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Sports

Sports Report: Vote in biggest icon in L.A. sports history tournament (wild-card regional)

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson at UCLA.
(Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the tournament.

As we continue our “Biggest Icon in L.A. Sports History” tournament, we move on to the wild-card regional.

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Some rules.

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1. There are four regionals (basketball, baseball, football and wild card), with 32 people in each regional, seeded from No. 1 to No. 32. The winner of each regional will face off in the Final Four until we get to the championship round, where the last two remaining competitors will be voted upon.

2. With each matchup, there will be a link for you to click on where you can go vote. You will be able to vote either via Twitter, Polldaddy or email.

3. When voting, ask yourself “When I think L.A. sports, who do I think of first?” and vote for that person.

4. A brief sentence or two accompanies each entrant below. It is not meant to be an all-encompassing list of their accomplishments, just a brief reminder of why they are on this list.

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So without further ado, let’s get to today’s regional first round, the wild-card regional. Click here to take part in the basketball regional. Click here to take part in the baseball regional. Click here to take part in the football regional.

No. 1 Jackie Robinson vs. No. 32 John Force

Jackie Robinson: He never played pro baseball in L.A. and was a multi-sport star at UCLA, so we moved him to the wild-card category. Robinson was the school’s first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was one of four black players on the Bruins’ 1939 football team. They went undefeated with four ties at 6–0–4. In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA title in the long jump at 24 feet 10¼ inches. Baseball was Robinson’s worst sport at UCLA, as he hit .097 in his only season.

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John Force: Born in Bell Gardens, Force is a 16-time NHRA and one-time AHRA funny car champion driver and a 21-time champion car owner. He has 15 career victories in drag racing.

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No. 2 Wayne Gretzky vs. No. 31 Bob Baffert

Wayne Gretzky: The greatest hockey player of all time, Gretzky expanded the hockey audience in the L.A. area and made the Kings a force to be reckoned with after he was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers.

Bob Baffert: A fixture at Santa Anita, Baffert has trained two of horse racing’s Triple Crown winners (Justify and American Pharoah). Overall, his horses have won five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes and three Belmont Stakes.

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No. 3 The Williams Sisters vs. No. 30 Florence Griffith-Joyner

The Williams Sisters: If you lived through the late 80s-early 90s in L.A., you heard a lot about two phenomenal young tennis players who were going to become the best in the world. It was an early version of the Ball family, without social media. And all the talk proved true, as Serena and Venus Williams became two of the best tennis players of all time, with Serena the greatest female tennis player who ever lived.

Florence Griffith-Joyner: The track legend went to Cal State Northridge and UCLA. With her long, flowing hair and long, colorful fingernails, she was a dynamic figure as she raced to three gold medals at the 1988 Summer Olympics. She won the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top female amateur athlete.

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No. 4 Oscar De La Hoya vs. No. 29 Michelle Kwan

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Oscar de la Hoya: Born in East L.A., De La Hoya was a pro boxer from 1992 to 2008 (turning pro shortly after winning a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics), winning world titles in six weight classes. He is ranked among the top 20 boxers of all time by several experts.

Michelle Kwan: Born in Torrance, she is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002) in figure skating, a five-time world champion (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003) and a nine-time U.S. champion (1996, 1998–2005). On a personal note, I used to eat at the restaurant her parents owned and you could often see a young Michelle Kwan working there.

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No. 5 David Beckham vs. No. 28 Bill Shoemaker

David Beckham: His signing led to a financial turnaround for the Galaxy, opening them up to new endorsement opportunities. After a rocky start with the team, Beckham eventually led them to two MLS Cup titles and was given a standing ovation when he left the Galaxy home field for the final time.

Bill Shoemaker: Went to El Monte High and became one of the most popular jockeys in Southern California history. He won four Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness Stakes and five Belmont Stakes in his career.

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No. 6 Tiger Woods vs. No. 27 Jim Healy

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Tiger Woods: He grew up in Orange County and was a golf prodigy, eventually becoming one of the two greatest golfers (along with Jack Nicklaus) who ever lived.

