The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Utah

December 27, 1999

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.

#1
Merlin Olsen
LOGAN
All-America defensive tackle at Utah State went on to sterling
15-year career with Rams; 1974 NFL player of the year.

#2
Natalie Williams
SALT LAKE CITY
Two-time NCAA player of the year in volleyball at UCLA was also
two-time All-America in basketball; 1998 ABL MVP, now with
WNBA's Utah Starzz.

#3
Jim McMahon
ROY
Set 71 NCAA passing records at BYU; Bears' second-leading
alltime passer (11,203 yards); led club to Super Bowl XX win.

#4
Mac Speedie
SALT LAKE CITY
Browns receiver set AAFC record with 211 receptions from 1946 to
'49; had NFL-best 62 catches with Cleveland in '52.

#5
Gene Fullmer
WEST JORDAN
State's first world boxing champ won middleweight title in 1957,
over Sugar Ray Robinson.

#6
Bruce Hardy
COPPERTON
Bingham High legend was two-time state MVP in football and
basketball; tight end with Dolphins from 1978 to '89.

#7
Lewis Feild
KAMAS
World all-around rodeo champion in 1985, '86, '87; bareback
titlist in '85, '86.

#8
LaVell Edwards
OREM
All-Conference halfback at Utah State in 1950 has coached BYU
football team to 251 wins, 19 conference titles and '84 national
championship.

#9
Larry H. Miller
SALT LAKE CITY
One of U.S.'s top fast-pitch softball hurlers in 1970s; under
his ownership, Jazz has gone to playoffs 14 straight years.

#10
Blaine Lindgren
MAGNA
Won silver in 110-meter high hurdles at 1964 Olympics, gold in
high hurdles at '63 Pan Am Games.

#11
Jay Silvester
TREMONTON
Five-time AAU discus champion was in four Olympics, winning
silver at 1972 Games.

#12
Dick Motta
SANDY
Cut from Jordan High basketball team as senior in 1948;
rebounded to win 935 games as NBA coach, including '78
championship with Bullets.

#13
Bruce Hurst
ST. GEORGE
All-state basketball player at Dixie High; 2-0 for Red Sox in
1986 World Series; 145-113 career mark in majors.

#14
Rulon Jones
OGDEN
Utah State star was UPI's 1986 AFC Defensive Player of the Year
with Broncos, setting team record with 13 1/2 sacks.

#15
Al Cornum
PROVO
Coached Highland High golf team to nine state titles from 1962
to '74; 315-67 dual-meet record.

#16
Alma Richards
PAROWAN
Cleared 6'4" to win gold medal in high jump at 1912 Olympics.

#17
Arnie Ferrin
OGDEN
Only four-year All-America in Utah basketball history; won NBA
championship with Lakers in 1949-50; former Utah athletic
director.

#18
Marv Bateman
SALT LAKE CITY
Led nation in punting as junior and senior at Utah in 1970 and
'71; averaged 40.9 yards in six seasons with Cowboys and Bills.

#19
Vance Law
PROVO
All-Star third baseman with Cubs in 1988 hit .256 in 11 seasons
in majors; son of Vern Law, a top pitcher for Pirates.

#20
Gifford Nielsen
PROVO
Led nation in passing yards and TDs as BYU junior in 1976; was
effective backup in six NFL seasons with Oilers.

#21
Missy Marlowe
SALT LAKE CITY
Twelve-time All-America gymnast at Utah; won 1992 Broderick Cup
as nation's top female athlete.

#22
Shawn Bradley
CASTLE DALE
BYU basketball star is one of five NBA players to have 20-point,
20-rebound, 10-block game.

#23
Ab Jenkins
SALT LAKE CITY
Set more than 60 auto endurance records; set world record in
1927 by driving from New York to San Francisco in 76 hours.

#24
Dick Nemelka
SALT LAKE CITY
Three-sport All-America at West High led BYU basketball team to
1966 NIT championship; won '71 ABA title with Utah Stars.

#25
John Thompson
ST. GEORGE
Led Dixie High to 1925 state basketball title; four-time
All-America at Montana State.

