The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Oklahoma

December 27, 1999

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.

#1
Jim Thorpe
KEOKUK FALLS
Gold medalist in heptathlon and pentathlon at 1912 Olympics;
Pro Football Hall of Famer; played in majors for six years.

#2
Mickey Mantle
SPAVINAW
Three-time AL MVP; fifth alltime in home runs (536); 1956 Triple
Crown winner with .353 average, 52 homers, 130 RBIs.

#3
Johnny Bench
BINGER
1968 NL Rookie of the Year won three World Series as Reds
catcher; earned two MVPs and 10 Gold Gloves in 17 years.

#4
Steve Largent
OKLAHOMA CITY
Tulsa All-America led nation in TD receptions in 1974 and '75;
six-time Pro Bowl pick had 819 catches with Seahawks.

#5
Lee Roy Selmon
EUFAULA
Won Lombardi and Outland awards at Oklahoma in 1975; NFL All-Pro
defensive end with Tampa Bay from 1979 to '84.

#6
Carl Hubbell
MEEKER
Was 253-154 in 16 years with Giants, including five straight
20-win seasons in mid-1930s; two-time NL MVP.

#7
Steve Owens
MIAMI
Starred in football, track and baseball at Miami High;
ran for 100-plus yards in 17 straight games at Oklahoma; 1969
Heisman Trophy winner.

#8
Paul (Big Poison) Waner
HARRAH
Had 3,152 hits, 603 doubles, 190 triples; won three NL batting
titles; four-time NL All-Star; hit .380 in 1927 to lead Pirates
to pennant.

#9
Lloyd (Little Poison) Waner
HARRAH
Batted .355 as a rookie with Pirates in 1927; hit over .300 in 10
of his first 12 years.

#10
Allie Reynolds
BETHANY
Yankees righthander went 131-60 from 1947 to '54; had two
no-hitters in '52.

#11
Joe Carter
OKLAHOMA CITY
Hit 396 career home runs, plus World Series winner for Blue Jays
in 1993.

#12
Billy Vessels
CLEVELAND
State champion in low hurdles at Cleveland High three times; won
1952 Heisman at Oklahoma, running for 1,072 yards, 17 TDs.

#13
Darrell Royal
HOLLIS
All-America halfback at Oklahoma (1946 to '49); was 145-38-3 as
coach at Texas, where he won two national titles.

#14
Jim Shoulders
HENRYETTA
Won sixteen world rodeo titles in 1940s and '50s: seven in bull
riding, four in bareback and five all-around.

#15
Marcus Haynes
SAND SPRINGS
Led Booker T. Washington High to 1942 state basketball title,
then Langston University to a 112-3 mark; later starred for
Harlem Globetrotters.

#16
John Smith
DEL CITY
Two-time NCAA wrestling champ for Oklahoma State won gold at
1988 and '92 Olympics.

#17
Don Haskins
ENID
Star swingman at Oklahoma A&M; coached UTEP for 38 years, winning
719 games, including historic 1966 NCAA title game over Kentucky.

#18
Troy Aikman
HENRYETTA
One of only three quarterbacks to lead a team to three Super Bowl
wins; holds or has tied 43 Cowboys passing records.

#19
Wayman Tisdale
TULSA
Three-time All-America at Oklahoma from 1982 to '85; top
rebounder on gold-medal-winning '84 U.S. Olympic team.

#20
Bobby Murcer
OKLAHOMA CITY
Five-time All-Star led AL with 102 runs in 1972; played in '81
World Series with Yankees.

#21
Bruce Drake
OKLAHOMA CITY
Oklahoma basketball coach had 200-182 record from 1938 to '55;
guided Sooners to six conference titles.

#22
Jack Jacobs
MUSKOGEE
As junior at Oklahoma in 1941, led nation in punting with
47.8-yard average; next season intercepted 12 passes; starred in
Canadian Football League.

#23
Harry (the Cat) Brecheen
BROKEN BOW
Lefthander went 20-7 with St. Louis in 1948; two-time All-Star;
133-92 in 12-year career.

#24
Shannon Miller
EDMOND
Won gold medal on the balance beam, member of gold-medal-winning
women's gymnastics team at 1996 Olympics.

