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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From North Carolina

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From North Carolina

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
Michael Jordan
WILMINGTON
College player of year at North Carolina in 1984; six NBA titles
with Chicago Bulls; member of '84 and '92 U.S. Olympic
gold-medal-winning teams.

#2
Richard Petty
RANDLEMAN
Seven-time Daytona 500 champion; tops NASCAR in wins (200),
poles (127) and wins in a season (27 in 1967).

#3
Buck Leonard
ROCKY MOUNT
Known as the Black Lou Gehrig; batted .340 and averaged 34 home
runs during 17-year Negro leagues career.

#4
David Thompson
SHELBY
Three-time All-America led North Carolina State to 1974 NCAA
basketball title.

#5
John Lucas
DURHAM
Two-time basketball and tennis All-America at Maryland; broke
Pete Maravich's single-season state high school scoring mark.

#6
Dale Earnhardt
KANNAPOLIS
Alltime NASCAR money leader with more than $34 million;
seven-time points leader; sixth in career wins with 73.

#7
Catfish Hunter
HERTFORD
Cy Young winner with 1974 A's; won 20 games or more five
straight years ('71 to '75); played on five World Series winners
with A's and Yankees.

#8
James Worthy
GASTONIA
MVP of 1982 Final Four led North Carolina to NCAA title;
seven-time NBA All-Star with Lakers.

#9
Sonny Jurgensen
WILMINGTON
Set then NFL records for attempts (508), completions (288) and
yards (3,747) with Redskins in 1967; played in five Pro Bowls.

#10
Ray Floyd
FAYETTEVILLE
Only man to win on PGA Tour and Senior tour in same year (1992);
won four majors.

#11
Enos Slaughter
ROXBORO
As Cardinals outfielder from 1938 to '53 twice led the NL in
triples; batted .300 over 19 seasons.

#12
Gaylord Perry
WILLIAMSTON
Confessed spitballer won Cy Young in AL (Indians, 1972) and NL
(Padres, '78).

#13
Bobby Bell
SHELBY
All-state high school quarterback; starred as Chiefs linebacker
in Super Bowls I and IV; eight-time All-AFL.

#14
Charlie (Choo-Choo) Justice
ASHEVILLE
As senior tailback at Lee Edwards High led offense that
outscored opposition 400-6; at UNC from 1946 to '49 racked up
then NCAA-record 4,883 yards of total offense.

#15
Hoyt Wilhelm
HUNTERSVILLE
Pitcher played in major-league-record 1,070 games from 1952 to
'72, winning 143 and saving 227.

#16
Phil Ford
ROCKY MOUNT
Three-time All-America guard is UNC's alltime leading scorer,
with 2,290 points; ACC player of the year in 1979.

#17
Dominique Wilkins
WASHINGTON
Nine-time All-Star forward for Hawks is one of nine NBA players
to score more than 25,000 points.

#18
Charlie Sifford
CHARLOTTE
First black man to win a PGA Tour event, the 1967 Hartford Open;
won '75 PGA Seniors championship.

#19
Carl Eller
WINSTON-SALEM
Starred as a two-way starter at Minnesota; six-time All-Pro as
defensive end with Vikings.

#20
Jim Beatty
CHARLOTTE
Track standout at North Carolina set U.S. record with 3:58.9
mile in 1960; first person to run sub-four-minute indoor mile.

#21
Bob McAdoo
GREENSBORO
Won state high jump title for Greensboro High in 1969; '75 NBA
MVP; led league in scoring three times.

#22
Roman Gabriel
WILMINGTON
North Carolina State All-America quarterback; was NFL MVP with
Rams in 1969; All-Pro four times.

#23
Al Dowtin
ARDEN
All-America basketball player at Wake Forest in 1920s; Demon
Deacons' first golf coach; played in '35 U.S. Open, '41 U.S.
Amateur.

#24
Sam Jones
WILMINGTON
Five-time NBA All-Star; scored 15,441 points and helped Celtics
win 10 championships.

#25
Dwight Clark
CHARLOTTE
Niners' No. 2 career receiving leader; made leaping catch
against Dallas in 1981 NFC title game to boost team to first
Super Bowl.

