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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From New Mexico

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From New Mexico

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
Ralph Kiner
SANTA RITA
Hall of Fame outfielder led National League or tied for lead in
home runs first seven years of his career (1946 to '52).

#2
Al Unser Sr.
ALBUQUERQUE
Patriarch of auto racing's first family won Indianapolis 500
in 1970, '71, '78 and '87.

#3
Nancy Lopez
ROSWELL
In 1969 won New Mexico women's amateur golf title at age 12; has
won 48 titles and more than $5 million on LPGA tour.

#4
Kathy Whitworth
JAL
Seven-time LPGA Player of the Year; had 88 career titles, a
record for both men's and women's tours.

#5
Bobby Unser
ALBUQUERQUE
First auto racer to exceed 170 mph in a piston-engine machine;
won Indy 500 in 1968, '75 and '81.

#6
Everett Bowman
HOPE
World champion all-around cowboy in 1935 and '37; won eight
other world titles from '29 to '38.

#7
Jim Everett
ALBUQUERQUE
Threw for more than 34,000 yards in 12-year NFL career (1986 to
'97).

#8
Al Unser Jr.
ALBUQUERQUE
Two-time Indy 500 winner and CART's alltime prize-money leader;
set record for career starts in Indy car racing in July.

#9
Mike Smith
ROSWELL
Won Eclipse Award as top jockey in 1993 and '94; rode record 67
stakes winners in '94.

#10
Ralph Tasker
HOBBS
After 53 years of coaching basketball--49 at Hobbs High--retired in
1998 with record of 1,122-291 (.794).

#11
Johnny Tapia
ALBUQUERQUE
Won WBO super flyweight title in 1994; made 13 successful
defenses.

#12
Trent Dimas
ALBUQUERQUE
In 1992 became first American in 60 years to win Olympic gold on
horizontal bars.

#13
Ralph Neely
FARMINGTON
Stalwart on Cowboys offensive line for 13 seasons; played on
1972 Super Bowl championship team.

#14
Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman
ALBUQUERQUE
In August 1978 these three amigos became first balloonists to
cross Atlantic, in 137 hours and 18 minutes.

#15
Rosie Jones
ALBUQUERQUE
Won New Mexico junior golf title in 1974, '75, '76; has won 10
LPGA tour events and more than $4 million.

#16
Tom Brookshier
ROSWELL
Defensive back turned sportscaster intercepted 20 passes in
seven seasons with the Eagles (1953 to '61).

#17
Duane Ward
FARMINGTON
Fireballing reliever for Blue Jays led American League with 45
saves in 1993; played on two World Series championship teams.

#18
Bob Foster
ALBUQUERQUE
Light heavyweight champion successfully defended his title 14
times from 1969 to '74.

#19
Cathy Carr
ALBUQUERQUE
First New Mexican to win an Olympic gold medal got two in 1972,
in the 100-meter breaststroke and the 4X100 medley relay.

#20
Robby Unser
ALBUQUERQUE
Youngest son of Bobby (#5) was Indy Racing League's 1998 Rookie
of the Year.

#21
Steve Ontiveros
LAS CRUCES
Pitched in 204 games, had 33-30 record and 3.62 ERA in nine-year
major league career (1985 to '95).

#22
Tommy McDonald
ALBUQUERQUE
Starred in football and basketball at Highland High, and won
five gold medals in 1953 state track meet; NFL receiver from '57
to '68.

#23
Bob Crosby
KENNA
Won Roosevelt Trophy in 1925 as top all-around cowboy at both
Cheyenne Frontier Days and Pendleton Round-Up.

#24
Notah Begay III
ALBUQUERQUE
Stanford teammate of Tiger Woods won two events and more than $1
million as 1999 PGA Tour rookie.

#25
Charmayne James
CLAYTON
Riding on Scamper, she won 10 straight world barrel racing
titles from 1984 to '93.

