America's (Legend) Dairyland: Top 100 Wisconsin-Born Sports Figures (20-1)
Alright, the moment you have all been waiting for: the final edition of the top 100 sports figures born in Wisconsin.
I don't think anyone can argue with the athletes that appear in the 20, because all of them have done great things in their careers.
I'm amazed at all the legendary names that have called Wisconsin home for a majority of their lives.
I know I probably missed some people, so feel free to drop their names in the comment section below.
20. Dick Trickle (Wisconsin Rapids)
Ask any racing fan from Wisconsin and they will tell you that Dick Trickle is an absolute legend on the short track.
Even though no one can confirm, it is said that Trickle has over 1,200 victories on the various short tracks around the nation.
He was the 1968 USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year and the Winston Cup ROY in 1989. He has 36 top 10s in Sprint and two wins with 42 top 10s in Nationwide.
When Trickle was eight years old, he fell two stories and landed in the basement, to which he still walks with a limp to this day. He even continues to race from time to time on the short tracks of Wisconsin.
Plus, he has the best name ever. Check out this clip from "That 70's Show."
19. Herb Kohl (Milwaukee)
Kohl has been the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks since 1985 and refuses to sell the team to anyone who has visions of moving the operations out of state.
He and his brother are heirs to the family chain, which included 50 Kohl's Food Stores (now defunct) and even more Kohl's department stores.
In 1970, Herb took control as the company's president.
Kohl also served in the Army Reserves from 1958-64 and has been a Senator (Dem.) for the great state of Wisconsin since 1989.
18. Andy Pafko (Boyceville)
Even if I'm not quite exactly sure where Boyceville is, Pafko no doubt put it on the map.
In his 17 years in the MLB, Pafko played for Chicago (Cubs), the Dodgers, and the Milwaukee Braves, spanning 1943-'59.
He batted .285 with 213 HR and 976 RBI in 1,852 games, was a five-time all-star and was a member of his home state team when the Braves won the World Series in 1957 over the Yankees.
Pafko was the No. 1 card in 1952, and it's worth thousands if in mint condition, which is very rare. It's rare because back then, the card companies banded the packs with rubber bands, which caused the No. 1 card (Pafko) to become the most worn.
17. Ken Keltner (Milwaukee)
Keltner is probably best known for stopping Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak at 56 games when he made two spectacular catches in that 1941 game.
Through 1937-'50, Keltner hit .276 with 163 HR, 852 RBI, 308 doubles, 1,570 hits, and 737 runs scored.
He was a seven-time all-star and was a member of the last Cleveland Indians team to win the World Series in 1948.
Keltner is the subject of Bill James' "Keltner List", which is a list of 15 questions designed to evaluate MLB players who are Hall of Fame worthy.
16. Happy Felsch (Milwaukee)
Felsch played in the minor leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers (different team than current MLB team) and would later play for the Chicago White Sox from 1915-20.
He had a career batting average of .293, having 38 HR, 446 RBI, and 825 hits.
If you check the years again, you'll see that Felsch was a member of the 1919 "Black Sox", which were the subjects of the movie "Eight Men Out." Felsch's center field position was played by Charlie Sheen.
Felsch's best season was his last, in 1920, during which he hit .378 with 14 HR and 115 RBI. He would supposedly play amateur baseball for the next 15 years. He died of liver disease in Milwaukee in 1964.
15. Bud Selig (Milwaukee)
Selig took over a Seattle Pilots team prior to the 1970 season and after spring training, moved it to Milwaukee, where it became the Brewers.
There would be no baseball in Milwaukee without him, but fans were more than happy when the family finally sold the team and took the Selig name away from the city. Bud would become MLB Commissioner in 1998.
As commish, Selig would introduce the wild card to the playoffs, which certainly made September baseball more exciting. He was also able to bring out the World Baseball Classic and 20 new stadiums have been built under Selig thus far.
Away from the big steroid issue, Selig also allowed the 2002 All-Star Game (held in "his" city) to be the biggest joke of the sport when it was considered a tie.
Selig plans to retire in 2012 and it will probably come at a good time.
14. Johnny "Blood" McNally (New Richmond)
He probably the best and meanest nickname in all of sports, but there was more to McNally then just "Blood."
