Best Athletes – By Sport

I collected some “Best Athletes of All Time” lists off the Internet and combined them into one list.  Because I only found a few such lists, I supplemented with sport-specific “Best Athletes” lists.  First, I organized the results by rank, that is, by the number of lists the athlete was on.  To see the list, go here.  Michael Jordan was on 17 of the 20+ lists I found, giving him the Number 1 spot.  The list below is organized by sport and within each sport by rank (the number of lists the athlete was on is in parentheses), and within rank by date of birth.  Where men and women both compete in the sport, but compete separately, I have separated the men and women.

BASEBALL

Babe Ruth (US, 1895-1948) (15)
Jackie Robinson (US, 1919-1972) (13)
Bo Jackson (US, 1962- ) (12)
Willie Mays (US, 1931- ) (11)
Ted Williams (US, 1918-2002) (10)
Ty Cobb (US, 1886-1961) (9)
Lou Gehrig (US, 1903-1941) (9)
Joe DiMaggio (US, 1914-1999) (9)
Hank Aaron (US, 1934- ) (8)
Mickey Mantle (US, 1931-1995) (7)
Sandy Koufax (US, 1935- ) (7)
Deion Sanders (US, 1967- ) (7)
Cy Young (US, 1867-1955) (6)
Pete Rose (US, 1941- ) (5)
Honus Wagner (US, 1874-1955) (4)
Walter Johnson (US, 1887-1946) (4)
Rogers Hornsby (US, 1896-1963) (4)
Stan Musial (US, 1920-2013) (4)
Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico, 1934-1972) (4)
Satchel Paige (US, 1906-1982) (3)
Josh Gibson (US, 1911-1947) (3)
Bob Gibson (US, 1935- ) (3)
Alex Rodriguez (US, 1975- ) (3)
Christy Mathewson (US, 1880-1925) (2)
Tris Speaker (US, 1888-1958) (2)
Jimmy Foxx (US, 1907-1967) (2)
Sadaharu Oh (Japan, 1940- ) (2)
Mike Schmidt (US, 1949- ) (2)
Dave Winfield (US, 1951- ) (2)
Barry Bonds (US, 1964- ) (2)
Greg Maddux (US, 1966- ) (2)
Derek Jeter (US, 1974- ) (2)

TRACK & FIELD
Men
Jim Thorpe (US, 1888-1953) (15)
Carl Lewis (US, 1961- ) (15)
Jesse Owens (US, 1913-1980) (12)
Paavo Nurmi (Finland, 1897-1973) (8)
Michael Johnson (US, 1967- ) (8)
Usain Bolt (Jamaica, 1986- ) (8)
Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia, 1973- ) (6)
Sergey Bubka (USSR/Ukraine, 1963- ) (5)
Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco, 1974- ) (5)
Roger Bannister (UK, 1929- ) (4)
Rafer Johnson (US, 1935- ) (4)
Al Oerter (US, 1936-2007) (4)
Emil Zátopek (Czechoslovakia, 1922-2000) (3)
Bob Mathias (US, 1930-2006) (3)
Bob Beamon (US, 1946- ) (3)
Edwin Moses (US, 1955- ) (6)
Sebastian Coe (UK, 1956- ) (2)
Daley Thompson (UK, 1958- ) (2)
Roman Šebrle (Czech Republic, 1974- ) (2)
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia, 1982- ) (2)

Women
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (US, 1911-1956) (16)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (US, 1962- ) (13)
Wilma Rudolph (US, 1940-1994) (6)
Paula Radcliffe (UK, 1973- ) (4)
Fanny Blankers-Koen (Netherlands, 1918-2004) (3)
Tegla Laroupe (Kenya, 1973- ) (3)
Grete Waitz (Norway, 1953-2011) (2)
Joan Benoit Samuelson (US, 1957- ) (2)
Mary Decker Slaney (US, 1958- ) (2)
Florence Griffith Joyner (US, 1959-1998) (2)
Marion Jones (US, 1975- ) (2)

BASKETBALL
Men

Michael Jordan (US, 1963- ) (17)
Wilt Chamberlain (US, 1936-1999) (14)
Bill Russell (US, 1934- ) (10)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (US, 1947- ) (10)
Larry Bird (US, 1956- ) (10)
Earvin “Magic” Johnson (US, 1959- ) (10)
Oscar Robertson (US, 1938- ) (7)
LeBron James (US, 1984- ) (6)
Julius Erving (US, 1950- ) (5)
Jerry West (US, 1938- ) (4)
Kobe Bryant (US, 1978- ) (4)
Elgin Baylor (US, 1934- ) (3)
Bob Cousy (US, 1928- ) (2)
Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria, 1963- ) (2)
Scottie Pippen (US, 1965- ) (2)
Shaquille O’Neal (US, 1972- ) (2)
Dwayne Wade (US, 1982- ) (2)

