100 Athletes Who Shaped St. Louis Sports
An alphabetical, info-packed, anything-but-exhaustive list of players who made their marks here
Photograph by Scott Rovak
Naming the 100 athletes who shaped this city’s history is no easy feat. Dennis Dillon, a longtime St. Louisan and former Sporting News reporter, spent countless hours assembling this list of the who’s who in St. Louis sports, from basketball players to boxers, golfers to goalies, runners to receivers—many of whom are already in their respective halls of fame.
Before the debates begin, though, it’s worth noting that there are countless others deserving of a nod—from St. Louis natives who’ve played elsewhere (e.g., Yogi Berra, Bill Bradley, Jo Jo White) to modern-day players quickly carving
their places in the history books (e.g., Chris Carpenter, David Freese, T.J. Oshie). We invite you to post your own suggestions—and pick the greatest in each sport—at stlmag.com.
Grover Cleveland Alexander >> “Old Pete” pitched the Cards to victory in 1926. His 90 career shutouts remain a National League record.
Ottis Anderson >> The football Cardinals’ running back was Rookie of the Year in 1979—and a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the Giants in 1991.
Henry Armstrong >> The late Henry Jackson Jr. learned to box here before becoming the only boxer to be world champion in three divisions at the same time.
Arthur Ashe >> The Sumner High School grad was the first black tennis player on the U.S. Davis Cup team and won three Grand Slam titles.
Marvin Barnes >> “The Magnificent” was Rookie of the Year with the American Basketball Association’s St. Louis Spirits in 1975—before his off-the-court dealings cemented his other nickname, “Bad News.”
Zelmo Beaty >> During seven seasons with the St. Louis Hawks, “Big Z” was a two-time NBA All-Star at center.
James “Cool Papa” Bell >> The St. Louis Star center fielder was said to be so fast, he could turn off the lights and be under the covers before the room got dark.
Red Berenson >> The St. Louis Blues center led the team to three straight Stanley Cup finals before he took over as the University of Michigan’s hockey coach.
Erma Bergmann >> “Bergie” threw a perfect game in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, years before becoming a police officer.
Harriet Claiborne Bland >> The 100-meter sprinter won gold in the relay competition at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
Frank Borghi >> Gerard Butler played Borghi in the 2005 flick The Game of Their Lives, which portrayed the U.S. team’s dramatic victory over England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
Delores Boeckmann >> Among her many firsts for women athletes, “Dee” competed in the 1928 Olympics in track and field.
Jim Bottomley >> A one-time first baseman for the Cards and the Browns, “Sunny Jim” had more than 100 RBIs in 1924 and 1925. He was also the first MVP to come up through a team’s farm system.
Ken Boyer >> One of 14 children, the late Cardinals third baseman was named the 1964 National League MVP and hit 282 career home runs.
Lou Brock >> The left fielder broke Ty Cobb’s stolen-bases record, helped the Cards win two World Series, and was a six-time All-Star. Even today, when the reverend visits Busch Stadium, fans cheer a low-pitched “Loooouuuuu!”
Isaac Bruce >> The Rams’ most productive wide receiver in history made more than a thousand receptions, had more than 15,000 receiving yards, and caught the 73-yard pass in Super Bowl XXXIV that gave the Rams their game-winning lead.
Earl “Butch” Buchholz >> “Butch” played on three U.S. Davis Cup teams and was the first player to win junior titles at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Junior Championships—before a career-ending injury at 29.
Don Carter >> Growing up here, the late Carter learned to bowl while working as a pinsetter. He later became the first bowler to win every major tournament, the first president of the Professional Bowlers Association, and the first athlete to sign a $1 million endorsement contract.
Lori Chalupny >> The Nerinx Hall High School grad won an NCAA soccer title in North Carolina before playing for the now-defunct Saint Louis Athletica and helping the U.S. win Olympic gold in 2008.
Vince Coleman >> Forgoing a career as an NFL kicker, Coleman set the single-season record for stolen bases in the baseball minors before leading the National League in that category for all six years that he played for the Redbirds.
