Sports Lists

Throwback Thursday Series: Hall of Fame Athlete Edition

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterJune 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday Series: Hall of Fame Athlete Edition

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Throwback Thursday is a social media gift that gives us a weekly excuse to get knee-deep in nostalgia, one of the biggest moneymakers in sports today. 

    Your favorite sports teams are doing their best to sell you on the future, but that’s nothing but speculation. Believe it or not, the past is actually the real moneymaker. 

    The realities of the past don’t matter, but rather the romanticized ideal of what a given time or certain athlete represents. #TBT gives us all, fans and athletes alike, the opportunity to reminisce about better times, be they real or imagined. 

    There is no greater time for anyone in sports than the Hall of Fame career of a beloved athlete. Let’s take a look back at some of the all-time HOF greats. 

Joe Namath, NFL

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: January 1969 

    HOF Induction Year: 1985

    Hall of Fame Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who famously guaranteed Super Bowl victory against the Johnny Unitas-led Colts in Super Bowl III, chats casually with reporters in the locker room after making good on a very unlikely win. 

Cam Neely, NHL

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    AP Photo/Steven Senne

    Date Photo Taken: September 1995

    HOF Induction Year: 2005

    Beloved Bruins great Cam Neely is all smiles taking questions from the Boston sports media at a press conference. Less than a year later, he would be in tears announcing an early retirement due to injury. 

Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays, MLB

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: September 1972

    HOF Induction Year: 1973, 1979

    Two of the most beloved players in the history of baseball, Pirates legend Roberto Clemente and Giants icon Willie Mays (pictured here as a New York Met in '73, his only year in New York). The photo was taken the day Clemente got his 3,000th hit, becoming one of just 11 players in the history of MLB to do so. 

Magic Johnson, NBA

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty

    Date Photo Taken: January 1981

    HOF Induction Year: 2002

    Lakers legend Magic Johnson chats with comedic great and certified national treasure Bill Murray prior to a game in early 1981. Magic looks as captivated with Murray as anyone with a sense of humor has been for the last 30-plus years. 

Mickey Mantle, MLB

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    AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman

    Date Photo Taken: May 1962

    HOF Induction Year: 1974

    Yankees star Mickey Mantle kicks back in a hot bath after suffering a pulled right thigh muscle and strained ligament during a game against the Twins. Apparently the press corps was invited over to Lenox Hill Hospital to have a look. 

Barry Sanders, NFL

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    AP Photo/Susan Ragan

    Date Photo Taken: December 1988

    HOF Induction Year: 2004

    One of the few Heisman winners to truly live up to the hype, Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders poses with the iconic trophy. The legendary Lions running back would go on to play 10 years in the NFL—one of the most successful decades of professional football ever played. 

Gale Sayers, NFL

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: September 1972

    HOF Induction Year: 1977

    Gale Sayers kicks back in his office at a Chicago television station after injuries forced the great Bears running back to retire early. Though his career was cut short, Sayers made history setting an NFL record for yards gained and for once scoring six touchdowns in a single game. 

Mark Messier, NHL

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    AP Photo/Adam Nadel

    Date Photo Taken: November 1994

    HOF Induction Year: 2007

    One of the greatest athletes to ever don a pair of ice skates, Mark Messier is pictured with supermodel Cindy Crawford during the “Dishes on Ice” fundraiser in New York’s Central Park. The charity event benefited children and infants affected by HIV and AIDS. 

Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, NBA

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: April 1970

    HOF Induction Year: 1987, 1983

    Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley (sitting side by side, center) were teammates on the only two Knicks teams to ever win an NBA championship in the '70s. Here they are together with teammates Dave DeBusschere and Cazzie Russell celebrating a win against the Milwaukee Ducks that put them into the playoffs. 

Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin, NFL

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    AP Photo/Ron Heflin

    Date Photo Taken: January 1996

    HOF Induction Year: 2011, 2007

    Cowboys teammates Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin, both of whom had almost as much talent as they did personality, chat with NBC commentator Greg Gumbel in an interview after winning Super Bowl XXX against the Steelers. 

Ron Francis, NHL

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    AP Photo/Fred Jewell

    Date Photo Taken: June 1992

    HOF Induction Year: 2007

    NHL great Ron Francis, who won the only two championships of his playing career with the Penguins, drinks from the Stanley Cup after scoring the winning goal in the series-clinching game against the Blackhawks. It was his second-consecutive championship in Pittsburgh.

John Elway, NFL

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    AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

    Date Photo Taken: April 1983

    HOF Induction Year: 2005

    Broncos great John Elway and his father chuckle at a press conference after announcing his intention to play baseball for the Yankees, who drafted him in the second round of the 1981 MLB draft, if the Colts didn’t work out a trade for him. He was the original Eli Manning, if Eli Manning had the option to play baseball. 

