|Readers: Dirtiest pro players|
From the Page 2 mailbag
Earlier this week, Page 2 listed our 10 dirtiest players from professional sports teams, and we asked you to send us your choices.
After going through more than 2,200 e-mails, here is how Page 2 readers ranked their picks. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the No. 1 dirtiest player of all time.
1. Ty Cobb (121 letters)
The best story is about a young pitcher who intentionally beaned him in his first plate appearance. Cobb took his base without saying a word. The next time he came up to bat, he dropped a bunt down the first-base line. When the pitcher went to field the ball, Cobb knocked him over, then spiked him on the chest. The pitcher was sliced open and had to leave the game. If you look up the definition of "dirty" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Ty Cobb.
The man was everything on your list. Yes, he sharpened his spikes and slid feet first. Yes, he was so hated by opposing fans that armed guards had to be posted to keep them from rushing the field, but this does not qualify him for the dirtiest professional team player ever. What does is that the man once left the field, and started a fight with a handicapped heckler. If that's not No. 1 material, than what is?
Oh please, it is a no-brainer. Tyrus Raymond Cobb was and has been chronicled as the dirtiest player that ever lived. Not just because he is a family member, but the stories of him sliding into base with sharpened spikes pointed high.
His anger also was said not to be only on the ballfield. On a golf course he wrapped a golf club around a fellow golfer's head. First baseman were told to watch their feet when he was coming. His drinking and shooting of guns anywhere and at anybody is why in my book, without question, he was the meanest, most psychotic, dirtiest player who has ever lived!
The line from Shoeless Joe in "Field of Dreams" says it all: "Ty Cobb wanted to play, too. But none of us could stand the sonofabitch when he was alive, so we told him to stick it!"
2. Karl Malone (108 letters)
And don't get me started on the chippie shots he uses to get people to foul him.
Karl Malone may not make the list for sheer brutality of his actions, but the sheer number of cheap shots he has taken over the years definitely earns him a spot. He hacks and fouls so much that you can actually make a drinking game out of it (like slap shots while watching Dallas). To make matters worse, he is easily one of the top five whiners of all time. He mauls someone and argues the call, but then at the other end he thinks a mean look from his defender merits a technical foul.
When talking dirty NBA players, no player holds a candle to Karl Malone. If stats were kept for cheap shots, The Mailman would average a triple-double!
He's used his elbows as weapons for almost 20 years now. For proof, just check the foreheads of Isiah Thomas and Joe Klein.
Malone has slapped Christian Laettner with a backhand (imagine how much more it would have hurt if Malone had any championship rings on that hand!).
And, just for "kicks," The N-ailMan has revolutionized the drop-kick layup. Brent Price's "family jewels" can elaborate.
3. Bill Laimbeer (96 letters)
His "style" was just cheap-shotting people, with the intent to inflict pain, who happened to beat him on the dribble drive. Just ask Larry Bird what it felt like to be folded in half when he got Big Bill in the air on a pump-fake ... that's not basketball, it's league-sanctioned assault.
If he had been five inches shorter, he would have flipped burgers for a living. He was nothing more than a tough, mean Bryant Reeves.
The guy would elbow a cheerleader is she got under the basket.
4. Ulf Samuelsson (93 letters)
I don't think anyone on your list is more hated by a group of fans than Samuelsson was (and still is) by fans of the Boston Bruins, who saw Cam Neely, arguably the team's best and most popular player since Bobby Orr, have his career shortened by a knee-on-thigh dirty hit by Samuelsson.
Ulfie deserves to go to the top of your list.
Ulf Samuelsson made the knee on knee hit an art form in the NHL, and he never hesitated to take a cheap shot with his stick when the ref wasn't around. But perhaps the thing that was most galling about Samuelsson was that if challenged, he wasn't even man enough to drop the gloves.
Other players were as dirty, but at least had the defense that they were standing up for teammates. Samuelsson's job, first and foremost, was to hurt people, not to protect Mario Lemieux. Samuelsson's dirty tactics paved the way for a bunch of "hit and hide" artists such as Matthew Barnaby, Darius Kasparaitis and Bryan Marchment.
One of the biggest travesties in NHL history is that Samuelsson forced Cam Neely into retirement, but went on to play some 15 years without serious injury.
Despite Samuelsson's dirty tactics, Pittsburgh fans and media embraced the Swede as a folk hero -- one local wag dubbed him "Jack Lambert on skates." Which leads me to another player who belongs on your list ...
5. John Stockton (86 letters)
Made a living of setting screens low and then rolling off and throwing the ball to a wide-open Malone because the defender is laying on the floor holding his knee.
C'mon, even Dennis Rodman called him a dirty player.
6. Conrad Dobler (79 letters)
I'm from Buffalo and even I hated the guy, but I was glad he was with us and not against us.
Even his teammates kept their distance from in games. He radiated meanness.
7. Claude Lemieux (62 letters)
In light of Lemieux-Draper, it's funny to hear all the fuss over the Gary Roberts and Jeff O'Neill hits, which looked reasonable to me. I suspect that if Claude hit someone as hard and dirty as he hit Draper that night, the ESPN booth crew might actually wet its pants.
Perhaps the best measure of dirtiness is peer evaluation. To quote Dino Ciccarelli on Lemieux after that fateful Detroit-Colorado series: "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand."
8. Bryan Marchment (53 letters)
How could you leave such an obvious cheap-shot artist such as Bryan Marchment off your list? Sure, he's not retired and doesn't get the benefit of books written about his dirty play, but the guy's still active and his cheap shots are already legendary.
9. Dennis Rodman (49 letters)
The NBA is still the worse for it.
10. Bobby Clarke (44 letters)
Others receiving votes (10 or more)