Iowa’s sports Mount Rushmore

March 15, 2009

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ESPN recently had people vote on their state’s sports Mt. Rushmore. For my version of Iowa’s Mt. Rushmore, I took the ESPN requirements a bit further and required the people to actually be native Iowans. This eliminates guys like Cael Sanderson and Chuck Long.

Bob Feller – “Rapid Robert” won 266 games (162 losses). He missed nearly 4 complete seasons because of World Word II – at a time when he was consistently winning 20 games per season. It’s quite likely that this cost him 75 more wins. He broke into the major leagues at age 17 and was an All Star at age 19. Feller was the hardest thrower of his generation and very likely one of the handful of hardest throwers of all time. He was also featured in Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” (“the feller with the Cleveland Indians”). Feller was a first ballot hall of famer.

Dan Gable – Gable was a dominant college and Olympic wrestler. He lost only one college bout (the NCAA title match his senior year, in the final seconds). Gable ran roughshod through the competition at the 1972 Olympics, winning the gold medal without allowing a point to be scored against him. He broke the hearts of Iowa State fans by becoming the head coach at Iowa and launching a college wrestling juggernaut. To top it off, he eats at Club Deli in Cedar Rapids (home of the best chili in town), which says a lot about his culinary tastes.

Kurt Warner – Warner is a two time NFL MVP. He led his teams to three Super Bowl appearances – teams that had very little success prior to his tenure. Warner has the third highest QB efficiency rating of all time and has the second high completion percentage of all time. He has three seasons of 4000+ yards (with a high of 4830 in 2001) and three seasons of 30+ touchdowns (with a high of 41 in 1999).

Cap Anson – Adrian Anson, know as “Captain” or “Cap” was the first major league hitter to be credited with 3000 career hits. Various sources now show him with anywhere between 2995 and 3418 hits. Much of the disparity is a debate about whether the National Association was a major league (it existed prior to the formation of the National League in 1876). Anson was one of the biggest stars of the 19th century and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame shortly after its creation.

Some notable snubs:
Nile Kinnick – the body of work is limited to his college years. I prefer athletes with longer careers. Clearly, I have respect for what he sacrificed for his country. However, I tried to set the bar based solely on sports accomplishments.

Zach Johnson – Not a long enough period of sustained excellence.

Shawn Johnson – Not a long enough period of sustained excellence.

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