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The 50 Greatest Alabama Sports Figures

Sports Illustrated This list of the top 50 greatest 20th-century athletes originally appeared in the Dec. 27, 1999 issue of Sports Illustrated. Have someone to add to SI's list? Click here to submit your choices.

20th Century Top 50
Rank Profile
1 Hank Aaron, Mobile
In 23-year career, hit 755 home runs and drove in 2,297 runs to surpass record totals of the Babe.
2
Willie Mays, Fairfield
One of baseball's most complete players; hit 660 homers,
stole 338 bases, won 12 Gold Gloves; two-time MVP.
3 Bo Jackson, Bessemer
Heisman winner at Auburn; only man selected to play in NFL Pro Bowl to also homer in baseball's All-Star Game.
4
Ozzie Newsome, Muscle Shoals
Started 47 straight games at Alabama from 1974 to '77; set NFL record for career catches by a tight end (662).
5 Willie McCovey, Mobile
NL Rookie of the Year in 1959; MVP in '69; one of most devastating pull hitters ever; hit 521 homers in 22-year career.
6
Satchel Paige, Mobile
Reported age and Negro leagues win totals are debatable; no doubt that he was one of best pitchers ever.
7 John Hannah, Albertville
Football All-America and SEC champion in shot put and discus at Alabama; one of NFL's finest offensive linemen in 13 seasons with the Patriots.
8
Bart Starr, Montgomery
Star at Lanier High and Alabama; ultra-efficient leader of Lombardi's Packers dynasty; MVP of first two Super Bowls.
9 Charles Barkley, Leeds
SEC Player of the Year in 1983-84 at Auburn; in NBA, averaged 22.2 points and 11.7 rebounds over 16 seasons.
10
Early Wynn, Hartford
Started early (age 19) and finished late (43); won 300 games, and a Cy Young in 1959.
11 Buck Buchanan, Birmingham
Starred at Parker High and Grambling; quick defensive tackle led Chiefs to Super Bowls I and IV.
12
John Stallworth, Tuscaloosa
Steelers' leader in six of 12 receiving categories; retired in 1988 with four Super Bowl rings.
13 Ken Stabler, Foley
All-state in football and basketball at Foley High; star quarterback for Tide; led Raiders to win in Super Bowl XI.
14
Joe Sewell, Titus
Struck out only 114 times in 7,132 at bats from 1920 through '33; the 5'61Ú2 " infielder used 40-ounce bat.
15 Ralph (Shug) Jordan, Selma
Auburn's winningest coach led Tigers to only national title, in 1957; from '56 to '58 went 24 games without a loss.
16
Lee Roy Jordan, Excel
Center and linebacker on Alabama's 1961 national title team; anchored Cowboys' Doomsday defense for 14 years.
17 Maxie Baughan, Bessemer
All-America center at Georgia Tech in 1959; went to Pro Bowl as a linebacker nine times in 12-year NFL career.
18
Joe Cribbs, Sulligent
All-America running back at Sulligent High; third-leading rusher in Auburn history; spent 11 seasons in NFL and USFL.
19 Bobby Bowden, Birmingham
Built Florida State football dynasty; fourth-winningest college coach (303-85-4); best bowl-winning percentage (.750) ever.
20
Davey Allison, Hueytown
NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1987; driver of the year in '92; winner of 19 races.
21 Jennifer Chandler, Lincoln
At 16 diving prodigy won gold medal in springboard at 1975 Pan Am Games; a year later she did the same at Olympics.
22
Billy Williams, Whistler
Cubs outfielder for 16 seasons was sturdy (1,117 straight games) and strong (13 straight seasons with 20-plus homers).
23 Harvey Glance, Phenix City
Member of three Olympic teams; sprinter won 4¥100\!relay gold medal in Montreal in 1976.
24
Sanders Russell, Stevenson
Took up harness driving at Auburn; had 1,243 career victories and won 1962 Hambletonian at age 62.
25 Percy Beard, Greensboro
