RUSSELL BAZE — Horse Racing
Born into a famous Northwest horse-racing family, Russell Baze is the winningest jockey in history with more than 11,500 wins. A 1976 graduate of Granger High School in the Yakima Valley, Baze rode his first winner at Yakima Meadows in 1974 and has done most of his riding in Northern California where he has dominated the standings at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows.
He was national champion in victories 11 times and led the nation in winning percentage for nine consecutive years, from 1995-2003. He was inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, the Washington Racing Hall of Fame in 2003, and other honors include a Special Eclipse Award in 1995 and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2002.
Baze is one of only two jockeys to win the Longacres Mile at both Longacres and Emerald Downs, and his father, Joe Baze, and cousin, Gary Baze, also are members of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame.
DREW BLEDSOE — Football
Drew Bledsoe was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft after leaving Washington State after his junior year. The graduate of Walla Walla High School was the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1992 when he led the 15th-ranked Cougars to a 9-3 record that included a victory over Utah in the Copper Bowl.
In his 14-year NFL career, Bledsoe was twice named All-Pro and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired after the 2006 season, he was fifth in NFL history in career pass completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611) and 13th in touchdown passes (251).
In 1996, he led the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl appearance. He won a Super Bowl ring in 2001 as a backup to Tom Brady, who had taken over the starting job when Bledsoe was injured. Bledsoe was instrumental in winning a playoff game against Pittsburgh in that championship run. Bledsoe left New England, which had drafted him, after the 2001 season and played three years for Buffalo and two for Dallas before retiring.
CLIFF McCRATH — Coach (Soccer)
Cliff McCrath was Seattle Pacific University soccer coach for 38 years and won five national NCAA Division II championships. He was national coach of the year for all classifications in 1978 and celebrated that year’s national title by crawling two miles from SPU to the Space Needle on his hands and knees. Before SPU, McCrath coached at Wheaton College in Illinois, Gordon College in Massachusetts and Spring Arbor College in Michigan. When he left coaching after the 2007 season, his victory total of 597 was second on the all-time college list. His career record was 597-233-95.
McCrath was an ordained minister and a refreshing, self-deprecating quipster who liked to call himself “Uncle Nubby” because he had lost three fingers on his left hand in a childhood accident. He was an important person publicly and behind-the-scenes in Northwest soccer for decades, especially with the original Sounders of the North American Soccer League. More than 150 former McCrath players went on to coach college or high-school soccer.
WARREN MOON — Football
Making one professional hall of fame is noteworthy. But two? That’s the case with Warren Moon, enshrined in the halls of both the Canadian Football League and the National Football League. Moon made his first national splash by being named player of the game for his performance in quarterbacking the University of Washington to its 27-20 upset victory over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl.
He then spent six years with Edmonton of the Canadian Football League, leading the Eskimos to five Grey Cup titles. Moon then headed south to the Houston Oilers and started a 17-year NFL career. He later played with Minnesota, Seattle (1997 and 1998) and Kansas City.
Despite spending his first six pro seasons in the CFL, Moon ranked third all-time in NFL passing percentage and fourth in touchdown passes at the time of his retirement. He was a three-time NFL All-Pro selection and was named to nine Pro Bowl teams. Since retirement, he has served as color commentator on Seahawks broadcasts.
ED PEPPLE — Coach (Basketball)
Ed Pepple is the winningest basketball coach in Washington high school history with a 952-306 record. He coached for 52 years, 42 of them as head coach at Mercer Island High School where the Islanders won state championships in 1985, 1993, 1997 and 1999. His teams finished second four times and he won 23 league championships.
Nearly 85 of his players went on to play in college and two played in the NBA. Pepple was named Washington State Coach of the Year seven times and was national coach of the year in 1988. He has been inducted into nine Halls of Fame including those of the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association and the National High School Coaches Association. Ed was colorful and quotable as a coach and his teams were disciplined and always fundamentally sound.
Pepple played basketball at Lincoln High School of Seattle, graduating in 1950. He then played at Everett Community College and at the University of Utah where he was captain of the 1955 team that lost to Bill Russell’s San Francisco team in the NCAA round-of-16.
EMIL SICK — Administration
Philanthropist, civic leader and sportsman, Emil Sick revitalized professional baseball in Seattle after he purchased the Pacific Coast League’s Indians in the winter of 1937. Sick transformed the team into the Rainiers, who went on to win five league championships during his ownership (1938-60) and served as Seattle’s primary summer sports entertainment for more than two decades. Sick also played a major role in the athletic careers of such Seattle baseball icons as Fred Hutchinson and Edo Vanni.
As owner and operator of the popular Rainier Brewery, Emil was instrumental in the creation of the Puget Sound Blood Bank, led numerous fund-raising drives on behalf of the March of Dimes, directed a successful effort to renovate St. Mark’s Cathedral, and played a prominent role in the founding of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Even if Emil Sick had never owned a popular baseball team, he will forever rank among Seattle’s most cherished and respected citizens of the 20th century.