Are you right-handed or left-handed? If you’re left-handed, did you ever wonder who 20 of the best left-handed athletes are?
If you have to think about that, which hand do you write with? That is probably your dominant hand (although there are people who are ambidextrous). If you’re left-handed, that means you’re a part of a smaller segment of the population and that makes you unique! Shout out to you.
According to the Psychological Bulletin, in research titled ‘Human handedness: A meta-analysis’, “the best estimate for the prevalence of left-handedness is 10.6%. However, this value varies between 9.3% and 18.1%, depending on how handedness is measured”.
Here’s an article to celebrate you today, lefties, along with some of the best left-handed athletes of all time.
You may have heard of a lot of these lefties as a lefty yourself (or as a righty) with more recently seeing or hearing about ‘Lefty’ himself Phil Mickelson winning the PGA Championship in historic fashion. From Phil to Rafael Nadal to Michael Redd, we got you covered in this one.
You can’t have a lefty list without a guy named Lefty. Granted, this was his nickname with his birth name being Robert Moses, ‘Lefty’ is how his name is titled on the Baseball Hall of Fame website. The Hall of Fame states his “real contribution to baseball is that he was perhaps the best left-handed pitcher in history.”
20 Of The Best Left-handed Athletes
20 – Monica Seles
She’s won 28 singles tennis tourneys and has finished the year in the top 10 women’s singles tennis players in the world eight times throughout her career.
According to her Twitter bio, she’s got “9 Grand Slams tennis championships, (and is an) animal lover and author”. When you’ve got nine Grand Slams in your career, you’re one of the best athletes of all time, not just left-handed athletes.
19 – Michael Redd
“We did it!!!” Redd said in an Instagram post. “I’m so humbled to have been a part of this incredible @Bucks organization for over 20 years and so proud of the guys who got us here! The 11 years I was on that court, working day in and day out for it, dreaming of this day and here we are together! I am so proud to be a Buck. Always have been!”
18 – Michael Vick
When you saw Michael Vick play quarterback, it was always exciting. You didn’t know whether you’d see some accurate passes with that signature lefty-looking pass or him slip out of the pocket and scramble for a touchdown. Easily one of the most talented, athletic quarterbacks to play the game.
17 – Petra Kvitová
Finishing the year in the 10 of women’s tennis singles players worldwide eight times in her career and winning 28 singles tourneys (per the WTA Tour) gets you on this list. The lefty can flat out play tennis. Game, set, match. That’s number-17 on this list.
16 – Warren Spahn
When there’s an award named after you given to the best lefty pitchers in baseball, you belong on this list.
“The OK Sports HOF Warren Spahn Award is given annually to MLB’s best left-handed pitcher” per the Warren Spahn Award Twitter bio.
15 – Manu Ginóbli
The Argentinian and San Antonio Spurs NBA champion’s got Drake spitting bars about his lefty game.
According to My San Antonio Express-News’ Madalyn Mendoza, “(i)n the first verse of Jumpman, Drake gives a shout out to San Antonio’s Argentine baller and his unique shooting style saying, ‘I hit that Ginobili with my left hand like ‘woo.'”
14 – Ken Stabler
One of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL, “Stabler’s 10 consecutive post season games with a touchdown pass was also an NFL record” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
13 – James Harden
Fitting that coming in at number-13 is, well, number-13 (seriously, this wasn’t planned…crazy!). The dude that’s known as ‘the beard’ is a straight up baller on the basketball court scoring bucket after bucket. Harden just knows how to score. Along with being the 2018 NBA MVP, and a nine-time All-Star, the guard’s a three-time scoring champion (per Basketball Reference).
12 – Sandy Koufax
You can pretty much say Sandy Koufax is synonymous with the sport of baseball. Another MVP on this list, Koufax is a Hall of Famer, three-time Cy Young winner, three-time Triple Crown winner, a seven-time All Star, three-time World Series champion, and two-time World Series MVP (per Baseball Reference).
11 – Steve Young
Steve Young is one of the best lefty quarterbacks to have every played. A Hall of Famer, three-time Super Bowl champion, two-time MVP, and seven-time Pro Bowler (per Pro Football Reference), Young lived up to being the first pick in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft (via Pro Football Reference).
Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations. You’ve made it to the top 10! Starting it off is Martina Navratilova.
All she did was win. A lot. And became one of the best tennis players of all time.
“Since 1968 when the Open Era began, no male or female player won more singles tournaments than Navratilova (167), doubles events (177), or matches (2,189). She felt the ping of defeat a meager 219 times (singles) in a career that began in 1975. She was still active in 2006 when she won the mixed doubles championship at the US Open a month away from her 50th birthday, becoming the oldest player in history to win a major title.”International Tennis Hall of Fame
9 – Randy Johnson
As a MLB batter stepping up to the plate, you probably weren’t looking forward to having ace Randy Johnson on the mound (or you embraced the challenge facing an excellent pitcher). Hitters would have to face the heat coming from Johnson’s left arm when he pitched in the rotation. That left arm helped get him to the Hall of Fame, win the Cy Young five times, the Triple Crown, and become a World Series MVP (per Baseball Reference).
8 – Kasumi Ishikawa
You don’t want to mess with Kasumi Ishikawa around table tennis. The two-time Olympic medalist (per Olympics.com), is “the highest ranked Japanese women’s table tennis player and is a former winner at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals (2014)” according to SD Sport.
SD Sport also states “Ishikawa comes from a table tennis orientated family, with her mother being her current coach and her younger sister Rira is also a professional table tennis player.”
