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.
Karl (Mailman) Malone
Averaged 20.9 points at Louisiana Tech; has won two NBA MVP
awards; named All-NBA first-team a record 11 times; 26.1 career
Former Leland College quarterback won NCAA-record 408 games as
coach at Grambling (1941 to '97).
First National Leaguer to hit 500 homers; drove in 100 runs nine
times during 22-year career with Giants from mid-1920s to late
Set national high school javelin record at Woodlawn; led Steelers
to four NFL titles; MVP of Super Bowls XIII and XIV.
Averaged 27.4 points at LSU; with Hawks in 1950s and '60s, played
in 11 straight NBA All-Star Games.
Scored 36.8 points a game as senior at Houston in 1967-68;
All-Star in each of his first 12 NBA seasons.
After being traded to Cards in mid-1964, hit .348 and stole 33
bases to spark St. Louis to world championship; finished career
with 3,023 hits and 938 steals.
State's biggest folk hero led LSU to 1958 NCAA football crown;
won Heisman Trophy in '59.
Averaged 21.6 points at Centenary; holds NBA record for games
played (1,611); nine All-Star Games and three titles with Celtics
(1981, '84, '86).
Led Grambling to NAIA title in 1961 and Knicks to two NBA
crowns; '70 league MVP.
Retired from Chargers in 1986 with NFL records for catches (750)
and receiving yards (12,146).
Averaged 22.3 points at McNeese State and 16.3 points in NBA
(1986-87 to '88-99); six-time All-Star.
All-America fullback at LSU had five straight 1,000-yard rushing
seasons for Packers of 1950s and '60s.
Tossed no-hitter in 1926 for White Sox; won 260 games from 1920s
Louisiana Lightning went 25-3 with 1.74 ERA for world champion
Yankees in 1978; career winning percentage of .651 (170-91).
National high school player of the year in 1993 at Isidore Newman
High; three-time AP All-America at Tennessee; excelling with
Colts in second NFL season.
AL MVP in 1971 when he went 24-8 with 1.82 ERA for A's; only
pitcher to win All-Star Game for each league.
Has ridden more than 6,000 winners, including back-to-back
Kentucky Derby champions in 1982 and '83.
Steve Van Buren
Broke SEC rushing record as senior at LSU in 1944, his first year
as tailback; won four NFL rushing titles with Eagles.
Colts quarterback from LSU was NFL MVP in 1976 (3,104 passing
yards, 24 TDs); two-time All-Pro.
Southern U hurdler won Olympic gold in 110-meter hurdles in
1972; won 78 straight races in '70 and '71.
Baseball's alltime save leader with 478; averaged more than 25
saves a year from 1983 to '95.
Threw for 29,817 yards in 18-year NFL career (1973 to '90),
including a league-high 2,803 for Bills in '77.
Current Grambling coach was All-America quarterback for Tigers in
1976 and '77; MVP of Super Bowl XXII with Redskins.
Surly slugger starred at LSU and has averaged 39 home runs and
122 RBIs in nine full major league seasons.
Nice guys can win: In 1970 he retired as basketball coach from
Pine Prairie High with a national high school record 1,026
wins--and no technicals.
Three-time basketball All-America helped Louisiana Tech to four
Final Fours and 1981 and '82 national championships.
LSU's alltime leading rusher (4,050 yards); second-leading rusher
in Saints history (4,164 yards from 1986 to '93).
John David Crow
Won Heisman under Bear Bryant at Texas A&M in 1957; became first
1,000-yard rusher in Cardinals history, in '60.
Coached LSU baseball team to four College World Series titles in
Dominating power pitcher's career was cut short by stroke in
1980; led NL in strikeouts (313) and ERA (2.71) in '79.
Charles (Cotton) Nash
First Kentucky hoopster to average 20 points in three straight
seasons; played pro basketball in 1967-68 and pro baseball in
'67, '69 and '70.
Glenn (Slats) Hardin
Four-time NCAA track champion at LSU won Olympic 440-meter hurdle
silver in 1932, gold in '36.
LSU track coach has led Tigers to 19 national titles since 1988;
his runners have also won 55 individual and relay titles.
In 1992 became first back since '71 to win back-to-back NCAA
rushing titles; 1,000 rushing yards in five of six NFL seasons.
Nation's alltime leading high school basketball scorer (6,702
points); averaged 46.7 points as senior at Ebarb High in 1969-70.
Led Hammond High to four state hoops titles; guided Louisiana
Tech to two NCAA crowns; won Olympic gold in 1984.
Northwestern State star was one of NFL's first great
pass-catching tight ends (480 catches for 7,918 yards from 1963
Slugged four homers in a game for Braves in 1954; had 336 career
homers, .277 lifetime average.
Kathy Johnson Clarke
All-America gymnast at Centenary won team silver medal and bronze
on balance beam in 1984 Olympics.
End during Browns' heyday of late 1940s and early '50s; shares
NFL record with six TDs in a '51 game against Bears.
SEC tennis champion; played alongside Cannon in LSU backfield;
57 interceptions as NFL defensive back (1960 to '71).
Won PGA Championship in 1983 and topped Tour money list with
$426,668; has 11 career tournament victories.
LSU star was NL Rookie of the Year in 1948 with Braves; as
manager, won 994 games and three pennants.
Became first African-American woman to win an Olympic medal when
she took the 220-meter track bronze in 1948.
Bob (Butterbean) Love
Was NAIA All-America at Southern U in 1965; led Bulls in scoring
seven straight seasons (1969-70 through '75-76).
Won lightweight belt in 15-round decision over Bud Smith in 1956
despite breaking right hand in second round.
Won Eclipse Award as top jockey in 1989 and '92; took first two
legs of Triple Crown aboard Real Quiet in '98.
Southern U grad was a four-time All-Pro defensive end for
Broncos from 1966 to '72.
Gaynell (Gus) Tinsley
First football All-America at LSU, in 1935 and '36; after being
two-time All-Pro end, returned to coach Tigers from 1948 to '54.