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The 50 Greatest Arizona 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 Jim Palmer, Scottsdale
Scottsdale High basketball and baseball star; eight-time 20-game winner and three-time Cy Young winner for Orioles.
2
Charlie Hickcox, Phoenix
Won three golds and a silver swimming at 1968 Olympics; set eight world records within 16 months in '67 and '68.
3 Curley Culp, Yuma
All-America defensive lineman and NCAA wrestling champion at Arizona State; six Pro Bowls in 14 NFL seasons.
4
Michele Mitchell, Phoenix
Won platform-diving silver at 1984 and '88 Olympics and U.S. title nine times; now coaches at Arizona, where she was a four-time All-America.
5 Ty Murray, Glendale
Youngest all-around rodeo world champion, at 20; shares record of six world titles.
6
Randall McDaniel, Phoenix
All-America offensive guard at Arizona State in 1987; Pro Bowl pick 10 times with Vikings.
7 Sean Elliott, Tucson
Wooden Award winner at Arizona in 1989 and was Pac-10's alltime leading scorer; fourth-leading scorer in Spurs history.
8
Danny White, Mesa
Only Arizona State quarterback in College Football Hall of Fame; third-ranked passer in Cowboys' history.
9 Louis Tewanima, Second Mesa
His silver medal run in the 10,000 meters at the 1912 Olympics set a U.S. record that stood for 52 years.
10
Bob Baffert, Nogales
Leading money winner among trainers over last three years; his horses have won four of last nine Triple Crown races.
11 Curt Schilling, Phoenix
Fastball clocked at 89 mph while at Shadow Mountain High; 319 strikeouts for Phillies in 1997 is NL record for righthanders.
12
Marilyn Ramenofsky-Wingfield, Phoenix
Three-time U.S. swimming champion broke world record in 400-meter freestyle three times in 1964.
13 Michael Carbajal, Phoenix
An Olympic silver medalist in 1988, he unified the IBF and WBC light flyweight titles in '93; has a career record of 48-4.
14
John Denny, Prescott
Cy Young winner in 1983; had 123 career wins with Cardinals, Indians, Phillies and Reds.
15 Lafayette (Fat) Lever, Tucson
Set ASU career records for assists and steals; NBA All-Star point guard twice.
16
Kerri Strug, Tucson
Clinched U.S. women's first Olympic team gymnastics gold in 1996 on final vault despite twisted ankle; three-time medalist at world championships.
17 Jim Grabb, Tucson
Won two singles and 20 doubles titles, including 1992 U.S. Open, in 13 years on ATP tour.
18
Jon Cole, Glendale
Held more than 200 U.S. and European state and meet marks in discus and shot put in 1960s and early '70s, then made three Olympic teams as weightlifter.
19 Jerry Colangelo, Phoenix
Put Arizona on major league map; bought Suns in 1987 and brought big league baseball to Phoenix 10 years later.
20
Wilford White, Mesa
Led NCAA in rushing at ASU in 1950; Danny White's father.
21 Mike Pagel, Phoenix
Set ASU season record for TD passes in 1981; played for Sun Devils' College World Series champion that year; played 12 years in NFL.
22
Dwayne Evans, Phoenix
Set three age-group track world records at age 11; won 200-meter bronze at 1976 Olympics at 17, making him youngest track medal winner ever.
23 Darren Woodson, Phoenix
Walk-on linebacker at ASU moved to safety for Cowboys when drafted in '92; All-Pro four times.
24
Tom Pagnozzi, Tucson
Won three Gold Gloves as catcher with Cardinals from 1987 to '97; All-Star in '92.
25 Win Young, Phoenix
Three-time NCAA diving champion at Indiana; bronze medalist at 1968 Olympics.
26
Fred Carr, Phoenix
All-America linebacker and member of UTEP's basketball team in 1967; started 140 straight games for Packers; MVP of '71 Pro Bowl.
27 Michael Bates, Tucson
Won bronze in 200-meter dash at 1992 Olympics; made Pro Bowl three times with Panthers.
28
Rodney Peete, Tucson
All-Pac-10 third baseman and All-America quarterback and Heisman runner-up at USC; was drafted by NFL and MLB.
29 Danny Villa, Nogales
Outland Trophy finalist and All-America guard at ASU in 1986; 12-year NFL career.
30
Jimmy Bryan, Phoenix
Seven straight national dirt-track championships in late 1940s and early '50s; three U.S. National Auto Racing championships and won the '58 Indy 500; killed in a race accident in '60 at age 33.
31 Hank Leiber, Phoenix
Three-time NL All-Star outfielder with New York Giants and Cubs from 1933 to '42.
32
Mossy Cade, Eloy
All-America at Santa Cruz High in track and football; All-America cornerback at Texas.
33 Patsy Willard, Mesa
Diver won bronze at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo; also won seven national championships.
34
Cecil Mulleneaux, Phoenix
Played six seasons in the NFL between 1932 and '38.
35 Carl Mulleneaux, Phoenix
Football, track and wrestling star at Utah State; second Arizonan to play in the NFL, following older brother, Cecil.
36
Bob Horner, Apollo
Jumped from ASU to Braves' starting lineup; homered in his first major league game and was NL Rookie of the Year in 1978; in '86 hit four homers in a game, and had 218 in his career.
37 Billy Mayfair, Phoenix
First to win U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links titles; has five victories in 11 years on PGA Tour.
38
Keith Russell, Mesa
Won silver in platform diving at 1967 Pan Am Games, placed fourth at '68 Olympics and won silver and bronze at the '73 world championships.
39 Louie Espinoza, Phoenix
Won WBA junior featherweight title in 1987; also held NABF, USBA and WBO titles and had pro record of 52-12-2.
40
Mike Bibby, Phoenix
Led Arizona to NCAA title as a freshman in 1997; made NBA All-Rookie team with Grizzlies in '99.
41 Billy Hatcher, Williams
Only player to hit safely in his first seven World Series at bats, hit .750 for Reds in 1990 Series; career .264 hitter with four 30-steal seasons in 12 years with seven teams.
42
Ron Hassey, Tucson
School-record 86 RBIs for 1974 ASU team; played in majors for 14 years.
43 Howard Twitty, Phoenix
Earned $2.7 million and won three tournaments in 24 years on PGA Tour; Comeback Player of the Year in 1993.
44
Mark Alarie, Scottsdale
Fifth-leading scorer in Duke history; All-America on the 1986 team that won NCAA-record 37 games; played five years with Nuggets and Bullets.
45 Gilbert (Gib) Dawson, Douglas
Running back led Douglas High to win over Tucson High in 1946, ending its 32-game win streak; played one year with Packers.
46
Vance Johnson, Tucson
NCAA long-jump champion at Arizona in 1982; played in four Super Bowls as member of Broncos' Three Amigos receiving corps.
47 Byron Evans, Phoenix
All-America linebacker, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year at Arizona in 1986; played eight years with Eagles.
48
Alex Kellner, Tucson
All-Star lefthander as A's rookie in 1949, when he went 20-12; won 101 games in 12-year career.
49 Eddie Urbano, Tucson
NCAA 150-pound wrestling champion in 1985; a two-time All-America at ASU with a 105-17-1 record.
50
Rob Waldrop, Scottsdale
Outland Trophy winner as a noseguard at Arizona in 1993.

Photograph by Kathy Willens


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