The 76th annual Sports Star of the Year awards (the next edition is Wednesday at Benaroya Hall), launched in 1935 by former Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor Royal Brougham, recognizes the top mens and womens athletes from the previous year by an online public vote. In this quadruple-bonus Top 5 List, 20 local sporting icons who never won the award:
Al Hostak, boxing, 1938: Seattle native had won the world middleweight title, defeating Tacoma’s Freddie Steele in front of 35,000 fans at Sick’s Stadium. But on banquet night, he lost the popular vote to Rainiers star Freddie Hutchinson. Hostak also was a finalist in 1937 (lost to UW football coach Johnny Cherberg) and 1939 (lost to UW football player Dean McAdams).
Karol & Peter Kennedy, figure skating, 1947, ’50: Figure skating pairs team from Seattle won five U.S. titles and one world championship, but never the Star of the Year award. In 1947, it went to high school administrator Leon Brigham, and in 1950 it went to hydroplane pioneer Stan Sayres.
Bob Houbregs, UW basketball, 1953: College basketball’s Player of Year, and a future Hall of Famer, led the Huskies to their only Final Four appearance, but lost to ex-UW football star Arnie Weinmeister of the New York Giants (Houbregs was also a finalist in 1952 when Johnny OBrien won).
Bob Schloredt, UW football, 1959: The University of Washington QB, named All-America after leading the UW to its first Rose Bowl since 1944, lost to his coach, Jim Owens (Schloredt was not nominated in 60 after winning second consecutive Rose Bowl MVP award).
Ron Santo, 1960-61, 64: An All-Star with the Cubs, Santo was a three-time finalist for the award, but lost to UW football player Don McKeta in 1960, golfer Anne Quast-Decker in 1961 and UW linebacker Rick Redman in 1964.
Guyle Fielder, Seattle Totems, 1963: The six-time Western Hockey League MVP and 11-time All-Star couldnt overcome Jim Whittaker, first American to summit Mount Everest, and pole vaulter Brian Sternberg (three world records), who shared the 1963 award. Fielder also lost to golfer Pat Lesser in 1955.
Sonny Sixkiller, UW football, 1970: The Huskies icon, who became wildly popular after setting a single-season passing record, received his first and only Star of the Year nomination, but lost out to Seattle Pacific University cross-country star Doris Brown.
Jim Zorn, Seattle Seahawks, 1976, 1978: The Seahawk quarterback was at the height of his popularity in the late 1970s, but lost both times he was named a Sports Star finalist. In 1976, Slick Watts of the Sonics won the award, and in 1978 Sonics coach Lenny Wilkens nabbed it.
Jack Thompson, WSU football, 1978: The Throwin Samoan was nominated for the award twice, in 1976 and 1978. As was mentioned, Watts won in 1976 and Wilkens in 1978.
Dennis Johnson, Seattle SuperSonics, 1979: Despite the popularity of the Sonics, who had just won their only NBA championship, the Star of the Year award went to UW running back Joe Steele, who broke numerous rushing records of Hugh McElhenny.
Fred Brown, Seattle SuperSonics, 1981: Brown became a Star of the Year finalist only once in his 13-year career and lost out to University of Washington football coach Don James, whose Huskies were coming off a Rose Bowl win over Iowa.
Phil Mahre, Alpine Skiing, 1984: Despite capturing three consecutive World Cup overall titles (1981-83) and an Olympic gold medal in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, White Pass native Mahre never reached the head table at the Star of the Year banquet. During Mahre’s greatest years, banquet winners were Don James (1981), Chuck Nelson (1982), Curt Warner (1983) and Chuck Knox (1984).
Dave Krieg, Seattle Seahawks, 1983-90: Krieg started at QB for the Seahawks for nine years, but was never nominated as a Star of the Year candidate (Curt Warner, Chuck Knox, Steve Largent, Fredd Young and John L. Williams all won during Kriegs tenure).
Kenny Easley, Seattle Seahawks, 1984: Although Easley became the only strong safety ever named the National Football Leagues Defensive Player of the Year, he wasnt a Star of the Year finalist (Hawks coach Chuck Knox won the award) following his best season. In fact, he never once made the head table.
Alvin Davis, Seattle Mariners, 1984: Unlike Kenny Easley, who didn’t make the finals, Davis did — but lost out to Seahawks coach Chuck Knox. Impressive list of finalists included five Olympic gold medalists: Debbie Armstrong (skiing), Bill Buchan (sailing), Tracie Ruiz (synchronized swimming), Mary Wayte (swimming) and Betsy Beard (rowing), plus Ron Holmes, a UW All-America defensive lineman.
Chip Hanauer, hydroplanes, 1990: The seven-time hydroplane national champion was nominated for Star of Year award three times (last time in 1990), but lost in 82 (UW kicker Chuck Nelson), 85 (Seahawks WR Steve Largent) and 90 (UW RB Greg Lewis).
Shawn Kemp, Seattle SuperSonics, 1993: The Reign Man made the All-Star Game five times while he was a member of the SuperSonics, but he made the Star of the Year dais only once during his career, losing out in 1993 to Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson.
Fred Couples, golf, 1992: Couples won one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, The Masters at Augusta, 1992, but he couldn’t win the Sports Star of the Year award. An equally deserving Edgar Martinez, that year’s American League batting champion, took the prize.
Nate Robinson, UW basketball, 2005: Although Robinson made All-America and helped the Huskies receive their first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, he had the misfortune of going up against NFL MVP Shaun Alexander at the banquet.
Anna Mickelson & Mary Whipple, rowing, 2008: They had just become the first two women from UW to medal in back-to-back Olympics (Athens and Beijing), both claiming gold as part of the U.S. women’s eight in China. At the banquet, voters opted for former UW soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, who had also won gold in Beijing.
“Top 5 List” is published every Friday as part of Sportspress Northwests package of home-page features collectively titled, The Rotation.
The Rotations weekly schedule:
- Monday: That Was The Week That Was A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
- Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historian David Eskenazi’s deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
- Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us — We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
- Thursday: Water Cooloer Cool: Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
- Friday: Top 5 List — The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as we’re concerned.