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
Two-time All-America at West Virginia; led Lakers to 1972 NBA
title as player; as G.M. helped build L.A. dynasty that won five
NBA crowns in '80s.
Mary Lou Retton
At 1984 Olympics became first U.S. gymnast to win gold in women's
In 1930, Cubs slugger had major-league-record 190 RBIs; also had
56 homers, an NL record that stood for 68 years.
Holds the world indoor and outdoor shot put records; won gold
medal at 1996 Olympics.
First African-American to play for a major West Virginia college
team; had 1,377 points for Marshall and averaged 19.2 points in
15 NBA seasons.
All-conference two-way lineman at Farmington High; five-time
All-Pro linebacker with Giants and Redskins from 1956 to '70.
Teamed with Warren Spahn in Milwaukee to form baseball's best
righty-lefty duo from 1953 to '61; won three games in 1957 World
Hot Rod Hundley
Two-time All-America at West Virginia was top pick of 1957 NBA
draft, by Royals; averaged 8.4 points in six seasons.
Earle (Greasy) Neale
Batted .259 for Reds and A's from 1916 to '24; coached Eagles to
'48 and '49 NFL titles.
Renowned 60-minute man made four Pro Bowls; led Bears to NFL
titles in 1940, '41 and '46.
DuPont High football star was state high school basketball
player of the year in 1994-95; 28 TD catches at Marshall in '97
tied NCAA record; '98 NFL Rookie of the Year with Vikings.
Coached Long Island University basketball team to undefeated
seasons in 1935-36 and '38-39; won NIT title in '39 and '41.
Five-sport letterman at West Virginia; 1970 Super Bowl MVP as
Helped pioneer modern fast break and zone defense; was 362-160 as
Marshall coach from 1935 to '55.
West Virginia football, basketball and baseball star took up golf
in 1928; won state amateur in '29.
From 1960 to '75 coached USC to four national football
championships and three undefeated seasons.
Set 41 Penn State football records; Seahawks' second alltime
leading rusher, with 6,705 yards.
Lefty Pirates hurler won 20 games four times from 1912 to '24,
including NL-best 22 in '21.
Charlotte Sting forward played on 1988 and '92 U.S. Olympic
women's basketball teams.
Four-time All-Pro center won eight AAFC and NFL championships
with Browns and Lions from 1946 to '57.
Six-time Southern Conference champion at West Virginia set world
outdoor pole vault record in 1962, indoor mark in '63.
Baseball and basketball star at Keyser High; three-time All-Star
batted .300 in 10 major league seasons; played for 1993 NL
All-America tackle for 1946 co-SEC champion Tennessee was Pro
Bowl tackle with Rams.
Led Parkersburg Catholic to 88 straight wins and two state high
school basketball titles; 1982 All-America forward at Tennessee.
Tailback-safety helped lead Tennessee to 11-0 season in 1938,
unbeaten regular season in '39.
In effort to encourage him to play for West Virginia, legislature
declared him state "natural resource" in 1959; averaged 10.8
points in NBA career; now league's senior vice president of
Raiders receiver was on 1992 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic
4x100-meter relay team; more than 3,900 receiving yards in seven
Rams guard appeared in six Pro Bowls from 1975 to '87.
Leading scorer in Virginia Tech history was first player
to lead Metro Conference in scoring three straight years; has
averaged more than four assists over 10 NBA seasons.
All-America offensive tackle at West Virginia in 1955 played in
four Pro Bowls for 49ers.
Running back led Pitt to 1937 national title and was runner-up
for the Heisman Trophy in '38.
Coached Charleston High football team to 118-31-4 mark; his 1920
team outscored opponents 379-0.
Won three national archery championships in the 1980s.
DuPont High teammate of Randy Moss was 1994 state basketball
player of the year; '99 NBA first-team All-Rookie selection with
Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback intercepted a career-high eight
passes for Vikings in 1988.
Played on first Marshall bowl team, in 1947; two-time Pro Bowl
defensive end with Eagles.
Coached Stonewall Jackson High to eight straight state track
titles from 1948 to '55; 246-94 as football coach and 274-63 as
Fern (Peachy) Kellmeyer
At 15 was youngest tennis player invited to U.S. Nationals at
Forest Hills, in 1959; advanced to round of 16 in '60.
West Virginia Tech basketball star played on 1968
gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team.
Ran for 2,135 yards on just 79 carries at Sherman High in 1929;
set state javelin record (172'1") in '31.
Beat fellow West Virginian Ed Tutwiler (#46) for 1964 U.S.
Amateur golf title; won 15 West Virginia Amateurs from '49 to '75
and '56 Mexican Amateur.
Won gold in free rifle, prone at 1984 Olympics; last U.S. male
to win medal in the event.
Left Marshall in 1973 as school's alltime assists leader; spent
13 seasons with Milan of the Italian League.
Nitro High quarterback set national high school records for
career passing yards (14,457), completions (1,103) and attempts
(1,725) in 1998.
Three-time All-MAC catcher at Ohio University was Cubs' top pick
in 1973 draft; All-Star in '76.
Won 11 West Virginia Amateur golf titles from 1939 to '63.
Two-time all-state basketball player at Mullens High; now WBC
women's lightweight champion (38-2-2, 30 knockouts).
Ceredo-Kenova High star won 109 games for four major league teams
from 1978 to '92; pitched for '79 world champion Pirates.
Tennis pro was ranked as high as 19th in world (1987); famous for
spandex body suit she wore at '85 Wimbledon.
Burnsville High guard scored national-record 135 points against
Wilden in 173-43 victory on Jan. 26, 1960.