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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Rhode Island

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Rhode Island

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 Nap Lajoie
WOONSOCKET
In 1901, A's second baseman led AL in hits, doubles, home runs,
runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and hit a league-record .422.

#2 Davey Lopes
PROVIDENCE
Spent 16 seasons in majors, batting .263 with 557 stolen bases;
two-time NL stolen base king; four-time All-Star.

#3 Joe Mullaney
PROVIDENCE
Coached Providence basketball team to 12 straight winning
seasons; guided Lakers to 1970 NBA Finals.

#4 Mark van Eeghen
CRANSTON
Set Colgate record with 2,591 career rushing yards; ran
for 6,651 yards and won two Super Bowls with Raiders.

#5 Ernie DiGregorio
PROVIDENCE
Led Providence to Final Four in 1973; NBA Rookie of the Year and
assists leader in '74.

#6 Bill Belisle
WOONSOCKET
In 22 years as Mount Saint Charles High ice hockey coach has
634-75-22 record and 22 state titles.

#7 Glenna Collett Vare
NARRAGANSETT
Won six U.S. Women's Amateurs from 1922 to '35; trophy for lowest
stroke average on LPGA tour named for her.

#8 Vinny Pazienza
CRANSTON
Won IBF lightweight title in 1987 and IBF junior middleweight
crown in '91.

#9 Pat (Doc) Abbruzzi
WARREN
Little All-America at Rhode Island ran for 306 yards in 1952
game; coached Warren High to nine divisional and state titles.

#10 Lou Lamoriello
PROVIDENCE
Coached Providence hockey to 12 postseason tournaments from 1969
to '83; as G.M. built '95 Stanley Cup-champion Devils.

#11 Clara Lamore Walker
PROVIDENCE
Competed in 1948 Games in 200 backstroke; top masters swimmer,
holds 10 world records.

#12 Gerry Philbin
PAWTUCKET
Two-time AFL all-star defensive end was member of Super Bowl
III-champion Jets.

#13 Ernie Calverly
PAWTUCKET
Led nation in scoring (26.7) for Rhode Island in 1943-44; in '46
was first player to sign with Basketball Association of America.

#14 Steve Furness
WARWICK
Rhode Island fullback passed up 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in
hammer throw to play defensive line for Steelers; appeared in
four Super Bowls.

#15 Wilma Briggs
EAST GREENWICH
First girl in Rhode Island to play high school baseball; hit 25
homers in 1954 for South Bend of All-American Girls Professional
Baseball League.

#16 Dave Gavitt
WESTERLY
From 1969 to '79 coached Providence basketball team to 209-84
record and a Final Four.

#17 Norm Taber
PROVIDENCE
Bronze medalist in 1,500 meters at 1912 Olympics; three years
later ran 4:12.6 mile to set world record.

#18 Brian Lawton
WOONSOCKET
Led Mount Saint Charles High to four straight state titles and
121-3-2 mark; first American picked No. 1 in the NHL draft, in
1983.

#19 Billy Almon
WARWICK
Three-time all-state infielder at Veterans High played in majors
from 1974 to '88, batting .254 with 128 stolen bases.

#20 Chris Terreri
PROVIDENCE
Goaltender led Providence to two Final Fours; second in Devils'
history in games, minutes, wins and shutouts.

#21 Roland Hemond
CENTRAL FALLS
Three-time major league executive of the year took over White Sox
in 1970; by '72 had improved them by 31 wins.

#22 Frank (Monk) Maznicki
WARWICK
All-state back at West Warwick High played for NFL Bears
and Patriots from 1942 to '47; ran for 463 yards and was 65 for
69 on extra points.

#23 Hank Soar
PAWTUCKET
Two-way star with Giants from 1937 to '46; retired with 14
interceptions, 1,545 rushing yards, 411 receiving yards, 305
passing yards and 14 TDs.

#24 Ron Wilson
PROVIDENCE
Two-time All-America at Providence led nation with 87 points in
1976-77; coached Capitals to '98 Stanley Cup finals.