Jim Healy: A radio fixture for years in Southern California, Healy used a number of sound effects and audio clips (“drops”) of famous sports personalities, which made his show memorable. Among them: “That’s a bunch of bull,” “That’s just plain poppycock” (President Richard Nixon), or “Jim Healy, you’ve got a weak show” (by a Howard Cosell mimic), followed by the genuine Cosell saying, “Who goofed I’ve got to know.” and “Jim Healy, that’s your lowest shot ever!”

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No. 7 Pete Sampras vs. No. 26 Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Pete Sampras: Raised in Palos Verdes, Sampras is arguably the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, winning 14 Grand Slam event singles titles.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Joyner-Kersee went to UCLA, where she starred in both track and field and in women’s basketball from 1980 to 1985. She then went on to become what many consider the greatest female athlete of all time, winning two Olympic gold medals in the heptathlon and one in the long jump.

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No. 8 Bob Miller vs. No. 25 Karch Kiraly

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Bob Miller: The voice of the Kings from 1973 to 2017 and the best hockey play-by-play man ever. When the Kings finally won the Stanley Cup in 2012, Kings fans demanded and received special audio of Miller calling the winning game. “This is for you, Kings fans, wherever you may be. All the frustration and disappointment of the past is gone. The 45-year drought is over! The Los Angeles Kings are indeed the kings of the National Hockey League. They are the 2012 Stanley Cup champions! The countdown is on — 3, 2, 1, it’s over!”

Karch Kiraly: Kiraly led UCLA to three men’s volleyball titles in his four seasons with the team (they were second the other year). In his four years, the Bruins compiled a 123–5 match record, with titles in 1979, 1981 and 1982. They went undefeated in the 1979 and 1982 seasons. He won three Olympic gold medals in volleyball (two indoor and one beach) and became one of the best beach volleyball players of all time.

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No. 9 Luc Robitaille vs. No. 24 John Ramsey

Luc Robitaille: Robitaille was NHL rookie of the year after scoring 45 goals to go along with 39 assists for the 1986-87 Kings. He scored more than 40 goals in each of his first eight seasons, including three 50-or-more-goal seasons, with a career-high 63 in 1992-93. The Forum was filled with shouts of “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc” throughout his tenure with the team and he remains one of the most popular, and best, players in team history.

John Ramsey: His distinctive voice was heard as the public-address announcer at various Southern California stadiums for decades. He was a public-address announcer for the Dodgers, Angels, Kings, Lakers, Rams and Trojans. He also announced four Super Bowls in Southern California as well as serving as the basketball PA voice during the 1984 Summer Olympics. His voice was also heard through seven World Series; the 1959, 1967 and 1980 Major League Baseball All-Star game; 10 NBA Finals and the 1963 and 1972 NBA All-Star games.

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No. 10 Marcel Dionne vs. No. 23 Arthur Ashe

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Marcel Dionne: In his 12-season Kings career, Dionne scored 550 goals and had 757 assists, making nine All-Star teams and being named the league’s most outstanding player twice. He is the Kings’ all-time leader in assists, points and hat tricks.

Arthur Ashe: In 1965, Ashe won both the NCAA singles title and the doubles title (with Ian Crookenden), helping UCLA win the team NCAA tennis championship. He went on to become one of the best men’s tennis players of all time, winning three Grand Slam event singles titles and 76 singles titles overall.

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No. 11 Jim Murray vs. No. 22 Ryan Getzlaf

Jim Murray: The sports columnist worked at The Times for 37 years and was frequently the first place people turned when picking up the paper each morning. He was named National Sportswriter of the Year 14 times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

Ryan Getzlaf: A first-round selection, 19th overall, at the 2003 NHL draft, Getzlaf has played his entire pro career with the Ducks. He has played in three NHL All-Star games and was a member of the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup championship team. He has led the Ducks in assists seven times.