Jimmy Connors >> The Belleville, Ill., native won eight Grand Slam singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles. He remains the only man to win 100-plus singles titles and held the record for reaching the most major quarterfinals.
Jimmy Conzelman >> A man of many talents (author, orator, actor, playwright, newspaper publisher), the late Conzelman played halfback at Washington University before playing in the NFL.
John David Crow >> A first-round draft pick for the Cardinals, the Heisman Trophy–winning running back played for the Big Red from 1958 to 1964 and completed more passes than any other non-quarterback in the history of the NFL.
“Dizzy Dean” >> Jerome Herman Dean led the Gashouse Gang to a World Series victory in 1934. Known for his colorful personality, the Cardinals’ ace later became a sports commentator and was portrayed in the 1952 movie The Pride of St. Louis.
Dan Dierdorf >> Now known perhaps as much for his Westport steakhouse and on-air sports commentary, the Hall of Famer was named to six Pro Bowls as a lineman with the Cardinals.
Jim Edmonds >> Another sports star turned steakhouse owner, “Jimmy Baseball” earned eight Gold Glove Awards and made countless highlight reels at center field.
Marshall Faulk >> After amassing 12,000-plus rushing yards and 6,000 receiving yards, Faulk was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. The seven-time Pro Bowler was at the heart of “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
Bernie Federko >> After setting myriad Blues team records and scoring 1,000-plus career points, Federko has cemented his spot in hockey history, with a bronze statue at Scottrade Center and a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Kristin Folkl-Kaburakis >> The St. Joseph’s Academy grad led her basketball and volleyball teams to state championships all four years, won three NCAA volleyball titles at Stanford University, and played in the WNBA before joining the St. Louis Sports Commission.
Bob Forsch >> A member of the 1982 World Series champion Cardinals team, the late right-hander might be best remembered for pitching two no-hitters—a feat no other Cardinal has accomplished.
Frankie Frisch >> The “Fordham Flash” helped the Cards win the World Series in 1931 and 1934. His career .316 batting average remains the highest of any switch-hitter.
Grant Fuhr >> Wayne Gretzky dubbed Fuhr the greatest goaltender in the history of the game. In his first season here, Fuhr played 79 games, 76 of them consecutively—both Blues records.
Bob Gibson >> “Hoot” won the World Series twice with the Cardinals (both times being named the series MVP), earned nine Gold Glove Awards and nine All-Star appearances, and pitched a no-hitter in 1971. Noting Gibson’s intimidating presence, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker once said, “If he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”
Pat Guenzler >> A three-time Amateur Softball Association All-American, Guenzler led the now-defunct International Women’s Professional Softball league in hitting every year it was in existence, from 1976 to 1979.
Mel Gray >> A former high-school track star, Gray was drafted as a wide receiver by the Big Red in 1971. He went on to appear in four straight Pro Bowls and catch at least one pass in 121 consecutive games before retiring at age 34.
Cliff Hagan >> Known for his running hook shot, “Li’l Abner” won five Western Conference titles with the Hawks, as well as an NBA championship in 1958—when he shot 50 percent from the field and scored 305 points in the playoffs.
Glenn Hall >> The Blues made the playoffs every year that “Mr. Goalie” was on the team—from 1967 to 1971. Known for his butterfly-style goaltending technique, the Hall of Famer holds the record for the most first-team All-Star selections.
Dawn Harper >> The 5-foot-6 hurdler idolized Jackie Joyner-Kersee while growing up in East St. Louis, Ill.—and followed in her footsteps, winning gold at the 2008 Olympics.
Jim Hart >> The Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate led the football Cardinals to three straight 10-plus-win seasons and was selected for the Pro Bowl four times.
Sarah Haskins >> A standout swimmer and runner at Parkway South High School, the triathlete went on to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics and win gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Keith Hernandez >> Known to a new generation for his cameo on Seinfeld, Hernandez quickly made a name for himself playing first base for the Redbirds. He won the World Series with the team in 1982 and earned 11 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
Torry Holt >> Earlier this year, Holt signed a ceremonial contract to retire with the Rams—a fitting ending for a receiver who helped the team win the Super Bowl during his rookie year. He still holds the record for the most consecutive seasons with 1,300-plus yards receiving.