7 – Clayton Kershaw
One of the best pitchers to ever step on a baseball mound just so happens to be…left-handed. He goes by the name of Clayton Kershaw and is an MVP, three-time Cy Young winner, a Gold Glove and Triple Crown winner, an eight-time All Star, and World Series champion, all the while spending his whole career thus far with the LA Dodgers (per Baseball Reference).
While he’s aced the challenge of the sport, he’s also got a foundation named “Kershaw’s Challenge: Strike Out to Serve“: “Kershaw’s Challenge is a faith-based, others-focused organization. We exist to encourage people to use whatever God-given passion or talent they have to make a difference and give back to people in need. We want to empower people to use their spheres of influence to impact communities positively and to expand God’s Kingdom. We believe that God can transform at-risk children and neighborhoods through the benevolence and impact of others.”
6 – Phil Mickelson
You know the name from recent memory as ‘Lefty’ made history winning golf’s PGA Championship in May as ESPN reported he “captured his sixth major…at the PGA Championship, becoming, at the age of 50, the oldest winner in the 161 years of major championship golf.” Now that is what you call and accomplishment.
5 – Tim Tebow
Now you’ve entered…the top five. And coming in at fifth on this list is a straight up athlete! Deserving of not just one of the best left-handed athlete awards but one of the best athletes of all time. You know his journey. The Heisman Trophy, two-time NCAA national champion winner to NFL quarterback to TV college football analyst to philanthropist to missionary to professional baseball player, Tim Tebow does it all.
4 – Bill Russell
When you talk about the greatest basketball players to play the game, you have to include Bill Russell in the conversation. The NBA Finals MVP trophy is named after him as he presents the trophy to the recipient. So, when one of the most prestigious awards in the game is named after you, you know you did a thing or two on the basketball court to become a NBA G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time)…all the while using your left hand.
3 – Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth. A household name. Not only amongst baseball circles but amongst the general public as Babe Ruth’s playing days is one of legends.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame states “Ruth has been called an American original, undoubtedly the game’s first great slugger and the most celebrated athlete of his time.”
Ruth not only hit homers, he threw a lot of strikeouts as a pitcher. An MVP, seven-time World Series champion, with a batting title and ERA title to boot (per Baseball Reference), Ruth’s one of the greatest lefty athletes in history.
2 – Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is one of the best tennis players to ever pick up a tennis racket. And he just so happens to be a lefty in the game. Any opponent would be wise to not hit towards Nadal’s strong hand because that ball’s bound to zip right past you on the return rally.
Nadal’s tied with Roger Federer with the most men’s Grand Slam wins in history with 20 (per Statista).
1 – David Robinson
Drumroll, please…Coming in at first on this list is “The Admiral”. David Robinson! Delaying his NBA career a bit, he took time to nobly serve our country. Upon his return, Robinson quickly would become not just one of the best centers but one of the best basketball players the game has ever seen. A leader, a champion, a hard worker with high character, how can you not rank David Robinson as the best left-handed athlete in history. Robinson has all the qualities any great team would want to add to their team to…win.
Check this out. According to the US Naval Academy (where he went to college), “He was the first male basketball player to play on three U.S. basketball teams in the Olympic Games; 1996 in Atlanta (gold), 1992 in Barcelona (gold), and 1988 in Seoul (bronze). In 2009 he was inducted into the (H)all of (F)ame along with Michael Jordan and John Stockton.”
Not only was he great on the court, he was, and still is, even better off the court.
“In 1991 he visited the 5th grade class at Gates Elementary School in Texas. He challenged the 94 students of the class to finish high school, promising each of them a $2,000 scholarship if they did so. In 1998 when 50 of those students graduated, he presented each of them with an $8,000 scholarship. In 1997 he donated $5 million dollars to found the Carver Academy, which he continued to donate to in the following years. Due to his commitment to the community, the NBA renamed their Community Assist Award to be the David Robinson Plaque in 2003.”US Naval Academy
Robinson detailed a touching moment before celebrating an NBA Finals win to Sports Spectrum’s Darryl Howerton in a 2002 feature as mentioned and republished by Sports Spectrum’s Jason Romano in 2017.
“Even when we were celebrating the championship, we were about to run out on the court at the Alamodome, and all the guys stopped and looked at me and said, ‘Let’s pray one more time.’ That, to me, was one of the highlights of the whole year because I knew the guys understood the source of our strength. In preseason, a lot of guys came to our team and were like, ‘You guys pray? Man, you guys are punks.’ But by the end of the year, every one of them, to a man, felt that prayer and God was the strength of our team. To me, that was the glory of the Lord shining through. Like God was saying, ‘The championship was not something you did. I blessed you because you were faithful to me.’ That was a great experience for me.”David Robinson via Sports Spectrum
There you have it, folks. The 20 best left-handed athletes of all time. Hope you enjoyed this list!
Who’s your favorite lefty? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, not to leave out all the righties out there, too, lefties and righties have yourself a great day.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
- 1 Honorable Mention
- 2 Lefty Grove
- 3 20 Of The Best Left-handed Athletes
- 4 20 – Monica Seles
- 5 19 – Michael Redd
- 6 18 – Michael Vick
- 7 17 – Petra Kvitová
- 8 16 – Warren Spahn
- 9 15 – Manu Ginóbli
- 10 14 – Ken Stabler
- 11 13 – James Harden
- 12 12 – Sandy Koufax
- 13 11 – Steve Young
- 14 10 – Martina Navratilova
- 15 9 – Randy Johnson
- 16 8 – Kasumi Ishikawa
- 17 7 – Clayton Kershaw
- 18 6 – Phil Mickelson
- 19 5 – Tim Tebow
- 20 4 – Bill Russell
- 21 3 – Babe Ruth
- 22 2 – Rafael Nadal
- 23 1 – David Robinson
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