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.
In 23-year career, hit 755 home runs and drove in 2,297 runs to
surpass record totals of the Babe.
One of baseball's most complete players; hit 660 homers, stole
338 bases, won 12 Gold Gloves; two-time MVP.
Heisman winner at Auburn; only man selected to play in NFL Pro
Bowl to also homer in baseball's All-Star Game.
Started 47 straight games at Alabama from 1974 to '77; set NFL
record for career catches by a tight end (662).
NL Rookie of the Year in 1959; MVP in '69; one of most
devastating pull hitters ever; hit 521 homers in 22-year career.
Reported age and Negro leagues win totals are debatable; no doubt
that he was one of best pitchers ever.
Football All-America and SEC champion in shot put and discus at
Alabama; one of NFL's finest offensive linemen in 13 seasons with
Star at Lanier High and Alabama; ultra-efficient leader of
Lombardi's Packers dynasty; MVP of first two Super Bowls.
SEC Player of the Year in 1983-84 at Auburn; in NBA, averaged
22.2 points and 11.7 rebounds over 16 seasons.
Started early (age 19) and finished late (43); won 300 games, and
a Cy Young in 1959.
Starred at Parker High and Grambling; quick defensive tackle led
Chiefs to Super Bowls I and IV.
Steelers' leader in six of 12 receiving categories; retired in
1988 with four Super Bowl rings.
All-state in football and basketball at Foley High; star
quarterback for Tide; led Raiders to win in Super Bowl XI.
Struck out only 114 times in 7,132 at bats from 1920 through
'33; the 5'6 1/2" infielder used 40-ounce bat.
Ralph (Shug) Jordan
Auburn's winningest coach led Tigers to only national title, in
1957; from '56 to '58 went 24 games without a loss.
Lee Roy Jordan
Center and linebacker on Alabama's 1961 national title team;
anchored Cowboys' Doomsday defense for 14 years.
All-America center at Georgia Tech in 1959; went to Pro Bowl as
a linebacker nine times in 12-year NFL career.
All-America running back at Sulligent High; third-leading rusher
in Auburn history; spent 11 seasons in NFL and USFL.
Built Florida State football dynasty; fourth-winningest college
coach (303-85-4); best bowl-winning percentage (.750) ever.
NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1987; driver of the year in '92;
winner of 19 races.
At 16 diving prodigy won gold medal in springboard at 1975 Pan Am
Games; a year later she did the same at Olympics.
Cubs outfielder for 16 seasons was sturdy (1,117 straight games)
and strong (13 straight seasons with 20-plus homers).
Member of three Olympic teams; sprinter won 4x100-relay gold
medal in Montreal in 1976.
Took up harness driving at Auburn; had 1,243 career victories
and won 1962 Hambletonian at age 62.
Auburn hurdler won silver at 1932 Olympics; helped invent the
all-weather track in '50s.
All-SEC halfback at Alabama in 1951 and '52; All-America in '52;
played eight seasons in Canada for Saskatchewan.
Voice of the Yankees for 26 seasons got his start calling
Alabama football; he and Red Barber were first broadcasters
into Hall of Fame.
Played baseball at Auburn from 1920 to '23, then took up
archery; from 1926 to '42 won 196 straight tournaments.
All-America tackle at Alabama in 1929 and '30; only player named
to Tide's All-Century list in football and baseball.
Spent six years as Babe Ruth's late-game sub; as pro golfer,
finished third in 1941 Masters and won six PGA tournaments.
Won 1977 U.S. Open, '85 PGA Championship and 17 other Tour
events; winner of one Senior tour event since '96.
Played football and baseball at Alabama; blinded by enemy fire
in World War II; won 16 national titles as blind golfer.
All-America linebacker at Jackson State, Defensive Rookie of the
Year in NFL in '75.
Auburn's first Heisman winner, with 2,012 passing yards in
1971; still school leader in career touchdown passes (53).
Lionized for snapping ump's bow tie during 1933 World Series; hit
.330 over 17 seasons.
Johnny Mack Brown
Put Alabama football on map with two TD catches in 1926 Rose
Bowl, leading Tide to a 20-19 win over Washington.
Triple-threat quarterback at Alabama from 1944 to '47; eight-year
pro career with Redskins and Lions.
Jo Ann Prentice
State amateur golf champion in 1954; six wins on LPGA tour,
including the '74 Dinah Shore.
Played semipro ball at 12; hit .306 lifetime and won NL batting
title in 1944; delighted Dodgers fans with Giant-killing heroics.
Third in career rushing yards (2,741) and second in rushing TDs
(34) for Tide (1969-71).
Shoulder injury while fullback at Alabama hobbled throwing, but
outfielder hit .336 in 14 years in majors, from 1921 to '34.
Leah Marie Rawls Atkins
Three-time U.S. waterskiing champion, and world champion in
1953; first woman inducted into Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Led Auburn with six interceptions in 1951; as Georgia coach, won
'80 national title, took team to 20 bowls; 201 career victories.
Negro leagues star at infielder with Birmingham Black Barons;
spent four years touring with Harlem Globetrotters.
Auburn athletic director from 1951 to '72; hired Shug Jordan; led
school into modern era.
on Outland Trophy as a junior at Auburn in 1958; All-America at
guard in '58 and '59.
Two-time NBA All-Star guard with 76ers; averaged 15.9 points and
4.2 assists in eight-year career.
Jim (Red) Phillips
Captain of Auburn's 1957 national title team; one of best ends
in school history; led NFL in receiving in '61.
Hit 277 home runs in 13 years in majors; broke Ruth's marks for
homers (18) and RBIs (49) in a month in 1937.
Yankees speed demon in 1930s led AL in steals four times; was
AL's first batter in first All-Star Game, in '33.