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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Connecticut

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Connecticut

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

#1 Bruce Jenner
NEWTOWN
Made 1972 Olympic team as decathlete a year after taking up
sport; set world record in '75 and shattered it to win gold in
'76.

#2 Steve Young
GREENWICH
Top-rated passer in NFL history; Super Bowl MVP in 1995; only
quarterback with 30,000 yards passing and 4,000 rushing.

#3 Calvin Murphy
NORWALK
Fourth-highest scoring average (33.1) in NCAA; NBA season
free-throw-shooting record (95.8%); in NBA Hall of Fame.

#4 Kristine Lilly
WILTON
One of world's best midfielders and part of 1999 U.S. World Cup
team; has most international caps (191) in women's soccer.

#5 Chris Drury
TRUMBULL
Winning pitcher in 1989 Little League World Series; won NCAA
hockey title at Boston University, was top NHL rookie in '98-99.

#6 Bill Rodgers
NEWINGTON
Won Boston Marathon four times and New York's from 1976 to '79;
won at New York, Fukuoka and Boston within six months in '77-78.

#7 Willie Pep
HARTFORD
Featherweight champ from 1942 to '48, regained title in '49; one
of the best ever pound for pound, with career record of 229-11-1;
65 knockouts.

#8 Floyd Little
NEW HAVEN
The third great back to wear Syracuse's 44 left as school leader
in all-purpose yards; was in five Pro Bowls with Broncos.

#9 Bobby Valentine
STAMFORD
Only three-time all-state football player; fifth pick by Dodgers
in 1968, hit .260 in nine injury-marred seasons.

#10 Dorothy Hamill
GREENWICH
Figure skater was surprise gold medalist at 1976 Olympics.

#11 Brian Leetch
CHESHIRE
One of most skilled offensive defensemen in NHL history; two-time
Norris Trophy winner and seven-time All-Star.

#12 Jeff Bagwell
KILLINGWORTH
NL MVP in 1994, MVP runner-up in '99; has averaged .304, 29
homers and 107 RBIs in nine-year career.

#13 Vin Baker
OLD SAYBROOK
Career scoring leader at Hartford and a four-time NBA All-Star.

#14 Joan Joyce
WATERBURY
Softball star in 1950s and '60s; with a fastball clocked at 118
mph, she went 507-33 with an 0.19 ERA and 123 no-hitters.

#15 Jim Murray
HARTFORD
Century's top sportswriter started at New Haven Register;
original SI staffer; more than 6,000 columns for L.A. Times from
1961 until death last year.

#16 Jen Rizzotti
NEW FAIRFIELD
Point guard for UConn women's NCAA champs and AP Player of the
Year in 1995; UConn's career assist leader.

#17 Mo Vaughn
NORWALK
AL MVP in 1995; five straight 30-homer seasons and .301 career
batting average.

#18 Walter Camp
NEW HAVEN
Modernized rules of football in 1880s, introducing line of
scrimmage and down system; helped build college game's popularity
with All-America picks.

#19 Marlon Starling
HARTFORD
Won WBA welterweight title in 1987, WBC title in '89; lost both
in '90; won first 25 professional fights.

#20 Lindy Remigino
HARTFORD
Only Connecticut athlete with two Olympic gold medals--won the 100
meters and ran on U.S. 4X100 relay in Helsinki in 1952.

#21 Marcus Camby
HARTFORD
Led UMass to only Final Four, won Wooden Award in 1996; was the
second pick in NBA draft that year.

#22 Nykesha Sales
BLOOMFIELD
Two-time All-America; UConn's alltime leading scorer--men and
women--with 2,178 points.

#23 Julius Boros
FAIRFIELD
Won 18 PGA tournaments in 25 years on Tour, including U.S. Open
in 1952 and '63; was the oldest player (43) to win Open and
oldest (48) to win PGA.

#24 Bill Toomey
NEW CANAAN
Won record five AAU decathlon titles in 1960s and Olympic gold in
'68; set world records in decathlon and pentathlon in '69.

#25 Mike Gminski
MONROE
Duke's alltime leading rebounder, third-leading scorer and
two-time All-America; 14-year NBA career.

