Zach Anderson, Ariy-El Boynton, And Travis Kriens
40. Gale Sayers
He was nicknamed the Kansas Comet, which seems like a fitting nickname considering his brief but definitely bright career. Sayers was the youngest NFL player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 at the age of 34. Sayers played in the NFL from 1965-1971, gaining 9,435 net career yards. He rushed for 4,956 yards during his career on his way to scoring 336 points. As a rookie in 1965, he rushed for 22 touchdowns and scored 132 points, winning Rookie of the Year. Sayers was also a three-time Pro Bowl Offensive Player of the Game. Honorable Mention: Mike Alstott (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Byron Beck (Denver Nuggets), Sonny Collins (University of Kentucky running back).
41. Tom Seaver
He was the only player ever commemorated with a New York Mets baseball cap in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1992 when he received the highest percentage of votes ever, with 98.84 percent. Seaver was a three-time Cy Young Award winner. He won the award in the 1969, 1973 and 1975 seasons. He set a record by striking out the final 10 San Diego Padres batters during a game in 1970. In 1969, Seaver helped the Mets win the World Series and was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He was a five-time league leader in strikeouts in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1976. Seaver finished his career with 3,640 strikeouts, earning 311 wins. Seaver was also selected as Rookie of the Year in 1967. Honorable Mention: Wes Unseld (Baltimore Bullets), Glen Rice (Michigan Basketball).
42. Jackie Robinson
He broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier and won the 1947 Rookie of the Year honors. Robinson earned the National League MVP in 1949. In the same season, he was also selected as the Batting Champ. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson was a six-time All-Star and had a career batting average of .311. He also helped win the World Series in 1955 for the Dodgers as they defeated the New York Yankees. His effect was so profound that every Major League Baseball team retired #42 in honor of Robinson. Honorable Mention: Ronnie Lott (San Francisco 49ers), Nate Thurmond (Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors).
43. Dennis Eckersley
One of the most dominating relief pitchers ever is the best player to wear number 43.
“Eck,” who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, was lights out when he was called in to save a game. In 1987 when he was picked up by the Oakland Athletics, the A’s turned his nasty pitches and signature wind-up into what baseball fans know as the ninth inning closer.Not only did Eck have 390 saves, he blazed new trails as well.
When the 1988 and1992 Rolaids Relief Man of the Year started to lose the speed of his fastball of youth, he emerged with pinpoint accuracy, and when he retired, he was one of two men with 20-wins and 50-save seasons. Honorable mention: Richard Petty (NASCAR), Troy Polamalu (Steelers), Jack Sikma (Supersonics)
44. Hank Aaron
Yikes. Jerry West, Pistol Pete and John Riggins could win, but it has to go to the Hammer. Hank did lead the Major League Baseball in all-time career home runs, with 755, until someone named Bonds broke it last year. Not only was he great with the bat, but he was a Civil Rights player also. When he was on verge of breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns in 1973, he received thousands of letters every week, some of them threatening him and his family if he did break Ruth’s homerun record. The 24 consecutive all-star game recipient ignored all of the threats and hit number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Al Downing on April 8, 1974, in a great day not only for baseball but for America. “Hammering’ Hank” also holds the MLB’s All-Time RBI’s for a career with 2297 and is in third place for most games played, 3,928.
Honorable mention: Jim Brown (Syracuse), Reggie Jackson (Yankees) and Willie McCovey (San Francisco Giants)
45. Pedro Martinez
Martinez will likely be a first-ballot hall-of-famer when he hangs up his spikes, due to his .692 winning percentage (209-93) and for a few years, he was one of the most feared hurlers to take the mound. The former Dodgers, Expos, Boston Red Sox and current Mets pitcher earned a spot in the 3,000 strike-out club with 3,020 to start the 2008 season. The ace once had 10 consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts in 1999 through early 2000. Martinez won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2004, which broke the Curse of the Bambino. Martinez was also part of one of the funniest, but oddest exchanges in MLB history when 72-year-old Yankees coach Don Zimmer charged the starting pitcher in the 2003 ALCS. Martinez just pushed the aged Yankees coach aside, and Zimmer found the ground fast. Honorable mention: Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals) Archie Griffin (Ohio State) and Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
46. Lee Smith
Instead of Rolaids spelling relief, it should be L-e-e-S-m-i-t-h. When he retired, Smith held the all-time saves record in the MLB with 478. He also holds the record for most games finished. The ex-Cubs, Red Sox, Expos, Reds, Yankees and Cardinals pitcher finished in the top 10 four times for Cy Young Award voting and was a seven time all-star. In 1991, Smith barley missed being awarded the CY Young award and had four seasons with the most saves in a single season. It is a shame that the three-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year is not in Cooperstown as a hall-of-famer yet. Since retiring, Smith has worked with the San Francisco Giants and also helped spread the game all over the world by working with ball players from Europe and Africa. Honorable mention: Andy Pettitte, Todd Christensen (Oakland Raiders, American Gladiators host), Don Fleming (Cleveland Browns).
47. Tom Glavine
The longtime Atlanta Braves lefty has been one of the most consistent pitchers of his generation. In 1991 and 1998, Glavine won the National League Cy Young Award and has finished in the top three on three separate occasions. While Glavine is not known for having an overpowering fastball, he did lead the NL in strikeouts in 1992 and is currently ranked eighth among all active pitchers in career strikeouts. Glavine’s lone World Series championship came in 1995, and he has been selected for the All-Star team 10 times. Glavine recorded his 300th career victory last season against the Chicago Cubs as a member of the New York Mets. He is the 23rd pitcher to get to the 300 win milestone and only the fifth left-hander to do so. Glavine signed with the Mets in 2003 but will return to Atlanta in 2008 for his 22nd Major League season. Honorable Mention: Jack Morris (Pitcher), Mel Blount (Pittsburgh Steelers)
48. Daryl Johnston
The lead blocker for the NFL’s all-time rushing leader and greatest player ever to wear #22, Emmitt Smith, Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston was the premier blocking back of his day. “Moose” was drafted out of Syracuse in 1989 and spent 10 years with the Cowboys. He was also a part of the three Super Bowl winning Dallas teams in the mid ’90s and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in 1993 and 1994. Even though he was known for his blocking, Johnston also reached the end zone 22 times and compiled over 2,200 career receiving yards. During his first eight seasons in the NFL, Johnston never missed a game, playing in 143 straight. Johnston retired early in 1999 due to a neck injury. He currently broadcasts NFL games on FOX as part of the number two team along with Kenny Albert. Honorable Mention: Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Sam McDowell (Cleveland Indians)
49. Ron Guidry
“Louisiana Lightning” Ron Guidry spent his entire 14-year Major League career (1975-1988) pitching for the New York Yankees. Guidry’s best season came in 1978 when he won his only Cy Young Award and led the American League with a 1.74 ERA, 25 wins, a .893 winning percentage, nine shutouts and 248 strikeouts. He also finished second to Boston’s Jim Rice in the MVP voting. In the Yankee history book, Guidry is fourth in career wins as well as games started by a pitcher. Number 49 was retired by the Yankees in 2003, and a plaque was placed in his honor in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Honorable Mention: Larry Dierker (Houston Astros), Bobby Mitchell (Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins)