Search

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Massachusetts

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Massachusetts

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
Rocky Marciano
BROCKTON
Boxing's most relentless brawler won title in 1952; retired in
'56 as only unbeaten heavyweight champion.

#2
Doug Flutie
NATICK
Heisman winner and miracle worker at Boston College (1981-84);
eight-time CFL Most Outstanding Player; triumphant NFL returnee
with Bills.

#3
Patrick Ewing
CAMBRIDGE
The first of Georgetown's string of dominant big men in 1980s;
one of NBA's 50 Greatest.

#4
Bobby Carpenter
BEVERLY
First U.S. player to jump from high school to NHL (in 1981) and
to score 50 goals in a season; NHL All-Star in '85.

#5
Rebecca Lobo
SOUTHWICK
State's alltime leading high school basketball scorer (boys and
girls); led unbeaten UConn to 1995 NCAA title.

#6
Alberto Salazar
WAYLAND
High school All-America cross-country; won New York marathon in
1980, 81 and '82; won Boston in '82.

#7
Tom Glavine
BILLERICA
Baseball and hockey star at Billerica High; has won two Cy
Youngs and 187 games in 13 seasons with Braves.

#8
Pie Traynor
SOMERVILLE
Top third baseman of 1920s hit .320; whiffed 278 times in 7,559
at bats in 17-year career.

#9
Harry Agganis
LYNN
Led Lynn Classical to national high school football title in
1946; All-America quarterback at BU; was hitting .313 for Red Sox
when he died at 26.

#10
Johnny (the Elder) Kelley
ARLINGTON
As much a part of Boston Marathon as Heartbreak Hill; ran race
61 times between 1928 and '92, won twice.

#11
Francis Ouimet
BROOKLINE
Working-class hero was first amateur to win U.S. Open, in 1913 at
the Country Club.

#12
Robbie Ftorek
NEEDHAM
Considered state's best high school hockey player--broke state
scoring record three years in a row; earned Olympic silver in
1972; was first U.S. player to win pro MVP award.

#13
Tony Conigliaro
EAST BOSTON
Was youngest player (20 in 1965) to lead AL in homers and to hit
100 (at 22); career derailed by beanball in '67.

#14
Howie Long
MILFORD
Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end with Raiders; had 84 sacks in
13 seasons.

#15
Mickey Cochrane
BRIDGEWATER
Two-time AL MVP (1928, '34) and leader of the A's pennant winners
from '29 to '31; one of the best-hitting catchers ever.

#16
Pat Bradley
WESTFORD
Two-time LPGA Player of the Year, in 1986 and '91; has 30 tour
wins, including six majors.

#17
Nick Buoniconti
SPRINGFIELD
All-America at Notre Dame; undersized middle linebacker was
leader of undefeated 1972 Dolphins' no-name defense.

#18
Tom Barrasso
ACTON
Won Calder and Vezina trophies in 1984 and two Stanley Cups with
Penguins; shares single-season record for playoff wins (16).

#19
Gabby Hartnett
MILLVILLE
Cubs catcher hit .297 lifetime; belted 1938 pennant-winning Homer
in the Gloaming.

#20
Connie Mack
EAST BROOKFIELD
Longtime A's owner managed more games than anyone else (7,755
games from 1894 to '50) and built--and dismantled--winners over
five decades.

#21
Kelly Amonte
HINGHAM
Lacrosse high school All-America at Thayer Academy; four-time
All-America forward and 1996 NCAA women's player of the year at
Maryland.

#22
Marvelous Marvin Hagler
BROCKTON
Held world middleweight title for six years; had career record of
61-3-2.

#23
Angelo Bertelli
SPRINGFIELD
Won Heisman Trophy and national title as Notre Dame quarterback
in 1943.

#24
Mike Eruzione
WINTHROP
Captained 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team; scored winning goal
against Soviets.

#25
Tony Plansky
SOUTH BOSTON
Perhaps state's best all-around athlete: AAU decathlon champ
in 1924, star fullback at Georgetown and All-Pro running back
with Giants.

