we drew on our criteria for the list. Ratings were based on (1) performance, (2) the athlete's impact on sports, and (3) his (or her) lasting resonance with fans.
Moreover, we chose to include both athletes who were born or grew up in Maryland, with those who merely competed here, for at least three years. To have gone either route alone would have cheated our readers. Thus, you’ll find local growns, like
Did we omit anyone of note? Absolutely. There’s
As we firmed up the list, I experienced a sense of dread. I felt like Chevy Chase, driving away from a rest stop in one of those
Finally, a word about the top 10: Ruth was a no-brainer to head the list. More than anyone, the pot-bellied slugger with the classic swing and matchstick legs changed the game of baseball. And his is the statue that stands outside