#26 Walt Dropo
MOOSUP
Rookie of the Year and tied for AL lead in RBIs for Red Sox in
1950 after spurning an offer to play football for the Bears.

#27 Andy Robustelli
STAMFORD
Defensive end for Rams and Giants was an NFL MVP in 1962 with
Giants; seven-time Pro Bowl player missed only one game in 14
seasons.

#28 Steve Blass
CANAAN
World Series MVP in 1971 was one of MLB's most consistent
pitchers from '68 to '72 until control suddenly vanished.

#29 Michael Adams
HARTFORD
Left Boston College in 1985 as school's fifth-leading scorer;
became one of NBA's maddest bombers in 13-year career, averaging
14.1 points.

#30 Moe Drabowsky
WINDSOR
Righthander struck out World Series-record six straight hitters
in 1966 and had an 0.90 ERA in three Series appearances.

#31 Henry Williams
HARTFORD
Minnesota's first full-time football coach; won eight Big Ten
titles from 1900 to '21.

#32 Charles Nagy
BRIDGEPORT
Three-time All-Star; one of two pitchers in majors with at least
15 wins each of last five seasons.

#33 Jimmy Piersall
WATERBURY
Famous for antics, but also won two Gold Gloves in centerfield in
17-year career; led AL in doubles in 1956.

#34 Nick Tronsky
NEW BRITAIN
National Duckpin Bowling Congress named him male bowler of year
five times.

#35 Rico Brogna
WATERTOWN
High school baseball and football star was drafted in both
sports; his 104 RBIs in 1998 were most by a Phillies first
baseman since '32.

#36 Sidney Wood
BLACK ROCK
Ranked in U.S. tennis top 10 for 10 years; invented synthetic
court surface used for most indoor events.

#37 Charles Smith
BRIDGEPORT
Top scorer in Pitt history and Big East Player of the Year in
1988; third pick in '88 NBA draft.

#38 A.J. Mleczko
NEW CANAAN
Member of 1998 U.S Olympic gold medal women's hockey team; NCAA
player of the year at Harvard in '99.

#39 Rick Mahorn
HARTFORD
Led NCAA Division II in rebounding in 1979-80; averaged 6.2
rebounds in just 23 minutes per game over 19-year NBA career.

#40 J. Walter Kennedy
STAMFORD
NBA's second commissioner, from 1963 to '75; oversaw expansion
from nine to 18 teams and signing of league's first national TV
contract.

#41 George Weiss
NEW HAVEN
Yankees' farm-system director and G.M. was architect of team's
mid-century dynasty.

#42 Chris Smith
BRIDGEPORT
UConn's career scoring leader, with 2,145 points; kick-started
school's hoops ascension as Jim Calhoun's first major recruit.

#43 Scott Burrell
HAMDEN
UConn baseball and basketball star was the only first-round draft
pick in two sports; won NBA title with Bulls in 1998.

#44 Rob Dibble
SOUTHINGTON
Overpowering reliever with Reds; saved 89 games and had 2.98 ERA
during eight-year major league career.

#45 Eugene Robinson
HARTFORD
Active NFL leader in career interceptions; played in three Pro
Bowls and won Super Bowl with Packers in 1997.

#46 John Bagley
BRIDGEPORT
Cavalier's first-round pick in 1982 draft; averaged 6.0 assists
for four teams in 11-year career.

#47 Albie Booth
NEW HAVEN
Three-sport captain and football star at Yale from 1929 to '31;
scored all three TDs in 21-13 upset of Army in '30.

#48 Ken Strong
WEST HAVEN
Retired in 1947 as NFL's alltime leading scorer (479 points)
after 14 seasons as running back and kicker for Stapletons and
Giants; played two seasons in Yankees' farm system.

#49 John Williamson
NEW HAVEN
Won two ABA championships with Nets (1974 and '76); averaged
20.1 points in five NBA seasons.

#50 Bill Romanowski
VERNON
Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker has four Super Bowl rings, with
49ers and Broncos.

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER #2 Steve Young