At 14, he graduated high school, where he was the captain of the basketball team and also lettered in baseball, football, and track.
McNally played in the NFL form 1925-'38—including winning four championships in Green Bay—and played 137 total games.
He amassed more than 1,117 yards on 67 catches and 36 TDs because stats were not compiled every season of his career.
George Clooney's character of Dodge Connelly in the movie "Leatherheads" was loosely based on Johnny "Blood." McNally was spontaneous off the field and had speed and agility on it.
13. Addie Joss (Woodland)
Joss is the only MLB player in the Hall of Fame who played less than 10 years in the league, as he played from 1902-'10.
He has a career record of 160-97 with a 1.89 ERA and 920 strikeouts. He is also the only pitcher two throw a no-hitter against the same team twice (White Sox).
With the limited years in the MLB, Joss had four seasons of 20 wins or more and had six seasons with an ERA of less than 2.00. He also pitched a perfect game, throwing only 74 pitches.
He has the second-best career ERA in MLB history, but the best career WHIP at 0.968 and was elected into Cooperstown in 1978.
12. Jim Otto (Wausau)
Otto was probably the best center that the NFL has ever seen, and it started at Wausau HS, then continued at Miami (the U) and onto the NFL with Oakland, where he played from 1960-'74.
He played 210 games and never missed a start. He was also a 10-time all-star, a three-time Pro Bowler, and a member of the 1967 AFL champions, who later lost to his home state team in the Packers.
Otto has had 40 surgeries in his lifetime, including 28 knee surgeries (nine during career), and he had his right leg amputated two years ago. He has several complications of those operations.
All are detailed in his book "The Pain of Glory." He was elected into Canton in 1980.
11. Burleigh Grimes (Emerald)
Grimes the last official spit-baller in the MLB, as the pitch was banned in 1920.
He played from 1916-1934, amassing a 270-212 record with an ERA of 3.53 and 1,512 strikeouts.
Grimes played for seven different teams in the MLB and won a World Series in 1931.
He had five seasons of 20 wins or more and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1964.
10. Bud Grant (Superior)
Grant was the No. 14 pick in the 1950 NFL draft, played 24 games in '51-'52 with Philadelphia, and had 56 catches for 997 yards and seven TDs.
He earned nine letters in high school and was a member of the 1949-'50 Minneapolis Lakers, who won the NBA title.
He coached the Minnesota Vikings from 1967-'85, amassing a 158-96-5 record, where he made four Super Bowl appearances in the 70's (but lost them all).
Grant was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
9. Alan Ameche (Kenosha)
Ameche was nicknamed "The Horse" and deservedly so.
In four years at Wisconsin, he rushed for 3,125 yards (4.8 per carry) and 25 TDs, which was capped off by winning the 1954 Heisman Trophy.
Ameche was the 1955 NFL Rookie of the Year with Baltimore and played six seasons with the Colts. He had 4,045 yards rushing, 733 yards receiving, and 44 TDs.
He would score the game-winning TD in overtime in the 1958 NFL Championship Game (The Greatest Game Ever Played).
Ameche was a four-time Pro Bowler and was elected to the 1950s All-Decade Team.
8. Kid Nichols (Madison)
Nichols has the seventh-highest win total amongst all time pitchers, with 361, spanning from 1890-1902.
He also has 208 losses, a 2.95 ERA, and 1,868 strikeouts.
Nichols was the youngest player to win 300 games, as he did so at the age of 32, and he has an amazing seven years with 30 or more wins.
He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1949.
7. Mike Webster (Tomahawk)
Webster was considered the best center in the Big Ten when he played at Wisconsin.
He was drafted in the fifth round in 1974 by Pittsburgh and also played for Kansas City. He played in 245 games with 217 starts, earning him the nickname "Iron Mike." He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, a nine-time All-Pro selection, and appeared in four Super Bowls.
Webster was a member of both the 1970s and 80s All-Decade Teams. He died at the age of 50 in 2002 after suffering from amnesia, dementia, and depression.
At Rhinelander HS in Wisconsin, the football team plays at Mike Webster Stadium. Webster was elected in the Hall of Fame in 1997.
