Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament: Calvin Murphy vs. Rico Brogna

AP Photo

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for another SportzEdge ® Bracket-style, 64-team tournament! Feel the excitement!!!

Last year, we changed the course of modern human civilization with the Coolest NCAA Logo Tournament, which became a national phenomenon along the lines of a presidential election, Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY speech, or DeAndre Jordan changing his mind about where he wants to play basketball.

This year, we decided to take on a question scholars have been debating since the 1800’s, maybe.

Who is the greatest athlete in Connecticut history?

There are plenty of outstanding candidates, from Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, to four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rogers, to all-time great featherweight boxer Willie Pep.

The athletes we considered must have grown up in Connecticut, and we counted only their prowess on the playing field, so coaches, executives and contributors like Walter Camp were not considered.

calvin murphy Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament: Calvin Murphy vs. Rico Brogna2. Calvin Murphy

NBA Guard. 

Norwalk

Growing up in Norwalk, Murphy was (amazingly) a world-class baton twirler. He said he was “bullied into it,” according to Wikipedia, as his mother and sister were twirlers too. As an eighth grader, Calvin won the national championship in baton twirling, and was invited to perform at the 1964 World’s Fair.

But it’s not baton twirling that he’s known for. At 5-9, the diminutive Murphy is known as one of the best NBA players of all-time under six feet tall. He owns the NBA’s all-time free throw percentage record, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

 

rico brogna e1364333136632 Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament: Calvin Murphy vs. Rico Brogna15. Rico Brogna

MLB

Watertown

Brogna is, as our intern Nick Pagliarulo said, “a God in Watertown.” He starred in baseball and football at Watertown High School, obliterating records and eventually being drafted in both sports.

He ended up playing baseball professionally, spending nine years in the major leagues, most notably with the Mets and Phillies.

Brogna hit at least 20 home runs in three seasons. His best season came in 1999, when he hit 24 homers and drove in 104 runs for the Phillies.

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