Women
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (US, 1911-1956) (16)
Cheryl Miller (US, 1964- ) (6)
Cynthia Cooper (US, 1963- ) (4)
Lisa Leslie (US, 1972- ) (4)
Sheryl Swoopes (US, 1971- ) (3)
Ann Meyers (US, 1955- ) (2)
Nancy Lieberman (US, 1958- ) (2)
Teresa Edwards (US, 1964- ) (2)
Chamique Holdsclaw (US, 1977- ) (2)
Diana Taurasi (US, 1982- ) (2)

SOCCER
Men

Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) (Brazil, 1940- ) (15)
Diego Maradona (Argentina, 1960- ) (8)
Ronaldo (Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima) (Brazil, 1976- ) (6)
Lionel Messi (Argentina, 1987- ) (6)
George Best (Northern Ireland, 1946-2005) (5)
Zinedine Zidane (France, 1972- ) (5)
Johan Cruyff (Netherlands, 1947- ) (4)
David Beckham (UK, 1975- ) (4)
Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira) (Brazil, 1980- ) (4)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, 1985- ) (4)
Alfredo di Stéfano (Argentina, 1926- ) (3)
Ferenc Puskás (Hungary, 1927-2006) (3)
Eusébio (Eusébio da Silva Ferreira) (Mozambique/Portugal, 1942-2014) (3)
Franz Beckenbauer (Germany, 1945- ) (3)
Michel Platini (France, 1955- ) (3)
Lev Yashin (USSR, 1929-1990) (2)
Garrincha (Manuel Francisco dos Santos) (Brazil, 1933-1983) (2)
Bobby Charlton (UK, 1937- ) (2)
Zico (Arthur Antunes Coimbra) (Brazil, 1953- ) (2)
Marco van Basten (Netherlands, 1964- ) (2)
Homare Sawa (Japan, 1978- ) (2)

Women

Mia Hamm (US, 1972- ) (6)
Michelle Akers (US, 1966- ) (3)
Abby Wambach (US, 1980- ) (3)
Marta (Marta Vieira da Silva) (Brazil, 1986- ) (3)
Kelly Smith (UK, 1978- ) (2)
Christine Sinclair (Canada, 1983- ) (2)

FOOTBALL
Jim Thorpe (US, 1888-1953) (15)
Jim Brown (US, 1936- ) (15)
Joe Montana (US, 1956- ) (12)
Jerry Rice (US, 1962- ) (12)
Bo Jackson (US, 1962- ) (12)
Walter Payton (US, 1954-1999) (9)
Lawrence Taylor (US, 1959- ) (7)
Deion Sanders (US, 1967- ) (7)
Barry Sanders (US, 1968- ) (7)
Johnny Unitas (US, 1933-2002) (5)
Dick Butkus (US, 1942- ) (5)
Tom Brady (US, 1977- ) (5)
Harold “Red” Grange (US, 1903-1991) (4)
Don Hutson (US, 1913-1997) (4)
Peyton Manning (US, 1976- ) (4)
O.J. Simpson (US, 1947- ) (3)
John Elway (US, 1960- ) (3)
Dan Marino (US, 1961- ) (3)
Sammy Baugh (US, 1914-2008) (2)
Otto Graham (US, 1921-2003) (2)
George Blanda (US, 1927-2010) (2)
Gale Sayers (US, 1943- ) (2)
Reggie White (US, 1961-2004) (2)
Emmitt Smith (US, 1969- ) (2)
Michael Vick (US, 1980- ) (2)

TENNIS
Men
Roger Federer (Switzerland, 1981- ) (13)
Rod Laver (Australia, 1938- ) (7)
Pete Sampras (US, 1971- ) (7)
Rafael Nadal (Spain, 1986- ) (6)
Jimmy Connors (US, 1952- ) (5)
Björn Borg (Sweden, 1956- ) (5)
John McEnroe (US, 1959- ) (3)
Bill Tilden (US, 1893-1953) (2)
Don Budge (US, 1915-2000) (2)
Ivan Lendl (Czechoslovakia/US, 1960- ) (2)
Andre Agassi (US, 1970- ) (2)
Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 1987- ) (2)

