March 4, 2015

The Philly Fifty: The 50 Best Athletes In Our City’s History

The Philly Fifty

23. Eddie Plank, Athletics
24. Tom Gola, LaSalle/Warriors
25. Moses Malone, Sixers
26. Brian Westbrook, Eagles
27. Curt Schilling, Phillies
28. Chuck Klein, Phillies
29. Billy Cunningham, Sixers
30. Steve Van Buren, Eagles
31. Pete Alexander, Phillies
32. Maurice Cheeks, Sixers
33. Randall Cunningham, Eagles
34. Harold Carmichael, Eagles
35. Chief Bender, Athletics
36. Eddie Collins, Athletics
37. Hal Greer, Sixers
38. Eric Lindros, Flyers
39. Mickey Cochrane, Athletics
40. Rick MacLeish, Flyers
41. Pete Pihos, Eagles
42. Bill Bergey, Eagles
43. Brian Propp, Flyers
44. Tommy McDonald, Eagles
45. Al Simmons, Athletics
46. Mark Howe, Flyers
47. Dick “Richie” Allen, Phillies
48. Lionel Simmons, La Salle
49. Jameer Nelson, St. Josephs
50. Pete Rose, Phillies


About the list…

I’ve been looking for a somewhat ambitious project to work on and I decided on this. I know some people find lists tiring, but I don’t, and I think more as a celebration of our sports history rather than a debate over who is the 37th or 38th best athlete.

Certainly some debate will ensue, but that’s part of the fun.

The twist with this list is that it is based around team sports in the city. So in addition to the Phillies, Sixers, Flyers and Eagles, I am also taking into account the Warriors, Athletics (while they were in the city) and Big-5 basketball.

It is based on people who played in the city, so I didn’t include people who were born here, or people in individual sports like Boxing or Track and Field who didn’t have “Philadelphia” stamped on their chest.

I used 8 different criteria to create the rankings, with grades from 1 to 5…

1. Longevity - How long the athlete played in Philadelphia. The minimum to be considered for the list is 4 years.

Grading Criteria…

5 - 11+ years
4 - 9-10 years
3 - 7-8 years
2 - 5-6 years
1 - 4 years

2. Peak - The highest level the athlete played at, for at least a year. When I say “all-star,” I don’t mean actual all-star appearances, rather they played at an all-star level.

Grading Criteria…

5 – Top-3 player in the sport
4 – Top-10 player in the sport
3 – High-level all-star
2 – All-star
1 – Near all-star

3. Popularity - How the player is currently received in the city. It would be impossible for me to gauge how popular a player was when they played, so I can only go by current level. Subjective, but important I think. As this is Philly, very few players receive “5″ in this category.

Grading Criteria…

5 - Universally beloved
4 - Mostly loved
3 - Some love, some hate, some don’t care
2 - Not that well known
1 -  Completely off the radar

4. Team Success - Very simple. How did his team perform when he played here?

Grading Criteria…

5- Multiple titles and multiple playoff runs
4- At least 1 title, several playoff runs
3 – 1 title or conference title, and not much else or several playoff runs
2 – A couple playoff runs
1 – Not so good

5. Awards - MVPs? Pro Bowls? Silver Sluggers? All-star games etc..

Grading Criteria…

5- Multiple awards, 8-10 all-stars games
4 – An MVP or couple awards, multiple all-star games
3 – Several all-star games
2 – A couple all-star games
1 –Nothing

6. Stats - Where do they rank in the team record books? I say “top-5/top-10″ below, but it varies by sport and position. But this gives you an idea.

Grading Criteria…

5- #1 in several categories, top-5 in several others
4 – Top-5 in several categories, top-10 in others
3 – Top-10 in several categories
2 – A couple all-star games
1 –Nothing

7. Historical Standing - This is mostly based around the hall-of-fame, or, how is the athlete looked at on a national level outside the city.

Grading Criteria…

5- One of the best ever
4 – 1st ballot type HOFer
3 – HOFer
- Borderline HOFer
1-  Not on the radar

8. Excitement - Another subjective category

Grading Criteria…

5- Must-see TV
4 – Often spectacular
3 – Occasionally spectacular
- Rarely spectacular
1-  Never spectacular

So that is how I chose the 50, and created the rankings. Obviously I considered a lot of guys for the list, so let’s take a quick look at who didn’t make it, and who might be added to list later on…

Who you won’t find on the list…

Considered, but fell short (alphabetical)

Bobby Abreu, Phillies
Larry Bowa, Phillies
Jim Bunning, Phillies
Johnny Callison, Phillies
Gavvy Cravath, Phillies
Eric Desjardins, Flyers
Ken Durrett, LaSalle
Del Ennis, Phillies
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Ron Jaworski, Eagles
Neil Johnston, Warriors
Tim Kerr, Flyers
Kerry Kittles, Villanova
John LeClair, Flyers
Mark Macon, Temple
Sherry Magee, Phillies
John Pinone, Villanova
Howard Porter, Villanova
Scott Rolen, Phillies
Clyde Simmons, Eagles
Curt Simmons, Phillies
Jerry Sisemore, Eagles
Tra Thomas, Eagles
Jimmy Watson, Flyers
Cy Williams, Phillies

Not considered (yet), or not yet eligible, but could be added in future

Nnamdi Asomugha, Eagles
Trent Cole, Eagles
Claude Giroux, Flyers
Roy Halladay, Phillies
Jrue Holiday, Sixers
Desean Jackson, Eagles
Cliff Lee, Phillies
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Chris Pronger, Flyers
Asante Samuel, Eagles
Michael Vick, Eagles
Shane Victorino, Phillies