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.
EAST ST. LOUIS
World's best female athlete; won six Olympic medals--three
gold--and set heptathlon world record in 1988.
Papa Bear: 63 years with the Bears; 318 wins as coach is second
alltime; patriarch of the NFL.
A top 10 Heisman finisher and two-time All-America at Illinois;
the gold standard for NFL middle linebackers.
Football's Roaring '20s answer to Ruth and Dempsey; built legend
at Illinois; had eight spectacular seasons in NFL.
Top U.S. female winter athlete; won five speed skating golds and
dominated her sport for nearly a decade.
Three-time All-America at DePaul; won seven titles in nine pro
seasons; helped make basketball a big man's game.
EAST ST. LOUIS
Record 109 men's pro singles titles, including eight Grand Slams;
one of most fiery players to cross the baseline.
High school All-America; NCAA champ at Indiana; NBA's best small
guard since Cousy led Pistons to back-to-back titles.
Basketball and football All-America at Northwestern; passed
Browns to seven pro titles in 1940s and '50s.
Bruising fullback at Illinois; soul of Packers' dynasty in he
1960s; perhaps the hardest-hitting linebacker ever.
Won four speed skating medals at 1968 and '72 Olympics,
including 1,500-meter gold in '72.
Led DePaul to Final Four in 1979; won Naismith Award in '80;
three-time NBA All-Star had 18,458 career points.
EAST ST. LOUIS
Tight end with lineman size and wideout speed; Missouri
All-America; had 541 receptions for Chargers from 1979 to '87.
Best righthander in Phillies history, won 20 games in six
straight seasons and was a seven-time All-Star.
Ten-time All-Star with Twins; led AL in hits three straight
years; MVP of the 1991 ALCS.
Was king of the pool before King of the Jungle: five swimming
golds at 1924 and '28 Olympics; starred in 12 Tarzan movies.
End on three undefeated Notre Dame teams; patron saint of
coaches started Fighting Irish's grand tradition.
Won 273 games; had four 20-win seasons and won seven World Series
games with Yankees.
Had 37 winning seasons in 42 years at DePaul; NCAA's
11th-winningest basketball coach.
Kentucky's alltime leading scorer; dangerous big man on the
perimeter; seven-time ABA and NBA All-Star.
Swam to two world records and won Sullivan Award in 1970; won
1,500-meter silver at '68 Olympics and relay gold in '72.
Heisman-winning back at Notre Dame in 1953; only player to win
Maxwell Award twice; made Pro Bowl in only NFL season.
Seven-time All-Star shortstop; American League MVP in 1948 and
batting champion in '44.
At the 1984 Olympics he won team and parallel-bar gold medals.
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Illinois judge was baseball's first and most powerful
commissioner; cleaned up after Black Sox scandal and ruled game
for 24 years.
Won Sullivan Award in 1951; only man to win two Olympic pole
vault golds ('52 and '56).
Two-time NBA All-Star with Bulls; sixth-best career winning
percentage as NBA coach.
Outland Trophy winner at Notre Dame in 1946 was three-time
All-America; All-Pro with Bears at three positions.
Three-time NAIA All-America at Illinois Wesleyan (1975 to '77);
seven-time NBA All-Star.
Ten-time All-Star at second base; managed Cardinals to 1967
World Series victory.
All-America at DePaul; NBA Rookie of the Year in 1983, twice an
NBA All-Star in 17-year career.
Holds NFL record for season completion percentage (70.6), set
mark for consecutive completions (20); 1981 MVP.
Sleeveless slugger (279 career homers) led NL first basemen in
fielding five times; league record holder for consecutive games
scoring a run (17).
Outland Trophy winner and member of Notre Dame's national
champions in 1946 and '47; All-Pro guard for Cardinals.
Stifling defender; deft playmaker won 1983 NBA title with 76ers;
retired as career steals leader.
Won decathlon and high jump gold at 1924 Olympics; only person to
win decathlon and an individual event at same Games.
Led NL in appearances and wins five times from 1899 to 1908;
won 35 games in '04.
Won two NCAA titles as coach at Duke; only John Wooden and Dean
Smith took more teams to the Final Four.
Led Carver High to city title in 1985; UTEP's alltime leader in
steals and assists; five-time NBA All-Star with Warriors and Heat.
Top defensive catcher of 1910s and '20s; first receiver to back
up plays at first and third base.
Colorful owner of Indians, St. Louis Browns and White Sox; had a
midget bat and exploded scoreboard to promote teams.
Slick-passing center led Illinois to 1952 Final Four; played
844 straight NBA games, a record that stood for 17 years.
Guard won two state titles at Thornridge High, NCAA championship
with undefeated Indiana in 1976 and NBA ring with Celtics in '84.
Frederick (Fritz) Pollard
Second black All-America, as back at Brown in 1916; first black
NFL coach, with Akron and Hammond Pros.
Cubs first baseman at 18, hit pennant-clinching homer as
19-year-old in 1935; was MVP and batting champion in '45.
Won city title at Carver High; Michigan All-America guard; NBA
All-Rookie team in 1966-67.
Set or equaled world records in three sprint events between 1932
and '36; won two individual silvers, a bronze and a relay gold in
John (Paddy) Driscoll
Multithreat player--runner, passer, defender and master punter
and dropkicker--at Northwestern from 1915 to '16 and with
Cardinals and Bears.
First baseman for Cardinals, Reds and Browns was NL MVP in 1928
and hit .371 in '23.
EAST ST. LOUIS
Speedy Negro leagues star was Braves' first black player; 1950
NL Rookie of the Year.