#26
Bill Bridges
HOBBS
Was leading scorer in ABL (29.8 ppg) when it folded midway
through 1962-63 season; played with Hawks, 76ers, Lakers and
Warriors; scored more than 11,000 points.

#27
Conrad Hamilton
ALAMOGORDO
All-state as defensive back and outfielder at Alamogordo High;
now in fourth year with Giants.

#28
Roy Cooper
HOBBS
World champion steer roper and all-around rodeo champion in
1983; second cowboy to earn $1 million in prize money.

#29
Shane Andrews
CARLSBAD
Cubs third baseman has hit 72 home runs in 1,499 at bats.

#30
Sean Murphy
LOVINGTON
Golf medalist (1982 and '84) and first-team all-state punter at
Lovington High; Nike tour's second alltime money winner.

#31
Danny Romero
ALBUQUERQUE
After 127-5 amateur career won IBF super flyweight title in 1995;
lost belt to fellow New Mexican Johnny Tapia (#11) in '97.

#32
Terry (Tito) Landrum
ALBUQUERQUE
Hero of 1983 ALCS for Orioles with 10th-inning home run that won
game and clinched series; nine-year career as outfielder.

#33
Larry White
HOBBS
First All-America football player at New Mexico, in 1954;
drafted by Chicago Cardinals but attended dental school instead.

#34
Timmy Smith
HOBBS
MVP of Super Bowl XXII ran for record 204 yards on 22 carries
for Redskins.

#35
Chuck Hill
ALBUQUERQUE
Three-sport star at Albuquerque High set or shared four NCAA
records as a New Mexico kick returner from 1949 to '51.

#36
Ronnie Black
LOVINGTON
Two-time state high school golf champ has won more than $2
million in 18 years on PGA Tour.

#37
Sam Etcheverry
CARLSBAD
Scrambling quarterback threw for 1,982 yards in 28 NFL games
with Cardinals in 1961 and '62.

#38
Brian Urlacher
LOVINGTON
Thorpe Award finalist and All-America safety at New Mexico this
season; led nation in tackles with 178 in 1998.

#39
Bobby Newcombe
ALBUQUERQUE
Football, basketball and track star at Highland High; backup QB
and second-leading receiver for Nebraska this season.

#40
Bob Breitenstein
FARMINGTON
Played in 58 games from 1965 to '70 as offensive lineman with
Broncos, Vikings and Falcons.

#41
Carlos Etheredge
ALBUQUERQUE
State discus champion and all-district in basketball at Del
Norte High; tight end for Miami in early 1990s; played one
season with Colts ('94).

#42
Rod Nichols
ALBUQUERQUE
Star pitcher for Highland High and New Mexico in 1980s; won 11
games in seven seasons with Indians, Dodgers and Braves.

#43
Frank Giddens
CARLSBAD
Starred at tackle for New Mexico before playing 25 games in NFL
with Eagles in 1981 and '82.

#44
Larry Harlow
AZTEC
Outfielder had .248 average in six seasons with Orioles and
Angels from 1975 to '81.

#45
Toby Roybal
SANTA FE
Four-sport athlete at Santa Fe High (1948 to '50); leading scorer
for New Mexico's basketball team in '54 and '56.

#46
Dewey Bohling
ALBUQUERQUE
Thirteenth-round pick in 1959 draft scored nine touchdowns as
running back in 26-game NFL career.

#47
Dave Sherer
CARLSBAD
Had 42.1-yard punting average in two years with Colts and
Cowboys (1959 and '60).

#48
Stan David
TUCUMCARI
Texas Tech star played 16 games as linebacker for Bills in 1984.

#49
Jeff Taylor
HOBBS
Star forward at Texas Tech (1979 to '82); played 56 games with
Rockets and Pistons.

#50
Gary Johnson
ALBUQUERQUE
The state's current governor lettered in pole vault his senior
year at Sandia High, routinely won triathlons in New Mexico in
1980s; climbed Mount McKinley, highest peak in North America;
was first U.S. governor to compete in an Ironman Triathlon.

COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR. #3 Nancy Lopez