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.
All-state in three sports at North Fort Myers High; football
All-America at Florida State; best cornerback in NFL history; 183
steals in the majors.
Ran for 3,928 yards at Florida; NFL's alltime leader in rushing
TDs; helped lead Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles.
Second-winningest lefty (329); second-most career strikeouts
(4,136); four Cy Young Awards.
Unflappable Ice Maiden used tennis's best baseline game to win 18
Grand Slam singles titles.
At 1964 Olympics tied world record in 100 meters and anchored
record-setting 4X100 team; was in three Pro Bowls as Cowboys
World Swimmer of the Year in 1981; won three golds at '84
Olympics; set 14 world records.
Premier defensive end with Rams coined the term sack after
bashing so many quarterbacks; seven-time All-Pro.
Won 35 Grand Slam tennis titles and is one of two players, male
or female, to pull off hat trick--titles in singles, doubles,
mixed doubles--at all four majors.
At 1978 world gymnastics championships became first U.S. male in
46 years to win floor gold; won Sullivan Award in '79.
Batted .300 in 15 of 18 major league seasons; retired in 1999
with 3,010 hits.
Led Jacksonville to NCAA final in 1970; was 11-time All-Star in
ABA and NBA; holds NBA record for career field goal shooting
Seven-time All-Star has 2,561 hits and is fifth alltime in
steals with 807.
Set national butterfly record as 14-year-old at Episcopal High;
took three golds and a silver at 1984 Olympics.
University of Miami defensive star went to eight Pro Bowls in 15
One of four players to average 21 points in each of first 10 NBA
seasons; Rookie of the Year in 1989 and six-time All-Star.
Rewrote Miami receiving records and won national title in 1987;
Cowboys' alltime leader in catches (750) and receiving yards
One of six men in Open era to reach singles finals at all four
tennis majors; has two wins each at Australian and French Opens.
Major league Rookie of the Year in 1977, MVP in '87 and
eight-time All-Star; hit 438 homers.
Three-time All-America at Michigan from 1980 to '82 holds NCAA
record for all-purpose yards; averaged 16.0 yards per catch in
nine NFL seasons.
At Miami tied NCAA record for career completions in 1963;
Won 84 NASCAR races, tying him for third on alltime list;
had one season title (1983).
Two-time Olympian broke IAAF pole vault record four times
between 1963 and '69; won Sullivan Award in '63.
Set rookie strikeout record as 19-year-old with Mets in 1984;
won Cy Young in '85; pitched no-hitter for Yankees in '96.
Top end of 1940s and '50s led NFL in receptions in each of his
last three seasons.
Don (Big Daddy) Garlits
Won more events than any other drag racer (146) and 10 AHRA
world championships; first drag racer to break 180-, 200-, 240-,
250- and 260-mph barriers.
Eight wins on PGA Tour in last two years; 10th on Tour's alltime
money list after just five years.
Led Westminster Christian High to 1992 national high school
baseball title; led AL in average, runs and doubles in first full
season ('96); set AL mark for homers by shortstop (42) in '98.
Winner of 1946 Sullivan Award; starred in Army backfield with Doc
Blanchard and Glenn Davis.
With Eagles caught a pass in then NFL-record 127 straight games;
four Pro Bowls.
With A's in 1988 became baseball's first 40-40 man and won MVP;
431 career homers.
Won 1994 Lombardi Trophy at Miami; now one of NFL's most feared
defensive linemen with Buccaneers; went to Pro Bowl in '97 and
Holds NL record for consecutive games played (1,207); 1974 MVP
won four Gold Gloves at first base.
Won four doubles titles at U.S. tennis championships;
became oldest top-ranked U.S. singles player in 1952, at 38.
Underrated first baseman is among 1990s big league leaders in
homers (328) and RBIs (1,068); has two Gold Gloves.
WEST PALM BEACH
From 1979 to '92 had six 1,000-yard seasons with Cardinals and
Giants; 12th-leading rusher in NFL history.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH
Deep threat in Chargers' Air Coryell offense; had three 200-yard
games; played in four Pro Bowls in 13 NFL seasons.
Catcher hit .261 from 1928 to '47; eighth among managers with
.584 winning percentage (minimum: 1,000 games).
Anchor of Dolphins' offensive line from 1969 to '80 was six-time
All-Pro and won two Super Bowl rings with Miami.
Prototype slugger and 1970 AL MVP hit 339 homers in 17-year
career; four World Series with Orioles from '66 to '71.
NCAA softball player of the decade for 1980s; shortstop hit
winning homer in gold medal game at '96 Olympics.
Set Florida season rushing record as junior in 1972; retired as
owner of Dolphins' marks for catches, yards and TDs.
Sure-handed receiver on Bengals' 1981 and '88 Super Bowl teams;
had four 1,000-yard seasons; three Pro Bowls.
State's high school player of the year in 1990; emerged as
game's deadliest switch-hitter during '99 MVP year with Braves.
All-America defensive end at Florida went to seven Pro Bowls;
played in 201 straight games in 14 years with Rams.
Star fullback at Jefferson High and Florida in 1950s; Bears'
third-leading alltime rusher.
Holds Alabama sack record (52); has made Pro Bowl in nine of 10
NFL seasons; had record seven sacks in 1990 game.
Indians hurler blew away AL with 36 wins in first two seasons;
wasn't the same after 1957 line drive to face.
Glenn (Fireball) Roberts
Won Daytona 500 in 1962; had 32 victories on NASCAR circuit
from '50 to '64.
Three-time Black College All-America rusher at Florida A&M; Bears
star for seven years until he died in 1957 auto accident.
Righthander is third alltime in starts (756), fifth in strikeouts
(3,574); won 324 games in 23 major league seasons with five
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES #2 Emmitt Smith