Women
Martina Navratilova (Czechoslovakia, 1956- ) (15)
Chris Evert (US, 1954- ) (10)
Billie Jean King (US, 1943- ) (9)
Steffi Graf (Germany, 1969- ) (9)
Serena Williams (US, 1981- ) (7)
Althea Gibson (US, 1927-2003) (4)
Monica Seles (Yugoslavia/Serbia, 1973- ) (4)
Venus Williams (US, 1980- ) (4)
Margaret Court (Australia, 1942- ) (3)
Maureen Connolly (US, 1934-1969) (2)
Maria Sharapova (Russia, 1987- ) (2)

GOLF
Men
Tiger Woods (US, 1975- ) 13
Jack Nicklaus (US, 1940- ) 12
Bobby Jones (US, 1902-1971) (5)
Arnold Palmer (US, 1929- ) (5)
Ben Hogan (US, 1912-1997) (4)
Sam Snead (US, 1912-2002) (3)
Walter Hagen (US, 1892-1969) (2)
Byron Nelson (US, 1912-2006) (2)
Gary Player (South Africa, 1935- ) (2)
Tom Watson (US, 1949- ) (2)
Seve Ballesteros (Spain, 1957-2011) (2)

Women
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (US, 1911-1956) 16
Annika Sörenstam (Sweden, 1970- ) (6)
Althea Gibson (US, 1927-2003) (4)
Kathy Whitworth (US, 1939- ) (4)
Patty Berg (US, 1918-2006) (3)
Mickey Wright (US, 1935- ) (3)
Louise Suggs (US, 1923- ) (2)
Nancy Lopez (US, 1957- ) (2)
Karrie Webb (Australia, 1974- ) (2)

FIGURE SKATING
Men
Scott Hamilton (US, 1958- ) (3)
Brian Boitano (US, 1963- ) (3)
Alexei Yagudin (Russia, 1980- ) (3)
Brian Orser (Canada, 1961- ) (2)
Evgeni Plushenko (Russia, 1982- ) (2)
Evan Lysacek (US, 1985- ) (2)
Daisuke Takahashi (Japan, 1986- ) (2)

Women
Sonja Henie (Norway, 1912-1969) (5)
Peggy Fleming (US, 1948- ) (5)
Dorothy Hamill (US, 1956- ) (3)
Katarina Witt (Germany, 1965- ) (3)
Michelle Kwan (US, 1980- ) (3)
Midori Ito (Japan, 1969- ) (2)
Kristi Yamaguchi (US, 1971- ) (2)
Kim Yuna (South Korea, 1990- ) (2)

BOXING
Muhammad Ali (US, 1942- ) (15)
Joe Louis (US, 1914-1981) (10)
Sugar Ray Robinson (US, 1921-1989) (9)
Rocky Marciano (US, 1923-1969) (6)
Mike Tyson (US, 1966- ) (5)
Jack Johnson (US, 1878-1946) (4)
Jack Dempsey (US, 1895-1983) (4)
Henry Armstrong (US, 1912-1988) (4)
Manny Pacquiao (Philippines, 1978- ) (3)
Willie Pep (US, 1922-2006) (2)
Roberto Durán (Panama, 1951- ) (2)
Sugar Ray Leonard (US, 1956- ) (2)
Roy Jones, Jr. (US, 1969- ) (2)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (US, 1977- ) (2)

ICE HOCKEY
Wayne Gretzky (Canada, 1961- ) (15)
Bobby Orr (Canada, 1948- ) (9)
Gordie Howe (Canada, 1928- ) (8)
Mario Lemieux (Canada, 1965- ) (6)
Maurice Richard (Canada, 1921-2000) (4)
Bobby Hull (Canada, 1939- ) (4)
Jean Béliveau (Canada, 1931- ) (2)
Phil Esposito (Canada, 1942- ) (2)
Guy Lafleur (Canada, 1951- ) (2)
Mark Messier (Canada, 1961- ) (2)
Patrick Roy (Canada, 1965- ) (2)
Steve Yzerman (Canada, 1965- ) (2)
Manon Rhéaume (Canada, 1972- ) (2)
Sidney Crosby (Canada, 1987- ) (2)

