Groton's Matt Harvey, ace pitcher of the New York Mets, was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, which got us thinking: How many Connecticut natives have been on the cover of SI since its inception in 1954? The answer: a fair number, and not everybody you expect. Here's a look at our Nutmeg state coverboys and covergirls.
Fairfield native Julius Boros landed SI's cover on July 1, 1963 after winning his second U.S. Open title by a post-war record 9 strokes. He bested Arnold Palmer and Jackie Cupit in a three-way, 18-hole Sunday playoff.
Francis Golden - Artwork
At 48, Boros was a few months away from becoming the oldest golfer to win a modern major at the 1968 PGA Championship -- denying Arnold Palmer once again -- when he grabbed his second cover. The March 25, 1968 issue highlighted John Underwood's 'everyman' profile of the laid-back old pro.
Sheedy & Long
After an outstanding career at Niagara, Norwalk's Calvin Murphy was a second-round pick in the 1970 NBA draft. The 5-foot-8 Naismith Hall of Fame guard was just beginning his All-Rookie 1970-71 season when he made SI front on Nov. 18, 1970.
Was this the first SI Cover Jinx? Canaan's Steve Blass was at the apex of his pitching career with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he hit SI's cover on July 3, 1972. The previous year, he finished second in Series MVP voting to teammate Roberto Clemente and pitched two complete-game victories as the Pirates won the World Series over the Orioles. But in 1973, just a year after his cover shot, Blass suddenly, inexplicably couldn't find the plate and his career finally flamed out in two years. His affliction has been called "Steve Blass disease," and has struck notable players like Rick Ankiel, Chuck Knoblauch, Mark Wohlers and Dontrelle Willis.
Bridgeport's Walter Luckett hadn't even played a game at Ohio University when the Kolbe superstar suddenly found himself on the cover of SI on November 27, 1972 and declared he'd "drive those rascals wild" in his first collegiate game vs. Missouri. Luckett shot 3-for-12 in that game, but wound up averaging 13.5 ppg in his freshman year. Luckett seemed destined for NBA stardom when he averaged 25 ppg and declared for the draft as a junior. But a knee injury kept him from playing a single game.
Walter Iooss Jr.
Long before he was a TV dad coping with the daily routines of the insufferable Kardashian clan, Newtown's Bruce Jenner was a national hero for winning gold in the decathlon, setting a world record of 8,616 points while reclaiming the title from the Soviet Union.
Neil Leifer, Neil Leifer, Tanum
Greenwich's Dorothy Hamill won skating gold at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria and the 1976 World Championships. She graced several magazine covers that year, including Time. But her only SI cover appearance was as part of a collage for its 'Year In Sports' issue
February 17, 1977.
Hartford's Bill Rodgers won his first SI cover on Oct. 30, 1978 after winning the New York Marathon for a third-straight year.
Rodgers, "Boston Billy" as he became known, graced SI a second time in October of 1979 after winning his fourth consecutive New York Marathon.
Harding's Wes Matthews was in the late-stages of his NBA career when he landed a spot on Showtime. He and the rest of the 1987-88 L.A. Lakers were featured on SI's NBA playoff issue April 18, 1988. The Lakers eventually repeated as NBA champions that year.
Peter Read Miller
Greenwich native Steve Young's journeyman pro football career finally came to an end when he hit his first of seven SI covers on January 18, 1993. With Joe Montana out of the picture and Young at the controls as the NFL's MVP, the 49ers beat the Redskins in the NFC Divisional round and and were about to meet Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith in the NFC championship game. The 49ers lost, 30-20.
Third time's the charm? Having been bested by Aikman and the Cowboys in two consecutive NFC championships, Young and the 49ers were poised to meet their nemesis again for the NFC title in the 1994 NFL Playoffs. SI declared the game 'The Real Super Bowl' on Jan. 16, 2005.
Finally! (Part 1): Young became the first 49er starting QB not named 'Montana' to reach the Super Bowl when he led his team to a 38-28 victory over Cowboys, leading to this cover on Jan 23, 2005.
Finally! (Part 2): Steve Young gets the monkey off his back. The Greenwich native threw a record six touchdown passes as the 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers 49-23 in Super Bowl XXIX, leading to this cover on Feb. 6, 2005.
In addition to his six SI covers, Greenwich's Steve Young was also a coverboy of the magazine's commemorative 1994 Super Bowl season.
While most of the country was saw Ed O'Bannon and 1995 NCAA champion UCLA on the cover of Sports Illustrated, UConn country got a gander of New Fairfield's Jen Rizzotti and the unbeaten 1995 UConn women's basketball national champions.
Before there was Big Papi, Norwalk's Mo Vaughn was the outspoken, big-bodied, big-hitter of the Red Sox lineup. He batted .300, hit 29 home runs, had 129 RBIs in 1995 as Boston reached the AL playoffs in the first year of the wildcard expansion round. Vaughn won the AL MVP, and was SI's coverboy on the eve of the playoffs. But Cleveland swept the Sox 3-0. Vaughn's differences with management led him to sign a free-agent contract with the Angels in 1998.
Having won his championship and suffering a series of injuries in 1995 and 1996, 36-year old Steve Young contemplated the end of his Hall of Fame career in this August 1997 profile.
This looked like the end. The 49ers lost to the Buccaneers 13-6 as both Young and fellow Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice went down with serious injuries (for Young, a concussion). But Young eventually returned, led the league in passing and the 49ers finished 1997 13-3, losing to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.
Hamden's Scott Burrell found himself front, if not center, of this Sports Illustrated cover with Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan on May 18, 1998. As a member of the Chicago Bulls in their final turn of the Jordan dynasty, Burrell eventually won his only NBA championship. The Rick Reilly cover profile was a look behind the scenes.
Hartford's Marcus Camby didn't get a Sports Illustrated cover until he was a member of the New York Knicks during their run to the 1999 NBA Finals as the No. 8 seed. Camby, who was traded from Toronto in 1998, averaged 9.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2 blocks in The Finals, but the Spurs won the championship 4 games to 1.
Wilton's golden girl Kristine Lilly (No. 4) and her U.S. Women's National soccer teammates were named Sportswomen of the Year after winning the World Cup in 1999.
Bloomfield's Dwight Freeney was at the height of his career as a defensive end for Indianapolis in 2005 when he and the Colts were nearly half-way through a 13-game win streak to start the year. Freeney had 11 sacks and the Colts finished 14-2, but were upset by eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
The first and only time Stamford's Bobby Valentine graced SI was a dubious one: Sept. 10, 2012 during the fallout of his disastrous, one season as Red Sox manager.