Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #357

13 great Chicago athletes. Looking back on his career, Billy Dee Williams usually sites Brian's Song as a turning point and his role as Gale Sayers one he gets asked about most often. That always surprises me, because as a Chicago Gal, I forget that Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo were well known. I think of them as mine

Actually I feel that way about all 13 of these men. I am inexhaustibly proud of and protective of most of them, and forget that they are national figures. (I could have filled this list with Chicago Cubs, but I tried to be fair and included all of our major sports teams.)

How many do you know?

1. Michael Jordan. The best there ever was, the best there ever will be. Hall of Famer, 6x MVP of the World Champion Chicago Bulls (1984-1998).

2. Ernie Banks. "Mr. Cub." The man who integrated the team and became the Cubs greatest player. Hall of Famer, 2x MVP and 500 home runs. Generally acknowledged as the best baseball player to never appear in a play-off game. (1953-1971)

3. Walter Payton. "Sweetness." Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, MVP. (1975-1987)

4. Bobby Hull. "The Golden Jet." The Black Hawks greatest player. Stanley Cup Champion, Hall of Famer, 10x All Star, and, it pains me to say, a tremendous disappointment as a human being. After he retired, very credible allegations of domestic abuse and pro-Nazi comments surfaced. The Hawks eventually had to cut ties the problematic face of the franchise. I met him several times when I was a little girl and he was always very nice. I learned a hard lesson that talented people aren't necessarily good people. (1957-1972)

5. Ryne Sandberg. Hall of Famer, MVP and 10x All Star. My grandma's all-time favorite Cub. Alas, no World Series for him, either. (1982-1997)

6. Gale Sayers. Before Walter, this Hall of Famer was considered the greatest Chicago Bear of all time. A short career due to injuries. Much loved for his relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo (Brian's Song). (1965-1971)

7. Stan Mikita. Proud Slovak (a very big deal here in Chicago), Hall of Famer and 9x All Star. Center for the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Black Hawks. Hero to Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. (1958-1980)

8. Derrick Rose. MVP, 3x All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. Forever known around here as "the first Bull since Michael Jordan to ..." (2008-2016)

9. Ron Santo. 9x All Star third baseman of the Chicago Cubs. 342 career home runs. He annoyed my dad no end because of his involvement in the player's union. I think that made Ronnie a hero. Inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame. (1960-1973)

10. Dick Butkus. Most fearsome linebacker in Bears history. Hall of Famer. The reason Sylvester Stallone named Rocky's bulldog "Butkus." (1965-1973)

11. Scottie Pippen. 7x All Star forward for the 6x World Champion Chicago Bulls.  (1987-1998)

12. Billy Williams. Hall of Famer slugger for the Chicago Cubs. 6x All Star and 426 home runs. Alas, no World Series. (1959 to 1974)

13. Frank Thomas. "The Big Hurt." 5x All Star, 2x MVP slugger for the White Sox. 448 home runs. The only Chicago baseball player on this list to lay claim to World Champion. (1990-2005)

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.