Other Sports

SI Cover Countdown #’39-30

The Countdown Continues……..

39.  Dr Dunkenstein:  As a young hoop junkie growing up on the left Coast, Louisville always seemed like some faraway mythical basketball paradise.  And with names like Dr Dunkenstein, Lancaster Gordon, Rodney and Scooter McCray, Herbert Crook, Milt Wagner and Never Nervous Pervis Ellison leading the Cardinals to 4 Final Fours and 2 titles in a 7 year span, they were the top of the heap.


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38.  Mike Tyson:  Who is this 19 year old kid with the gold tooth?  Great call by SI, but did anybody foresee the completely brilliant yet painfully dysfunctional dramedy that Mr Tyson was about to unveil to the world?  Give a 20 year old fighter from the rough streets the keys to the kingdom and sit back and enjoy the ride.   Never has there been a major sporting star with more ups and downs than Tyson.


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37.  Ricky Henderson:  The Oakland base thief is the most unique ball player who I’ve ever witnessed.  Every time he had an open base, it became a must see game of dare between Ricky and the opposing team.  His leads were downright greedy, almost taunting the opposing pitcher, as he would dig in with the nervous fingers and lowest center of gravity imaginable.  His record of 1406 pilfered bags will never be touched.


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36.  World B. Free:  Before the Splash Brothers, World B Free and Purvis Short were making it rain in the Oakland coliseum arena.  At the time my cousin was working in a sporting goods store that sold Warriors jerseys and when he called me asking who I wanted to go with for my birthday, World B was my immediate selection.  WBF had such a unique, free flowing game that brings to mind some of Curry’s creativity.  And one could easily write 1000 words on the shorts, socks, shoe combo.



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35.  Kareem:  I almost feel like with all the love for MJ, Bird, Magic, Kobe etc, The Captain has almost been lost in the shuffle.  Lets not forget, Kareem retired with 6 rings, 6 MVP’s, and the most points ever (38,387).  Only a healthy LeBron playing another 6 years may have a go at that tally.  Kareem could do it all, Sky hook from 20 feet, pass like a guard out of the post, run the floor, board, block shots, and do bizarre things like fight Bruce Lee in the movie, “Game of Death”.



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34.  Dan Marino:  Was there ever a better Sunday afternoon gunslinger than a young Dan Marino?  I know he only went to one Bowl, but for just pure pocket passing pleasure, he was the best.  He was about a mobile as a 40 year old coder in the midst of a 18 hour hack-a-thon, but the anticipation and quick release made him an all time great.


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33.  Hulk-a-Mania:  While the WWF may not be considered “real sports”, there is no denying that for a few days in late March, 1985, Hulkmania ran wild and captivated the country.  I’ll never forget the excitement of going to a sold out San Francisco Civic Center to watch WrestleMania I on closed circuit TV.  The atmosphere was electric and the excitement rivaled that of a Niner Super Bowl win.  To get us all revved up, the night before the event, Hulk and Mr T hosted SNL and in the main card, the dynamic duo defeated Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.  Brilliant!


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32.  Georgia and Bert;  Where do you go with this cover?  My mind keeps going straight to the gutter.  I just have a strong suspicion that while this shoot was taking place, Georgia was whispering in graphic detail through those closed pearly whites of hers all of the dirty things she had planned for Bert that evening at her Bel Air mansion.  Can you imagine what social media would have done with this cover?


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31.  Bill Johnson:  The Bill Johnson story is one of my all time favorites.  Young down and out juvenile delinquent gets sent to a ski academy in lieu of jail after stealing a car and ends up winning Olympic Gold in the downhill!  Along the way, Bill completely riled up the European skiing establishment with his brashness, including a war of words with the legendary Franz Klammer, and then guaranteed his victory in the Sarajevo games.  Sadly his life took many ugly turns later on, but Bill made me proud to be an American for a few months in ’84.


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30.  Boz/McMahon:   The Boz hoisting McMahon on his shoulders is about as wacky as it gets.  As an impressionable young high school athlete, the Boz was somebody who we really looked up to and one of our gang actually went to the barber and got himself a Boz cut.  I was shocked when he walked into class with the shaved sides, spiked top and mullet (or Works as we called them back in the day).



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Other Sports

SI Cover Countdown #’s 49-40

The Great 2015 SI Cover Countdown Continues with #49-40.  I have to admit, I’m doing a lot of second guessing with a few of my selections but I’ll just keep it rolling. I think I get this kind of attidude because of my hobby of playing poker online where I usually guess my opponent’s hand(cards) and win most of the time. (Note:  If you are just stumbling upon this, go to the post below to see #100-50.)


