Philadelphia, PA - It is getting to be that time of year again! Players and fans around the world are gearing up for sports season and for Sunday afternoons at home, evenings at sports bars and lucky days spent at the stadium watching the game in person.
Five Great Athletes To Come Out Of Philadelphia
Philadelphians are avid sports fans, and many of us are getting our NFL odds figured out now in anticipation of the next season. Now that sports betting is something you can do from the comfort of your own home, it is much easier than ever before to place a bet and track the odds.
Another way to prep for sports season is to dive into the history of famous sporting Philadelphians and learn more about some of the greats who called the City of Brotherly Love their home. Below are the top five athletes from Philly to have made it big:
Ora Belle Washington, Germantown Hornets
Born in 1899 to sharecroppers in Virginia, Ora Belle Washington is now considered one of the best tennis players of all time, and she is probably someone you have never even heard of. She grew up in the Germantown neighborhood of Philly and was an excellent tennis and basketball player who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, over 30 years after she died.
Washington began playing tennis in the 1920s and quickly mastered the sport, playing in both singles and doubles championships for the next 11 years. She won the singles championship eight times. She wanted to play in the United States Lawn Tennis Association tournaments, but she was unable to due to the Association’s racial segregation policy.
While breaking records in tennis, Washington decided to take up basketball in the 1930s and played with the Germantown Hornets, who were victorious against both male and female teams.
After retiring from sports, Washington supported herself as a housekeeper until she died in 1971. She is an example of how debilitating racism and misogyny can be for athletes’ careers, something which many athletes are still struggling against today.
Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mike Piazza, a Norristown native, quickly rose to prominence as a baseball player and catcher. He was drafted by the LA Dodgers in 1988 and played with the team for a full decade before transferring to the Florida Marlins and New York Mets in the same year.
Piazza enjoyed a 16-year career as a catcher and had a batting average of .308 with 2,127 hits, 427 home runs and 1,335 runs batted in. Since retiring, he has enjoyed coaching the Italian National Baseball team and leading them to the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Dawn Michelle Staley, Gamecocks
Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, Staley is a truly well-rounded basketball player who has now become an incredible coach. Born and raised in Philly, she began her basketball career in high school, winning National High School Player of the Year during her final year in school.
After a successful career in college basketball, she then transitioned into the WNBA and won six WNBA All-Star championships along with nearly two dozen other awards, Olympic Medals and championships. She has won even more championships and awards as a coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Wilt Chamberlain, Warriors and 76ers
Perhaps the most famous athlete to call Philly home, Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest professional basketball players in the sport’s history. He played as a center for 14 years and holds many NBA regular season records for scoring, rebounding and durability. He is also the only NBA player to have ever scored 100 points in a single game. Chamberlain is truly a legend.
Gertrude Dunne is another athlete who you likely have never heard of because of the misogynistic erasure of the sports industry in the 20th century. Dunne was born in 1933 in Philly and quickly became a wildly successful baseball player, playing for both the Battle Creek Belles and South Bend Blue Sox.
She played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a league which was made famous by the classic 1992 film A League of Their Own. After a successful career in baseball, she transitioned to field hockey, first as a player and later as a coach.
Dunne was a woman who loved adventure and died at the age of 70 when the propeller plane she was solo piloting crashed. Three years later, she was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum in Baltimore.