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There's a code to that Grecian urn, the amphora SI awards to its Sportsman and/or Sportswoman of the Year. Study the covers laid out on these pages and you'll see the spirit of the times reflected in our choices. Doctor-to-be Bannister, sprinter and devout Christian Morrow, and scholar-quarterback Baker are felicitous representatives of the gray-flannel-suit 1950s and pre-Dealey Plaza '60s. Russell, King and Ali, proud campaigners for social change, stand as totems of the dozen years that followed. Solo performers Rose, Evert, Cauthen, Nicklaus, Leonard and Decker marked the decade beginning in the mid-'70s. And as the population grayed, who better to honor than superannuated achievers like Moses and Abdul-Jabbar, and whiskered coaches like Paterno and Shula, and the singular Arthur Ashe, who made a difference in retirement and now, still, in death?

1954
Roger Bannister

1955
Johnny Podres

1956
Bobby Morrow

1957
Stan Musial

1958
Rafer Johnson

1959
Ingemar Johansson

1962
Terry Baker

1963
Pete Rozelle

1960
Arnold Palmer

1961
Jerry Lucas

1964
Ken Venturi

1965
Sandy Koufax

1966
Jim Ryun

1967
Carl Yastrzemski

1968
Bill Russell

1969
Tom Seaver

1970
Bobby Orr

1971
Lee Trevino

1972
John Wooden and Billie Jean King

1973
Jackie Stewart

1974
Muhammad Ali

1975
Pete Rose

1976
Chris Evert

1977
Steve Cauthen

1978
Jack Nicklaus

1979
Willie Stargell and Terry Bradshaw

1980
U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

1981
Sugar Ray Leonard

1982
Wayne Gretzky

1983
Mary Decker

1984
Mary Lou Retton and Edwin Moses

1985
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1986
Joe Paterno

1987
Top row: Rory Sparrow, Patty Sheehan, Reggie Williams, Chip Rives. Bottom row: Bob Bourne, Judi Brown King, Dale Murphy, Kip Keino

1988
Orel Hershiser

1989
Greg LeMond

1990
Joe Montana

1991
Michael Jordan

1992
Arthur Ashe

1993
Don Shula

PHOTO

MARK KAUFFMAN

PHOTO

RICHARD MEEK

PHOTO

PHIL BATH

PHOTO

JOHN ZIMMERMAN (3), MARVIN E. NEWMAN, RICHARD MEEK

TWO PHOTOS

JOHN ZIMMERMAN

PHOTO

BEN ROSE

PHOTO

NEAL BARR

PHOTO

TOM ALLEN

PHOTO

ROBERT WEAVER

PHOTO

JACK GREGORY

PHOTO

JAY MAISEL (WALTER IOOSS JR., BACKGROUND)

PHOTO

RICH CLARKSON

PHOTO

FRED KAPLAN

TWO PHOTOS

JAMES DRAKE

TWO PHOTOS

TONY TRIOLO

THREE PHOTOS

WALTER IOOSS JR.

PHOTO

STEPHEN GREEN-ARMYTAGE

PHOTO

NEIL LEIFER

TWO PHOTOS

LANE STEWART

PHOTO

ANTHONY EDGEWORTH

PHOTO

GRAHAM FINLAYSON

PHOTO

MANNY MILLAN

PHOTO

LANE STEWART (INSET: HEINZ KLUETMEIER)

TWO PHOTOS

BRIAN LANKER

PHOTO

LARRY RIVERS

PHOTO

RONALD C. MODRA

PHOTO

RICHARD HESS

PHOTO

BRIAN LANKER

PHOTO

PIER CONSAGRA

PHOTO

PETER READ MILLER

PHOTO

SHARON MCCORMACK

PHOTO

MARK SUMMERS

PHOTO

MICHAEL O'NEILL