Rogers Hornsby >> The Rajah’s .358 career batting average is second only to Ty Cobb. Former teammate Grover Cleveland Alexander once said, “Personally, I don’t think a more skillful man ever stepped up to the plate.” The Hall of Famer’s playing career began and ended in St. Louis—first with the Cards and later with the Browns.
Al Hrabosky >> “The Mad Hungarian” earned his nickname in the ’70s with his on-field antics, pounding the ball into his mitt before storming onto the mound—a routine made even more intimidating after he grew a Fu Manchu mustache.
Larry Hughes >> The 6-foot-5 guard led Christian Brothers College High School to a state championship and Saint Louis University to the NCAA tourney during his freshman year, before the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him in 1998.
Brett Hull >> Considering the pedigree of the former Blues right winger (both his father, Bobby, and uncle, Dennis, played in the NHL), Hull’s golden career was perhaps inevitable. The Hall of Famer scored 741 career goals, third all-time in the NHL—and is immortalized with a bronze statue at Scottrade Center.
Slobodan Ilijevski >> During his seven seasons with the St. Louis Steamers in the ’80s, “Slobo” was twice named Major Indoor Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year. He tragically died in 2008, after rupturing his aorta in a game.
Hale Irwin >> A native of Joplin, Irwin was a standout football player and an NCAA champion in golf at the University of Colorado before going on to the PGA, where he won three U.S. Opens and played on five Ryder Cup teams. The World Golf Hall of Famer raised his family in St. Louis before moving to Arizona.
Steven Jackson >> No. 39 picked up where Marshall Faulk left off, setting the franchise record for career rushing yards and racking up 1,000-plus yards in seven consecutive seasons. (For more with Jackson, turn to p. 66.)
Curtis Joseph >> Recognized for his colorful goaltending masks in the image of snarling dogs, “CuJo” amassed the most career wins of any NHL goaltender who didn’t win a Stanley Cup.
Harry Keough >> The late St. Louis native was among those on the U.S. team that upset England in the 1950 World Cup. After a stellar playing career, he coached SLU’s soccer team to five NCAA championships.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee >> The East St. Louis, Ill., native won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals—so perhaps it came as no surprise when Sports Illustrated For Women named her the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century.
Mike Liut >> In his first two seasons in St. Louis, the former Blues goaltender amassed 71 victories. In only his second season, his peers awarded him with the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award), given to the league’s MVP by the NHL Players’ Association.
Charles “Sonny” Liston >> After serving time in the state pen, “The Big Bear” began a boxing career. He knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round in 1962 to become the World Heavyweight Champion—only to lose twice to Muhammad Ali years later. The circumstances surrounding his death, at age 38, remain a mystery.
Ed Macauley >> “Easy Ed” led SLU to win the National Invitational Tournament in 1948. During his NBA career, he played for the St. Louis Bombers and Hawks, being selected as an All-Star seven times. At age 32, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, setting a record as the youngest player to earn the honor.
Al MacInnis >> A 13-time All-Star, the Hall of Fame Blues defenseman was known for his hard-hitting slapshots. Former goaltender Mike Liut—whose helmet once split from a MacInnis shot—said of guarding the net against him, “If it happens too often, you have to sit down and reevaluate what you’re doing with your life.”
Marty Marion >> The late Cardinals shortstop earned the nickname “The Octopus” for fielding grounders with his unusually long arms—and hit .357 in the 1943 World Series. He served as the final manager of the St. Louis Browns in 1952, before the team moved to Baltimore.
Pat McBride >> After a standout career at SLU, McBride played for the St. Louis Stars. He earned five caps with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, and later coached at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and for the St. Louis Steamers.
