Left Handed Day 2010: The 10 Best Sports Lefties Ever

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2010

Left Handed Day 2010: The 10 Best Sports Lefties Ever

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    Today is not only Friday the 13th, it is also a day where we pay homage to the odd-balls in our society in the form of National Left-Handed Day.

    In recent years, notable lefties including Rafael Nadal, Phil Mickelson and and Randy Johnson have dazzled and amazed us.  But are they good enough to be considered among the ranks of the best lefties?

    Let's take a look at the 10 best left-handed athletes throughout the history of sports.

No. 10: Manny Pacquiao

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    Pacquiao gets the nod over fellow lefty Oscar De La Hoya.  His record speaks for itself.

    Pacquiao has captured nine world titles in seven different weight divisions while becoming an iconic figure in the sports world.  His influence goes beyond sports and has fueled his ascension to politician in his native Philippines.

No. 9: Martina Navratilova

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    Still considered by many as being the best female tennis player to ever live, the southpaw won 18 single's Grand Slam titles and a whopping 31 double's Grand Slam Titles during her career.

    Navratilova won a record 167 singles titles and 177 doubles titles during her career, which included a record 74-match winning streak.

    She continued to play in tournaments until she was nearly fifty, and became the oldest player to win a Grand Slam event when she captured the Mixed Double title at Wimbledon at age 46.  She is also the oldest player to win a singles match, a feat she accomplished a year later at Wimbledon at 47.

No. 8: Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Griffey's style and grace made him a captivating figure, especially early in his career with the Mariners.  When he retired earlier this season, he left with historic numbers that won't be tainted by any rumors of steroids.

    Griffey Jr. ranks fifth all-time in Major League history with 630 home runs and won 10 Gold Gloves during his injury-riddled career.  There's no telling what he could have done had been able to stay healthy.

No. 7: Barry Bonds

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    It's difficult to separate what was legit and what was not, but Barry Bonds' numbers and overall skill is impossible to ignore.  That doesn't mean it's easy to respect.

    Bonds slugged a total of 762 home runs and set a new precedent for stars being pitched around, easily capturing baseball records in both walks and intentional walks.

    Early in his career, he was an outstanding five-tool player who burst onto the scene with the Pirates before his behavior led to a trade the the Giants.  He won seven Most Valuable Most Valuable Player awards, including four straight, a feat that might never be matched again.

No. 6: Larry Bird

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    Bird is one of the most unique athletes in recent memory.  His abilities to dominate the game despite having average speed, quickness and leaping ability were nothing short of amazing.

    Although Bird shot his feathery jumpers right-handed, he is technically left-handed and is thereby eligible.

    Bird's rivalry with Magic Johnson helped the NBA rise from the days of tape-delayed coverage to a big-time commodity by the late 1980's.

    The three-time NBA Most Valuable Player and also captured two NBA Finals MVP's with the Celtics.

No. 5: Deion Sanders

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    Sanders is truly one of the best athletes to ever live.  He is widely regarded as the best cover-cornerback to play in the NFL, with blinding speed and the ability to change the game as a kick returner.

    "Primetime" played in both the NFL and Major League baseball at the same time, and in 1989 hit a home run and scored a touchdown in the same week, something the sports world probably will never see again.

No. 4: Pele

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    Why does Pele make the list?  He was left-handed, and technically, left-footed.

    As for his athletic accomplishments, there is no question he belongs.

    Pele began playing for the Brazilian National Team at age 15 and went on to win three World Cups for his country while becoming the greatest soccer play of all time.

    His influence stretches across a number of platforms, from the sports world to the sociopolitical realm.

No. 3: Bill Russell

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    Simply put, Bill Russell is the most successful athlete of all time.  During his 13-year career, he helped the Celtics win an astounding 11 NBA Champions.  For one reason or another, he always seemed to outperform rival Wilt Chamberlain along the way.

    Russell won five Most Valuable Player awards and continues to be an ambassador of the game of basketball.

No. 2: Wayne Gretzky

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    "The Great One" is actually right handed, but since he accomplished his NHL records using a lefty stick he makes the list.

    Gretzky began playing hockey with his left hand for no other reason than to be different, which makes it somewhat amazing that he was able to play at such a high level from an early age.

    The Canadian used his skating and agility to become the greatest hockey player ever, tallying over 200 points in four seasons and winning a nine Hart Trophies as the NHL's most valuable player.

No. 1: Babe Ruth

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    "The Sultan of Swat" is still regarded as the greatest baseball player to ever play the game after showcase his prowess as a hitter and pitcher during his 21-year career.

    Ruth hit .342 for his career, belted 714 home runs and tallying a ridiculous OPS of 1.169.  He also compiled a 94-46 record as a starting pitcher with an ERA of 2.28.

    From his "Called Shot" to his life away from the diamond, Babe Ruth cemented his place among the most memorable athletes to play any sport.