Dennis Rodman, NBA

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    AP Photo/Doug Pizac

    Date Photo Taken: June 1989

    HOF Induction Year: 2011

    Bulls great Dennis Rodman earned much of his jewelry and developed most of his swagger playing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago. It’s hard to believe he was just a regular guy, not to mention one helluva basketball player, in Detroit before all that. 

Tommy Lasorda, MLB

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    AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine

    Date Photo Taken: August 1983

    HOF Induction Year: 1997

    Player-turned-manager Tommy Lasorda is not known as a particularly cuddly man these days, but apparently he used to be a little bit friendlier. Here he is pictured with Bobby Valentine Jr., the son of former Mets manager Bobby Valentine. 

Bobby and Brett Hull, NHL

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    AP Photo/Darrell Sandler

    Date Photo Taken: February 1990

    HOF Induction Year: 1983, 2009

    Two generations of hockey glory sit side by side, with Bobby Hall on hand to celebrate Brett Hull’s 50th goal of the season. They are the first and (to date) only father-son duo to each score 50 goals in a single season. 

Moses Malone, NBA

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: April 1974

    HOF Induction Year: 2002

    Hall of Fame center Moses Malone, who won the only championship of his 20-year career with the 76ers in 1983, is pictured in New York City with James Collier, owner of the Utah Stars. Moses played his first season professionally with the ABA team. 

Kirby Puckett, MLB

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    AP Photo/Jim Mone

    Date Photo Taken: October 1991

    HOF Induction Year: 2001

    Hall of Fame center fielder Kirby Puckett played his entire 12-year career with the Twins in Minnesota. Here he is with fur-clad wife Tonya after winning the World Series in 1991. 

Bill Russell, NBA

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    AP Photo/J. Walter Green

    Date Photo Taken: December 1956

    HOF Induction Year: 1975

    One of the NBA’s all-time bests, Celtics legend Bill Russell poses with his disproportionately puny coach, Red Auerbach, who is demonstrating his best Harlem Globetrotters move for the best player he would ever coach. 

Pavel Bure, NHL

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    AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

    Date Photo Taken: September 1997

    HOF Induction Year: 2012

    Former Canucks great Pavel Bure poses for a selfie, well before selfies as we know them today existed, with a Japanese fan in Tokyo. The team was in town to play the Ducks in the first ever NHL regular-season games held outside of North America. 

Dick Butkus, NFL

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    AP Photo/Jacob Harris

    Date Photo Taken: November 1964

    HOF Induction Year: 1979

    Legendarily terrifying Bears linebacker Dick Butkus looks substantially less intimidating in New York on the day he was drafted than at any other point in his career. In fact, he even looks scarier as an old man than he does in that crested blazer.  

Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, MLB

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: June 1941

    HOF Induction Year: 1936, 1936

    Friends Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb enjoy their time together playing at a charity golf “grudge match” tournament at Fresh Meadow Country Club in New York. The proceeds of the event benefited the United Service Organization (USO). 

Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA

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    AP Photo/Villafuerte

    Date Photo Taken: October 1980

    HOF Induction Year: 1993, 1995

    ULCA coaching icon John Wooden looks comically small standing next to Bruins basketball alumni Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The future NBA Hall of Famers were among the 1,000 people on hand to celebrate Wooden’s 70th birthday. 

Honus Wagner, MLB

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: January 1914

    HOF Induction Year: 1936

    One of the five players inducted into the inaugural MLB Hall of Fame class, Pirates legend Honus Wagner is pictured (in uniform) fishing somewhere in Kentucky late in his career. 

Wayne Gretzky, NHL

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    AP Photo/Alan Greth

    Date Photo Taken: October 1988

    HOF Induction Year: 1999

    All-time great Wayne Gretzky poses with actor Michael J. Fox and former Kings owner Bruce McNall. The Los Angeles reception was held to welcome The Great One to the city, having been traded by the Oilers, and kick off the 1988-89 season. 

Terry Bradshaw, NFL

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    AP Photo/Harry Cabluck

    Date Photo Taken: December 1972

    HOF Induction Year: 1989

    Four-time Super Bowl championship-winning quarterback of the Steelers, Terry Bradshaw dons a combat helmet which reads “Franco’s Italian Army.” It was a reference to teammate Franco Harris and the throngs of fans that went crazy for the rookie running back sensation. 

Wilt Chamberlain, NBA

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    AP Photo

    Date Photo Taken: October 1985

    HOF Induction Year: 1979

    The late, great Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain remains to this day the only NBA player to ever score 100 points in a single game—a record that may very well never be beaten. Here he is showing a much different side of himself, posing with his cats for the 1986 Purina Cat Show Celebrity Cat Calendar. 

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