49A.  Jerry Cooney:  The Contender gets a Special 49A and 49B.  This cover right here is a classic example of the influence SI had back in the day before unlimited information about anything in the Universe became available at our fingertips 24/7.  Do you remember when we used to tap into something called imagination?  I recall receiving this cover in the mail and thinking “WOW” this guy must the real Rocky Balboa and tearing into the pages to learn more.  Being on the cover made you an overnight sensation and the subject of water cooler conversations across the land.


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49B.  Oops – Enter Larry Holmes:  Unfortunately for Cooney or “The Great White Hope” as Don King aptly labeled him, he had to step into the ring with the great Larry Holmes in the most hyped fight ever at the time and received a good old fashioned walloping.  Maybe his defeat was really just the result of the legendary SI cover jinx?


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48.  Heisman Battle:  This cover always just seemed fun.   Whoever set up the photo shoot and wrote the caption should have been awarded a prize.  I’m willing to bet that in order to get Charles and Billy into the mood on the set they were blasting “Good Times” by Chic while the photog was snapping away.  (In fact, I’m now dance-typing as I listen to Good Times and whoa boy YouTube just transitioned into The Brothers Johnson “Stomp”!  15 Min dance TO)


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47.  Hakeem or Akeem or just The Dream:  After Kareem, The Dream is the most fun center that I’ve ever witnessed play the game.  How could you not love The Dream Shake, where he would dance in the low block with his back to the hoop for 3- 4 seconds before choosing one of eight different exciting ways to score.  As an added bonus, you get a little Martina/Chrissy corner with Chrissy sporting a look that could have fronted a band on the Sunset Strip.



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46.  Harry Chappas:  Come on now with this cover!  I’m turning the commentary over to the one and only Ham Chaput for his thoughts on ‘Lil Harry.  Ham?

Ham:  Chappas?  Never heard of him.  I mean it… never.  I get the little guy thing (the Sox marketing people – aka Bill Veeck – have long history of journeying to the land of the little people to bring their circus acts to the people) and Lord knows, America loves its underdog, but c’mon man. I mean that may be the very definition of “warning track power.”  The immediate reaction is to just laugh and the second is to hope that you’ll see more “the sky’s the limit” photos in the article – I can only imagine how this one goes… the baby photo (preemie, I’m sure) and high school (under-sized, but what he lacked in physical strength, he made up for in pure moxy and desire.  Coach said he would clean the lockers if he got a chance, etc., etc.) and on with his young wife who just fell in love with the guy who wouldn’t quit.  Baseball’s Rudy.  

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45.  LT/Gastineu:  I hope I’m alive to see the day when Gastineau’s look comes back into style.  And check out the bodybuilder pipes.  Do you think there was a little foul play involved in achieving those guns of glory that won the heart of Brigitte Nielsen?  And spare a thought for LT, he had probably just gone to bed an hour earlier after an all nighter in a club when his handler arrived to shuttle him over to this shoot.  Two incredible characters and amazing players.


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44.  1985 Heisman:  I always loved it when SI would play a little joke on us all.  Sid Finch anyone?  This cover is so outrageous that it’s worthy of a spot in the Top 50.  On the one hand you have arguably the greatest athlete ever in Bo, shredding the SEC, and then you have the Midwestern, golden haired, corn-fed Chuck Long leading the glamorous Big 10, but SI selects Joe Dudek from Plymouth St?  Love it!  For the record, Dudek finished 9th in the Heisman balloting and did play to games for The Broncos during the ’87 players strike.


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43.  Walter Payton;  RIP Sweetness!  Toughest player ever?  I’ll always have the visual of Payton high stepping and then lowering the boom on the guy trying to tackle him.  And he likely could have stiff armed his way through a brick wall if it meant getting a 1st down.  13 years – 1 missed game.  And of course, props for that tight jerry curl.


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42.  Howard Cossell:  This is the epitome of a sports broadcaster.  Incredible voice, style, look……etc.  I used to live for the Monday Night Football half time show when Howard would recap the previous days games.  Sounds totally boring now, but Howard (and the soundtrack) could make the likes of Dan Pastorini and Dan Fouts seem majestic and would send me sprinting around the house jumping for joy.


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41.  Danny Sullivan:  The Kentucky Kid Spins and Wins!  Man I miss the days when Indycar ruled the national racing landscape.  So many great characters and drivers risking life and limb on a daily basis in their pursuit of finding the limit.  This is Danny being chased by two of the all time greats, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi.


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40.  John Elway:  This cover has a little special meaning because I was at this game, solo, in my AYSO jersey on a rainy day after being dropped at the gate by my mom.  Talk about a real fan!  Growing up practically in the backyard of Stanford, I had a lot of exposure to Cardinal sports.  My dad was one of those early joggers (or “Yoggers” with a soft J as Ron Burgundy would like to say) who used to zip around in Dolphin shorts with his mates and I would often tag along with him to Angel Field on campus, where Elway had to cross to go to and from practice.  He would always stop and send me deep for a pass or two on his way back to the locker-room and the giddiness I felt after making the catch was just awesome.  I can still picture him in this UW game scrambling all over the place for 5-10 seconds and then uncorking an off balance 60-70 yard rope to Kenny Margerum.  I’ll bet every pro scout in attendance either passed out or raced for a payphone.



