A 25th-round pick in 1968, Splittorff was the first player drafted by the expansion Royals to reach the majors. In 15 seasons with Kansas City he had a franchise-record 166 wins, including 20 in '73. Splittorff had a quick wit: "Anything that goes that far should have a stewardess on it," he said upon seeing George Brett hit a towering homer in 1983—five years before Kevin Costner made the same joke in Bull Durham.
In 1945 the Eagles drafted Pihos out of Indiana knowing that military service would delay his NFL career—but he was well worth the wait. A two-way All-Pro, Pihos turned the tight end position into a pass-catching job. He led Philadelphia in receptions eight times in his nine years (during which the Eagles won two titles), then retired at 32 on the advice of Joe DiMaggio, who told him to "go out on top."
Before Michael Phelps, no male Olympian was more decorated than Andrianov, a Soviet gymnast who won 15 medals in 1972, '76 and '80. Raised by a single mother, he was a troublemaker and a truant until, at age 12, he saw a boy walking on his hands and became intrigued by gymnastics. (The sport provided structure and discipline but didn't totally tame Andrianov, who still enjoyed his vodka.) His immense upper-body strength gave him an edge on the rings and vault, yet he was still agile enough to thrive in the floor exercises. Andrianov won an Olympic medal in each of the six disciplines. "There wasn't one event where he was the best in the world," U.S. gold medalist Peter Vidmar told The New York Times, "but if he hit, he was going to win."
Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 12th round in 1979—two spots ahead of Mr. Irrelevant—Hill, a 5'9", 172-pound receiver from Georgia Tech, never had a 20-catch season until 1985, when he was traded to the Oilers. During seven years in Houston he became a favorite target of Warren Moon ("I can read his body language like a book," the QB said), averaging 69 receptions and twice making the Pro Bowl.
An imposing center—she stood 7'2"—the soft-hearted Dydek was nicknamed Ppych after a whipped-cream-covered cake popular in her native Poland. Known to cry after a loss, she refused to dunk ("I prefer to leave that to Jordan," she said), but she did dominate in the paint, leading the WNBA in blocked shots nine times. Dydek died in May while pregnant with her third child, eight days after suffering a heart attack.