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.
Brown Bomber's 12-year reign (1937-49) was longest of any
heavyweight champion; won 25 consecutive title defenses.
Earvin (Magic) Johnson
Took Michigan State to 1979 NCAA championship; won three MVP
awards while leading Lakers to five NBA titles.
Had 2,839 career hits, all as a Tiger; started at second base
for AL in first six All-Star Games.
All-America in football and basketball at Michigan in 1920s;
coached Wolverines to '48 NCAA football title.
Won 80 games from 1944 to '46 with Tigers; two MVP awards and one
Averaged 26.8 points as senior at Detroit; player-coach of
Pistons at age 24; pitched for White Sox; starred on two NBA
title teams with Knicks.
Two-time football All-America and three-time basketball team MVP
at Michigan; played tight end for Lombardi's Packers.
All-America wide receiver at Michigan State; hit Game 5 homer to
clinch 1984 World Series for Tigers; famed pinch homer for
Dodgers in Game 1 in '88.
His four undefeated football teams from 1901 to '04 made Michigan
a national power.
Won middleweight title in 1908; had a 52-4-4 record with 49
Wolverines won or tied for Big Ten football title 13 times in his
21 years (1969-89) as coach.
George (Iceman) Gervin
Four-time scoring champion dropped NBA-record 33 points on Jazz
in one quarter in 1978.
Won medals in Olympic weightlifting in 1948 (silver), '52
(gold), '60 (bronze) and '64 (bronze); snatched a heavyweight
world-record 362 pounds in '62.
Led NFL with 12 interceptions as a rookie with the Redskins in
1964; finished career as league interceptions leader, with 81.
Scored 468 goals in 15-year NHL career, tops for a U.S.-born
center; played in 1984 and '98 Olympics.
All-America at Michigan in 1970; made five All-Star teams with
Rockets and coached them to '94 and '95 NBA titles.
Thomas (Hit Man) Hearns
From 1980 to '92, was world champion in five classes, from
welterweight to light heavyweight.
Four-time All-America distance runner at Michigan was the last
American man to win the Boston Marathon, in 1983.
Has trained 22 world champion boxers; was in opposite corner for
Muhammad Ali's first two defeats.
1996 Cy Young winner with a 24-8 record; has 2.77 ERA in 28
postseason games for Braves.
Won 100- and 200-meter gold medals at 1932 Games; his Olympic
record in the 100 stood for 28 years.
Three-time All-Big Ten quarterback at Michigan was also
conference batting champ in 1978 and '79; played 10 seasons in
Title IX pioneer dived at Michigan and won springboard gold at
AL's winningest southpaw in 1950s; won 211 games; pitched in four
Left Detroit after freshman season (32.1 ppg in 1968-69);
averaged 20.3 points in 13-year pro career.
Leading scorer of Stars 1999 Stanley Cup winners; Stars'
second-leading career scorer.
Legendary announcer has called Tigers games on radio, television
or both since 1960.
Overcame polio to win Heisman as a halfback with unbeaten Army in
1958; at 43 became then youngest U.S. Army brigadier general
Hit .349 with 24 homers, 102 RBIs for World Series champion
Yankees in 1999.
Voted the Greatest Women's Bowler of All-Time in 1973; won U.S.
Open eight times between '49 and '63.
Two great contributions to Michigan football: coached 1947
national champs and conceived Wolverines' famous helmet design.
Turned the Juice loose as guard in Bills Electric Co. line of
1970s; six-time Pro Bowl player.
Two-time USOC Sportswoman of the Year; won three speed skating
medals at 1976 Olympics and won world championships in both
cycling and skating in '73 and '76.
Was Cooperstown-bound before banishment because of 1919 Black Sox
scandal; had 209 career wins, including 29 in '19.
Lone female crew member of 1992 America's Cup winner America3
captained the first all-female Cup crew in '95.
Has trained such champions as Thomas Hearns and Michael Moorer in
his Kronk Center Gym.
Coached Michigan State football for 19 years, starting in 1954;
'65 and '66 teams had undefeated regular seasons.
Fab Fiver led Michigan to NCAA finals in 1992 and '93; top pick
in '93 NBA draft.
In 1925, his second full season in majors, hit .357, led NL with
26 triples and drove in winning run in World Series for Pirates;
a .300 hitter 10 times.
Won nine letters at Michigan and was All-America halfback in
1922; coached Wolverines to national titles in '32 and '33.
Bought Tigers in 1907 and built stadium for them at corner of
Michigan and Trumbull in '12.
Three-time MLS All-Star and national team mainstay on defense
was U.S.'s most recognizable soccer player.
Three-time 20-game winner; 283 career victories; 16 straight Gold
Jerome (the Bus) Bettis
Was 1993 NFL Rookie of the Year; rushed for 1,000 yards in five
of first six NFL seasons.
Dell and Connie Sweeris
Husband-and-wife table tennis champions combined for 25 national
titles from 1965 to '73; both are in the USA Table Tennis Hall of
Gene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb
Most imposing player of his day; a defensive lineman in three
Pro Bowls before death in 1963 at age 31.
Wearing borrowed skates, 23-year-old barber won 500-meter speed
skating gold in 1964 Olympics; got silver in '68.
Dominating softball pitcher had career record of 338-26 and an
0.15 ERA with Raybestos Brakettes.
Yankees first baseman was AL home run champ in 1916 and '17
before suffering untimely headache in '25 and losing job to Lou
Center on Michigan football teams from 1932 to '34; 38th
president of the United States.