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Tracknfieldgear On August 4, 2010

10. Brian Jordan

Baseball and football seems to be one of the most popular two-sport combinations for these athletes, and Brian Jordan is a classic example. After shining on both the diamond and the gridiron throughout high school and college, he began a career in the late 1980’s as both an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and a safety for the Buffalo Bills. Despite his obvious versatility, it’s widely agreed that Jordan was always a better baseball player than he was a football defensive back (he was cut from the Bills’ training camp during his first NFL season), and after only a few years in the NFL, he left the game to pursue baseball full time. Once he narrowed his focus to just one sport, Jordan quickly became a big-time asset to his team, batting nearly .300 and hitting an impressive 22 home runs in 1995. His later career would see him become a journeyman of sorts, playing for the Atlanta Braves on two different occasions (with whom he earned an All-Star Game appearance), as well as for the Rangers and the Dodgers.

Most Impressive Achievement:

Jordan may have become known more as a baseball slugger in his later years, but for a brief period he was one of very few athletes to have ever played both football and baseball simultaneously. After leaving the Bills in the late eighties, Jordan signed with Atlanta, where he played as a defensive back. During his brief stint as a Falcon, he recorded 5 interceptions and 2 safeties, all while also serving as an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.

9. Lottie Dod

Easily one of the most versatile female competitors from the early days of organized sports, Lottie Dod was a British athlete who excelled at tennis, golf, archery, and field hockey. She is most famous for her skill at tennis, which saw her win the ladies’ singles championship at Wimbledon five times in the span of seven years, the earliest at age 15. If that’s not impressive enough, it’s worth noting that she didn’t even bother to play the two years she didn’t win, and only lost 5 total times in her entire tennis career. After leaving competitive tennis behind, Dod moved on to field hockey, which she helped pioneer by starting the women’s team from Spital, England. She quickly became the team’s captain, and was known for being the deciding factor in whether or not they succeeded. This rule was also proved true when Dod was selected as a member of the English national team, where she scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Ireland.

Most Impressive Achievement:

Dod is most remembered as a tennis and field hockey player, but she was equally accomplished in golf and archery. In 1904, she won the national championships at golf, and after taking up archery, she secured a silver medal in the 1908 Olympic games.

8. Charlie Ward

Commonly regarded as one of the best all-around athletes in the history of sports, Charlie Ward was a skilled player in football, baseball, and basketball. As a quarterback at Florida State University, he led his team to a National Championship, and along the way he managed to also win the Heisman trophy by one of the biggest margins in history. He was also on the school’s basketball team, and was even said to be an accomplished tennis player. Upon graduating, Ward was faced with a tough decision, as teams in both the NFL and the NBA were expected to draft him. In a surprise move, Ward eventually chose the NBA, where the New York Knicks drafted him. He soon distinguished himself as a reliable point guard and skilled 3-point shooter, even as the NFL continued to knock on his door (according to reports, Ward was courted by the Kansas City Chiefs as a possible backup quarterback for Joe Montana). Nagging injuries eventually led to Ward’s early retirement from professional sports, but his college career alone would be enough to qualify him as one of the most accomplished multi-sport athletes in recent memory.

Most Impressive Achievement:

Ward’s college sports career was so impressive that in addition to being courted by the NFL and drafted by the NBA, he was also drafted by major league baseball teams twice, in 1993 and 1994. This was not because of any significant accomplishments in baseball—Ward hadn’t even played on his college team—it was just that he had such a good throwing arm that managers always believed they could turn him into a big-league pitcher.

7. C.B. Fry

Englishman Charles Burgess, or C.B., Fry was one of the most accomplished renaissance men of his time: excelling as a teacher, writer, publisher, and politician. Today, though, he is most remembered for his athletic achievements, which saw him become one of Europe’s most famous sportsmen with his uncanny skill at everything from cricket and track and field to soccer, rugby, and gymnastics. Cricket was Fry’s main game, and he was known for having one of the most consistently high averages in both the league and international play. He retired with over 30,000 career runs, which at the time was one of the all time highest totals. In soccer, Fry was also formidable, playing on both the pro side Southampton and the English national team as a defender.

Most Impressive Achievement:

Fry’s successes as a track and field star are perhaps the most convincing proof of his legendary abilities as an all-around athlete. He was best known for his skill in the long jump, and in 1893 he managed to tie the world record with a leap of over 23 1/2 feet. Fry was also an accomplished sprinter, and is known for winning the 100-yard dash during the world’s first international track meet between Oxford and Yale universities.

6. Lionel Conacher

The most famous of Canada’s athletes, Lionel Conacher was a sportsman from the 1920’s. Primarily known as a hockey player, he was also known to compete professionally in football, baseball, lacrosse, boxing and wrestling. He started as one of the earliest stars of Canadian football while playing for the Toronto Argonauts, with whom he won the league championship in 1921. Conacher, who was known as “the Big Train,” was a standout player in his early days, and on one occasion he was said to have rushed for an amazing 215 yards on only eight carries. After traveling to the U.S., Conacher tried to bring pro football to Canada (which was amateur-only), and in 1933 he organized the first ever official league while simultaneously serving as the captain of two teams. By this time he was a professional in as many as four sports including baseball, lacrosse, and wrestling; but it was when he took up hockey that he truly became a star. Hockey was supposedly his weakest sport and the one in which he had the least interest, but Conacher still shined, leading more than one team to a Stanley Cup victory before he retired in the late 30’s.

Most Impressive Achievement:

In addition to his accomplishments as a pro athlete (which include never losing a single match as a pro wrestler), Conacher is also remembered for the sheer volume of sports that he managed to play simultaneously. One famous story from 1920 describes him as having hit the game-winning home run in a baseball game, only to catch a ride across town to play lacrosse, where he quickly scored four goals.

View the top 5 here at Top 10 Multi-Sport Athletes - II


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