The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Kentucky

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
Muhammad Ali
LOUISVILLE
The Greatest. Nuff said.

#2
Mary T. Meagher
LOUISVILLE
Established world records in 100- and 200-meter butterfly in
1981; won three gold medals (100- and 200-meter fly and 4x100
medley relay) at '84 Olympics.

#3
Wes Unseld
LOUISVILLE
Two-time All-America at Louisville; named NBA Rookie of the Year
and MVP, with Bullets in 1969.

#4
Harold (Pee Wee) Reese
EKRON
Played shortstop and was clubhouse leader for seven
pennant-winning Dodgers teams in 1940s and '50s.

#5
Cliff Hagan
OWENSBORO
Two-time All-America center at Kentucky; played 10 seasons with
NBA Hawks; was Wildcats' athletic director from 1975 to '88.

#6
Paul Hornung
LOUISVILLE
Notre Dame quarterback and placekicker won 1956 Heisman; holds
NFL single-season scoring record (176 points), for Packers in
'60.

#7
Darrell Waltrip
OWENSBORO
Winston Cup champion in 1981, '82 and '85; amassed nearly $20
million in NASCAR earnings.

#8
John Beckwith
LOUISVILLE
Negro leagues star played seven positions and hit 54 home runs
for Homestead Grays in 1928.

#9
Eddie Arcaro
NEWPORT
Only jockey to win Triple Crown twice--aboard Whirlaway in 1941
and Citation in '48; retired in '61 with 4,779 wins.

#10
Phil Simms
LOUISVILLE
Won Super Bowl XXI as Giants quarterback; threw for 33,462 yards
in 14-year career.

#11
A.B. (Happy) Chandler
CORYDON
Baseball commissioner from 1945 to '50; instrumental in
integrating the major leagues.

#12
Matt Winn
LOUISVILLE
Civic leader and track operator is credited with establishing
Kentucky Derby as nation's premier horse race.

#13
Frank Ramsay
CORYDON
All-America at Kentucky in 1952; won seven NBA titles with
Celtics (1954 to '64).

#14
Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones
HARLAN
Four-time All-SEC in basketball at Kentucky; starred on
Wildcats' NCAA-champion hoops teams in 1948 and '49; also
all-league in football.

#15
Dave Cowens
COVINGTON
Seven-time NBA All-Star center with Celtics; retired in 1983
with career averages of 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds.

#16
Leonard Lyles
LOUISVILLE
Darting running back at Louisville led Division II in scoring
with 132 points in 1957; played defensive back for Colts and
49ersfor 12 seasons.

#17
Man o' War
NURSERY STUD FARM
Set five world records in 1919 and '20 as a 2- and 3-year-old;
lost only once in 21 career starts.

#18
Darrell Griffith
LOUISVILLE
Led Louisville to NCAA title in 1980; NBA Rookie of the Year
with Jazz in '81.

#19
Citation
CALUMET FARM
Triple Crown winner in 1948; first horse to win more than $1
million in prize money.

#20
Allan Houston
LOUISVILLE
Led Ballard High to state basketball title in 1988; has scored
more than 7,000 points in seven-year NBA career.

#21
Jeff Van Note
BARDSTOWN
Kentucky star was six-time Pro Bowl center for the Falcons;
played 246 games in 18-year NFL career.

#22
Tim Couch
HYDEN
Alltime leading passer at Kentucky; selected by Browns with first
pick in 1999 draft.

#23
Jack (Goose) Givens
LEXINGTON
Led Kentucky to 1978 NCAA basketball title with 41-point
performance against Duke in the championship game.

#24
Howard Schnellenberger
LOUISVILLE
All-America tight end at Kentucky; coached Miami to national
football title in 1983.

#25
Clarence Gaines
PADUCAH
Won 828 games from 1947 to '93 as Winston-Salem State's
basketball coach; third alltime in college wins behind Dean
Smith and Adolph Rupp.

#26
Earle Combs
PEBWORTH
Murderers' Row outfielder hit .325 over 12-year career with
Yankees from 1924 to '35.