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Other Sports

SI Cover Top 100 Countdown

With just a few days remaining in the calendar year, it seems appropriate for a Sports Illustrated Cover Top 100 Countdown from ’79-’89.  To give you a little background, it was on a cold Sunday morning in January of 1979 while watching a Steelers playoff game with my parents in our living room that I decided I was going to start collecting Sports Illustrated covers.  Not the mags, but just the covers.  I could barely even use a pair of scissors due to being left handed in a right hand world, but that day I cut (or ripped) my first cover (picture of Terry Bradshaw sliding on his behind) and that led to a 10 year hobby.  Somehow I’ve managed to hang on to most of these gems in boxes for over 35 years and I still feel the need to return to them every 5 years to have a look.  Like a Merle Haggard song from the late ’60’s, that ‘ol box of musty covers just seems to get better with age.  These covers have survived 12 moves, three women with serious aspirations to trash them and now a toddler who would like nothing more than to get her little mits on them.  A few select covers even had the honor of being placed in frames and hung down the hallway of the legendary City Dump on Polk St, where they miraculously survived countless drunk admirers, wig parties, roomie rock, fist fights, hound dogs, street people, fires, projectile vomiting, 300lb men on dope, and a guy named Saskatchewan McEnroe, aka Sas-Mac.

I have to admit, selecting the Top 100 seemed like it would be a nice little one evening project in my head, but the reality was it became a torturous 4 hour ordeal just to sort and pick.  There is a lot of gold to be found here and to cut somebody like Earl Campbell, Fennis Dembo or Jack Sikma was excruciating.  In fact I’m sure if I had to make the selections over again the order would come out significantly different.

Anyways, here is my personal, West Coast- Bay Area biased #100-#50.  I’ll post the remaining #49-#1 in groups of 10 over the next few weeks leading up to the New Year.  Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

100.  The Great John Stallworth.  Before the Niners stole our hearts, the Steelers were kings of the NFL and I loved the variety of tremendous characters led by Chuck Knoll.  Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Stallworth, Lynn Swan, Rocky Bleier, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Green, LC Greenwood, Jack Ham, etc.

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99.  Dave Parker and Jim Rice:  This cover used to speak to me when I was a kid.  Loved the Pirate hat and Rice high pull of the pant.


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98.  Wade Boggs – I just Love the headline!


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97.  Who’s #1.  The name Jarvis Redwine is in my top 5 all time athlete names.  Good ‘Ol Boy College Football


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96.  Jim “Machine Gun” Kelly of the USFL.  The whole idea of the breakaway league that was going head to head with the NFL is a boggler.


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95.  Ozzie Smith showing his wizardry.  What an entertainer.  I think the back-flip onto the field sold me as a kid.


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94.  LC Greenwood leading The Steel Curtain: What a beast!  I know athletes have become bigger, stronger, faster over the last 20 years but this guy would be crushing RB’s and QB’s if he was on the field this weekend.


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93.  ‘Nique!  You gotta love Dominque.  Scoring machine and second best game dunker ever.  The best……Vince Carter.


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92.  Jack, The Golden Bear:  The all-time Major winner looks to be safe with Tiger’s flame out.  I’ll be curious to see if Speith can make a run at him.


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91.  Sidney Moncrief and Nellie’s Bucks:  Great uniforms.  The 5 time All-Star was able get to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but just couldn’t get to the Finals.


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90.  Vinny T. leading The U – Love the mention of the cream-puff schedule.  Which program was more scandalous:  The U in the ’80’s or Jerry Tarkanians Runnin Rebels?


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89.  Big Game James Worthy:  The Ultimate Driving Machine may have been overshadowed by Jordan at UNC and Magic in LA, but what a talent.  First step and hands to die for.


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88.  Mr October Going Deep.  Reggie watching the long ball.


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87.  Rookie Sensation Fernando Valenzuela.  As a 20 year old out of nowhere, Fernando came out of the gate 8-0 with a ERA of 0.5 and won Rookie of the Year, The Cy Young and the World Series.


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86.  Hugh Green- Always loved the cat in the back ground


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85.  John Riggins at play. Didn’t he live off the land with just his bare hands from Mon-Sat?


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84.  Isiah Thomas:  He became a villain in the NBA because of his spats with Jordan and Bird, but damn what a player!   How many guys have cut the nets in the NCAA’s and led a team to the NBA title?


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83.  AJ Foyt:  Super Tex is plain old Super Badass.  He could drive anything from sprint cars, Indy, Stock and even won LeMans in a GT40.  Love the red gloves!


