30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ranking Your Favorites

The new school year is just around the corner for me.  In six days, I'll have the opportunity to meet my next batch of students.  This year will be a little different, since I won't actually meet them in person... but hopefully I'll be able to establish some sort of bond with them.  My colleagues and I are entering uncharted waters and it's a little scary, but these are the cards we've been dealt and now it's time to see what we can do with them.

One thing won't change though.  I won't be naming favorites.  It's inevitable.  Every year I get asked by at least a handful of students, "who are your favorite students?".  My responses vary from "I don't have any" to "you'll never know", but I never respond with specific namesDo I have favorite students?  Sure.  But there's no point in hurting the kids' feelings by revealing who they are.

Athletes are totally different.  They don't know me and could care less about whether or not this card blogger likes them.  That's why I thought it'd be fun to sit down and rank my favorite athletes of all-time.

After creating a list of candidates, I quickly discovered that comparing Kobe Bryant to Ramon Laureano is a lot like comparing apples to oranges... which proved to be much more challenging than anticipated.  Ultimately I just went with my gut instinct.  You'll quickly see that nostalgia plays a huge part in my rankings.

I'm guessing that if I were to try this again in the future, things would look a little different depending on the season and my mood.  But for today, August 13th, 2020, here are my Top 10 Favorite Athletes of All-Time:

#10Steve Carlton

1981 Fleer #660

Carlton was one of the best left-handed pitchers of his generation.  As a fellow lefty, it was only natural for me to root for him as a kid.  By the way today is International Left Handers Day.  Thanks Ryan for reminding me of this special day.

#9 Byron Scott

1989-90 Fleer #78

Out of all of the Showtime Lakers, Byron was my favorite.  I loved the energy and passion he displayed on the court... and that jump shot of his was like poetry in motion.

#8Greg Maddux

1993 Upper Deck #535

Just like I've preferred contact hitters over home run hitters, I've always enjoyed watching guys like Maddux over guys like Randy Johnson or Nolan Ryan.

#7Patrick Marleau

2015-16 Upper Deck #155

I feel like Patty should be higher on this list, since he's my all-time favorite San Jose Shark.  But I struggled to justify ranking him higher than the six guys ahead of him.

#6Kobe Bryant

2007-08 Topps #24

He might have rubbed people the wrong way, but he was the epitome of hard work and passion.  Those are two traits I admire in my students and in professional athletes.

#5Brett Favre

2007 Topps #19

Favre has stressed me out more than any other player on this list... with his crazy passes.  And I thought I'd never forgive him when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, but time heals all wounds.  These days I just focus on remembering all of those touchdown passes he threw to Mark Chmura, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver, and Sterling Sharpe.

#4Kurt Suzuki

2009 Topps #622

I had a hard time ranking Kurt, because I wasn't sure where he fit among all of the legends on this list.  At first I had him ranked behind Kobe, Favre, Marleau, and Maddux.  But then I remembered just how much I enjoy rooting for this guy... even when he's not on one of my favorite teams.  

#3Steve Largent

1981 Topps #271

Largent was my favorite football player growing up... and nothing has changed over the past four decades.

#2Rickey Henderson

1983 Kellogg's #8

Before Gwynn, there was Rickey.  He played a big role in me becoming a baseball fan.  Had he not been traded to the Yankees back in December of 1984... there's a chance he'd be sitting in the #1 spot.

#1Tony Gwynn

1985 Fleer #34

Yeah.  No surprises here.  If you need an explanation for why Gwynn is #1 on this list, then you probably don't read my blog on a regular basis.

It'll be fun to look back on this post in a year or two to see how much things change, but I doubt there will ever be a guy who will knock Mr. Padre out of the top spot.  Actually, I'd say that the Top 3 are pretty locked in... but #4 through #10 are less stable than the Beckett Hot/Cold lists of the 80's and 90's.

What about you?

What are your favorite athletes of all-time?

Leave your list down below.  I'd love to see it.

Happy Left Handers Day and sayonara!


  1. Baseball: Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw
    Basketball: Doc, Charles Barkley, Magic
    Football: Ron Jaworski, John Elway
    Hockey: Ron Hextall
    Racing: Danica Patrick
    Soccer: Julie Ertz

  2. I would have Largent near the top of my football list and Henderson is up there in Baseball

  3. Andrew McCutchen
    Jerome Bettis
    Troy Polamalu
    Reggie Miller
    Charlie Morton
    Gary Sheffield
    Penny Hardaway
    Kris Letang
    Cal Ripken Jr

  4. "less stable than the Beckett Hot/Cold lists of the 80's and 90's."

    That was great. Made me laugh out loud.

  5. Are you all virtual from the get go?

    AJ Green
    Mark Messier
    Tiger Woods
    Dale Earnhardt Sr
    Dominique Moceanu

  6. Baseball: Indians: Jim Thome, other: Cal Ripken, Jr.; Football: Steelers: Jerome Bettis, other: Barry Sanders; Basketball: Cavaliers: Lebron James, other: Larry Bird; Hockey: Blue Jackets: Sergei Brobosky, other: Martin Brodeur

  7. Yeah, #1 no surprise. As for my Tops 10 athletes: That would be tough and would require some thought. But hey I like doing things without thinking. LOL:
    I'll just name 10 in no certain order.
    Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Tiger Woods, Warren Spahn, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Julio Franco, John Elway, Eddie Mathews, and Mike Trout.

