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The 50 Greatest Arkansas 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 Paul (Bear) Bryant, Fordyce
Coached the Crimson Tide to six national football titles and compiled 323 career wins in 38 years at Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama.
2
Sonny Liston, St. Francis
Heavyweight champion for two years; won 50 of 54 pro bouts.
3 Bill Dickey, Kensett
Caught 100 games or more in a record 13 straight seasons; played in eight World Series; was the soul of Yankees 1930s and '40s dynasty.
4
Scottie Pippen, Hamburg
Point guard, shooting guard, power forward rolled into one; the most talented understudy in NBA history; one of the league's 50 greatest players.
5 Brooks Robinson, Little Rock
Made diving backhand graban art as Orioles third baseman; won 16 Gold Gloves, 1964 MVP and '70 World Series MVP awards.
6
Dizzy Dean, Lucas
The Gas House Gang's ace and lead clown -- 133 wins and countless colorful quotes in six giddy years with the Cardinals from 1932 to '37.
7 Sidney Moncrief, Little Rock
One of the Triplets who led Arkansas to 1978 Final Four; one of the most consistent and versatile NBA players ever.
8
Don Hutson, Pine Bluff
Two-time MVP holds records for most seasons leading NFL in receptions and yards.
9 Barry Switzer, Crossett
Won three national titles at Oklahoma; then went 45-26 and won a Super Bowl in four years with the Cowboys.
10
George Kell, Swifton
Eight-time All-Star with five teams; had a career average of .306; won a batting title.
11 Frank Broyles, Fayetteville
Winningest coach in Razorbacks history; in his 26 years as athletic director Hogs have won 35 national titles in four sports.
12
Nolan Richardson, Fayetteville
Winningest basketball coach in University of Arkansas history; won NCAA title in 1994.
13 Bill Carr, Pine Bluff
Set world record and won gold in the 400 meters and anchored the gold-winning U.S. 4x400 team at 1932 Olympics.
14
Jerry Jones, North Little Rock
Co-captain and guard for Arkansas's 1964 national football champs; has won three Super Bowls since buying the Cowboys in '89.
15 John McDonnell, Fayetteville
Has won 34 NCAA indoor and outdoor track and cross-country team titles at Arkansas since '72.
16
Hazel Walker, Ashdown
All-America AAU basketball player from 1933 to '45; AP's female athlete of the year in '40. Founded Arkansas Travelers in '49; toured with them until '65.
17 Johnny Sain, Havana
Spahn, Sain and rain were Braves' ideal rotation in 1948 pennant run; Sain led the NL with 24 wins that year.
18
John Daly, Dardanelle
Gripped and ripped his way to a win at the PGA Championship as alternate in 1991 and won a playoff at the '95 British Open.
19 Bobby Mitchell, Hot Springs
Set U.S. best in indoor 70-yard hurdles at Illinois in 1958; led NFL in receiving yards in '62 and '63.
20
Joan Crawford, Van Buren
Thirteen-time AAU All-America led her team to 10 AAU national titles in the 1950s and '60s.
21 Willie Davis, Texarkana
Anchored defensive line during the Packers' glory days; never missed a game in 12-year career; was All-Pro five times.
22
Ken Hatfield, Helena
Led nation in punt returns for Arkansas in 1963 and '64 and returned to coach Hogs in '84; went to six consecutive bowls.
23 Mark Martin, Batesville
Thirty-one races and more than $21.5 million won in 17 seasons on NASCAR circuit; finished second in points in 1998.
24
Corliss Williamson, Russellville
Forward led Hogs in scoring (20.4 ppg) and rebounds (7.7 rpg) during run to 1994 NCAA title; Kings' first pick in '95.
25 Travis Jackson, Waldo
One of the best-fielding shortstops of the 1920s and '30s, masterful bunter; hit over .300 six times for Giants.
26
Wilson Matthews, Atkins
Went 111-15-3 as football coach at Little Rock High in 1940s and '50s; won 10 state titles.
27 Ron Brewer, Fort Smith
Deadly outside shooting Triplet at Arkansas from 1975 to '78; led '78 Final Four team in scoring; eight seasons in NBA.
28
Fred Williams, Little Rock
After starring at Arkansas, was four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle with Bears in the 1950s; later played with the Redskins.
29 Bettye Fiscus, Wynne
Razorbacks' first women's basketball star set a then Arkansas scoring record -- men's and women's -- with 2,073 points from 1981 to '85.
30
Clyde (Smackover) Scott, Smackover
Multisport star at Arkansas in 1940s; All-America running back and a '48 Olympic high hurdles silver medalist.
31 Reece (Goose) Tatum, Forrest City
Toured with Harlem Globetrotters as one of basketball's most popular players in 1940s and '50s.
32
Don Kessinger, Forrest City
A six-time NL All-Star with Cubs, set a then record for consecutive errorless games by a shortstop (54) in 1969.
33 Cliff Harris, Des Arc
Hard-hitting safety had 29 interceptions in 10 years with the Cowboys; played in five Super Bowls and five Pro Bowls.
34
Paul Runyan, Hot Springs
A short-game master, he won PGA Championships in 1934 and '38 and finished in top four at Masters four times.
35 Dan Hampton, Jacksonville
All-America defensive tackle at Arkansas in 1978 and anchor of Bears' defense in '80s; four trips to Pro Bowl.
36
Eddie Hamm, Lonoke
Set world long jump record at an AAU meet in 1928; later that year won gold at the Olympics.
37 Paul (Daffy) Dean, Lucas
Dizzy's more reserved brother won 19 of the 49 games the Deans won in 1934 season and won two more in the Cardinals' World Series win over the Tigers; career record: 50-34.
38
Caldwell Jones, Rohwer
Played 14 seasons in the NBA and twice named first-team All-Defense.
39 Jim Benton, Fordyce
Led NCAA in receptions at Arkansas in 1937; helped lead Cleveland Rams to '45 NFL title.
40
Earl Bell, Jonesboro
Pole vaulter was first athlete to win a U.S. outdoor title in three decades; set a world mark (18'71Ú4") in 1976 and got bronze at the '84 Olympics.
41 Dutch Harrison, Conway
Won 18 PGA tournaments, including Canadian, Western and Texas (twice) Opens.
42
Keith Jackson, Little Rock
Twice All-America at Oklahoma and played in five Pro Bowls; 10th among NFL tight ends in career catches.
43 Thomas Freeman, Hot Springs
Went 155-18-12 in 185 pro fights; won world welterweight title in '30.
44
Billy Ray Smith Sr., Augusta
Golden Gloves heavyweight regional champ as a teen, then stellar defensive tackle and end for 14 years with Rams, Colts and Steelers.
45 Ken Kavanaugh, Little Rock
Big-play threat as an end on 1940s Bears' run-happy teams; averaged 22.4 yards per catch; scored on 50 of 162 receptions.
46
Wear Schoonover, Pocahontas
First Arkansas All-America in any sport, as an end in 1929; also starred in basketball, baseball, and track and field.
47 Elijah Pitts, Conway
Played six seasons alongside Jim Taylor in Packers backfield and on five championship teams in his 11-year career.
48
Marvin Delph, Conway
Third Triplet twice led the Hogs in scoring (1976 and '77).
49 Monte Coleman, Pine Bluff
Played more games (216) than anyone in Redskins history except Darrell Green; anchored three Super Bowl-winning defenses at linebacker.
50
Amber Nicholas, Newark
Never missed a game at point guard for Arkansas from 1987 to '92; set school records for consecutive starts (87) and assists (538).

Photograph by Walter Iooss Jr.


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