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Top 10 Greatest Chicago Athletes

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Steven M. Johnson

Art Direction / Design • Creating Order Out of Chaos

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Remembering yesterday's "greats," helps soothe the pain of today's mediocre. Today's Chicago sports teams, except the Blackhawks, are dismal. The Bears finished the season 7-9, the White Sox finished 79-83, the Cubs finished 83-78. The Bulls are currently 23-23. Thank goodness for the Blackhawks currently 37-14. Oh, I almost forgot, the Fire ... but who watches them anyway. So, with that, lets jump into the "way, way back machine" and look at the greatest Chicago athletes of all time. Enjoy the slide "show," below, it's just about the only entertaining sports "show" in Chicago right now.

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24 Comments

joey said:

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a lot more people watch the fire than read this blog, i can assure you of that.

also why is "greats" in quotes? are you implying these players are not actually great?

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Joey: Seems like I stepped on some toes, and brought out the "english professor" in you. I apologize for misuse of the quotes the first time. I think I got it right this time. But I won't apologize for a team that most Chicagoan's probably couldn't even name one player. Now maybe if they were the Sting ...

joey said:

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No one is asking you to apologize for them.

When you put things that you actually mean in quotes and put apostrophes in plural nouns such as "Chicagoan's", it discounts the few points you may actually happen to make throughout the course of your writing.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Joey: I guess there's just no pleasing you. I'm glad you weren't my english teacher in school. Hopefully, I used those contractions correctly. Are all Fire fans this smart?

fotop said:

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At least you admit the Fire are tops in their sport, you just took the easy way out with "no one watches soccer!"

Cheap heat all they way. You'd have been better off with a more interesting top 10. Jordan and Payton 1-2. Way to break new ground there.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Fotop: I never said the Fire were tops. I never would consider a record of 11-7-12 tops. Soccer, just like hockey, has too many ties and too little scoring. That's why they will never be as popular as Football, Basketball & Baseball. They have great athletes, but the lack of scoring hurts their overall appeal in the end. Hockey's saving grace is it's fights.

As far as my "cheap heat" and "safe" picking you're implying. I'm just stating the facts. Do think that MJ and sweetness don't deserve to be at the top of the list? So, who would have been in your Top 10?

Oh, and excuse my use of quotes, "Joey" above us is a stickler for improper quote usage.

Wayne_IL said:

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So, us thow long has it been since you last watched a hockey game? The NHL has used shootouts for the last 5 years, so there are no more ties.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Wayne: It's been a long time. Don't watch much hockey. Not enough scoring. Imagine watching a basketball game with great athletes, action and defense. But, the shots keep missing and/or keep getting blocked. And, at the end of the game the score is 6-2. BORING. But, thanks for the reminder of the "shootouts." Probably most exciting thing about the game ... except for the fights.

danne said:

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Get your facts straight Steven. The Hawks are 37-14-4.

Also, why do you have a picture of Ditka as a coach and not a player?

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Danne: I see another set of toes have been stepped on because I didn't mention "ties." Sorry. Again, I'm just not use to sports with so many ties. Ties seem like a big waste of time and effort. Someone needs to win or lose. Is there any benefit for getting a tie in hockey or soccer? If so, please enlighten me.

As far as Ditka. It was about 3:30 a.m. in the morning, I was on deadline, and I couldn't find a good pic of Ditka as a player. Plus, I think he is far more ingrained in Chicago as "Da Bears" coach Ditka, than player Ditka.

joey said:

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lol @ waist.

Just like in the NFL, a tie is more beneficial than a loss in both hockey and soccer.

It's worth noting, however, that for the Hakws these are not ties; they are overtime losses.

If Ditka is ingrained in Chicago as a coach rather than a player, you should probably find a list besides "Top 10 Greatest Chicago Athletes" on which to put him.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Joey: Thanks for pointing out my "waist" vs. "waste" mistake. No excuse for my non edited responses. Guess I need someone to proof read for me. Hey, you seem like you have a lot of free time on your hands. Maybe ...

danne said:

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Soccer and Hockey base their standings on a point system not win percentage as in other sports. For a win hockey teams get 2 points, 3 in soccer, for a tie, or an overtime loss, teams get awarded 1 point. In hockey, the two teams go to a shootout to determine the winner of a game. There are no more ties in hockey.