#25 Harold (Chubby) Gomes
PROVIDENCE
Won world junior lightweight boxing championship in 1959.

#26 Marvin (Bad News) Barnes
PROVIDENCE
Providence star from 1971 to '74; ABA Rookie of the Year with St.
Louis averaged 24 points and 15.6 rebounds.

#27 Bryan Berard
WOONSOCKET
NHL Rookie of the Year with Islanders in 1996-97; member of the
'98 U.S. Olympic team.

#28 Janet Moreau
PAWTUCKET
Won gold medal as a member of the U.S. world record 4X100-meter
relay at the 1952 Olympics.

#29 Tom Garrick
WARWICK
Rhode Island guard averaged 27.3 points in Rams' 1988 postseason
run to round of 16; played four seasons in NBA.

#30 Keith Carney
PROVIDENCE
Member of 1998 U.S. Olympic hockey team; Coyotes' top defensive
defenseman.

#31 Mike Cloud
PORTSMOUTH
Led Portsmouth High to three Class A state championships from
1991 to '93; rushed for school-record 3,597 yards at Boston
College.

#32 John Dias
MIDDLETOWN
Scored 610 points at Middletown High from 1963 to '65; basketball
coach at four high schools from 1970 to '94.

#33 Joe Hassett
PROVIDENCE
All-East guard at Providence from 1975 to '77 averaged 18.8
points as a senior; was one of the NBA's top three-point shooters.

#34 Tom Mellor
CRANSTON
All-East defenseman at Boston College won silver medal with 1972
U.S. Olympic hockey team.

#35 Clem Labine
LINCOLN
Righthander went 13-5 with a 3.24 ERA for 1955 world champion
Dodgers; two-time All-Star in 13 big league seasons.

#36 Lou Gorman
PROVIDENCE
Red Sox general manager from 1984 to '94; built '86 American
League champions.

#37 John Parker
NEWPORT
Two-time Olympian won a bronze medal at the 1972 Games with the
U.S. water polo team.

#38 Rob Gaudreau
LINCOLN
Scored 55 points at Providence in 1991-92 to lead college
defensemen; had 43 points for Sharks in 1992-93.

#39 Jerry Kapstein
PROVIDENCE
Early agent represented 11 of 24 baseball players eligible for
free agency in 1976, including Don Gullett and Joe Rudi.

#40 Gerald Kilmartin
PROVIDENCE
Won silver medal as member of 1952 U.S. Olympic hockey team;
played for U.S. in '47 and '49 world championships.

#41 Brad Faxon
BARRINGTON
Has won six events in 17 years on the PGA Tour, including New
England Classic in 1992.

#42 Brian Amaral
PROVIDENCE
Led East Providence High to 1997 state football title, running
for 699 yards and 12 scores, passing for seven TDs and
intercepting three passes.

#43 Chet Nichols
LINCOLN
Reliever led the National League with a 2.88 ERA as rookie with
Braves in 1951; had 34-36 career record.

#44 Dana Quigley
BARRINGTON
Won three PGA Senior tour events; seven-time New England PGA
player of the year.

#45 Roland Rodrigues
BRISTOL
All-state back at Bristol High in 1959 set school records for
single-season and career rushing yards; coached Bristol wrestling
to 100-10-1 record and football to 46-32-1 mark.

#46 Sara DeCosta
WARWICK
Goaltender for the gold-medal-winning 1998 U.S. Olympic women's
ice hockey team.

#47 Hugh Duffy
RIVER POINT
Was a career .324 major league hitter who played mostly in 1890s;
managed four teams to 535-671 mark.

#48 Julie Greene
BARRINGTON
Eleven-time state Women's Golf Association champion; won her
first title in 1963, her most recent in '98.

#49 Jimmy Van Alen
NEWPORT
Best known for devising and promoting tennis tiebreaker; founded
the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.

#50 Bobby Doyle
CENTRAL FALLS
Seven-time Ocean State marathon champion; finished seventh in the
1979 Boston Marathon in 2:14.04.

B/W PHOTO: NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY #1 Nap Lajoie