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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Nebraska

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Nebraska

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
Bob Gibson
OMAHA
All-state in basketball at Omaha Tech; played with Globetrotters;
won 251 games, two Cy Youngs for Cardinals.

#2
Gale Sayers
OMAHA
State long jump record holder; two-time football All-America at
Kansas; led NFL in rushing in 1966 and '69 with Bears.

#3
Grover Cleveland Alexander
ELBA
Three-time major league 30-game winner (1915, '16, '17); led
National League in wins six times and ERA five times.

#4
Tom Osborne
HASTINGS
All-state in football and basketball at Hastings High; coached
Nebraska football team to three national titles from 1973 to '97.

#5
Johnny Rodgers
OMAHA
Heisman Trophy-winning wingback led Nebraska to 1970 and '71
national titles.

#6
Sam Crawford
WAHOO
Retired in 1917 with major league record 312 career triples; had
.309 batting average, 2,961 hits and 366 stolen bases with Reds
and Tigers.

#7
Richie Ashburn
TILDEN
Four-time NL All-Star; won league batting titles with Phillies in
1955 and '58.

#8
Ed Weir
SUPERIOR
Two-time All-America at Nebraska; Knute Rockne called him
"greatest tackle I ever saw."

#9
Bob Boozer
OMAHA
All-America in basketball at Kansas State in 1958 and '59; led
Wildcats to two Big Eight titles; No. 1 pick of Royals.

#10
Jim Hartung
OMAHA
Member of gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. men's gymnastics team; led
Nebraska to four straight NCAA crowns; won seven individual NCAA
titles.

#11
Mel Harder
BEEMER
Indians righthander was All-Star from 1934 to '37; won 223 games.

#12
Dave Rimington
OMAHA
Two-time All-America center at Nebraska (1981, '82); only man to
win Outland Trophy twice.

#13
Ron Boone
OMAHA
Star of Omaha Tech 1963 state championship basketball team;
four-time ABA All-Star.

#14
Louise Pond
LINCOLN
Winner of 1916 state women's golf title; women's singles and
doubles tennis champion at Heidelberg College in 1900; founded
Nebraska women's basketball team.

#15
Billy Southworth
HARVARD
Hit .297 with 138 stolen bases in majors (1913 to '29); managed
Cardinals to three pennants and World Series titles in '42 and
'44.

#16
Pat Fischer
OMAHA
Halfback at Nebraska; three-time Pro Bowl cornerback with
Cardinals and Redskins started 212 straight games.

#17
Mick Tingelhoff
LEXINGTON
Class B all-state center on 1957 Lexington High football team;
six Pro Bowls with Vikings.

#18
Dazzy Vance
COWLES
Led NL in strikeouts from 1922 to '28, in ERA three times, and in
wins and complete games twice; won 197 games.

#19
George Sauer
LINCOLN
All-America fullback at Nebraska in 1933; coached Kansas to two
Big Six titles; New York Jets' director of player personnel from
'63 to '68.

#20
Charley Brock
COLUMBUS
Intercepted 20 passes for Packers from 1939 to '47, including two
for TDs in '45; played on two NFL champions.

#21
Dean Steinkuhler
BURR
Played eight-man football at Sterling High; won 1983 Lombardi and
Outland trophies as offensive guard at Nebraska.

#22
Mark Calcavecchia
LAUREL
Has nine PGA Tour wins; 1989 British Open winner.

#23
Guy Chamberlin
BLUE SPRINGS
All-America defensive end and halfback at Nebraska; played for
1921 NFL champion Decatur Staleys; coached NFL's Canton-Cleveland
team to three league titles.

#24
Jay Novacek
GOTHENBURG
All-state QB at Gothenburg High in 1981; set state pole vault
record; tight end for Cardinals and Cowboys from '85 to '95.

#25
Gil Dodds
FALLS CITY
Won multiple state high school gold medals in the 880 and mile
from 1935 to '37; set world indoor mile best three times.