#27
Joe B. Hall
CYNTHIANA
Succeeded Adolph Rupp as Kentucky basketball coach in 1972;
297-100 record and NCAA title in '78.

#28
Jim Bunning
SOUTHGATE
Struck out 2,855 (and walked only 1,000) in his 17-year major
league career (from 1955 to '71); pitched perfect game for
Phillies.

#29
Woody Stephens
STANTON
Trainer won five consecutive Belmont Stakes (from 1982 to '86),
as well as two Kentucky Derbies, a Preakness and five Kentucky
Oaks.

#30
Carl Mays
LIBERTY
Pioneered submarine-style pitching motion; 208 wins in 15-year
career (from 1915 to '29) with four teams.

#31
Ellis Johnson
MOREHEAD
First athlete to letter in four sports at Kentucky: baseball,
basketball, football, and track and field (from 1930 to '33).

#32
Ralph Beard
LOUISVILLE
Star guard on Kentucky's 1949 NCAA championship team; denied NBA
career because of point-shaving scandal.

#33
(King) Kelly Coleman
WAYLAND
Averaged 46.9 points as senior at Wayland High in 1955-56; had
75-point, 41-rebound game against Maytown High.

#34
Ed Diddle
GRADYVILLE
In 42 seasons as Western Kentucky's basketball coach won 759
games, fourth alltime among college coaches.

#35
Joe Fulks
BIRMINGHAM
Averaged 16.4 points over his eight-year pro career from 1946 to
'54; credited with popularizing the jump shot.

#36
John Hillerich
LOUISVILLE
Sporting goods pioneer teamed with Frank Bradsby in 1911 to
develop Louisville Slugger brand.

#37
Rex Chapman
OWENSBORO
Star guard at Apollo High and Kentucky; has scored more than
9,000 points in 12-year NBA career.

#38
Ralph Waldo Rose
LOUISVILLE
Won gold medal in shot put at 1904 and '08 Olympics; first to
break 50-foot mark.

#39
Butch Beard
HARDINSBURG
Guard averaged 19 points in three years at Louisville; played in
NBA for nine seasons (from 1969 to '79); coached Nets for two
years.

#40
David Russell (Gus) Bell
LOUISVILLE
Four-time All-Star with Reds; batted .281 with 206 home runs
over 15 years in big leagues (1950 to '64).

#41
Tamara McKinney
LEXINGTON
Olympic skier in 1980, '84 and '88; first U.S. woman to win
overall World Cup, in '83; took world titles in giant slalom
('81, '83) and slalom ('85).

#42
Bill Arnsparger
PARIS
Architect of No Name Defense for Dolphins' Super Bowl VII and
VIII champions.

#43
Clinton (Hawk) Thomas
GREENUP
Negro leagues star known for his range in outfield; hit .407 for
Philadelphia franchise in 1924.

#44
Don Gullett
LYNN
Injury-plagued lefty won 109 games for Reds and Yankees from
1970 to '78.

#45
Sherman Lewis
LOUISVILLE
All-America tailback at Michigan State finished third in 1963
Heisman voting; defensive back for Jets in '66 and '67; now
offensive coordinator for Packers.

#46
Don Fightmaster
LOUISVILLE
After losing arm in military accident, won national one-arm golf
tournament seven times; was world champion twice.

#47
Marvin Hart
JEFFERSON COUNTY
Heavyweight champion boxer went 28-7-4 from 1899 to 1910.

#48
Charlie Tyra
LOUISVILLE
First Louisville player to amass more than 1,000 points and
rebounds; played five seasons in NBA in late 1950s and early
'60s.

#49
Clem Haskins
CAMPBELLSVILLE
Two-time All-America forward at Western Kentucky; still holds
Hilltoppers' record with 55 points in one game.

#50
Cawood Ledford
HARLAN COUNTY
Before retiring in 1992, was Kentucky's play-by-play man for 39
years; named state's sportscaster of the year 22 times.

B/W PHOTO: LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL #1 Muhammad Ali

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