Tim McCarver >> Now as well known for calling games on FOX with St. Louisan Joe Buck, the former Cardinals catcher first gained notoriety for hitting the winning homer in Game 5 of the 1964 World Series. Catching for Bob Gibson, he helped the team win it all again in 1967.
Willie McGee >> A three-time Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star, McGee exemplified manager Whitey Herzog’s “Whiteyball” style, with nimble fielding skills and a .295 career batting average. His Game 3 performance in the 1982 World Series was a big reason that the Redbirds won it all that year.
Mark McGwire >> Of Big Mac’s record-breaking 70 home runs in 1998 and alleged steroid use, Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bryan Burwell once wrote, “What makes McGwire…notable is how that stunning accomplishment has half the town feeling he should be famous, and the other half cursing his infamy.”
Chuck McKinley >> Despite his 5-foot-8 frame, the scrappy St. Louis native won at Wimbledon and the Davis Cup in 1963. Alongside Dennis Ralston, the late tennis player claimed three U.S. men’s doubles championships in the early ’60s.
Joe Medwick >> Among the Gashouse Gang’s colorful cast of characters, “Ducky” was a favorite. He earned the National League Triple Crown in 1937 and set a record for the most consecutive seasons with 40-plus doubles.
Terry Metcalf >> The father of NFL standout Eric Metcalf, this three-time Pro Bowler set a record for his seven 250-plus-yard games with the Big Red—and more than 2,400 yards in 1975.
Johnny Mize >> Before World War II, “The Big Cat” played first base for the Cardinals, leading the National League with a .349 batting average and 28 home runs in 1939. Six times, he hit three homers in a single game.
Archie Moore >> “The Old Mongoose” won 185 of his 219 fights over the span of a long and impressive career, and holds the record for the most career knockouts. The Ring ranked him No. 4 on its list of the “100 greatest punchers of all time.”
Stan Musial >> If we were ranking this list, the top spot might be reserved for “The Man.” It’s only fitting that a statue of Musial—a 24-time All-Star, three-time World Champion, and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree—towers outside Busch Stadium.
Orlando Pace >> It’s rare for a lineman to go No. 1 in the NFL draft, but the Rams knew the 6-foot-7 offensive tackle was worth it when St. Louis selected him in 1997. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXXIV and was selected for seven Pro Bowls.
Bob Pettit >> The NBA’s first-ever recipient of the MVP Award, the man once nicknamed “Dutch” was selected as an All-Star every year he played. He led the St. Louis Hawks to an NBA championship over Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics in 1958, scoring 50 points in Game 6.
Barclay Plager >> The Blues were once considered the Plagers’ team, with brothers Barclay, Bob, and Bill on the ice. Barclay, in particular, stood out as the team’s captain for years. After retiring in 1978, he coached for the Blues. Today, his No. 8 jersey hangs in the rafters.
Jacques Plante >> After winning it all six times with the Montreal Canadiens, the legendary goaltender played for the Blues for two seasons, winning a record seventh Vezina Trophy—awarded to the league’s best goaltender.
Chris Pronger >> The Blues’ captain from 1997 to 2003, the 6-foot-6 defenseman led the team to the Stanley Cup in 1998 and was on the gold-winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Albert Pujols >> Despite his departure to Anaheim, “Prince Albert” will go down as one of the Redbirds’ all-time greats, having won two World Series and three National League MVP titles with the team, as well as holding the franchise record for grand slams.
Ulmo Shannon “Sonny” Randle Jr. >> The four-time Pro Bowl receiver led the NFL in receiving touchdowns after joining the Big Red. He caught 16 passes for 256 yards during a game against the Giants in 1962, and went on to surpass 1,000 yards that season and the next.
Judy Torluemke Rankin >> After learning to golf while growing up in St. Louis, she won the Missouri Amateur Championship at age 14 and took low-amateur honors at the U.S. Women’s Open Championship the next year. She turned pro at age 17 and won 28 tournaments during her career, before being awarded the United States Golf Association’s prestigious Bob Jones Award in 2002.
