The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Ohio

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Ohio

There's a difference between loyalty to the home team--athletes
imported to play for our local colleges and pro franchises--and
the deep emotional bond we share with hometown heroes, the local
legends we knew back when. They are the boys and girls from next
door, or the next town. We watched them grow up, watched them
play when it was still play. Unfortunately, these luminaries are
almost inevitably dispersed because of sport's mercenary nature,
lured away by scholarships or contracts. Well, we're bringing 'em
all back home for the millennium--not necessarily to where they
were born, but to where they first showed flashes of the
greatness to come. Thus, Broadway Joe is in Pennsylvania, not
Alabama or New York; and the Mailman is in Louisiana, not Utah.
The result: the top 50 from your state and, on the following
pages, a list of those from all 50 states. In short, the ultimate
home teams.

This is an article from the Dec. 27, 1999 issue Original Layout

Jesse Owens
Broke three world records and tied another in one day at Big Ten
track championships in 1935; a year later he enraged Hitler,
winning four golds (100 meters, 200, 4X100 relay and long jump)
at the Berlin Olympics.

Jack Nicklaus
Won six Masters, five PGA, four U.S. Open and three British Open
titles; five-time PGA player of year (1967, '72, '73, '75, '76).

Pete Rose
Alltime hits leader with 4,256; won three batting titles; was
National League MVP in 1973 and World Series MVP in 1975; banned
from baseball for life in 1989 for conduct detrimental to the
sport while managing Reds.

Archie Griffin
Three-time All-America at Ohio State and only player to win two
Heisman Trophies (1974 and '75); rushed for 5,177 yards.

Paul Brown
Coached Ohio State to national title in 1942; directed Cleveland
Browns to four AAFC titles (from 1946 to '49) and three NFL
titles (1950, '54, '55).

Mike Schmidt
Seventh on alltime home run list with 548; won three NL MVPs and
10 Gold Gloves at third base for Phillies.

John Havlicek
Played in three NCAA finals at Ohio State (from 1960 to '62);
helped lead Celtics to eight titles; 13-time All-Star.

George Sisler
St. Louis Browns first baseman twice hit .400 (1920, '22); his
257 hits in '20 is still a record.

Marion Motley
Alltime leading AAFC rusher; played from 1946 to '53 for Browns
and ran for more than 4,700 yards and 39 TDs.

Edwin Moses
Won 400-meter hurdles at 1976 and '84 Olympics, and a bronze
medal in '88.

Don Shula
Won an NFL-record 347 games as a coach; took six Colts and
Dolphins teams to Super Bowl and won twice (VII, VIII).

Ken Griffey Jr.
Former Moeller High star is 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold
Glove winner; 1997 AL MVP.

Roger Staubach
Won the 1963 Heisman as Navy junior; led Dallas to two Super
Bowl titles ('72, '78); led NFC in passing five times ('71,
'73, '77, '78, '79).

Calvin Jones
Two-sport star in basketball and football at Steubenville High;
offensive-defensive guard won 1955 Outland Trophy at Iowa.

Phil Niekro
Hall of Fame knuckleballer won 324 games over 24 seasons; led the
NL in wins twice and in complete games four times.

Bobby Knight
A member of the Ohio State basketball team that won the NCAA
championship in 1960; since 1971 has coached Indiana to three
NCAA titles.

Woody Hayes
Coached Ohio State to five national titles (1954, '57, '61, '68,
'70) and four Rose Bowl victories.

Rollie Fingers
Hall of Fame pitcher had 341 career saves; won AL MVP and Cy
Young awards in 1981 with Brewers; was World Series MVP in '74
with A's.

Jerry Lucas
Middletown High star played in three NCAA finals at Ohio State;
averaged 17 ppg in NBA career.

Thurman Munson
Six-time All-Star as Yankees catcher; won 1976 AL MVP with .302
average and 105 RBIs.

Len Dawson
Threw for 239 touchdowns and almost 29,000 total yards in 18-year
pro career; led Chiefs to win over Vikings in 1970 Super Bowl.

Scott Hamilton
Won gold medal in figure skating at 1984 Olympics; four-time
world champion (from '81 to '84).

Jack Lambert
Quarterback at Mantua High before moving to linebacker at Kent
State; seven-time All-Pro led Steelers defense to four NFL
championships in the 1970s.

Madeline Manning
Won Olympic gold in track in 1968 and silver in '72; was the
first American woman to break two minutes in the 800 meters with
time of 1:59.8.

Willie Davenport
Defensive back at Southern U; won Olympic gold in 110-meter
hurdles in 1968; pusher on U.S. four-man bobsled team in '80.

Howard (Hopalong) Cassady
Ohio State halfback led Buckeyes to national title in 1954 and
won '55 Heisman Trophy.

Barry Larkin
Ten-time All-Star and 1995 NL MVP; led Reds to '90 World Series

Tony Trabert
In perhaps the greatest individual year in tennis, won 1955
French, Wimbledon and U.S. championships and 27 other titles.

Branch Rickey
As Dodgers boss he integrated major leagues in 1947 when he
brought up Jackie Robinson.

Lou Groza
Six-time All-Pro; played in 13 championship games for Cleveland
from 1946 to '67.

Harold Anderson
All-Ohio in football and basketball; set state record in low
hurdles; coached Toledo and Bowling Green basketball teams for
combined 29 seasons.

Shirley Fry
Won 1956 Wimbledon and U.S. singles championships, '51 French and
'57 Australian titles, making her, at the time, one of three
women to win all the majors.

Nate Thurmond
All-America at Bowling Green in 1963; averaged 15 points over
14-year pro career.

James Jeffries
World heavyweight champion after just 13 pro fights, held title
from 1899 to 1910.

Paul Warfield
A two-way star at Ohio State; played wideout in four NFL title
games with Browns between 1964 and '69 and in three Super Bowls
with Dolphins.

Glenn Davis
Got 400-meter-hurdle gold medals in 1956 and '60 Olympics,
setting Olympic records both times.

Elmer Flick
Hit .367 for 1900 Phillies; batted .313 over 13-year career; led
AL in triples from 1905 to '07.

John Heisman
Credited with introducing center snap; father of forward pass;
coached Georgia Tech to three straight undefeated seasons from
1915 to '17.

Alan Page
All-America at Notre Dame; nine-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman
led Vikings to four Super Bowls.

Larry Csonka
Broke most of Jim Brown's rushing records at Syracuse; in 11
seasons with Dolphins and Giants, ran for 8,081 yards.

Aaron Pryor
Won WBA junior welterweight belt in 1980 and successfully
defended it eight times.

Chuck Noll
In 23 seasons coached Steelers to four Super Bowl titles.

Rube Marquard
Pitched Giants to 73 wins in three seasons as New York took
titles in 1911, '12 and '13.

Johnny Kilbane
Held world featherweight crown for 11 years after beating Abe
Attell in 1912.

Cris Carter
All-America at Ohio State; as Vikings receiver set NFL
single-season record with 122 catches in 1994.

Ezzard Charles
World heavyweight champion (1950-51); 96-25-1 for career.

Dave Wottle
Ran 1:44.3 in 1972 Olympic trials to equal 800-meter world
record, then took gold medal in Munich.

Dick Kazmaier
Princeton tailback won Heisman and Maxwell trophies in 1951.

Gus Johnson
Six-time NBA All-Star, enjoyed his best season in 1966-67,
averaging 20.7 points.

Bernie Kosar
Quarterbacked University of Miami to 1983 national title; played
12 seasons in the NFL.