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.
Boxing's most relentless brawler won title in 1952; retired in
'56 as only unbeaten heavyweight champion.
Heisman winner and miracle worker at Boston College (1981-84);
eight-time CFL Most Outstanding Player; triumphant NFL returnee
The first of Georgetown's string of dominant big men in 1980s;
one of NBA's 50 Greatest.
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.
State's alltime leading high school basketball scorer (boys and
girls); led unbeaten UConn to 1995 NCAA title.
High school All-America cross-country; won New York marathon in
1980, 81 and '82; won Boston in '82.
Baseball and hockey star at Billerica High; has won two Cy
Youngs and 187 games in 13 seasons with Braves.
Top third baseman of 1920s hit .320; whiffed 278 times in 7,559
at bats in 17-year career.
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.
Johnny (the Elder) Kelley
As much a part of Boston Marathon as Heartbreak Hill; ran race
61 times between 1928 and '92, won twice.
Working-class hero was first amateur to win U.S. Open, in 1913 at
the Country Club.
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.
Was youngest player (20 in 1965) to lead AL in homers and to hit
100 (at 22); career derailed by beanball in '67.
Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end with Raiders; had 84 sacks in
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.
Two-time LPGA Player of the Year, in 1986 and '91; has 30 tour
wins, including six majors.
All-America at Notre Dame; undersized middle linebacker was
leader of undefeated 1972 Dolphins' no-name defense.
Won Calder and Vezina trophies in 1984 and two Stanley Cups with
Penguins; shares single-season record for playoff wins (16).
Cubs catcher hit .297 lifetime; belted 1938 pennant-winning Homer
in the Gloaming.
Longtime A's owner managed more games than anyone else (7,755
games from 1894 to '50) and built--and dismantled--winners over
Lacrosse high school All-America at Thayer Academy; four-time
All-America forward and 1996 NCAA women's player of the year at
Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Held world middleweight title for six years; had career record of
Won Heisman Trophy and national title as Notre Dame quarterback
Captained 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team; scored winning goal
Perhaps state's best all-around athlete: AAU decathlon champ
in 1924, star fullback at Georgetown and All-Pro running back
Two-time Olympic figure skating medalist; first U.S. woman to
win skating gold, in 1956.
Football, baseball and basketball star at Winchester High; 1960
Heisman winner as Navy running back.
Feisty infielder with six teams from 1912 to '35; renowned
for consistent glove, durability.
Twice won Norris Trophy; three-time NHL All-Star; captain of U.S.
Canada Cup team in 1987.
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.
Eleven straight 20-save seasons from 1982 to '92; first closer
with 350 saves.
Has more 100-point NHL seasons (three) than any other U.S. player.
All-America forward at Harvard; led U.S. to first Olympic hockey
gold in '60; coached at Harvard from 1968 to '90.
Knuckleballer won 20 games each year from 1971 to '74; was
three-time All-Star with White Sox.
Star running back at Everett High; Harvard All-America in 1912
and '13; considered best dropkicker ever
Spitballer had perhaps best season of any pitcher this century,
in 1904: modern record 41 wins, 48 complete games.
Beat Sugar Ray Robinson for middleweight title in 1960; held
belt until '62.
Goaltender on 1980 gold medal Olympic hockey team; made 39 saves
in semifinal win over Soviets.
Leo (the Lip) Durocher
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.
Has two 50-goal seasons and second-most goals in NHL over last
"When you can catch like Hegan, you don't have to hit," Bill
Dickey said; Hegan was five-time All-Star who hit .228.
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
Orioles' graceful shortstop from 1965 to '81 won eight Gold
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.
Forward was member of 1930 U.S. World Cup soccer semifinal team.
Earned Olympic figure skating silver in 1994 despite an
infamously injured right leg; also won a bronze medal in '92.
Alltime top money winner among jockeys; two victories in each
Triple Crown race.
Mark (the Bird) Fidrych
National phenomenon in summer of 1976 talked to baseballs, won
19 games and was AL Rookie of the Year for Tigers.
Won Masters in 1938, PGA in '39; 26 tournament victories.
Senda Berenson Abbott
"The mother of women's basketball" introduced game to students
at Smith College in 1892; her rules governed women's game until