Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was voted the greatest New York athlete ever, with Babe Ruth coming in a close second, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Jeter — a five-time World Series champion — earned 14 percent of the vote, while 11 percent tipped their hats to Ruth, according to the poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute.
Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and former Jets quarterback Joe Namath rounded out the top five.
This might be a fun topic for debate if Babe Ruth didn’t do the bulk of his damage in New York. Ruth is the best baseball player ever. His stats are so sexy, his baseball-reference page is blocked by SNY’s web filter. He played in seven World Series with the Yankees and won four of them. Even though he converted to being a full-time position player before coming to New York, he randomly pitched in five games in his Yankee career and got the win in all of them.
The more interesting argument is over the second-best New York athlete of all time. Here the case for Jeter could be made, I suppose, since he plays a premium position, is the Yankees’ all-time hit leader, and has the five rings and all. But I think it’s tough to even call him the second-best Yankee; that distinction should probably go to Mickey Mantle.
Who else, though? I’d love to put a Met in the discussion but, as good as Tom Seaver was, he probably didn’t contribute as much to the Mets all told as Mantle did to the Yankees. Lawrence Taylor? I could make that case. Patrick Ewing? Mike Tyson before 1990?