Best of a Lifetime II
My Best of a Lifetime sports selections generated plenty of comments, phone conversations and e-mails, with many people wondering why I left some categories out.
With that in mind, allow me to add a few of those right now:
Best Baseball Hitter — This one is tricky because 1) I only saw Ted Williams, the natural choice, on television, and 2) The best one I saw, in person, was Barry Bonds, who apparently was steroid-aided at the time. So which way do I go? I’d still have to say Williams for his incredible combination of average and power. The best pure hitter of my generation was Tony Gwynn, who won eight batting titles and had a remarkable career average of .338 in an era when he had to face the kind of relief pitchers many of his predecessors never encountered. The best of today’s hitters is Albert Pujols, who has a chance to rank with the all-timers if he can stay healthy.
Best Boxer — Sugar Ray Robinson. I never saw him in his prime, but I’ve seen plenty of footage. Even in his mid to late-30s, he was a stylish boxer and powerful puncher unlike any other. Many experts believe his left hook that knocked out Gene Fullmer was the greatest single punch in boxing history. It certainly was the best single punch I’ve ever seen.
Best Basketball Shooter — Reggie Miller. There is a word I love to use when it comes to shooters — it’s pure. That’s what Reggie was, as pure as they come Larry Bird ranks right there, but Reggie’s range was a little better. Miller was great in college, too, but the best collegiate shooter I ever saw was Rick Mount of Purdue. Jerry Lucas at Ohio State wasn’t too shabby, either.
Best Football Receiver — Jerry Rice. No surprise there, although it isn’t as big a runaway as you’d think. Lance Alworth, in his prime, ranks a close second, but he never received the same credit because he played most of his career in the old American Football League.
Best Golfer — Sorry, Tiger, I have to go with Jack. Mr. Nicklaus won his 18 majors while competing against the likes of Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. Those are all Hall of Fame caliber players. How many Hall of Fame players has Tiger Woods competed against? Maybe Phil Mickelson, but that’s about it. The competition was simply much tougher in Nicklaus’s era, and no, Tiger’s off-field antics had no influence on this selection.
— Steve Bisheff