#25
John (Pepper) Martin
TEMPLE
Cardinals outfielder dominated 1931 World Series vs. Athletics,
getting 12 hits, batting .500 and stealing five bases.

#26
Danny Hodge
PERRY
Two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma in the mid-1950s;
won national Golden Gloves title as boxer.

#27
Susie Maxwell Berning
OKLAHOMA CITY
Three-time state high school golf champion; three-time U.S.
Women's Open winner; 11 LPGA tour victories from 1965 to '76.

#28
Glenn Dobbs
FREDERICK
All-America punter at Tulsa in 1942 launched an 86-yarder in '41
Sun Bowl against Texas Tech; coached Tulsa from '61 to '68.

#29
Bob Fenimore
WOODWARD
Two-time All-America halfback at Oklahoma A&M led nation
in total offense in 1944 and holds school's career interceptions
record (18).

#30
Neill Armstrong
TISHOMINGO
Oklahoma A&M wideout led NCAA in receiving in 1943 and '46;
averaged 12.6 yards per catch in five years with Eagles.

#31
Steve Owen
CLEO SPRINGS
Tackle led Giants to 11-1-1 record in 1927; named coach in '31,
guided Giants to 153 wins and two titles through '53.

#32
Jerry Adair
sand springs
Orioles second baseman went then major-league-record 89 games
without an error in 1964.

#33
Gene Conley
MUSKOGEE
Only man to win NBA title (three as a Celtics forward in 1950s)
and World Series (as a pitcher with '57 Braves).

#34
Labron Harris
WEWOKA
Oklahoma A&M golf coach led Cowboys to 24 conference titles from
1946 to '73.

#35
Alvan Adams
OKLAHOMA CITY
In three seasons at Oklahoma averaged 23.4 points; scored a
team-record 13,910 points with the Suns from 1975 to '88.

#36
Billy Tubbs
TULSA
Guided Oklahoma to four Sweet 16s and 1988 NCAA title game; has
519-244 career record at three schools.

#37
Charles Coe
OKLAHOMA CITY
Two-time U.S. Amateur golf champion, in 1949 and '56; was member
of first World Cup team.

#38
Abe Lemons
WALTERS
Won 597 games over 34 seasons as basketball coach at Oklahoma
City, Texas Pan-American and Texas.

#39
Freckles Brown
SOPER
At 1967 National Finals Rodeo, became first person to stay aboard
Tornado, the most famous bull in history.

#40
Prentice Gautt
OKLAHOMA CITY
Starred in state's first integrated high school title game, in
1954; first black football player at Oklahoma.

#41
Mark Price
ENID
Four-time NBA All-Star averaged 19.6 points with Cavaliers in
1989-90.

#42
John (Ski) Levi
LAWRENCE
All-America fullback at Haskell College in 1924; spent two years
in Yankees system despite never before having played organized
baseball.

#43
Clendon Thomas
OKLAHOMA CITY
All-America halfback for 1956 national-champion Sooners; led
nation in scoring with 18 touchdowns and 108 points.

#44
Lindy McDaniel
HOLLIS
Three-time NL saves leader; had 172 saves and 141-119 record from
1955 to '75.

#45
Sean O'Grady
OKLAHOMA CITY
Beat Arturo Leon for USBA lightweight title in 1980; in '81 beat
Hilmer Kenty for WBA lightweight title.

#46
Gil Morgan
WEWOKA
Seven-time PGA Tour winner has 15 victories in four years on
Senior circuit, including six each in 1997 and '98.

#47
Bryant Reeves
GANS
Oklahoma State center was first Big Eight player since
Wilt Chamberlain to lead conference in scoring, rebounding and
field goal percentage.

#48
Port Robertson
EDMOND
Coached Oklahoma to three NCAA wrestling titles and 1960 Olympic
team to three golds.

#49
Ed Gallagher
STILLWATER
Father of collegiate wrestling developed more than 300 holds;
led Oklahoma A&M to 11 NCAA titles.

#50
Bertha Teague
BYNG
Coached Byng High girls' basketball team from 1927 to '69,
retiring with 1,157-115 record.

B/W PHOTO: CORBIS/BETTMANN #1 Jim Thorpe

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