#26
Glenn Presnell
GILEAD
All-conference halfback at Nebraska in 1927; led NFL in scoring
for '33 Portsmouth Spartans.

#27
Randy Rasmussen
ELBA
Offensive guard played team-record 207 games with Jets from 1967
to '81; member of Super Bowl III champions.

#28
Bob Cerv
WESTON
All-state in basketball at Weston High; led Nebraska to 1950
conference title; spent 12 seasons as major league outfielder;
batted .276.

#29
Val Skinner
NORTH PLATTE
State high school champion in 1974 and '78; has won six LPGA
events in 16 years on tour.

#30
Lloyd Hahn
FALLS CITY
Set world records at seven distances, from 800 to 1,500 meters,
in the 1920s.

#31
Gregg Olson
OMAHA
Diamondbacks reliever threw four no-hitters at Northwest High,
won 27 games without a loss; 1989 AL Rookie of the Year.

#32
Tom Rathman
GRAND ISLAND
Scored 34 touchdowns as running back at Grand Island High and was
state high jump champion; 49ers fullback from 1986 to '93.

#33
Ruby Miller
ELM CREEK
Averaged 38.6 points as a senior at Elm Creek High in 1927;
scored 80 in game against Miller High.

#34
Marlin Briscoe
OMAHA
Led Broncos with 14 TD passes as rookie in 1968; led AFC with 57
receptions for Bills in '70.

#35
Eugene (Hoppy) McCue
ARAPAHOE
Was all-state three times in basketball and all-state twice in
football at Arapahoe High from 1948 to '51; also won 11
individual track titles.

#36
Johnny Hopp
HASTINGS
All-Star outfielder batted .296 in 14-year career (1939 to '52);
played in five World Series, with Cardinals and Yankees.

#37
Kent McCloughan
BROKEN BOW
All-state in football at Broken Bow High; earned All-League
honors as cornerback with Raiders in 1967 and '68.

#38
Larry Station
OMAHA
Set state meet record in shot put (62'11 1/2") in 1982 at
Central High; two-time All-America linebacker at Iowa.

#39
Paul Tierney
BROKEN BOW
State rodeo champion at Broken Bow High in 1970; World All-Around
Rodeo champion in '80.

#40
Steve Brooks
McCOOK
Rode Ponder to 1949 Kentucky Derby win; 10 days later rode
winners in first six races.

#41
Erick Strickland
BELLEVUE
Led Nebraska basketball team in scoring in 1996; spent three
summers as Class A outfielder in Marlins system; now plays guard
for Mavericks.

#42
Edsel Wibbels
WOLBACH
All-state football player at Wolbach High; won national high
school discus title in 1937 with a throw of 142'4".

#43
Jack Van Berg
COLUMBUS
First thoroughbred trainer to get 5,000 wins, in 1987; led nation
in victories eight times.

#44
Carol Moseke Frost
CEDAR RAPIDS
Four-time National AAU discus champion; won a gold medal at the
1968 Pan Am Games.

#45
Tim Burke
OMAHA
Expos closer saved 84 games from 1987 to '90; retired with a
49-33 record, 2.72 ERA and 102 saves.

#46
Ed Thompson
CAMBRIDGE
In 1997, Omaha QB was first player in Division II history to rush
and pass for 1,000 yards in single season; accomplished feat
again in '98.

#47
Tom Kropp
AURORA
NAIA All-America in football and basketball at Kearney State;
drafted by Steelers and Bullets in 1975.

#48
Julie Vollertsen
PALMYRA
Hitter for silver-medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic volleyball team
was also member of '82 bronze-medal-winning team at world
championships.

#49
Roger Sayers
OMAHA
Track and football star is Omaha's eighth alltime leading rusher
with 2,033 yards from 1960 to '63; member of '62 U.S. national
track team.

#50
Chris Leigh
PLATTEVIEW
Scored then girls basketball state-record 1,492 points for
Platteview from 1976 to '79.

COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIER #5 Johnny Rodgers