Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Hypothetical: Best-selling jerseys ever?

By David Schoenfield

Major League Baseball released its list of the 20 best-selling jerseys from the past season. Derek Jeter ranked No. 1 ahead of Joe Mauer and Roy Halladay, mildly surprising since you’d think most Yankee fans would own a Jeter jersey by now.

Anyway, it got me curious. Which jerseys would have been the top-sellers of all time? You know, if replica uniforms had actually been sold back in the old days and merchandise sales tracked and the old ballparks with wooden grandstands had official team stores.

1. Babe Ruth: He wasn’t just big in New York, but one of the most famous Americans of his time, along with Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone and Jamie Moyer.

2. Stan Musial: I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an athlete more beloved in his hometown than Musial. Played for the Cardinals for 22 classy seasons.

3. Roberto Clemente: Popular in Pittsburgh, but as one of the first Latino stars in the game, his reach would have extended across the nation.

4. Willie Mays: Maybe the greatest ballplayer of all time. When I was in second grade, my teacher gave me an old, wrinkled poster of Mays that I kept hanging in my bedroom for years. I would have loved a jersey.

5. Mickey Mantle: More popular than DiMaggio? I think so.

6. George Brett: He was Royals baseball for 21 seasons. Cool, clutch and every kid, teenager and adult in a 500-mile radius wanted to be him.

7. Jackie Robinson: My father-in-law grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and he’s told me there’s nothing he’s seen like Robinson dancing on the bases, trying to rattle the opposing pitcher.

8. Christy Mathewson: In a time when ballplayers were considered ruffians and hooligans, Mathewson was a college-educated star for the New York Giants and the most admired and respected player in the game.

9. Cal Ripken: More than Jeter, I think his appeal spread outside his home city.

10. Carl Yastrzemski: Yes, ahead of Ted Williams, who notoriously feuded with Red Sox fans during his playing days. Yaz carried the Sox to the 1967 pennant, one of the greatest individual seasons ever, and then played 16 more seasons in Fenway.

Disagree? Let’s hear your thoughts below.

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.