6. Dan Jansen (West Allis)
Jansen is the poster boy for the slogan, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again."
With the Olympic training facility of the Pettit National Ice Center in his backyard, it was no doubt he would be a speed skater, but disaster always struck.
Prior to the 1988 Winter Games, he developed mono and had to deal with the death of his sister. In all his races, Jansen always seemed to fall to the ice as well.
In 1994, Jansen finally put all of that behind him as he took gold in the 1,000m after several years of heartache.
He probably could have won more medals, but Jansen will always be called an Olympic gold medal winner.
Jansen was also elected into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.
5. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch (Wausau)
"Crazy Legs" attended Wisconsin and Michigan, and while at Michigan he was the only athlete in 1943-'44 to letter in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, and track).
During his NFL career, Hirsch had 387 catches for 7,029 yards and 60 TDs, earning him a Hall of Fame induction in 1968. He was also elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Hirsch was the Athletic Director at Wisconsin from 1969-87, and ever since 1981, the Crazy Legs Classic has been held in Madison, which is an eight mile run through the city.
4. Al Simmons (Milwaukee)
Simmons played 21 seasons in the MLB with Philadelphia (A's), Chicago (White Sox), Boston, Detroit, Washington, and Cincinnati.
From 1924-'44, Simmons hit .334 with 307 HR, 1,827 RBI, 539 doubles, and 2,927 hits.
He hit .392 in 1927 and .390 in '31. He was a three-time all-star who led the league in hitting twice in hits (253 in '25) and RBI (157 in '29).
Simmons was only a three-time all-star, won two World Series, had six 200-hit seasons, and 12 100-RBI seasons.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954 and is nicknamed "Bucketfoot Al."
3. Eric Heiden (Madison)
Heiden won five gold medals at the 1980 Lake Placid games in speed skating (500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m, and 10,000m).
He also won seven gold medals at the World Championships spanning 1977-'80 and set 15 records while skating.
Now called Dr. Heiden (he graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1984), he follows in his father's footsteps, who was a well-respected orthopedic surgeon in Madison.
In 2008, Heiden released a book called "Faster, Better, Stronger", which is about exercising properly.
His sister Beth was also a speed skater, as well as a cross country skier.
2. Bob Uecker (Milwaukee)
Uecker did not have much of a playing career, which spanned from 1962-'67, playing with Milwaukee (Braves), St. Louis, and Philadelphia.
In his career, he hit .200 with 14 HR and 67 RBI, but won the 1964 World Series.
Uecker began his play-by-play career in 1971 and has never looked back, but still pokes fun at his inept playing career.
He starred in the 80s TV show "Mr. Belvedere," numerous Miller Lite beer commercials ("Hey, I must be in the front row"), and several more appearances on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson."
In 2003, he entered the Hall of Fame (of course not as a player) as he received the Ford C. Frick Award for his broadcasting abilities.
"Mr. Baseball" in a must listen for any baseball fan because you can never hear a Uecker story too many times.
1. Curly Lambeau (Green Bay)
Surprised? You shouldn't be.
He is responsible for starting what is now the greatest franchise in all of the NFL, as the Packers have won 12 championship titles (including three Super Bowls).
Lambeau formed the Green Bay Packers in 1919 (two years before the NFL became an establishment) and because he was a shipping clerk at the Acme Packing Co., asked to use the name as his team's name. Green Bay was 19-2-1 before joining the NFL.
He was with the Packers from 1919-49, where he pioneered daily practices, the forward pass in the NFL, and team's traveling to road games by flying.
Green Bay won six titles in Lambeau's tenure and Green Bay's City Stadium was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965 shortly after his death.
Lambeau had a career coaching record 212-106-21, including playoffs.
Just when the team was ready to fold, the city of Green Bay rallied around Curly and the Packers continued on borrowed money from the city.
To this day, the Green Bay Packers are still the only publicly owned professional sports team in the country. Without Lambeau, there would be no Packers, and that garners the No. 1 spot on this list.
Well, there you have it, the top 100 people in sports that were born in Wisconsin.
I hope you enjoyed reading these, because it took a lot of time and effort to put this all together.