What about Washington, D.C.? You slighted us, just the way the
U.S. Senate does.
--JAMES C. THOMPSON, Winter Park, Fla.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Congratulations to the staffers who put together the list of the
top 50 athletes from all 50 states (Greatest Sports Figures,
Dec. 27-Jan. 3). I've subscribed to SI since its first issue,
and it was fun to see where all our favorites come from.
DAVID MIRISCH, La Costa, Calif.
As executive director of Pennsylvania's official history agency,
I want to tell you that we maintain more than 1,800 historical
markers. We overlooked Bill Tilden and Nellie Fox, so I
appreciate your bringing them to our attention.
BRENT GLASS, Harrisburg, Pa.
While disappointed not to see my own name on the California list
(actually it would have come as a shock had it been included), I
wonder how you can include Greg Louganis (four Olympic medals in
diving) in the state's top 10 and yet omit Patricia McCormack,
who accomplished the exact same feat 32 years earlier?
JOHN NABER, Pasadena
Naber won gold medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke,
the 4x100-meter medley relay and the 4x200-meter freestyle relay
at the 1976 Olympics, all world records. --ED.
No list of Florida's 50 greatest sports figures is complete
without Roy Jones Jr. Pound for pound he's the best boxer in the
ANNA HARLSON, Baker, Fla.
No Tommie Frazier on your Florida list? He won two national
championship games while playing quarterback for Nebraska.
WALT O'CONNOR, Yardley, Pa.
Kelly Slater, who's from Florida, won five straight surfing
world championships, six in all.
DOUG SMITH, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Thank you for recognizing me in your list of the 50 greatest
sports figures from Hawaii. You reminded me of my youth. Those
were the days of invincibility, free from the scars of injury.
JIM NICHOLSON, Honolulu
Doug Collins was an All-America basketball player at Illinois
State and a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that was robbed
of a gold medal. He was the first player chosen in the 1973 NBA
draft, by the Philadelphia 76ers; was four times an All-Star;
coached the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons; and is a top
basketball analyst for NBC. I can't imagine why he wasn't among
the top 50 in Illinois.
MICHAEL WHITESIDE, Lombard, Ill.
Hard to believe you left three-time Norris Trophy winner and
perennial NHL All-Star Chris Chelios off your Illinois list.
MATTHEW FOERSTER, Palo Alto, Calif.
How could you have omitted Kentucky native and Pittsburgh
Steelers star Dermontti Dawson, whom many experts consider to be
the best NFL center ever?
THOMAS M. TODD, Lexington, Ky.
How could you leave Will Clark off your list, either for his
native Louisiana or for his college state, Mississippi? A
collegiate player of the year in baseball, Olympic star,
National League Championship Series MVP, six-time All-Star and
career .300 hitter can't make the cut, but the likes of Kent
Desormeaux (Louisiana) and Erick Dampier (Mississippi) can?
RYAN ALBERTI, Atherton, Calif.
THREE MORE MICHAGANDERS
A high school baseball star on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, he
found fame in a second sport. He became his school's first
football Walter Camp All-America in 1920, and in the words of
his coach Knute Rockne, he was the greatest natural athlete he
had ever seen. He remains a legendary figure in American history
and folklore. Yet George Gipp is not considered one of his home
state's 50 greatest sports figures?
TOM GOODENOW, Lexington, Ky.
Your omission of Jim Abbott from the Michigan list is puzzling.
That he was a three-sport star at Flint Central High, was the
winning pitcher for the U.S. in the gold medal game of the 1988
Olympics and threw a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium during his
major league career should earn him consideration. That he's one
of the most inspiring athletes ever gives him a spot on any list.
JON HAMILTON, Grand Blanc, Mich.
Brad Van Pelt was a standout football and baseball player at
Oswosso High, an All-America at Michigan State and a five-time
All-Pro linebacker for the New York Giants.
ROBERT G. MEIERS, East Lansing, Mich.
On the Minnesota list are Mark Olberding, a career bench player
in the NBA; Karl Mecklenberg, a solid but unglamorous player in
the NFL; and Khalid El-Amin, who's been as prolific off the
court as he has been on it. Yet the fastest American marathoner
(2:08:47 in Boston in 1994), two-time Olympian Bob Kempainen, is
KENNETH COOPER, Minneapolis
Shorty McWilliams--who was All-SEC all four years he played at
Mississippi State--was so good, even an Ole Miss man (me) had to
write to you about failing to list him.
JOHN MCRAE, Hattiesburg, Miss.
LIVE FREE OR DIE
How could Tara Mounsey be left off your New Hampshire list? She
was the 1995-96 New Hampshire (Class L) hockey player of the
year, as a girl playing boys' high school hockey. She helped win
a women's hockey gold medal for the U.S. in '98.