  8. Ryne Sandberg
    Mark Grace
    Roger Maris
    Chris Coste
    Dave Dravecky
    Darin Erstad
    Deacon Phillippe
    Michael Jordan
    Dan Marino
    Pete Sampras

  9. 1. Tom Seaver
    2. Dan Marino
    3. Julius Erving
    4. Ray Lewis
    5. Mike Scioscia
    6. Ed Reed
    7. Bobby Clarke
    8. Eric Lindros
    9. Dave Kingman
    10.Jonathan Ogden
    It was hard to keep Mike Trout off the list but if they make the playoffs or in a few years he will move on to it somewhere, Also, to soon for me to have Lamar Jackson on my list but in time.

  10. Great post Fuji! That's such a tough question I think I'm gonna have to think on it for a bit...

  11. Off the top of my head and not in order...jackie Robinson, bo jackson, luc robitaille, Wayne gretzky, steve garvey, Joe Mauer, magic Johnson, Mark brunell, just to name a few

  12. Hands down Nolan Ryan. Happy Left-Handers Day!

  13. 1.) Mike Trout
    2.) Vladimir Guerrero
    3.) Ichiro
    4.) Cal Ripken Jr.
    5.) Albert Pujols
    6.) Ken Griffey Jr.
    7.) Alex Rodriguez
    8.) Derek Jeter
    9.) Jim Edmonds
    10.) Barry Bonds

  14. I will bring in some different sports...
    Rugby: Jonah Lomu, Shane Williams
    Soccer: Aaron Ramsey, Raheem Sterling, Alan Shearer, Laura Bassett, Wendie Reynard
    Does snooker count? Ronnie O'Sullivan
    Track & Field: Jessica Ennis

    And no complaints with your number 1!

  15. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Elton Brand, Henrik Lundqvist. My top from each of my three main sports.

    For naming a favorite student...I'd give them a name of somebody not in any of your classes. Just make up something that they would recognize as a name but not someone they actually know. But I'm weird like that. Not to taunt them, but basically create an ideal student for them to try and be better than.

  16. Fun list. I like it and might just steal the idea. Good stuff. From your list Rickey is definitely my favorite.

  17. As a Reds “homer,” my favs have been/are Rose, Bench, Sabo, & Votto. A fun story about favorite students - our youngest daughter’s 2nd or 3rd grade teacher once told us during a P-T conference that he didn’t have a favorite student, but he did confess that our daughter annoyed him the least!

  18. What a great post and idea. Fantastic list. My favorite 10 are, in some kind of random order: Art Monk, Garrey Galley, Dominique Wilkins, Ryne Sandberg, Andrew McCutchen, Dwight Gooden, Pete O'Brien, Dale Murphy, John Kruk, and Darryl Strawberry. I threw in a few non-baseball people because I felt like I had to.

  19. This was a really cool post. I would have to do a lot of thinking on this topic to get it narrowed down to just 10. So many great choices.

  20. elliptical man - some philly legends there. i always did like jaworski and tug

    john bateman - both of those guys are childhood favorites

    collecting cutch - i considered collecting polamalu back in the day, but his stuff was too pricey. i also liked bettis, penny, and shaq from your list

    jeff laws - nice. glad to entertain someone

    the lost collector - yeah. we'll be distance learning at least through december, but i have a feeling it'll be longer. do you collect moceanu? if so, that'd be a pretty cool pc.

    ohio tim - i like bettis, sanders, and brodeur too. i actually have a small brodeur pc

    johnnys trading spot - no glavine?

    jeff b - cool to see dravecky make someone's list. he signed at a card show in my area back in january

    dion's ip autos only - nice to see lewis and reed on your list. i have pc's for both of these guys. kong is a nice surprise too

    shoeboxlegends - hope to see your list eventually

    gcrl - could have predicted garvey, robinson, and robitaille. would have thought cey would make your list too, but that must be the other dodger collectors

    sumomenkoman - no favorite sumo wrestlers?

    laurens - great list. reminds me of a beckett hot list. well everyone except edmonds

    jongudmund - great list. didn't recognize a single athlete ;D

    billy kingsley - lol. the kids already assume i have favorites no matter what i tell them. half the time, they think it's them or their best friend

    bulldog - go for it. can't wait to see it

    cincicuse bill - i collect rose... and have a small collection of votto. that's funny that you mention that. there are definitely certain kids that are less annoying than other. i gotta say though... i often connect with the annoying kids though, because they crave so much attention that a lot of times if you connect with them, they'll settle down :D

    peter k steinberg - if i focused just on baseball, doc might make the top 10. maybe. he'd definitely be one of the first jersey i'd buy

    the snorting bull - thanks. hope you come up with your top 10 one day and share it with us.

  21. This is by no means a complete list, but a few names I'll throw out there are Cal Ripken, Jr., Nolan Arenado, Ichiro, Andrew McCutchen, Andres Galarraga, Alfonso Soriano. And for non-baseball, Phil Mickelson, Sebastien Loeb, Tara Lipinski, Pavel Datsyuk, and Ed McCaffrey.