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No. 12 Rafer Johnson vs. No. 21 Jonathan Quick

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Rafer Johnson: He was such a good athlete, he could have fit into any of the regionals, but this seems like the right spot. At UCLA, Johnson played basketball under John Wooden and was a starter on the 1959-60 men’s basketball team. He was selected by the Rams in the 28th round of the 1959 NFL draft as a running back. He won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics. He lit the torch at the 1984 Summer Olympics and he helped apprehend Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Jonathan Quick: He was the starting goalie for both of the Kings’ Stanley Cup title teams and was named MVP of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, the most recent goaltender to win the award.

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No. 13 Billie Jean King vs. No. 20 Rob Blake

Billie Jean King: King won 39 Grand Slam event titles in tennis: 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She was born in Long Beach and went to Long Beach Poly High and Cal State Los Angeles. She is a true pioneer in women’s sports and is currently a part owner of the Dodgers. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been an advocate for equality and social justice.

Rob Blake: The current general manager of the Kings, Blake played for the team for 14 seasons split over two tenures and won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman after the 1997-98 season.

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No. 14 Landon Donovan vs. No. 19 Anze Kopitar

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Landon Donovan: Born in Ontario, Calif., Donovan played soccer overseas and with the MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes before signing with the L.A. Galaxy in 2005, leading the team to four MLS titles and becoming a fixture on the U.S. men’s national team.

Anze Kopitar: The current captain of the Kings, Kopitar made his debut with them in 2006 and has spent his entire career with the team. He has led the team in scoring in all but two of his seasons and is fifth in franchise history in points, goals, and assists. Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016, as well as the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play the same year. He won his second Selke trophy in 2018.

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No. 15 Dick Enberg vs. No. 18 Teemu Selanne

Dick Enberg: In the late 1960s, Enberg began a full-time sportscasting career in Los Angeles, working for KTLA television (calling UCLA basketball) and KMPC radio (calling Rams football and Angels baseball). After every Angels victory, he would wrap up his broadcast with “And the halo shines tonight” in reference to the “Big A” scoreboard at Anaheim Stadium and the halo at the top, which would light up for everyone in the area to see.

Teemu Selanne: Perhaps the favorite Ducks player of all time among fans, he led the team to their only Stanley Cup title and had 457 goals in 15 seasons with the team. No other Duck has more than 372.

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No. 16 Rogie Vachon vs. No. 17 Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos

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Rogie Vachon: The former Kings goalie was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy in 1974–75 and was named the team MVP four times between 1973 and 1977. Vachon also set many goaltending records in Kings history that still stand. His No. 30 was the first number retired by the Kings, in a ceremony on Feb. 14, 1985. He has since served in a variety of executive positions with the Kings organization.

Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos: Beach volleyball would not have reached the heights it has in the L.A. area without this dynamic team. They won one U.S. championship and five world championships together and even had their own video game, appropriately titled “Kings of the Beach.”

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SO-FI STADIUM

A second construction worker at the SoFi Stadium development in Inglewood has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email by the joint venture overseeing the project. Mandatory temperature checks are being instituted for workers on site.

The email, sent Tuesday by Turner-AECOM Hunt and reviewed by The Times, said the person last worked March 29 on two parking lots at the 298-acre project.

“The worker was located in an isolated area outside the building performing backfill operations in Parking Lots F & G,” the email said. “The individual had not at any time entered the building or used any of its common areas.”

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The worker is “receiving care and recovering,” according to the email. Co-workers who had “close contact” with the worker are in self-quarantine and equipment and facilities the worker used are being disinfected.

BORN ON THIS DAY

1898: Football player/coach Curly Lambeau (d. 1965)

1957: Golfer Seve Ballesteros (d. 2011)

1961: Former Angel Kirk McCaskill

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1971: Racecar driver Jacques Villeneuve

DIED ON THIS DAY

2001: Baseball player Willie Stargell, 61

2009: Angels player Nick Adenhart, 22

2012: Diver Mark Lenzi, 43

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AND FINALLY

Pac-12 Hall of Honor inductee Rafer Johnson. Watch it here.

Until next time...
That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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Go beyond the scoreboard

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