ROB LANNEY, Concord, N.H.
Although you included every New Hampshire athlete who got the
faintest whiff of coffee beans in the big leagues, you left out
a guy who actually made it to the Show and won 55 games, Rich
JOSH TRUDELL, Manchester, N.H.
Tell me that the absence from New Jersey of Don Bragg, former
world-record holder in the pole vault and a 1960 Olympic gold
medalist, was an oversight.
JOE CACIA, Hammonton, N.J.
No Johnny Vander Meer, the Dutch Master from New Jersey who
pitched back-to-back no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds against
the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938?
CHRISTOPHER S. BARRETT, West Hartford, Conn.
Our small community in southeastern New Mexico was proud to have
four athletes listed. However, you overlooked our best: John
Wooten was a multisport star in high school, a standout college
football player at Colorado and spent 10 productive years in the
NFL trenches, nine of them with the Cleveland Browns.
JACK SKINNER, Carlsbad, N.Mex.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
A glaring omission from New York: Chris Mullin, the former St.
John's basketball star who was thrice Big East player of the
year, a college All-America, the Wooden Award winner in 1985, a
lottery draft pick of the Golden State Warriors, a five-time NBA
All-Star, a member of the original Dream Team and twice a
MIKE TRICARICO, New York City
You forgot Nat Holman, a New Yorker who was the star of the
original Celtics from 1921 to '27. From 1919 to '59 he coached
City College to 421 wins. His 1950 Beavers are the only team to
have won the NIT and the NCAAs in the same year.
IRWIN FLEISCHNER, New Rochelle, N.Y.
How could you have omitted Vic Janowicz from the Ohio list? Not
only did he play both ways for Ohio State and win the 1950
Heisman, but he was also the first Heisman winner to play pro
baseball, with the Pirates. He finished second in scoring in the
NFL in 1955 with the Washington Redskins.
AARON JENKINS, San Jose
Cy Young, winner of 511 major league games, couldn't make your
JACK LEVENGOOD, Fruitland Park, Fla.
--Young won 265 of those games before the turn of the 20th
Pennsylvania's Dick Allen: The 1964 National League Rookie of
the Year was the '72 American League MVP.
DARL ROMANOSKI, Koppel, Pa.
You forgot Jack Ham of Johnstown, Pa., who was a football
All-America at Penn State. Ham earned a spot in the Hall of Fame
playing linebacker for 12 standout seasons with the Steel
Curtain defense, which led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super
TIMOTHY P. SCANLAN, Ebensburg, Pa.
I find it hard to believe that you could have left La Salle and
NBA star Tom Gola off your Pennsylvania list. He had 2,461
points and 2,201 rebounds (the highest NCAA Division I four-year
total) during his college career, won an NCAA title and was a
first-round pick in the 1955 NBA draft. He was a five-time NBA
All-Star and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
ROBERT LEMKE, Trevose, Pa.
Jennifer Azzi--former women's college basketball player of the
year, captain of the 1990 NCAA champion Stanford team and key
member of the gold-medal-winning '96 U.S. women's Olympic
basketball squad--belongs on Tennessee's list.
JOHN PLATZ, Palo Alto, Calif.
Not including Betsy Snite Riley on your list from Vermont was an
oversight. She won a silver medal in slalom in the 1960 Winter
Olympics and was on the cover of SI.
BILL RILEY, Stowe, Vt.
Twelve U.S. titles, three American records in the same NCAA
championship meet, an Olympic gold and a world record in
swimming should be enough to place Tom Dolan among the top 50
sports figures in Virginia.
AARON SHAPIRO, Arlington, Va.
Five pro football titles, including the first two Super Bowls,
twice an All-Pro and a member of the Packers Hall of Fame: This
was accomplished by Fred (Fuzzy) Thurston, who belongs on your
SAM KLUCK, DePere, Wis.
COLOR PHOTO: DANIEL PELAVIN
The Ones That Got Away
Sports fans love a good debate. Want proof? More than 1,000 of
our readers have nominated sports figures they feel belonged--but
weren't included--on our list of the top 50 from each of the
states. Strong cases can be made for many of them. Three athletes
whom we unfortunately overlooked are: heavyweight champion
Evander Holyfield (Georgia), three-time world champion wrestler
Bruce Baumgartner (New Jersey) and Olympic marathon gold medalist
Frank Shorter (New York). --ED.
Great job rounding up all those athletes for each state. I have
one question: What's in the water in Ohio? What a list!
--PAUL M. DEROSE, Wilbraham, Mass.