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82.  Marcus Allen:  SC is easy to hate, but Marcus is still my favorite from Tailback U.


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81.  Steve Garvey- Damn he’s handsome!  That guy should be in shampoo and cologne ads.  Can only imagine the groupie stories.


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80.  Sebastian Coe:  My Dad is a track fan so this was news in our household.  The mile may just be the greatest test of man and should be relevant again.


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79.  The Admiral David Robinson.  I love how the Navy recruited a 6’6″ senior in HS and a few years later had a 7′ H-O-F center on their hands.  Sorry, no subs for you David.

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78.  Rollie Fingers.  They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.  Too cool!


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77.  The General Robert Montgomery Knight.  The maniacal genius coach in a great red blazer.


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76.  Mary Lou:  The diminutive Mary Lou captivated all of us in the LA ’84 Soviet Boycotted Summer Games.  Especially Niven!


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75.  Carl Lewis:  When the Lord created a man for running and jumping this is he.  What a freak!


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74.  Herschel Walker:  Beastly freshman tearing up the SEC.


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73.  Nolan Ryan – The never to be touched strike out king about to unleash another 100mph fastball.  This guy was still throwing triple digits and mowing down batters into his 40’s.


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72.  Patrick Ewing:  The days of the surefire #1 draft pick seem to gone but when a team landed a Ewing or Shaq, it was time to celebrate.


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71.  Sugar Ray Leonard:  One thing that you realize when going through these covers, boxing was a really big deal back in the day.  I loved the era of Sugar Ray, Duran, Hagler, and Hit Man Hearns.


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70.  Mo Malone:  The Chairman of the Boards joined Dr J and crew and brought a title to Philly.


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69.  Chris Jackson aka Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf:  This guy averaged 30/gm his freshman year of college and became an instant favorite of mine.


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68.  Terry Cummings:  After getting his autograph and falling hard for his DePaul Blue Demons, I was thrilled when Terry was Rookie of the Year.


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67.  Bradshaw:  Here it is!  This is the first cover that I ever collected.  Notice the horrible rip job on the left side.


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66.  Genuine Risk:  Not only was this my first exposure to The Derby, this was my first exposure to winning a gambling pot.  I remember that my mom put together a pool and my Philly led the field home at Churchill Downs.


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65.  Collingsworth:  He drove me nuts back in the day because he almost beat the Niners, but I love him in the booth now and wow what hair!


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64.  Ewing:  Pro Ewing is one thing, but Georgetown Ewing is what I remember.  Love the T under the jersey.


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63.  Bill Walton:  I remember getting this and thinking who the hell is this guy?  My dad said, “That’s the best player I’ve ever seen,” and I thought he had lost his mind.  Little did I know the history of Big Red.


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62.  ’84 Winter Olympics.  I had Olympic fever that year and was a huge fan of Scotty, the Mahre brothers and Squaw Valleys own, Tamara McKinney.


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61.  Bernard King:  Loved this man’s game!  He could drop 50 with drives to the hoop on any night.  Check out Tripucka with perm looking the wrong way.


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60.  Eric Dickerson:  My vote for best back ever.  Look at the upright shifty running position.  Was he a robot?


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59.  Keith Hernandez:  What a great cover.  Fitting that this guy also became part of pop culture lore with a role on Seinfeld.  It’s good to be Keith!

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58.  Ro Blackman and The Oregon St Beavs:  I got to watch Ralph Miller’s Beavers that year and fell in love with them immediately.  Lester Connor was incredible and the names Johnson, Radford and Bloom still come to mind instantly.  Heart breaking to see them lose to K-St.


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57.  Round Mound of Rebound- Charles Barkley:  All time player and character.  Can’t get enough Chuck.


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56.  Craig “The Walrus” Stadler:  That was a fun day at Augusta when The Walrus won in a playoff.


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55.  John McEnroe:  No athlete was better theater than McEnroe.  I remember being in shock watching his tirades, but at the same time thinking that I’m going to do the same thing in my sporting life.


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54.  John Jefferson:  I loved the Chargers Air Raid offense and JJ was my guy.  I had his poster on my wall for a good 3 years.


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53.  Pops Stargell/Bradshaw:  What a couple of characters!  Did either one of these two ever lift a single weight in their lives?  That is just country strength.


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52.  Wayne Gretzky:  The young great one sporting excellent 80’s hockey hair.


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51.  Danny and the Miracles:  I was pulling for Sean Elliott and the AZ Wildcats in this tourney, but Danny and the Miracles made for a good story.  Check out former NBA GM Kevin Pritchard in the back.


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50.  Pete Rose:  Charlie Hustle.  Love the dirty uni and helmet and look at that stance!  Is that a two inch strike zone?  Kids should study this and just rake singles all day long.


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