The 100 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century according to Associated Press

The Sports 100: The 100 Greatest Athletes of the 20th CenturyThis Associated Press created a list of the greatest athletes of the 20th century (1900-2000), published in the book The Sports 100: The 100 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999.

Unlike the similar lists by ESPN and Sports Illustrated which had a disproportionate number of US-based athletes, the team at Associated Press attempted to look globally, in terms of athletes and sports, and get a better representation of athletes from around the world (but did they?). 

The final 100 athletes that were published in the book was determined according to the AP Sports Writers' Poll. Unfortunately, they decided not to list them in order, so according to the book, we don't know who they considered as the greatest.

However, there is a list online of the greatest athletes of the century, credited as being created by a team at Associated Press. This may or may not be the same as in the book, but online sources have this list in order, with Babe Ruth listed as the greatest.

This list of the top athletes of the century was voted by a 16-member expert panel of athletes, writers and historians, assembled by The Associated Press (details below). The points for each athlete is based on 100 points for a first place vote through one point for a 100th place vote. The panelists listed a total of 325 athletes. Ruth was named first on five of the ballots, Jordan on four, Thorpe on three. The number of first place votes is also listed in parenthesis. There were 10 women on the list, and one horse!

No. Athlete (1st place) points

1. Babe Ruth (5) 1551
2. Michael Jordan (4) 1524
3. Jim Thorpe (3) 1471
4. Muhammad Ali (2) 1462
5. Wayne Gretzky 1368
6. Jim Brown 1333
7. Joe Louis (1) 1327
8. Jesse Owens 1307
9. Babe Didrikson-Zaharias (1) 1254
10. Wilt Chamberlain 1235

11. Willie Mays 1182
12. Jack Nicklaus 1167
13. Ted Williams 1124
14. Ty Cobb 1115
15. Pele 1095
16. Bill Russell 1071
17. Lou Gehrig 1064
18. Hank Aaron 1044
19. Joe DiMaggio 1031
20. Martina Navratilova 1026

21. Carl Lewis 1009
22. Gordie Howe 988
23. Sugar Ray Robinson 949
24. Larry Bird 945
25. Ben Hogan 937
26. Oscar Robertson 929
27. Red Grange 905
28. Walter Payton 882
29. Jackie Robinson 875
30. Rod Laver 863

31. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 837
32. Magic Johnson 835
33. Arnold Palmer 814
34. Sandy Koufax 792
=35. Mickey Mantle (tie) 785
=35. Mark Spitz 785
37. Joe Montana 772
38. Jack Dempsey 765
39. Bobby Orr 729
40. Jackie Joyner-Kersee 685

41. Billie Jean King 683
42. Walter Johnson 671
43. Sammy Baugh 621
44. Rocky Marciano (tie) 596
44. Johnny Unitas 596
46. Stan Musial 589
47. Bobby Jones 572
48. Rogers Hornsby 567
49. Honus Wagner 560
50. Jerry Rice 552

51. Pete Sampras 550
52. Nadia Comaneci 547
53. Bill Tilden 537
54. Don Hutson 533
55. Chris Evert 509
56. Cy Young 508
57. Julius Erving 488
58. Tiger Woods 483
59. Roger Bannister 471
60. Jerry West 451

61. Rafer Johnson 447
62. Maurice Richard 440
63. Eric Heiden 437
64. Lawrence Taylor 418
65. Jean-Claude Killy 416
66. Edwin Moses 415
67. Nolan Ryan 403
68. Steffi Graf 392
69. Paavo Nurmi 386
70. Bobby Hull 378

71. Bob Mathias 376
=72. Christy Mathewson (tie) 371
=72. Bronco Nagurski 371
74. Elgin Baylor 353
75. Sam Snead 345
76. Sonja Henie (tie) 344
76. Wilma Rudolph 344
78. Dick Butkus 340
79. Bob Cousy 326
80. Willlie Shoemaker 325

81. Secretariat 311
82. Cal Ripken Jr. 308
83. Althea Gibson 302
84. Mark McGwire 301
85. John McEnroe 300
86. Otto Graham 298
87. O.J. Simpson 294
88. Pete Rose 290
89. Roger Staubach 289
90. Don Budge 266

=91. Eddie Arcaro (tie) 262
=91. Juan Manuel Fangio 262
93. Henry Armstrong 259
94. Mario Lemieux 250
95. Sugar Ray Leonard 246
96. Mario Andretti 233
97. Emil Zatopek 232
98. Josh Gibson 223
99. Warren Spahn 220
=100. Roberto Clemente (tie) 215
=100. Bob Gibson 215

The Voting Panel

References



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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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