Red Schoendienst >> No. 2 was anything but, considering the Hall of Famer’s many accomplishments with the Redbirds—first as a player and later as a manager. He was second baseman on the 1946 World Series team and long led the league in fielding at his position. As a skipper, he helped the team win the 1967 Fall Classic—and he coached the winning teams in ’64 and ’82.
Mike Shannon >> As synonymous with St. Louis as the Arch, Shannon solidified his place in the city’s history first as a standout high-school athlete and later as a member of the 1964 and 1967 World Series champion Cardinals teams. A game just isn’t the same without listening to his always-entertaining calls on KMOX-AM, after 40 years in the booth.
Roy Sievers >> The St. Louis native began his big-league career in his hometown with the Browns, being named American League Rookie of the Year in 1949. In the course of his career, Sievers was a four-time All-Star before retiring in 1965 and returning to where it all started.
Ted Simmons >> The eight-time All-Star played catcher during one of the team’s longest playoff droughts (and faced his former team as a Brewer in the ’82 Fall Classic). He ranks second all-time among catchers in RBIs, with nearly 1,400.
George Sisler >> For 84 years, “Gorgeous George” held the record for the most hits in a single season. His 1922 season with the Browns—in which he batted .420; led the AL in hits, stolen bases, and triples; and did a stellar job fielding first base—is still considered among the greatest single-season performances ever.
Enos Slaughter >> Most people remember the right fielder for his “Mad Dash” from first to home in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series. But beyond winning championships with the Cards in 1942 and 1946, his accomplishments include 1,820 games played and 1,148 RBIs—especially impressive feats considering that he missed three seasons while serving in World War II.
Jackie Smith >> The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee might be most remembered for dropping a decisive, wide-open pass in the end zone while playing for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. But before that heartbreak, he played tight end for the Cardinals, making five straight Pro Bowls.
Ozzie Smith >> With his on-field acrobatics and positive demeanor, “The Wizard” remains one of the most-beloved Redbirds of all time. He was a 15-time All-Star, a 13-time Gold Glove winner…and his home run in Game 5 of the 1985 National League Championship Series prompted Jack Buck’s unforgettable call: “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!”
Leon Spinks >> “Neon” Leon will forever be remembered for his two fights with Muhammad Ali in 1978. When he defeated the heavyweight champ that February in Las Vegas, the entire world was shocked. But after Spinks lost in a rematch seven months later, his career took a dramatic series of ups and downs.
Michael Spinks >> His older brother might be better known for defeating Muhammad Ali, but Michael was more successful. He went undefeated in his first 31 fights as a pro and defended the light-heavyweight crown 10 times, later being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Brian Sutter >> Of the six Sutter brothers who played in the NHL, Brian is the only one whose number hangs from a team’s rafters. During a dozen years in St. Louis, he played in three All-Star Games and was captain of the team for the last nine, before becoming the team’s head coach from 1988 to 1992.
Bruce Sutter >> A master of the splitter, the Cardinals right-hander was among the most dominant relief pitchers of his time, and the only one to lead the NL in saves five times. Former Cards skipper Whitey Herzog once described the Hall of Famer as “the Sandy Koufax of relievers.”
Al Trost >> The St. Louis native helped SLU win back-to-back championships before playing on the 1972 U.S. Men’s National Team. The midfielder earned 14 caps with the team and was later inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Garry Unger >> “Iron Man” certainly lived up to his nickname after playing a record-setting 914 consecutive regular-season games. The Detroit Red Wings traded the center to the Blues after he refused to cut his shoulder-length blond hair, and he quickly became one of the team’s first superstars.
Craig Virgin >> After winning nine Big Ten Conference championships and an NCAA cross country championship while at the University of Illinois, Virgin became the only American to qualify for the Olympics three times in the 10,000 meters event. He won both the 1980 and 1981 World Cross Country Championships and was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame last year.
Rusty Wallace >> The Arnold native—whose family is synonymous with racing—won 200-plus short-track races before moving to NASCAR and finishing second in his debut race. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1984 and took home the Winston Cup Series title five years later.
