Alltime Best For Illinois's top 50 homegrown sports figures, go to

April 05, 2004
April 05, 2004

Table of Contents
April 5, 2004

Baseball Preview 2004

Alltime Best For Illinois's top 50 homegrown sports figures, go to

Compiled by Bill Syken

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Track athlete

This is an article from the April 5, 2004 issue

The East St. Louis native won six Olympic medals--three of them
gold--in the heptathlon and long jump from 1984 through '96. At
UCLA she was a four-year starter in basketball. Her brother, Al
Joyner, was the '84 Olympic triple-jump gold medalist.

George Halas, Football owner/coach

A pillar of the NFL, he owned, coached and played for his
hometown Bears, helping them win six world titles between 1921
and 1963. Papa Bear made the NFL's 1920s all-decade team as an
end; he was also good enough at baseball that he played 12 games
for the 1919 Yankees.

Dick Butkus, Football player

A ferocious hitter, the Chicagoan defined the middle linebacker
position in nine seasons with the Bears, from 1965 to '73, and
was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He was an all-state fullback at
Vocational High and was a two-time consensus All-America
linebacker at Illinois.

Red Grange, Football player

The Wheaton native was one of pro football's first star
quarterbacks. He led the Bears to NFL championships in 1932 and
'33. A three-time All-America at Illinois, he scored four
touchdowns in the first 12 minutes (and six overall) during a
game against Michigan.

Bonnie Blair, Speed skater

The most successful women's speed skater ever, she won five golds
in three Olympics from 1988 through '94. Raised in Champaign, she
won the Sullivan Award as the U.S.'s top amateur athlete in '92
and was SI's Sportsperson of the Year with Johann Koss in '94.

George Mikan, Basketball player

The sport's first dominant big man, the Joliet native played on
seven pro title teams and held the NBA career scoring record when
he retired from the Minneapolis Lakers in 1956. Mikan also led
DePaul to the 1945 NIT title and was a three-time All-America.