Greatest Players Never To Win A Championship

John LewisSenior Writer IJuly 24, 2008

OK, so I'm on my greatest players kick, but there is just so much history to be told in each sport.  This list is a collection of the greatest players who fell short of just one goal, to win a title.

Here's the list of the greatest players never to hoist a championship trophy in order of greatness:

Ted Williams

Nicknamed The Splendid Splinter and Teddy Ballgame, Ted Williams was perhaps the greatest pure hitter that baseball has ever seen.  Williams holds the highest batting average of anyone with at least 500 home runs and in 1941 he batted .406 with 37 HRs and 120 RBI.

He's a two-time MVP, 17 time All-Star, a record .482 career on-base percentage, six batting titles, two Triple Crowns, and finished with 521 HRs, 1,839 RBI, .344 batting average and his career was interrupted twice to serve his country in the Marine Corps.

Barry Bonds

People can say what they want about Bonds, but there is no doubt the man could hit.  With or without performance enhancing drugs, he finished with (so-far) seven MVP awards, 14 All-Star appearances, eight gold gloves, 762 HRs, 1,996 RBI, 2,558 walks, 2,227 runs, 514 stolen bases and a .607 slugging percentage.

Dan Marino

Marino was one of the great QBs to come out of the class of 1983 when he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 27th pick.  All he would do is go on to set or break most of the passing records in the NFL.

Marino set 22 records and tied four others, and he finished with 61,361 passing yards, 420 touchdowns, nearly 5,000 completions, and a 59.4 completion percentage.  Seven of his passing records have been surpassed by Brett Favre, but he still holds the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,084.

Barry Sanders

Sanders was arguably the most elusive runner in NFL history, and will always be known for retiring early with the all-time rushing yards title was within reach.  Of the top 30 yards leaders in history, Sanders ranks second only to Jim Brown in yards per carry.

Sanders was a 10-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, and rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season he played in.  He's only one of five runners in history to rush for over 2,000 in a season and finished with 15,269 yards and 109 touchdowns.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey has one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball, and was the first pick in 1987 by the Seattle Mariners.  If not for injury, Griffey would be looking up at only Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on the home run list.  However, Junior has 606 career home runs, 1,749 RBI, 2,631 hits and has one MVP award.

Griffey is a seven-time silver slugger, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, and has 13 All-Star selections.  He has hit more than 40 HR seven times and more than 50 twice, when he had back-to-back 56 HR seasons in 1997 and 1998.

Elgin Baylor

Baylor played 13 seasons for the Minneapolis/LA Lakers, and was the No. 1 pick in the 1958 NBA draft.  Baylor averaged 31.3 points per game in college, and is one of only a few NBA players to finish with 23,149 career points and 11,463 career rebounds.

He was an 11-time All-Star and was the 1959 rookie of the year, the 1959 All-Star game MVP, and was named on both the 35th anniversary and 50th anniversary All-Time team.  His best season came in the 1961-1962 campaign when he averaged 38.3 points per game.

Ty Cobb

Cobb is widely considered to be the best dead-ball era player and considered by some to be the best hitter of all-time.  He's also credited with having set 90 records over his entire career.  Always known for his erratic temper, Cobb finished with a .367 batting average, 4,191 hits, 2,245 runs, 723 doubles, 297 triples, 117 HRs, 1,938 RBI, 892 stolen bases, 12 batting titles, one MVP award, and stole home 54 times.

Despite the hatred others had for him, he finished with the highest number of votes in the first Hall of Fame ballot in 1936.  Cobb has the distinction of hitting over .300 23 straight seasons, and only hit below that number once, his first year in the league when he only played in 41 games.

Y.A. Tittle

Tittle began his pro football career with the Baltimore Colts of the All-American Football Conference in 1948.  The AAFC later joined the NFL in 1950, and Tittle bounced around before he found a home with the New York Giants.  In 1963, he would set a then-record with 36 touchdown passes, a record that stood until 1984 when Dan Marino broke it.

Tittle is also one of only seven QBs to have consecutive 30 touchdown passing seasons and finished his career with 33,070 yards passing and 242 touchdowns, combining both his AAFC and NFL career. 

Fran Tarkenton

The Minnesota Vikings drafted Tarkenton in the third round of the 1961 NFL draft.  He was given the nickname "Scramblin Fran" for his ability to move around in the pocket, waiting for open receivers.  During his 18 years he helped lead the Vikings to three Super Bowls and promptly lost all of them.

He finished his career with 47,003 passing yards, 342 touchdowns, 3,674 rushing yards, 32 rushing touchdowns, nine Pro-Bowls, one MVP award and a QB rating of 80.4.

Jim Kelly

Kelly was a first round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 1983 and began what some may call  an underrated career.  He helped lead the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls, 1990-1991-1992-1993, and of course lost all of them.

The K-Gun finished his career with 35,467 passing yards, 237 touchdowns, an 84.4 QB rating, and threw for an additional 9,842 yards and 83 touchdowns in two seasons in the USFL.

Ernie Banks

Known as Mr. Cub, Banks began his pro career playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in 1950, before he would break through to the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Chicago Cubs.  Banks would earn back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959, but of course never won the big one.

He would finish his career with 512 HRs, 1,636 RBI, 11 All-Star selections, one Gold Glove, and is one of only four Cubs to have their number retired.

Eric Dickerson

Dickerson was the No. 2 overall pick in 1983 by the Los Angeles Rams.  He had a break-out rookie season with 1,808 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.  But he wasn't done yet. His second season would prove to be record breaking, as he set the all-time single season rushing record with 2,105 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns.

Dickerson would rush for over 1,000 yards in his first eight seasons and finished with 13,259 yards rushing, 96 touchdowns, six Pro-Bowls, one NFL Player of the Year award and a 4.4 yards per carry average.

Karl Malone & John Stockton

Malone was a first round pick in 1985 by the Utah Jazz, and went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career with one missing piece; a title.  He can thank Michael Jordan for that, but what Malone did was become the second highest number of points in NBA history.  Only looking up at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he finished with 36,928 points and 14,968 rebounds.

Malone will also be known for his teammate John Stockton, who holds the all-time career assists mark.  It's hard to name Malone without mentioning Stockton, because the two were what made the Utah Jazz great.  Malone was also a two-time MVP thanks to great passing by Stockton, who led the league in assists nine times.

With every list there has to be an honorable mention.  These players, without a doubt, belong among the greatest to ever suit up.

Charles Barkley, Robin Yount, Patrick Ewing, Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Marcel Dionne, Dominique Wilkins, OJ Simpson, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers, Thurman Thomas, Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, Ryne Sandberg, Reggie Miller, Pete Maravich, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, LaDainian Tomlinson. 


    Full 1st Round Results, Big Board 👀

    Featured logo

    Full 1st Round Results, Big Board 👀

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Live: Grading Every Pick

    Featured logo

    Live: Grading Every Pick

    Adam Fromal
    via Bleacher Report

    Pro Comps for Prospects

    Featured logo

    Pro Comps for Prospects

    Kelly Scaletta
    via Bleacher Report

    How the Draft Can Fix Every Team's Biggest Issue 🛠️

    Featured logo

    How the Draft Can Fix Every Team's Biggest Issue 🛠️

    Zach Buckley
    via Bleacher Report