SWIMMING
Men
Michael Phelps (US, 1985- ) (11)
Mark Spitz (US, 1950- ) (9)
Ian Thorpe (Australia, 1982- ) (5)
Johnny Weissmuller (Austro-Hungary/US, 1904-1984) (2)
Matt Biondi (US, 1965- ) (2)
Alexander Popov (Russia, 1971- ) (2)

Women
Dawn Fraser (Australia, 1937- ) (4)
Janet Evans (US, 1971- ) (4)
Mary T. Meagher (US, 1964- ) (3)
Tracy Caulkins (US, 1963- ) (2)
Kristin Otto (Germany, 1966- ) (2)
Jenny Thompson (US, 1973- ) (2)
Krisztina Egerszegi (Hungary, 1974- ) (2)

GYMNASTICS
Men
Boris Shakhlin (USSR, 1932-2008) (2)
Sawao Kato (Japan, 1946- ) (2)
Nikolai Andrianov (Russia, 1952-2011) (2)
Dmitry Bilozerchev (USSR, 1966- ) (2)
Vitaly Scherbo (Belarus, 1972- ) (2)
Alexei Nemov (Russia, 1976- ) (2)

Women
Nadia Comaneci (Romania, 1961- ) (10)
Larissa Latynina (USSR/Ukraine, 1934- ) (4)
Mary Lou Retton (US, 1968- ) (4)
Věra Čáslavská (Czechoslovakia, 1942- ) (2)
Olga Korbut (USSR/Belarus, 1955- ) (2)
Lilia Podkopayeva (Ukraine, 1978- ) (2)
Svetlana Khorkina (Russia, 1979- ) (2)

CRICKET
Donald Bradman (Australia, 1908-2001) (6)
Sachin Tendulkar (India, 1973- ) (6)
Shane Warne (Australia, 1969- ) (5)
Brian Lara (Trinidad & Tobago, 1969- ) (5)
Garfield Sobers (Barbados, 1936- ) (4)
Viv Richards (Antigua & Barbuda, 1952- ) (4)
Imran Khan (Pakistan, 1952- ) (2)
Ian Botham (UK, 1955- ) (2)
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, 1972- ) (2)

CYCLING
Lance Armstrong (US, 1971- ) (8)
Eddy Merckx (Belgium, 1945- ) (5)
Fausto Coppi (Italy, 1919-1960) (3)
Gino Bartali (Italy, 1914-2000) (2)
Jacques Anquetil (France, 1934-1987) (2)
Bernard Hinault (France, 1954- ) (2)
Miguel Indurain (Spain, 1964- ) (2)

ALPINE SKIING
Men
Jean-Claude Killy (France, 1943- ) (5)
Alberto Tomba (Italy, 1966- ) (2)
Kjetil André Aamodt (Norway, 1971- ) (2)
Bode Miller (US, 1977- ) (2)

Women
Picabo Street (US, 1971- ) (2)
Janica Kostelić (Croatia, 1982- ) (2)
Lindsey Vonn (US, 1984- ) (2)

AUTO RACING
Michael Schumacher (Germany, 1969- ) (5)
Richard Petty (US, 1937- ) (3)
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (US, 1951-2001) (3)
A.J. Foyt (US, 1935) (2)
Ayrton Senna (Brazil, 1960-1994) (2)

WRESTLING
Dan Gable (US, 1948- ) (4)
Alexander Karelin (Russia, 1967- ) (3)
Cael Sanderson (US, 1979- ) (2)

MARTIAL ARTS
Bruce Lee (US/Hong Kong, 1940-1973) (6)
Anderson Silva (Brazil, 1975- ) (2)

SPEEDSKATING
Bonnie Blair (US, 1964- ) (5)
Eric Heiden (US, 1958- ) (4)

HORSE RACING
Willie Shoemaker (US, 1931-2003) (3)
Eddie Arcaro (US, 1916-1997) (2)

SKATEBOARDING
Tony Hawk (US, 1968- ) (3)
Shaun White (US, 1986- ) (2)

SURFING
Kelly Slater (US, 1972- ) (3)
Laird Hamilton (US, 1964- ) (2)

RUGBY
Serge Blanco (Venezuela, 1958- ) (2)
David Campese (Australia, 1962- ) (2)

ROWING
Steve Redgrave (UK, 1962- ) (4)

DIVING
Greg Louganis (US, 1960- ) (3)

SOFTBALL
Lisa Fernandez (US, 1971- ) (2)

MOTORCYCLE RACING
Valentino Rossi (Italy, 1979- ) (2)

SNOWBOARDING 
Shaun White (US, 1986- ) (2)

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