By CLEMENTE LISI
Last Updated: 5:57 PM, March 15, 2011
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was voted the greatest New York athlete ever, with slugging right fielder Babe Ruth coming in a close second, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Jeter -- a five-time World Series champion -- earned 14 percent of the vote, while 11 percent tipped their hats to Ruth, according to the poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute.
Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and former Jets quarterback Joe Namath rounded out the top five.
Jeter -- 74 hits away from becoming the only player to get 3,000 all in a Yankees uniform -- earned 17 percent of the female vote and 10 percent of the male vote.
Ruth, the Hall of Fame slugger who retired in 1935, topped Jeter among men with 14 percent. ]DiMaggio, Mantle and Namath all earned 4 percent, according to the poll.
With the start of the 2011 baseball season two weeks away, the poll also found that 30 percent of New Yorkers said the Yankees are their favorite team.
The Mets and Knicks were named fans' first choice by 11 percent, according to the poll.
"It doesn’t matter, upstate or downstate, young or old, rich or poor, crazed sports fan or uninterested, the Yankees are New York’s favorite team. About a third follow the Giants, Jets, Mets and Knicks, but a majority of every demographic count themselves among the Yankee faithful,” said Don Levy, director of the Siena College Institute.
As for the greatest athlete poll, 24 athletes -- including former Knicks star Patrick Ewing and Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson -- received mention from at least 1 percent of the New Yorkers who were polled.
The poll also found:
-- Given the chance to choose sides on three current issues in sports, a majority of New Yorkers side with the players (58 percent) over owners (21 percent) in the current NFL labor dispute.
-- A majority (54 percent) would like to see expanded instant replay in baseball. 31 percent oppose it.
-- New Yorkers are evenly divided on legalizing mixed martial arts: 39 percent favor legalization; 41 percent find it dangerous and would ban it.
-- 59 percent of all New Yorkers describe themselves as sports fans; 41 percent do not. Three-quarters of men said they are fans, and 43 percent of women consider themselves sports nuts.
The poll was conducted from Feb. 22 to March 1 by random telephone calls to 801 New York adults.
"If you ever fall, I'll be there." ---the Floor
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