What: “The Sports 100: the 100 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century”
Publisher: The Associated Press and Sports Publishing Inc.
Ready for one more list of the century’s greatest athletes? The Associated Press picked its top 100, but did not rank them. Choosing the diplomatic route, AP lists them in alphabetical order, beginning with Hank Aaron and ending with Emil Zatopek, the Czech distance runner.
The inclusion of such international stars as Zatopek, Pele, Steffi Graf, Nadia Comeneci and Austrian skier Annemarie Moser-Proell makes this list a little different from most--and more authentic. The sports world does not begin and end with North America.
The 301-page, hard-cover volume features brief biographies of each athlete and more than 200 color and black-and-white photos from the AP archives.
There is a hint as to which athlete would be the AP’s No. 1. The headline on the chapter on Jim Thorpe reads, “The Greatest of Them All.” The first paragraph reads: “By sheer enormity and breadth of his exploits and the assessment of sports historians whose job it is to gauge them, Jim Thorpe must be acclaimed indisputably the greatest athlete of all time.” Thorpe was No. 7 on ESPN’s list of the greatest North American athletes.
There are five Lakers on the AP list--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and Jerry West. The only team that comes close to that number is the New York Yankees, with Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. Bill Russell and Larry Bird are the only Boston Celtics who made it.
Sandy Koufax is the only L.A. Dodger on the list, although, of course, Jackie Robinson of UCLA and the Brooklyn Dodgers is on it, as are Bill Shoemaker, Greg Louganis and Pete Sampras.