#26
Tenley Albright
NEWTON
Two-time Olympic figure skating medalist; first U.S. woman to
win skating gold, in 1956.

#27
Joe Bellino
WINCHESTER
Football, baseball and basketball star at Winchester High; 1960
Heisman winner as Navy running back.

#28
Rabbit Maranville
SPRINGFIELD
Feisty infielder with six teams from 1912 to '35; renowned
for consistent glove, durability.

#29
Rod Langway
RANDOLPH
Twice won Norris Trophy; three-time NHL All-Star; captain of U.S.
Canada Cup team in 1987.

#30
John Thomas
CAMBRIDGE
Was first to high jump more than seven feet; set world indoor
record as Boston University freshman in 1959; four-time
All-America; won Olympic bronze in '60, silver in '64.

#31
Jeff Reardon
DALTON
Eleven straight 20-save seasons from 1982 to '92; first closer
with 350 saves.

#32
Jeremy Roenick
MARSHFIELD
Has more 100-point NHL seasons (three) than any other U.S. player.

#33
Bill Cleary
CAMBRIDGE
All-America forward at Harvard; led U.S. to first Olympic hockey
gold in '60; coached at Harvard from 1968 to '90.

#34
Wilbur Wood
BELMONT
Knuckleballer won 20 games each year from 1971 to '74; was
three-time All-Star with White Sox.

#35
Charlie Brickley
EVERETT
Star running back at Everett High; Harvard All-America in 1912
and '13; considered best dropkicker ever

#36
Jack Chesbro
NORTH ADAMS
Spitballer had perhaps best season of any pitcher this century,
in 1904: modern record 41 wins, 48 complete games.

#37
Paul Pender
BROOKLINE
Beat Sugar Ray Robinson for middleweight title in 1960; held
belt until '62.

#38
Jim Craig
NORTH EASTON
Goaltender on 1980 gold medal Olympic hockey team; made 39 saves
in semifinal win over Soviets.

#39
Leo (the Lip) Durocher
WEST SPRINGFIELD
Made three All-Star Games in 17-year career as shortstop for
four teams; three-time Manager of the Year won World Series with
Giants in 1954.

#40
Keith Tkachuk
MEDFORD
Has two 50-goal seasons and second-most goals in NHL over last
six seasons.

#41
Jim Hegan
LYNN
"When you can catch like Hegan, you don't have to hit," Bill
Dickey said; Hegan was five-time All-Star who hit .228.

#42
Stuffy McInnis
GLOUCESTER
First baseman in the A's $100,000 Infield of 1910-14; in '21, set
major league season record for fielding average (.999) and fewest
errors (one).

#43
Mark Belanger
PITTSFIELD
Orioles' graceful shortstop from 1965 to '81 won eight Gold
Gloves.

#44
Tony DeMarco
BOSTON
Won welterweight championship title in 1955; lost it two months
later to Carmen Basilio in one of greatest welterweight bouts;
career record of 58-12-1, 31 KOs.

#45
Billy Gonsalves
FALL RIVER
Forward was member of 1930 U.S. World Cup soccer semifinal team.

#46
Nancy Kerrigan
STONEHAM
Earned Olympic figure skating silver in 1994 despite an
infamously injured right leg; also won a bronze medal in '92.

#47
Chris McCarron
DORCHESTER
Alltime top money winner among jockeys; two victories in each
Triple Crown race.

#48
Mark (the Bird) Fidrych
NORTHBOROUGH
National phenomenon in summer of 1976 talked to baseballs, won
19 games and was AL Rookie of the Year for Tigers.

#49
Henry Picard
PLYMOUTH
Won Masters in 1938, PGA in '39; 26 tournament victories.

#50
Senda Berenson Abbott
BOSTON
"The mother of women's basketball" introduced game to students
at Smith College in 1892; her rules governed women's game until
1960s.

COLOR PHOTO: HY PESKIN #1 Rocky Marciano