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.
Record 56-game hitting streak in 1941; three-time MVP played on
eight World Series champions with Yankees; career .325 hitter.
UCLA football star; changed baseball--and the nation--in 1947 as
first black in majors; MVP with Dodgers in '49.
Led San Francisco to NCAA titles in 1955 and '56; defensive force
and anchor of Celtics dynasty of '60s; five-time MVP.
Seven swimming world records and seven gold medals at 1972
Olympics; two golds, one silver and a bronze at '68 Games.
Last man in majors to bat .400, in 1941; won Triple Crown in '42
and '47; .344 career average over 19 seasons with Red Sox.
Tied with Roy Emerson for most Grand Slam singles titles (12);
only player to finish No. 1 in world six straight years.
San Diego State's alltime assists leader in basketball; winner of
NL-record eight batting titles; active hits leader (3,067).
Baseball and football star at Stanford; winningest QB in NFL
history with Broncos.
In 29 years as commissioner built NFL into cultural behemoth,
adding new holiday to nation's calendar: Super Sunday.
At USC in 1981, set NCAA record for rushing yards (2,342)
and won Heisman; NFL's seventh-leading rusher alltime.
Dodgers centerfielder hit more home runs (326) than any other big
leaguer in 1950s; seven-time All-Star.
Dominant offensive lineman at USC; perennial All-Pro in 13
seasons with Bengals.
Has 15 PGA Tour wins in four years as a pro; youngest player to
win the Masters, in 1997.
Won two U.S. titles (1946, '47) and one Wimbledon ('47) with
blistering serve-and-volley game; later helped form ATP and
tirelessly promoted tennis.
First American to win Tour de France, in 1986; returned in '89
after near fatal hunting accident to win again; won for third
time in '90.
Helen Wills Moody
Grande dame of women's tennis; won 19 Grand Slam titles; didn't
lose a set in singles play from 1927 to '32.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist in decathlon (1948 and '52) was,
at 17, youngest Olympic track champion.
Best baseball player of the 1990s; three-time MVP and only
player with 400 home runs and 400 steals.
Billie Jean King
Won 12 Grand Slam titles, but more important tennis victories
came in popularizing sport in U.S. and boosting women's tour.
Florence Griffith Joyner
Sprinter won three golds at 1988 Olympics, setting world records
in 100 (10.49) and 200 meters (21.34).
First man to sweep platform and springboard diving golds at two
Olympics (1984 and 88).
Hit Pac-10 record 32 home runs at USC in 1984; bashed major
league record 70 with Cardinals in '98; home run ratio of one
every 10.8 at bats best of any hitter.
Three-time college player of the year at UCLA (1972-74); played
on two NBA champions.
Won state high school high hurdles title in 1954; set decathlon
world record in '55; won Olympic decathlon silver in '56 and
gold in '60.
All-America at USC; running back was league MVP and led Giants
to NFL title in 1956.
Pitcher led Miracle Mets in 1969; won 311 games, three Cy
Youngs; first pitcher with 10 200-strikeout seasons.
Three-time figure skating world champion won gold medal at 1968
First player to win tennis's Grand Slam, in 1938.
Only player to win MVP in both leagues; hit 586 homers, won
Triple Crown in 1966; majors' first black manager, in '75.
Set major league record for consecutive scoreless innings (582/3)
in 1958 with Dodgers; Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star.
Played 13 seasons with Colts; went to 10 Pro Bowls; named
defensive end of All-NFL team for league's first 50 years.
Led Riverside Polytechnic High girls' basketball team to 132-4
record (1979 to '83); won two NCAA basketball titles at USC.
Norm van Brocklin
Won NFL titles with Rams (1951) and Eagles ('60); led league in
passing three times; played in 10 Pro Bowls; still holds
single-game passing yards record (554).
World record in 100 meters (9.95) at 1968 Olympics stood for 15
years; first man to break 10-second barrier in that event.
Only second baseman to win back-to-back MVPs (1975 and '76);
played on two World Series champions with Reds.
Doc Blanchard's cohort in dominant Army backfield (1944 to '46);
won Heisman as senior after two years as runner-up.
Perhaps most gifted tennis player of all time; won U.S. title in
1948 and '49; pioneered pro tour with Jack Kramer (#14).
Won Heisman trophy at USC; first in NFL to rush for 2,000 yards
in a season (1973).
In 1951, at age 16, became youngest U.S. singles champion; then
swept nine straight Grand Slam titles from '51 to '54.
Second-winningest jockey alltime with 8,833 victories; career
earnings of $123 million and 11 Triple Crown wins.
Failing outfielder started pitching as 26-year-old veteran; had
five 20-win seasons for Indians in 1950s.
Greatest U.S. distance swimmer won three golds at 1988 Olympics,
set 400-meter freestyle world record.
Played on U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning volleyball teams in
1984 and '88; won gold in beach volleyball in '96; considered
greatest player in history of volleyball.
Set seven sprint world records from 1966 to '68, including
200-meter gold-medal performance at '68 Olympics.
Four-time U.S. Open champion won 82 women's professional golf
tournaments, including 13 major championships.
Pitched in second-most games (1,071) in majors; only pitcher with
150 wins and 300 saves.
Led UCLA to first victory over USC in 1942; became first rookie
QB to win NFL title with Rams in '45; MVP in '45 and '50.
All-American running back at Oakland Technical High; majors'
alltime leader in steals, third in walks, fifth in runs.
All-America swimmer at Cal tied Spitz for most Olympic medals: 11
total in 1984, '88 and '92 Games, including seven golds.
Third baseman hit 512 home runs from 1952 to '68; made nine
B/W PHOTO: CORBIS/BETTMAN-UPI #1 Joe DiMaggio