Auburn hurdler won silver at 1932 Olympics; helped invent the all-weather track in '50s.
26
Bobby Marlow, Troy
All-SEC halfback at Alabama in 1951 and '52; All-America in '52; played eight seasons in Canada for Saskatchewan.
27 Mel Allen, Birmingham
Voice of the Yankees for 26 seasons got his start calling Alabama football; he and Red Barber were first broadcasters into Hall of Fame.
28
Howard Hill, Wilsonville
Played baseball at Auburn from 1920 to '23, then took up archery; from 1926 to '42 won 196 straight tournaments.
29 Fred Sington, Birmingham
All-America tackle at Alabama in 1929 and '30; only player named to Tide's All-Century list in football and baseball.
30
Sam Byrd, Birmingham
Spent six years as Babe Ruth's late-game sub; as pro golfer, finished third in 1941 Masters and won six PGA tournaments.
31 Hubert Green, Birmingham
Won 1977 U.S. Open, '85 PGA Championship and 17 other Tour events; winner of one Senior tour event since '96.
32
Charley Boswell, Birmingham
Played football and baseball at Alabama; blinded by enemy fire in World War II; won 16 national titles as blind golfer.
33 Robert Brazile, Mobile
All-America linebacker at Jackson State, Defensive Rookie of the Year in NFL in '75.
34
Pat Sullivan, Birmingham
Auburn's first Heisman winner, with 2,012 passing yards in 1971; still school leader in career touchdown passes (53).
35 Heinie Manush, Tuscumbia
Lionized for snapping ump's bow tie during 1933 World Series; hit .330 over 17 seasons.
36
Johnny Mack Brown, Dothan
Put Alabama football on map with two TD catches in 1926 Rose Bowl, leading Tide to a 20-19 win over Washington.
37 Harry Gilmer, Birmingham
Triple-threat quarterback at Alabama from 1944 to '47; eight-year pro career with Redskins and Lions.
38
Jo Ann Prentice, Birmingham
State amateur golf champion in 1954; six wins on LPGA tour, including the '74 Dinah Shore.
39 Dixie Walker, Birmingham
Played semipro ball at 12; hit .306 lifetime and won NL batting title in 1944; delighted Dodgers fans with Giant-killing heroics.
40
Johnny Musso, Birmingham
Third in career rushing yards (2,741) and second in rushing TDs (34) for Tide (1969-71).
41 Riggs Stephenson, Guntersville
Shoulder injury while fullback at Alabama hobbled throwing, but outfielder hit .336 in 14 years in majors, from 1921 to '34.
42
Leah Marie Rawls Atkins, Birmingham
Three-time U.S. waterskiing champion, and world champion in 1953; first woman inducted into Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
43 Vince Dooley, Mobile
Led Auburn with six interceptions in 1951; as Georgia coach, won '80 national title, took team to 20 bowls; 201 career victories.
44
Piper Davis, Piper
Negro leagues star at infielder with Birmingham Black Barons; spent four years touring with Harlem Globetrotters.
45 Jeff Beard, Greensboro
Auburn athletic director from 1951 to '72; hired Shug Jordan; led school into modern era.
46
Zeke Smith, Uniontown
Won Outland Trophy as a junior at Auburn in 1958; All-America at guard in '58 and '59.
47 Andrew Toney, Birmingham
Two-time NBA All-Star guard with 76ers; averaged 15.9 points and 4.2 assists in eight-year career.
48
Jim (Red) Phillips, Alexander City
Captain of Auburn's 1957 national title team; one of best ends in school history; led NFL in receiving in '61.
49 Rudy York, Ragland
Hit 277 home runs in 13 years in majors; broke Ruth's marks for homers (18) and RBIs (49) in a month in 1937.
50
Ben Chapman, Birmingham
Yankees speed demon in 1930s led AL in steals four times; was AL's first batter in first All-Star Game, in '33.

Photograph by Donald Miralle/Getty Images


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