In rough chronological order from 1978 to 1988:
Ed “Too Tall” Jones
Mary Lou Retton
William “The Refrigerator” Perry
Ed “Too Tall” Jones
I guess a lot depends on your definition of childhood. My earliest sport idols (late Sixties) were…
In the Seventies, you can add:
Some Aussies that only Aussies would know and Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali.
I was 10, just about to turn 11, when Clay fought Sonny Liston the first time. The fight received enormous coverage (for those days) and I thought my parents would be just as thrilled as I was at the prospect of young upstart Clay winning. When I mentioned it to them it became apparent that they despised him and hoped that the hoodlum he faced would beat him badly.
It was one of the events that made me realize that, genetics aside, I didn’t really have much in common with my parents. Their attitude had nothing to do with admiration for Liston just disdain for Clay’s persona. It was good timing because there was a flurry of 60s stuff coming along.
I remained a life long fan.
That reminds me of one of my favorites from Best of Craigslist:
Muhammad Ali, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Bob Griese. Bob Griese wore glasses on the field.
I grew up in the SF-Oakland Bay Area. My formative sports years were probably 1980-1985.
For football, there’s no question - Joe Montana and Dwight Clark, particularly Clark. In my office, I have a framed picture of Clark making “The Catch” that was taken by a friend of my dad’s who was a photographer for the SF Chronicle.
With baseball, my favorite player was (and still is) Dwayne Murphy - centerfielder for the Oakland A’s.
And finally, Joe Barry Carroll and Sleepy Floyd of the immortal Golden State Warriors.
Walter Payton and Ryan Sandberg.
Particularly Payton though. His is one of only 2 celebrity deaths that brought a tear to my eye. The other being Dimebag Darrell.
Any fond memories? I remember collecting baseball cards, and filling up page after page of that hideous '85 Topps Gooden card. It was like they smashed a raisin into a grape, and he was doing some sort of weird squint thing.
The 60s Mets. Not only the obvious – Seaver, Koosman, Kranepool – but people like Jack (Hairbreadth Harry) Hamilton, Sean Fitzmaurice, Larry Miller, and Ron Swoboda.
Roger Maris (my first major league game was when he hit #61) and Mickey Mantle before the Mets came to town.
I also was a big fan of Ed Giaocomin, goalie for the rangers. And Joe Namath, of course.
Eric Dickerson (I became a Colts fan because of him)
Roger Clemens (it was a sad day when he died in 1996)
Fernando Valenzuela, John Riggins
Walter Payton was by far and away, my favorite player of everything all time.
Running a distance behind him, were Steve Largent, Jim Spencer, and Joe Montana.
Gee…How bout sharing? Or are you the only Assie on the board?
He might be the only Assie on the board…
Lee Roy Jordan
I admired him as a kid, especially after he tried to share the blame for Jackie Smith dropping the sure touchdown pass in Super Bowl XIII. I thought that was kinda classy.