Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament: Jim O’Rourke vs. Nykesha Sales

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.




3. Jim O’Rourke

MLB Hall of Famer


1st Round: Defeated 14. Michael Adams 69.09% to 30.91%

The Bridgeport native and Yale law grad is credited with getting the first hit in National League history back in 1876. (It was a single to left field). “Orator Jim,” as he was known, played 21 seasons in the major leagues, collecting over 2,600 hits and batting .311 for his career.

He played in the minors until he was in his 50s, and even appeared in a game with the New York Giants at age 54. But he wasn’t just there for show—he actually got a hit, becoming the oldest player ever to do so.

He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945, and there’s a statue of him in front of Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.

You can read more about “Orator Jim” here.

(AP Photo/Chris Gardner)
(AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

6. Nykesha Sales

Women’s basketball


1st Round: Defeated 11. Albie Booth 70.81% to 29.19%

Sales became the all-time leading scorer in UConn women’s basketball history when she graduated in 1998, although breaking the record with a bit of controversy. Sales suffered a career-ending injury when she was just one point shy of the record, then scored her record-breaking 2,178th point on an uncontested layup in a game against Villanova. (The Wildcats were allowed to score on their end to make it 2-2).

Sales also led the Huskies to the 1995 NCAA title and went on to an excellent career in the WNBA, playing nine years with the Orlando Miracle and Connecticut Sun. She was an eight-time All-Star.

VOTE ON OTHER SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS!!! provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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