Kurt Warner >> You’ve heard the Iowa native’s story—from grocery-store worker to Super Bowl champion—countless times. And though Warner moved on to New York and Arizona after leading “The Greatest Show on Turf,” he’s still embraced every time he returns to St. Louis.
Dick Weber >> After co-founding the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958, the Florissant resident proceeded to dominate it, winning 36 career PBA titles—including at least one in each of six decades. A tireless ambassador of the sport, he was ranked third on the PBA’s 2008 list of the “50 Greatest Players in PBA History.”
Pete Weber >> Though Pete finished one spot behind his dad on the PBA’s aforementioned list, that ranking could change, since he won a record fifth U.S. Open this February. (For more on Weber, turn to p. 78.)
Roger Wehrli >> Perhaps legendary Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach best summed up the Big Red’s seven-time Pro Bowler: “The term ‘Shutdown Corner’ originated with Roger Wehrli. There wasn’t a better cornerback I played against.”
Joe Wiley >> One of SLU’s all-time leading scorers in men’s basketball and a member of the Billiken Hall of Fame, the Belleville, Ill., native has called Billiken games since 1994.
Lenny Wilkens >> After the St. Louis Hawks drafted Wilkens sixth in the 1960 NBA draft, the team went all the way to the NBA Finals. The nine-time All-Star later became a coach, leading the SuperSonics to a championship in 1979.
Larry Wilson >> Few football players have been as tough as the Big Red’s free safety. Wilson once intercepted a pass while playing with casts on both hands. The seventh-round draft pick was selected for eight Pro Bowls—and eventually the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Todd Worrell >> When the Cardinals lost Bruce Sutter in 1985, Worrell stepped up to the mound, winning 1986 NL Rookie of the Year honors. While pitching for his 125th career save in 1989—which would have tied him with Sutter for the franchise record—he damaged a ligament in his right elbow. Today, he’s the pitching coach at Westminster Christian Academy.
Cy Young >> Long before there was a prestigious pitching award named after the Ohio native, the right-hander played for the St. Louis Perfectos for two years. More than a century later—after pitching the first perfect game in baseball’s modern era—Young still holds the records for most innings pitched, games started, and complete games.
Why the Minors are a Major-League Deal
Unprecedented Access >> We once stood in line for a hot dog behind a player at a River City Rascals game—closer than even front-row seats.
Inventive Stadium Food >> Even Man v. Food’s Adam Richman admires GCS Ballpark’s bacon cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme donut—dubbed “Baseball’s Best Burger.”
Dirt-Cheap Tickets >> Lawn seats are only $5 at a Gateway Grizzlies or River City Rascals game. Try topping that at Busch Stadium.
Pet-Friendly Play >> Get $1 hot dogs—and bring your canine to the park—on Wednesday “Dog Days” at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
Passionate Players >> Forget $240 million contracts. Many Frontier League players live with host families. Now that’s dedication.
Sports on a Full Stomach
Forgo the overpriced stadium food at these pregame places.
Drinks With Friends
Bridge: Forget fighting crowds for a pitcher of Miller Light. Order a craft brew—in almost any size—at Bridge’s bar.
Prime 1000: As impressive as the steak there, the bar at Prime 1000 is a sleek space for drinks before a Cards game.
Three Sixty: It’s tempting to skip the game and just look down into Busch Stadium from the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark’s rooftop bar.
Dinner With Family
Joe’s Chili Bowl: The space once occupied by The Terrace View now serves pizza, pasta, and burgers—ideal for families visiting Citygarden before the game.
Baileys’ Range: Order a made-from-scratch burger, and add a shake.
Pi: The new downtown addition to Chris Sommers’ deep-dish empire is an ideal family destination before a Rams game.
Brunch Before a Rams Game
Blondie’s: Before walking to the Dome, order a Blonde Benedict and bloody Mary while sitting on the patio.
Rooster: Since Rooster’s expansion last year, you can grab a crepe with no wait.
Lola: Consider an omelet-stuffed crepe or biscuits and crawfish gravy to give you the energy necessary for the game.