#26
Denise Parker
SOUTH JORDAN
Won bronze medal at 14 as member of 1988 U.S. Olympic archery
team; won '87 Pan Am Games archery title and '99 U.S. national
crown.

#27
Jan Bucher
SALT LAKE CITY
American freestyle skier won 64 individual World Cup events;
world titles in 1986, '89.

#28
Julie Krommenhoek
AMERICAN FORK
From 1994 to '98, four-time All-America set Utah women's
basketball marks for career points, steals, free throw
percentage and three-pointers.

#29
Danny (Little Red) Lopez
FORT DUCHESNE
WBC featherweight champion defended belt eight times from 1977
to '80.

#30
Fred Roberts
RIVERTON
All-WAC forward at BYU played 13 seasons in NBA; scored
career-high 10.8 points per game with Bucks in 1990-91.

#31
Lori Parrish-Salvo
KAYSVILLE
Utah basketball, track and volleyball star from 1976 to '81;
1,432 points in basketball is sixth best in school history.

#32
Danny Vranes
SALT LAKE CITY
First Utah freshman to start every game, in 1978; three-time
All-WAC; spent seven seasons in NBA with Sonics and 76ers.

#33
Karl Schleckman
SALT LAKE CITY
Undefeated wrestler in four years at Utah in 1930s; three-year
tackle on football squad.

#34
Scott Mitchell
SPRINGVILLE
Set 10 NCAA passing records at Utah from 1987 to '89; now backup
quarterback for Ravens.

#35
Dick Felt
LEHI
BYU defensive back intercepted 18 passes over seven AFL seasons
with Titans and Patriots in 1960s.

#36
Frank Christensen
SALT LAKE CITY
In 1932 Utah fullback became school's first UP (now UPI)
All-America; rushed for 304 yards as rookie with Lions in '34.

#37
Fern Gardner
DEWEYVILLE
Joined Utah Shamrocks amateur softball team at age 14; 174 wins
as women's basketball coach at Utah from 1975 to '83.

#38
Rex Layne
LEWISTON
As 3-to-1 underdog, won 10-round heavyweight decision over
Jersey Joe Walcott in 1950.

#39
Elmer (Bear) Ward
BRIGHAM CITY
Utah State center was school's first All-America, in 1934;
played for Lions in '35 NFL Championship Game victory.

#40
Devin Durrant
PROVO
All-America at Provo High in 1979 averaged school-record 27.9
points for BYU in 1984.

#41
Jay Van Noy
RICHMOND
Utah State defensive back led nation in interceptions in 1948;
only pro action came in brief '51 stint with baseball's Cardinals.

#42
Stan Watts
MURRAY
Weber State basketball standout coached BYU to two NIT titles
and 372 wins from 1949 to '72.

#43
Phil Olsen
LOGAN
All-America defensive tackle at Utah State; Patriots' top pick
in 1970; played four years with brother Merlin on Rams.

#44
Jay Don Blake
ST. GEORGE
1980 NCAA golf champion and '81 collegiate player of the year at
Utah State; has one win, five runners-up in 13 seasons on PGA
Tour.

#45
Herman Franks
SALT LAKE CITY
Major league catcher for six seasons; managed Giants to four
second-place finishes and 367 wins from 1965 to '68.

#46
Bruce Summerhays
SALT LAKE CITY
All-America golfer at Utah in 1966 won more than $1 million on
Senior tour in 1999.

#47
Wilma Swenson
GRANTSVILLE
Fast-pitch softball star of 1940s and '50s tossed nearly 50
no-hitters for Utah Shamrocks.

#48
David Freed
SALT LAKE CITY
Captained Utah tennis team in 1930s; defeated Bill Maxwell to
take '54 U.S. Senior singles title; U.S. Davis Cup captain in
'60 and '61.

#49
Occie Evans
SALT LAKE CITY
All-state in football, basketball and baseball at LDS High in
mid-1920s.

#50
Doug Howard
SALT LAKE CITY
All-America infielder at Highland High; hit .427 for BYU in
1970; All-WAC basketball player and Cougars' leading scorer in
'68-69, '69-70.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN G. ZIMMERMAN #1 Merlin Olsen

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