Who is the Biggest Icon in Houston Major Sports History?

Who was Houston's biggest and brightest major sports star?

This morning I yield to a long-time urge – and that is to ask each of you this simple question. – Who do you think has been Houston’s biggest star over the years among all the great athletes who have passed through our city to play professional baseball, football, or men’s basketball for one of our local teams, plus any who may have boxed professionally as Houstonians?

There’s no poll included here. If you want to cast a vote, you need to leave a comment in the section that follows this column, even if it’s just to type the name of your choice. You are free and encouraged, of course, to write as much as you want on why you support this particular person.

Candidates from hockey, soccer, collegiate sports, wrestling, auto racing, and the Houston Comets women’s team have not been encouraged for inclusion in this query because of the basic supposition that none of these sports had or have wide enough community appeal to be considered that important to a wide segment of all Houston sports fans.

That being said, you remain free to cast support for an athlete from one of the minor, or more restrictively popular sports. Just keep in mind the question here before you as you do: Here it’s about who has been the biggest star for most Houstonians – not just to you or a smaller group of local fans.

My remarks on the question raised by this column are just our start. The subject will not be covered until enough of you write the answer in the comment section below – and please invite your friends to do so too. And remember also. Even if you have seen a name recorded here many times over, your opinion still counts too. Go ahead and write in their name again.

Notice that I have not stated a single name that’s out there as a specific candidate. I think we all know the handful of superstar people who are most deserving of this honor.

So, round up the usual suspects and let the voting/commenting begin!

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10 Responses to “Who is the Biggest Icon in Houston Major Sports History?”

  1. Mike McCroskey Says:

    I think I’ll cast my vote for number 34, a number I believe will draw the most votes. Of the three, only Earl Campbell has been voted an official Texas Hero by the State Legislature so that puts him pretty high. Hakeem is the only one to bring us a championship, so that’s a lot of points for him. However, with the numerous ML records he holds and his current visibility due to his ownership of the Texas Rangers, Nolan probably is the most iconic of the trio today and would draw my vote for the tie breaker.

  2. Patrick Callahan Says:

    I did not see the list ? – but think that George Foreman has probably rec’d. the most national publicity due to his (successful) business venture – the George Foreman Grill

  3. Randy Says:

    The media hype machine of contemporary media would allow for most any viable candidate to be discussed who played the game post-1960. But for my money, the all-time greatest Houston sports icon is regrettably the least known, one Young Bussey. Even prior to donning the jersey for San Jacinto HS in the mid-1930’s, Young had developed a cult following among Houstonians as it concerned his athletic prowess. Whether football, basketball, baseball or boxing, Young was a man amongst boys even then. Not to be mistaken for a one-trick pony, Young was also a superb scholar and outstanding singer.

    He was recruited by every college in the country, but settled on LSU as he was able to “negotiate” the benefit of obtaining scholarships for his two brothers and his “agent/media rep” Ted Roggen at LSU as well. Later Young Bussey would star for the 1941 NFL champion Chicago Bears. Oh, and by the way, he gave his life in service to his country during WWII.

    Other than Pat Tillman, how many of our current “divas” have sacrificed anything in anyway while making sure their money is safe? They appear at team orchestrated functions that put on a show for the media/public. They are much too concerned with their millions to let anything like making the ultimate sacrifice get in the way. They just leave that up to the common Joe and throw them plaudits and slap them on the back at other orchestrated events.

    Other than a handful of people, Young Bussey’s name has been stricken from the ledger. Even more basis for Young Bussey, in my mind’s eye, as being the ultimate Houston sports icon. An athlete of the highest order, but the truest of team players in the end.

  4. mike Says:

    All very worthy thoughts and comments above. I particularly love the legendary prowess of Young Bussey. Those who saw him still remember it.

    My vote, though, goes for Earl Campbell. As much as our town has supported the Astros, and as crazy as we went after the Rockets titles, I think most everyone would agree that football during the Luv Ya Blue days is the biggest ongoing frenzy and focus over sports that we have experienced. It was tough to find someone who didn’t sport Oiler gear or stickers, and Oiler tickets were the toughest to find. At the center of it all was Earl Campbell. For a few short years, the absolute best in the NFL. And as pure Texan as Nolan Ryan, but with the story of his mom raising him in less than perfect economic conditions tossed into the mix.

    If you pick one event in Houston history that will gather the largest number of claims from people who saw it in person, I’d have to think it was Earl’s incredible run against the Dolphins that night. Surely the Dome held several hundred thousand folks that evening. I know I was there.

  5. Robby Martin Says:

    Nolan Ryan

  6. Bill Gilbert Says:

    There have been many candidates but I would have to vote for Hakeem Olajuwon as the leader of a team that won Houston’s only major championships.

    Bill Gilbert

  7. ron Says:

    Tie. earl and nolen

  8. D. Stewart Says:

    The Tyler Rose Earl Campbell

  9. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Olajuwon. Two NBA championships while Traveler played baseball and nearly an NCAA championship at Cougar High. The Tyler Rose is a very close second, but no championships and didn’t play college ball in Houston.

  10. Ronnie Schmo Simicek Says:

    Arguably we got the best of all time in all four major sports.

    1. Earl Campbell
    2. Hakeem Olajuwon
    3. Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens
    4. Gordie Howe

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