The best superstars to spend their careers with one franchise


The Phoenix Program best superstars to play for one team their entire career.


A trailblazer in every way possible, Clemente changed baseball during his 18-year tenure in the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield. He was one of the game’s first great Latino stars, becoming the first Latin player to win Most Valuable Player in both the regular season and World Series. A 15-time All-Star, Clemente’s 12 Gold Gloves are tied with Willie Mays for the most by an outfielder in MLB history.

The "Yankee Clipper" remains one of the most iconic presences in American sports history. Although he hit .325 lifetime, won nine World Series in his 13-year career and was a three-time American League MVP, DiMaggio's greatest enduring work remains his 56-game hitting streak of 1941. It is a record that remains as one of sports' most unapproachable feats 78 years later.

The greatest power forward of all time spent his entire 19-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, who selected Duncan with the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Duncan played a central role in transforming the Spurs into the most consistent franchise in the game, winning five NBA Finals, two NBA MVPs and three Finals MVPs, and he was on 15 All-Star teams. Duncan is the only player in history to be named simultaneously to 13 straight All-NBA and All-Defense Teams.

In his 16 years as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Elway reached the Super Bowl four times. In his final two seasons, he won back-to-back Super Bowls and was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway threw for 300 touchdowns in his career, and at the time of his retirement, his 51,475 pass yards were the second-most in NFL history. He won a third Super Bowl as general manager of the Broncos in 2015.

Although his career began with the New York Nets of the ABA, Dr. J never wore another NBA jersey besides that of the Philadelphia 76ers. One of the greatest showmen in basketball history, Erving made 11 consecutive All-Star Games starting in 1977. He led the Sixers to the NBA championship in 1983, won league MVP in 1981 and delivered countless jaw-dropping attacks on the rim along the way.

Known as the "Chairman of the Board," Ford spent his entire 16-year career at the front of the New York Yankees pitching staff. Ford won six World Series and made 10 All-Star teams while leading the American League in wins on three separate occasions. With a career record of 236-106, Ford owns the highest winning percentage in modern MLB history, at .690.

Owner of arguably the most dominant pitching season in modern baseball history, when he posted a 1.12 ERA in 1968, Gibson endures as one of the most intimidating hurlers of all time. Over his 17 seasons in St. Louis, Gibson was named an All-Star nine times, won two Cy Young Awards and NL MVP in 1968. His 17-strikeout performance in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series remains a single-game Fall Classic record.

There was perhaps no more talented pure hitter than Gwynn, who hit .338 over his 20 seasons in San Diego. The aptly named "Mr. Padre," Gwynn won eight batting titles and made 15 All-Star Games for the club and led the Padres to their only two World Series appearances in franchise history. Gwynn never hit below .300 in a full season and remarkably had 2,707 more hits than strikeouts in his career.

Johnson revolutionized the NBA game during his 13 years as point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. His fast-paced "Showtime" style of play changed the way basketball was seen on a national level, with Johnson leading the way with a bevy of no-look, incomprehensible passes. The Lakers won five NBA Finals during the 1980s, with Johnson winning Finals MVP three times and regular-season MVP three times as well. A 12-time All-Star and nine-time All-NBA First Teamer, Johnson retired as the all-time assist leader with 10,141.

Known as the "Left Arm of God" for good reason, Koufax enjoyed arguably the top peak performance years of any pitcher in history. From 1962 to 1966, he won three NL Cy Young Awards and led the National League in ERA each season (1.95 cumulative). Koufax threw four no-hitters total in his career, including a perfect game in September 1965.

In his 12 years with the Montreal Canadiens, Lemaire raised the Stanley Cup eight times between 1967 and 1979. One of the most accurate and consistent goal scorers of his time, Lemaire scored at least 20 goals in every season of his career and averaged nearly a point per game.

A charismatic and punishing middle linebacker, Lewis sat at the heart of one of the greatest defensive units of all time with the Baltimore Ravens. The 13-time Pro Bowler won a Super Bowl in 2000, leading a Ravens defense that allowed the fewest points in NFL history, and he authored four shutouts in a single season. Lewis won MVP of Super Bowl XXXV and helped bring a second title to Baltimore 12 years later.

There was only one "Sweetness," and he was a man many consider to be the greatest running back of all time. Payton spent his entire 13-year career with the Chicago Bears, running for then-record 16,726 yards. He was the driving offensive force for the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl championship and 15-1 record. A tremendous person as well, the NFL’s Man of the Year Award is named in Payton’s honor.

Baseball’s iron man, Ripken did the previously unthinkable when he passed Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, a record he eventually ran out to 2,632 games. Durability aside, Ripken won two AL MVPs and had 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and made 19 All-Star appearances during his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles.

A five-time NBA MVP and winner of 11 titles in 13 years, Russell endures as the pinnacle of athletic accomplishment in team sports. An otherworldly shot-blocker and defender, while the statistic did not exist at the time, it is estimated that he averaged over 10 blocks per game at his peak. He is one of two players in history to average 50 rebounds per game in a season and became the first African-American head coach to win a title in North American pro sports in 1966, which he did three times as a player-coach.

The most thrilling ball-carrier in NFL history, Sanders was a blur of silver and blue for the Detroit Lions from 1989 to 1998. He was a Pro Bowler each year of his 10-year career and led the NFL in rushing on four separate occasions. Sanders became the third player in history to top 2,000 rushing yards in a season and finished just 1,457 yards short of setting the all-time NFL rushing record, when he retired suddenly and still at the top of his game.

Regarded by many as the greatest defensive player in NFL history, Taylor spent 13 seasons as a terrifying pass rusher for the New York Giants. A 10-time Pro Bowler and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor totaled 132.5 sacks during a career in which he redefined the outside linebacker position. He was a driving force in two Super Bowl championships, in 1986 and 1990.

A legend in every sense of the word, the "Iron Horse" was one of the most predictably dominant hitters in baseball history. Throughout much of his 17-year Yankee tenure, Gehrig was a mainstay in the lineup, running out a longstanding record of 2,130 consecutive games. He hit .340 for his career and was a devastating run producer, leading the American League in RBI five times. The Yankees won six World Series with Gehrig on board, as he formed the most dominant duo in MLB history with Babe Ruth for the first half of his career.

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1 comment

  • I think Mike Schmidt of the Phillies should be on here.

    Toby on

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