October is the greatest month of the year. The one season that harnesses multiple within it’s 31 days. Hoodie season, crock pot season, craft beer makes a return, soup comes back into the picture. Family oriented outings are in the mix, like possibly going pumpkin picking, but definitely heading to that aforementioned craft beer spot...heaps of activities.
Particularly for a sports fan. More specifically a fan of the “Big Four” as the NFL, MLB, NHL, & NBA are all happening simultaneously.
It’s a special time, and should be treated as such. To celebrate accordingly, I bring you four of my favorite players, one from each of the big four leagues. Of course, it’s not going to be as simple, and equally as boring as rattling off names like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, and Willie Mays.
If you did your history, and know how The Encyclopedia of Guys was created, you're aware that I’m a strict practitioner of rules...
1. These four guys made at least one all-star team, but have not been inducted into the hall of fame.
2. The four guys below were in-between being a journeyman, and an identifiable player for at
least one franchise.
3. All four guys wore some of the most iconic uniforms to ever be worn in all of sports.
4. Their names. These four guys had cool names...Awesome names.
Ricky Watters…Ricky “Running” Watters. I mean, come on guys, a tailback with that name, and that 94’ black-drop shadow uniform says it all. There’s something special about a running back toting the rock with the number 32. Jim Brown, Marcus Allen, Franco Harris…we should stop there. The 1994 season saw every NFL team wear the 75th commemorative patch on all uniforms, and it never looked better then on Watters, and the eventual Super Bowl Champs...I’m about to fan out really quick, bear with me.
“Herschel Walker, Bo Jack, Ricky Watters, better run that dope back.” - Ross.
After spending his first three seasons in San Francisco, culminating with three touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX. Watters signed with the Eagles, making two pro-bowls and two play-off appearances in three years in Philadelphia. Wearing the Eagles best uniforms to date, Watters is infamously known for the, “for who, for what” quote after allegedly alligator arming a pass from Randall Cunningham…I can’t defend this, and I won't acknowledge it’s existence either.
“Thunder’s” three tumultuous years in Philly came to a close with his longest tenure in his career taking place in Seattle. Did we mention how nice NFL jerseys are with commemorative patches? Here Watters is pictured with the Seahawk’s 25th anniversary patch.
Ricky Watters won a Super Bowl, was a 5-time consecutive pro-bowler from 92’-96’, he's 24th all time in rushing, and a member of the 10,000 yard club.
Kenny Lofton is the definition of crisp. He played for some of the most talented teams to ever be assembled. Lofton brought a certain type of swagger to baseball in the form of how he wore his Cleveland uniform, and carried himself that the game was sorely lacking in the 90's.
Lofton may be best known for never spending more then one season with a team, minus his two-time tenure in Cleveland. Playing for a total 11 teams, and reaching the World Series twice, Lofton never won a championship…but no one has looked better in a major league uniform.
Kenny Lofton was a six-time consecutive all-star from 94’-99’, 4-time gold glove winner, 5-time AL stolen base leader, and played in two Fall Classics….oh, and also played on Arizona’s 1988 final four team with Lute Olson, Steve Kerr, and Sean Elliott..."And it breaks my heart"
Alright, so I may have lied, and infringed upon one of my rules, but rules were meant to be broken.
Not to be confused with Mark Recchi, who's in the Hockey hall of fame, and a 7 time all-star. Mike Ricci, was my guy. I was stunned to find out he never made an all-star team during his 16 year career.
However, he did wear this Colorado sweater, and played a role in the greatest hockey playoff rivalry of all-time; Avalanche vs. Red Wings. Ricci was a tough, hard nosed (very crooked nose), gritty player that embodied hockey in the 90s.
After the 96’ season, Ricci was traded to San Jose, and played seven season for the Sharks. He led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2004, and wore this magnificent sweater during his tenure there.
Mike Ricci’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup. A no-teeth having iron-man, he scored 30 goals in the 93’-94’ season, and played over 1,000 games in the NHL.
I toyed with the idea of having World B. Free as the representative of the NBA. While hands down having the best name in all of basketball, I never saw Lloyd Bernard Free play. So it felt right to go with Latrell Sprewell.
In just his second year in the league, Spree was an All-NBA 1st team player. He played six seasons in Oakland, and while the Warriors have posted some of the nicest jerseys the association has ever seen, I personally feel the early 90’s iteration was the cleanest. A fundamentally sound look, that had some flash to it, a lot like Spree’s game.
After an incident with coach P. J. Carlesimo, Sprewell was traded to my New York Knicks. Epitomizing the city, he was the heart and soul of the 98’-99’ team. While Houston hit the shot to beat Miami during the 1 vs. 8 seed game 5 clash, Sprewell averaged more points, assists, and rebounds then his wing-man.
Looking at this picture, I can almost hear Walt Frazier waxing lyrical. “Spree, posting and toasting.” The Knicks had some amazing players to watch in the 90s, but none quite like Sprewell. No one will ever slash down the lane with braids flying in the wind, and that glorious 99’ uniform that’s two-sizes too-big quite like him again.
Latrell Sprewell was a four-time NBA all-star. He made three all league teams including 1st team All-NBA, 2nd team All-Rookie, and 2nd team All-Defense.
The players that resonate with you aren’t always the best to ever do it. Yes, they are usually pretty good, but they’re memorable just because they were cool. Their name, how they wore their batting gloves, their cleats, or their jerseys. Those are the things you remember, and we shouldn’t forget.