This Is the Greatest Two-Sport Star Ever

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Professional sports are filled with athletes who excelled at two or more sports. The most famous of these, recently, could be Michael Jordan. He took time off as the greatest basketball player of his generation to play professional baseball. Some athletes had to choose between at least two sports when they became professionals. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow picked the NFL over a potential contract with MLB’s New York Mets. The difference between the two athletes is that Jordon became a legendary basketball player. Tebow did not last long in the NFL.

A number of spectacularly gifted athletes have excelled at multiple different sports, often at the same time. These two-sport athletes have become the stuff of legend, wowing fans with their athletic ability and making their names as some of the most impressive athletes of all time.

24/7 Tempo reviewed sports records and media reports to determine the greatest two-sport athlete of all time. Data for MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL athletes came from the Sports Reference family of sites.

Many multi-sport athletes play baseball at a high level in addition to one or more other sports. Though the skills needed for baseball vary from those for football, basketball and hockey, it certainly helps to be fast and strong and have excellent hand-eye coordination in any athletic event.

Playing two sports would seem to put the players at a significant disadvantage to their competitors, as they have less time to rest or hone their skills in the offseason. Yet the natural athletic gifts of two-sport stars allow them to reach the highest levels of both pro sports. This athletic ability has helped many players perform at a high level early on in their careers.

There is little debate that Jim Thorpe is the greatest multi-sport athlete ever. He gained worldwide fame by winning gold in the pentathlon and decathlon events in the 1912 Olympics. The next year, he began his six-season MLB career, which lasted until 1919. In 1920, at age 33, he helped kickstart the football organization that would become the NFL, serving as the tailback and head coach of the Canton Bulldogs. He bounced around to several NFL teams, leaving an indelible mark on each. He was selected for the inaugural class of the NFL Hall of Fame and is known to this day as one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever live.

Click here to read see all the 21 greatest two-sports athletes ever.

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.