It should also be noted that soccer is the fastest growing sport in the country right now. The Chicago Fire have a amazing fan base and saying "who watches them anyway" is a pot-shot and unprofessional.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Danne: Thanks for the clarity on the point values for ties/overtime losses in hockey & soccer. I admit, I don't watch much of them both, except during the olympics. Again, great athletes and action. Just not enough scoring for me.

And, soccer may be the fastest growing sport in the country. But, as a professional watched sport by many american born men, it still falls low on the list compared to the big 3. Baseball, Basketball and Football still dominate, with Hockey, Golf and Auto Racing still outpacing Soccer as an nationally watched and televised sport.

cub legend said:

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I'm sure everybody has an opinion on this one. Surprised only one Cub and Sox player in the list. M J should definitaly be number one. I never was a Pippen fan, and was surprised you had Mikita ahead of Hull. Sandberg and Williams are in the Hall of Fame. I guess Sosa will never be mentioned. Too bad for him.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Cub Legend: I would have had more athletes like Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams and Harold Baines if my list was larger. Mikita was ahead of Hull because of his tenure with the Blackhawks, as Hull had overall better numbers, but some of those accomplishments came from his time with other teams such as the Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers.

bumstead57 said:

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Thought provoking list. I'd only add Karl-Heinz Granitza. I think the list reflects thoughtfulness. Ditka is a good inclusion.

An attempt at this kind of list gets dicey when you go "all time" and have some teams that have been around for over a hundred years. Nevertheless, I think it's a good cross section.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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bumstead57: To be honest, I forgot about the Sting superstar who played in Chicago for about 10 years. Not a big soccer fan, and lost touch with the sport even more when the Sting dissolved in 1988.

Also, you're right, "all time" opened up a whole can of worms. But, that's one of the things that makes sports so great. It will always stir up comparisons that should remain fun to debate.

Wayne_IL said:

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Not a bad list, but if you are only going to have one White Sox player, I think Mark Buerhle with his 2 no-hitters, one a perfect game on top of his performance in the 2005 playoffs, including a save in game 3 would get the nod over Frank Thomas, although the old timers would probably go with Luke Appling or Luis Apparicio.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Wayne: Mark Buehrle has been a dominate pitcher for the Sox since 2000. But, his career is not over, and thus, too early to rank him against the previous veteran's. Luis Apparicio, had about 200 more career hits than Frank, but the rest of his numbers paled in comparison. Luke Appling's had about 300 more hits, but almost 600 less RBI's. Like I said to another commenter, sports makes for great debates and comparisons.

Tony G. said:

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My top 10: 1. Rube Foster, founded the Negro Leagues, dominant pitcher. 2. Cap Anson, a scumbag racist but he was the first nationally known baseball player. 3. Three Finger Brown, next to Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, the most dominant pitcher in the history of baseball. 4. Joe Jackson, regularly batted above .380. 5. Red Grange, football's first superstar. 6. Michael Jordan. 7. Walter Payton. 8. Bobby Hull. 9. Gabby Harnett. 10: Tie - Ed Walsh, Hack Wilson.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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Tony G: You definitely went "old school" on me. I liked how you balanced Rube Foster with Cap Anson. If there is ever a list for "Top 10 Chicago Old School Baseball Players," this is it. Also, I should have put Harold Edward "Red" Grange on my list. Thanks for the info.

RegularGuy said:

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I'd add Ernie Nevers, the Chicago Cardinal running back who holds the oldest NFL record for most points scored in a single game (40). Plus, he set his record playing against the cross-town rival Chicago Bears.

Steven M. Johnson said:

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RegularGuy: Ernie's performance, 6 TDs and 4 PATs, was amazing against the Bears. List just not long enough to included all the old timers. Also, hurts that they didn't keep formal stats until 1932. Can't really compare his stats to other greats. Thanks for the suggestion.

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