After reading about the accomplishments of Yogi Berra when he died recently, we were inspired to look up a list of the greatest pro sports champions from California high schools (presented by SteinerSports.com). It’s a list that also includes many New York Yankees, but there’s one from a California high school who won even more world championships than Berra.
Note: This honor roll list was compiled based on each person’s number of world championships in MLB, NBA, WNBA and NFL.
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Greatest Pro Sports Champions
From California High Schools
(Listed in alphabetical order when there is a tie)
11 — Bill Russell (McClymonds, Oakland)
He’s the greatest team sports champion in history and an iconic figure that rivals Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali. Russell won all of his NBA titles with the Boston Celtics from 1957 to 1969. He didn’t do much at McClymonds, however, and didn’t develop into the force he became until he was at USF.
9 – Joe DiMaggio (Galileo, San Francisco)
Joltin’ Joe is always listed as from Galileo but never really went to any high school. He was a sandlot player from San Francisco’s North Beach who was discovered by scouts and went on to become one of the greatest New York Yankees ever.
8 – Frank Crosetti (Santa Clara Prep)
We’re not really sure what “Santa Clara Prep” refers to, but it’s on Crosetti’s bio. He’s another from the famous San Francisco North Beach neighborhood of the 1920s and 1930s that produced so many great baseball players. Crosetti, who died at age 91 in 2002, only lived a few blocks from our Stockton office. Counting his years as a third-base coach in a 37-year career in New York Yankee pinstripes, Crosetti was a part of 23 world championship teams. Today, he’d have gotten a ring for all 23 seasons. No one in pro sports history has that many and probably no one ever will.
8 – K.C. Jones (Commerce, San Francisco)
He was a teammate with Bill Russell at both USF and for many years with the Boston Celtics. Jones also later was a head coach of an NBA title team in Boston.
6 – Jerry Coleman (Lowell, San Francisco)
After being part of six World Series title teams for the Yankees, Coleman went on to become a much-loved broadcaster for the San Diego Padres.
6 – Lefty Gomez (Richmond)
We met the late, great Yankee pitcher once in the 1980s at an event in Tracy.
6 – Charlie Silvera (St. Ignatius, San Francisco)
The late, great Yogi Berra of the Yankees was part of 10 World Series titles. Silvera was his back-up as catcher for the Yankees and was on six of those teams.
5 – Bobby Brown (Galileo, San Francisco)
During his playing career (also for the Yankees), Brown began studying to be a doctor. He did become a physician and also later was President of the American League for 10 years.
5 – Michael Cooper (Pasadena)
A running mate of Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Cooper also was known for his defense. He later became a head coach for the women’s team at USC and is currently head coach of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.
5 – Steve Kerr (Palisades, Pacific Palisades)
His NBA titles came as a sharp-shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. He just won as a head coach, of course, for the Golden State Warriors.
5 – Tony Lazzeri (Galileo, San Francisco)
He actually dropped out of high school, but is affiliated with Galileo. Lazzeri, who died in 1946, was actually part of the New York Yankees’ “Murderer’s Row” of the 1920s with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel.
5 – Billy Martin (Berkeley)
Combative manager in the big leagues for many years also was a terrific infielder for NY Yankee teams in the 1950s that dominated baseball.
5 – Gil McDougald (Commerce, San Francisco)
He broke into the famed 1950s New York Yankees’ lineup by earning American League Rookie of the Year honors for 1951. McDougald eventually played 10 seasons and was in the All-Star Game five times.
4 – Paul Blair (Manual Arts, Los Angeles)
Known mostly as a speedy, defensive centerfielder, Blair was on two World Series title teams with the Baltimore Orioles and then later in his career (1978-79) was with Reggie Jackson and the Yankees.
4 – Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo)
Last year’s Super Bowl MVP for the New England Patriots wasn’t the first from Serra to get a fourth ring. Fellow Padre alum Lynn Swann didn’t get a fifth, however, while Brady definitely still could.
4 – Andy Carey (Alameda)
He played on four World Series title teams in the 1950s with the New York Yankees.
4 – Cynthia Cooper (Locke, Los Angeles)
Regarded as one of the greatest WNBA players, Cooper earned four titles for the Houston Comets. Also won a CIF state track title in the 300 hurdles.
4 – Marv Fleming (Compton)
Even with his contributions for four Super Bowl title teams (including the first two with Green Bay), Fleming isn’t the most prominent Super Bowl alum from Compton. That would be former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
4 – Myril Hoag (Sacramento)
He played on four World Series title teams in the 1930s with the New York Yankees.
4 – Harry Hooper (St. Mary’s, Berkeley)
A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (inducted in 1971), he was part of the Boston Red Sox dynasty of the 1910s. Hooper also is credited with talking the Red Sox into switching Babe Ruth from pitcher to outfielder.
4 – Ronnie Lott (Eisenhower, Rialto)
A prep All-American while he went to Ike, Lott also was an All-American at USC and earned four Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers.
4 – Jim Pollard (Oakland Tech)
He played in the NBA in the early 1950s and won titles for the Minneapolis Lakers in 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954. His world championship total does not include titles in two pro leagues that preceded the NBA.
4 – Kurt Rambis (Cupertino)
We remember him as Ramblin’ Rambis dominating as a center for the Pioneers in the old Oakland TOC. He later became a key starter for the Lakers in the 1980s.
4 – Bill Sharman (Porterville)
We’re only counting the four titles he earned as a player in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. Counting head coach with the Lakers, his executive work with the Lakers and what he did in the old ABA, Sharman was part of 12 title teams.
4 – Darryl Strawberry (Crenshaw, Los Angeles)
The No. 1 pick in the MLB draft in 1980 eventually helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series. He later was part of three title teams with the Yankees.
4 – Lynn Swann (Serra, San Mateo)
A CIF state track champ in the long jump, Swann was MVP of the 1975 Super Bowl and was a standout on four other Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl title teams. Counting Tom Brady, Serra has four Super Bowl MVPs and eight Super Bowl titles.
4 – Tina Thompson (Morningside, Inglewood)
Tina’s former prep teammate at Morningside, Lisa Leslie, “only” was on two WNBA title teams. All four of Thompson’s WNBA titles came as a member of the Houston Comets.
4 – Loren Toews (Del Mar, San Jose)
He was a teammate of Lynn Swann on the four Pittsburgh Steeler teams that won Super Bowls.
4 – Jamaal Wilkes (Santa Barbara)
The NBA Hall of Famer won one NBA title as a rookie with the Golden State Warriors in 1975 and later won three more playing with Magic Johnson and the Lakers.
4 – