Over the years, my friends and I and other Schenectady County fans have discussed who some of our favorite athletes were. Here they are!
Rocky Marciano – Our fathers turned us on to the Brockton Rock when we were in about the fourth or fifth grade. Marciano nailed Jersey Joe, then won 49 straight fights. He was not all that big (5’10” and 185 pounds), and he was slower than most heavyweights, but his power, desire, and ability to take a punch, made him a great ring warrior. He retired in 1956.
OJ Simpson – We couldn’t wait for late Saturday afternoon to turn on the tube and watch USC play another west coast team because the Trojans had a sensational running back named OJ Simpson. He would take a pitch, go wide and accellerate up the field, leaving most would-be tacklers in the dust. We saw him score on many 40-yard plus runs.
The Wizard, Ozzie Smith – We thought he was the greatest defensive shortstop ever to play the game. His acrobatic moves at that position were a thrill to watch.
Luis Aparicio – Another shortstop, well before Smith’s time. We loved his style at the shortstop position, especially when he went deep in the hole and threw a runner out. When we congregated on the front steps to trade baseball cards, everyone seemed to want one of Aparicio.
Mickey Mantle – We waited anxiously for the start of a New York Yankee broadcast, and then for the Yankee announcer to come over the speaker, “now batting for the New York Yankees, the centerfielder, number seven, Mickey Mantle, Mantle, number seven.” Then sitting at the edge of our seats hoping thet the Mick would hit one of his tape-measure homeruns.
Elgin Baylor – Watching the head-bob, and his uncanny moves to the hoop were always a thrill. Every time you thought you saw him make his most unbelieveable move to the hoop,a better one always followed.
Jerry West – A teammate of Baylor’s in the ’70s, It was fun to see him quickly move down the floor, stop on a dime, and drill a 12 to 18-foot jumper. The basketball spun off his fingertips in picture-perfect fashion and tickled the net much more often then not. After all, he is the NBA logo.
Jimmy Connors – He played so hard, giving it everything he had on every shot. A true blue collar athlete.
Lenny Moore – We loved to see the Baltimore Colts’ speedy pass receiver race down field, and with his elusive moves, free himself up, and Johnny Unitas hitting him with a pass.