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The 50 Greatest Indiana 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 John Wooden, Martinsville
Before coaching UCLA to 10 NCAA basketball titles, he was three-time All-America guard at Purdue; led Boilermakers to mythical national title in 1932.
2
Larry Bird, French Lick
Scored 28.6 ppg to lead Indiana State to 1979 NCAA title game; won three straight MVPs ('84 '85, '86) with Celtics.
3 Oscar Robertson, Indianapolis
Led Crispus Attucks High to two state championships; only NBA player to average triple double, with Royals in 1961-62.
4
Bob Griese, Evansville
Two-time All-America at Purdue led Dolphins to Super Bowl wins in 1973 and '74.
5 Chuck Klein, Indianapolis
NL MVP with Phillies in 1932; won '33 Triple Crown; record 44 outfield assists in '30.
6
Ray Ewry, Lafayette
Overcame polio as youngsterto win 10 gold medals in Olympic standing jump events from 1900 to '08.
7 Rod Woodson, Fort Wayne
Broke 13 football records and was two-time track All-America at Purdue; named a cornerback on NFL's 75th-anniversary team.
8
Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro
Only driver in NASCAR's modern era to win 10 races three years in a row; Winston Cup champion in 1995, '97, '98.
9 Tony Hulman, Terre Haute
Won seven letters at Yale; bought dilapidated Brickyard in 1945 and helped turn Indy 500 into premier event.
10
"Three Finger" Brown, Nyesville
Ace of last Cubs' squad to win World Series, in 1908; won 20 or more games each year from '06 to '11, 239 games for career.
11 Bobby Plump, Milan
Immortalized in Hoosiers for hitting last-second jumper to win 1954 state high school basketball title for tiny Milan High.
12
Gil Hodges, Princeton
Hit 370 homers, made eight All-Star teams with Dodgers; managed 1969 Miracle Mets.
13 Oscar Charleston, Indianapolis
"The Black Ruth" led Negro leagues with 20 homers and .445 average in 1925.
14
George McGinnis, Indianapolis
Broke Oscar Robertson's state high school scoring records; averaged 29.9 points at Indiana in 1971, 20-plus points in seven straight seasons as pro.
15 James (Doc) Counsilman, Bloomington
Coached Indiana swim team to NCAA title each year from 1968 to '73; among his 48 Olympians was Mark Spitz.
16
Glenn (Big Dog) Robinson, Gary
Carried Roosevelt High to 1991 state title; won '94 Wooden Award at Purdue; averaged 20-plus points in each of first four NBA seasons with Bucks.
17 Alex Karras, Gary
Undersized defensive lineman won Outland Trophy at Iowa in 1957; All-Pro with Lions in 1960, '61, '62, '65.
18
Clyde Lovellette, Terre Haute
Left Kansas as NCAA's career scoring leader (24.5 ppg); led U.S. to Olympic gold in 1952; three-time NBA All-Star.
19 Edd Roush, Oakland City
NL batting champion in 1917 and '19; had .323 average in 18 major league seasons.
20
Kent Benson, New Castle
Three-time basketball All-America at Indiana helped lead Hoosiers to unbeaten mark and NCAA championship in 1976.
21 Billy Herman, New Albany
Hit .433 in 10 All-Star Games; played on four NL pennant winners, with Cubs in 1932, '35, '38, and Dodgers in '41.
22
Steve Alford, New Castle
Two-time basketball All-America made seven threes in Indiana's 1987 NCAA title-game win.
23 Weeb Ewbank, Richmond
Victorious coach in two of pro football's most significant games: Colts' 1958 title win and Jets' Super Bowl III upset.
24
Branch McCracken, Monrovia
Began hoops career using peach basket and an inflated pig bladder for a ball; ended it as Indiana coach who won national titles in 1940 and '53.
25 Stephanie White-McCarty , West Lebanon
Holds state women's high school basketball scoring mark (2,869 points); All-America at Purdue in 1998 and '99.
26
Fuzzy Zoeller, New Albany
Ten PGA Tour victoriesinclude 1979 Masters and'84 U.S. Open.
27 Don Mattingly, Evansville
The 15th Yankee to have his number retired; AL MVP in 1985; nine-time Gold Glove winner at first base.
28
Rick Mount, Lebanon
State's Mr. Basketball in 1966; had 27.6 ppg in high school and set Big Ten career scoring record with 32.3 ppg at Purdue.
29 Muriel Davis Grossfeld, Indianapolis
Won 18 national gymnastics titles; at 1964 Olympic trials, became first American woman to score a perfect 10.
30
Don Lash, Auburn
Won seven straight U.S. cross-country championships and 1938 Sullivan Award; competed in 1936 Olympics.
31 Bob Kuechenberg, Hobart
Six-time Pro Bowl guard opened holes for Dolphins' potent ground attack of 1970s.
32
Tommy John, Terre Haute
Had 288 wins in majors, 164 after undergoing 1974 ligament-replacement surgery that now bears his name.
33 Tom Harmon, Gary
Versatile back won Heisman Trophy at Michigan in 1940, but pro career was cut short by debilitated legs after his planes were downed twice during World War II.
34
Shawn Kemp, Elkhart
Six-time NBA All-Star; averaged at least 15 points and 10 rebounds six straight years, 1992 to '97.
35 Dick Weber, Indianapolis
Three-time Bowler of the Year; became charter member of PBA Hall of Fame, in 1975.
36
Fred Wilt, Pendleton
Distance runner won eight national titles and 1950 Sullivan Award; coached 17 All-Americas in 12 years as Purdue track coach.
37 Kenny Lofton, East Chicago
Baseball's most dangerous leadoff hitter in 1990s; has led AL in steals five times.
38
Charles O. Finley, Gary
Eccentric owner's mustachioed, feuding A's were always colorful and often great -- they won World Series crowns in 1972, '73, '74.
39 Tony Zale, Gary
Won two of three epic bouts with Rocky Graziano to establish himself as premier middleweight of 1940s.
40
Tony Hinkle, Logansport
Coached basketball, baseball and football at Butler from 1921 to '70; won 557 basketball games.
41 Fuzzy Vandivier, Franklin
Captained the Franklin Wonder Five, unprecedented winners of three consecutive state hoops titles from 1920 to '22.
42
Major Taylor, Indianapolis
Turn-of-the-century cyclist was first widely recognized U.S. black athlete; 1899 world champion and American sprint champ in 1899 and 1900.
43 Damon Bailey, Heltonville
State's alltime leading high school scorer (3,134 points); averaged 13.2 points at Indiana from 1991 to '94.
44
Mark Clayton, Indianapolis
In 1980s and early '90s, he and Dan Marino formed most-prolific scoring duo in NFL history, hooking up on 79 TD passes with Dolphins.
45 LaTaunya Pollard, East Chicago
State's 1979 Miss Basketball was three-time All-America at Long Beach State and '83 national player of the year.
46
Max Carey, Fort Wayne
When 10-time NL stolen base champion hung up his spikes in 1929, he had league-record 738 swipes.
47 Lamar Lundy, Richmond
Purdue football and basketball star was rock-steady member of Rams' Fearsome Foursome front line in 1960s.
48
Charles (Stretch) Murphy, Marion
At 6'6" -- big for his time -- he led Marion High to 1926 state basketball title; two-time All-America at Purdue.
49 Maicel Malone-Wallace, Indianapolis
Female sprinter won 11 high school state titles, five NCAA titles, gold medal in 4x400-meter relay at 1996 Olympics.
50
Scott Rolen, Jasper
NL Rookie of the Year in 1997; won Gold Glove and hit 31 homers in second full season.

Photograph by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images


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