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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Kansas

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Kansas

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
Barry Sanders
WICHITA
Holds NCAA season rushing record (2,628); retired in 1999 as
NFL's second-leading alltime runner (15,269).

#2
Dean Smith
EMPORIA
Won 1952 NCAA basketball title as Kansas guard; holds college
record for wins, with 879, as North Carolina coach.

#3
Walter (Big Train) Johnson
HUMBOLDT
Strikeout record (3,508) stood for 56 years; won 416 games with
Senators from 1907 to '27; only Cy Young won more.

#4
Adolph Rupp
HALSTEAD
Played on national basketball champs at Kansas in 1922, '23;
four NCAA titles and 876 wins in 41 years as Kentucky coach.

#5
Jim Ryun
WICHITA
First high school miler to break four-minute barrier; silver
medal at 1968 Olympics in 1,500 meters; set record in mile twice.

#6
Lynette Woodard
WICHITA
High school (Wichita North) and college (Kansas) basketball
All-America; captained gold-medal-winning Olympic team in '84.

#7
John Riggins
CENTRALIA
Won two high school state titles in 100-yard-dash; NFL's
10th-leading alltime runner (11,352); Super Bowl XVII MVP.

#8
John Hadl
LAWRENCE
All-America halfback and quarterback at Kansas; six Pro Bowls
with Rams and Chargers; 33,503 passing yards.

#9
Jess Willard
SAINT CLERE
Knocked out Jack Johnson for heavyweight title in 1915; lost it
to Jack Dempsey in '19.

#10
Nolan Cromwell
RANSOM
Three-time high school state track champ; Big Eight offensive
player of the year at Kansas in 1975; four-time Pro Bowl safety.

#11
Maurice Greene
KANSAS CITY
Bolted to 100-meter world record (9.79 seconds) last June; swept
100 and 200 at 1999 world championships.

#12
Joe Tinker
KANSAS CITY
One third of baseball's most famous double play combo; hit .263
in 15 major league seasons.

#13
Lynn Dickey
OSAWATOMIE
Kansas State leader in career passing yards (6,208); threw for
4,458 yards with Packers in 1983.

#14
James Bausch
WICHITA
Set decathlon world record at 1932 Olympics; also received
Sullivan Award that year.

#15
Gene Mauch
SALINA
Only three men managed more games than his 3,942; won 1,902
games, two division titles and three NL Manager of the Year
awards, but never a pennant.

#16
Thane Baker
ELKHART
Four-time All-America sprinter at Kansas State; won gold in 4X00
relay at 1956 Olympics.

#17
Ralph Miller
CHANUTE
Set state high school hurdles record; quarterback at Kansas; led
Jayhawks basketball team in scoring in 1940 and '42; retired in
'89 as sixth-winningest college hoops coach (674).

#18
Glenn Cunningham
ELKHART
Held world record in the mile from 1934 to '37; won Sullivan
Award in '33; took silver in 1,500 meters at '36 Olympics.

#19
Johnny Adams
IOLA
Won Preakness aboard Hasty Road in 1954; fourth jockey to win
3,000 races; on the board with 8,609 of 20,159 mounts.

#20
Otto Schnellbacher
SUBLETTE
All-America Kansas end; played a year in NBA; Pro Bowl halfback
with Giants in 1951 and '52.

#21
Cleo Littleton
WICHITA
Became first player west of the Mississippi to score 2,000, at
Wichita State in 1955; only four-time All-Missouri Valley pick.

#22
Darren Daulton
ARKANSAS CITY
Phillies catcher from 1985 to '97; three-time All-Star led NL in
RBIs (109) in '92.

#23
Bill Nieder
LAWRENCE
In 1952 became first schoolboy to put 12-pound shot more than 60
feet; high school football All-America; won silver in shot at '56
Olympics, gold in '60.

#24
Ray Evans
KANSAS CITY
Football and basketball All-America at Kansas in 1940s; still
holds Jayhawks' record for career interceptions (17).

#25
Fred Clarke
WINFIELD
Player-manager of Pirates team that lost first World Series of
modern era (1903); club's winningest manager (1,422).