#26
Lou Hudson
GREENSBORO
Minnesota All-America; averaged 20.2 points and 4.4 rebounds
with Hawks and Lakers from 1966 to '79.

#27
Dale Jarrett
NEWTON
First driver to win Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in same season
(1996); won career-high six events in '97.

#28
Wes Ferrell
GREENSBORO
Six-time 20-game winner went 193-128 over 15-year major league
career; led AL in complete games four times.

#29
Walter Davis
CHARLOTTE
Member of 1976 U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning basketball team;
six-time NBA All-Star.

#30
Bobby Jones
CHARLOTTE
Four-time NBA All-Star and eight-time all-defensive selection;
mainstay on 76ers' 1983 NBA title team.

#31
Luther (Wimpy) Lassiter
ELIZABETH CITY
Regarded by many as greatest nine-ball player; won 1969 BCA U.S.
Open and 1971 Stardust World all-around championship.

#32
Walt Bellamy
NEW BERN
Two-time All-America at Indiana; played on 1960 Olympic
gold-medal-winning basketball team; averaged 31.6 points as a
rookie with Chicago Packers.

#33
Smokey Burgess
CAROLEEN
Five-time All-Star catcher; batted .333 in Pirates' 1960 World
Series win over Yankees.

#34
Prince Nufer Dixon
GOLDSBORO
America's dominant female swimmer in 1930s and '40s; set world
record in 50-meter backstroke in 1941.

#35
Cedric Maxwell
KINSTON
Led underdog UNC Charlotte to 1977 Final Four; with Celtics, MVP
of '81 NBA Finals.

#36
Kathy McMillan
RAEFORD
Hoke County High track star won long jump silver medal in 1976
Olympics; took '76 national title with U.S.-record 22'3" leap.

#37
Mike Caldwell
TARBORO
Quarterbacked Tarboro High to 3A title; struck out 36 in
18-inning game vs. Washington High; went 137-130 in majors from
1971 to '84; was AL Cy Young runner-up in '78.

#38
Lee Petty
RANDLEMAN
Won 1954, '58 and '59 NASCAR championships and inaugural Daytona
500, in '59.

#39
Junior Johnson
RONDA
Won 47 poles and 50 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races from 1953 to
'66.

#40
Floyd Simmons
CHARLOTTE
UNC's greatest all-around athlete won bronze in decathlon at
1948 and '52 Olympics; played fullback for Tar Heels.

#41
Meadowlark Lemon
WILMINGTON
All-state football and basketball player at Williston High;
played in 5,000-plus games with Globetrotters.

#42
Buck Baker
CHARLOTTE
Won 46 races, including the Southern 500 three times; first
back-to-back Winston Series champion in 1956 and '57.

#43
Andrea Stinson
CHARLOTTE
Charlotte Sting guard was runner-up in 1997 WNBA MVP voting; led
North Carolina State in scoring in '89, '90 and '91.

#44
Brad Daugherty
ASHEVILLE
Started at North Carolina as 16-year-old freshman; Cavaliers'
career leader in points and rebounds.

#45
Harvie Ward Jr.
TARBORO
Two-time U.S. Amateur golf champ (1955, '56) also won British
Amateur, Canadian Amateur championships.

#46
Ned Jarrett
NEWTON
NASCAR pioneer won 36 poles and 50 races; won 1965 Southern 500
at Darlington.

#47
Buck Williams
ROCKY MOUNT
Member of 1980 U.S. Olympic team; '82 NBA Rookie of Year;
averaged 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in 1986-87.

#48
Francis Rogallo
KITTY HAWK
In 1940s the Father of Hang Gliding created delta wings, which
led to design of hang gliders.

#49
Charlie Sanders
GREENSBORO
Lions tight end from 1968 to '77; played in seven Pro Bowls;
caught then team-record 336 passes for 4,817 yards.

#50
Walter (Teepot) Frye
STONEVILLE
Stoneville High shortstop is considered the best fielding
infielder in state history; coached Oak Ridge High to a state
title in 1974.

COLOR PHOTO: JERRY WACHTER #1 Michael Jordan