#26
Mike McCormack
KANSAS CITY
Kansas star won two NFL championships and went to six Pro Bowls
as Browns and Giants tackle from 1952 to '62.

#27
Steve Renko
KANSAS CITY
Last to letter in three sports (baseball, football, basketball)
at Kansas; pitched 15 years in majors (1969-83).

#28
Steve Grogan
OTTAWA
Kansas State standout spent 16 seasons with Patriots; holds NFL
record for rushing TDs by a quarterback, with 12 in 1976.

#29
Antoine Carr
WICHITA
All-America forward at Wichita Heights High; took Wichita State
to Elite Eight as sophomore in 1981; played on five teams in 14
NBA seasons.

#30
Fred Etchen
COFFEYVILLE
Trapshooting legend captained 1924 Olympic gold medal team; won
international championship in '32.

#31
William Roy (Link) Lyman
McDONALD
Defensive tackle won five NFL championships with four teams from
1922 to '34.

#32
Lon Kruger
SILVER LAKE
Big Eight basketball player of the year as Kansas State guard in
1973 and '74; coached Florida to Final Four in '94.

#33
Elden Auker
NORCATUR
Three-sport Kansas State star from 1929 to '32; won 130 games as
submarine pitcher for Tigers, Red Sox and Browns.

#34
John Kuck
WILSON
Set world records in shot put and javelin in 1926; won gold in
shot put at '28 Olympics.

#35
John McLendon
KANSAS CITY
Pro basketball's first black coach, with Cleveland Pipers of
American Basketball League in 1961; 523-165 mark with five
college teams.

#36
Sandra Myers
LITTLE RIVER
Won 13 individual state track titles at Little River High in
1970s; set U.S. women's record in 400-meter hurdles in '80.

#37
Ralph Houk
LAWRENCE
Spent parts of eight years with Yankees as Yogi Berra's backup;
won 1961, '62, '63 AL pennants as New York manager.

#38
Steve Little
OVERLAND PARK
Led Shawnee Mission South to 1973 state football title;
All-America kicker at Arkansas in '76, '77; tied NCAA record
with 67-yard field goal in '77.

#39
Ernie Barrett
WELLINGTON
All-America guard on Kansas State basketball team that went to
1951 NCAA Finals.

#40
Jim Colbert
KANSAS CITY
Won eight events on PGA Tour from 1966 to '90; Senior tour player
of the year in '95.

#41
Arthur (Dutch) Lonborg
HORTON
Basketball All-America at Kansas in 1919; helped organize first
NCAA tournament in '39.

#42
Veryl Switzer
BOGUE
Big Seven indoor long jump champ at Kansas in 1952; All-America
halfback in '53; led NFL in punt-return average as Packers
rookie in '54.

#43
Gerald Roberts
STRONG CITY
All-around rodeo world champ in 1942 and '48, North American
champ in '50.

#44
Pete Mehringer
KINSLEY
All-Big Six tackle at Kansas in 1932 and '33; won wrestling gold
at '32 Olympics.

#45
Ernie Schmidt
WINFIELD
Carried Winfield High to state basketball titles in 1927, '28,
'29; led Kansas State College (now Pittsburg State) to 47
straight wins from '29 to '32.

#46
Jeff Farrell
WICHITA
Made 1960 Olympic swimming team six days after emergency
appendectomy; three weeks later anchored gold-medal-winning
teams in 4X00-medley relay and 4X00-freestyle.

#47
Gary Spani
MANHATTAN
Two-time All-America linebacker at Kansas State; played with
Chiefs from 1978 to '86.

#48
Bullet Joe Rogan
KANSAS CITY
Negro leagues star on mound and at plate; had 113-45 record, hit
.343 and led Kansas City Monarchs to four league titles.

#49
Brian Shay
PAOLA
At Emporia State in 1998 became alltime leader in any division in
career rushing, career all-purpose yards and career points.

#50
Iva Pembridge Jarvis
PHILLIPSBURG
Two-time North American trapshooting champ; state champ 12
consecutive years, from 1949 to '60.

B/W PHOTO: RICHARD CLARKSON #2 Dean Smith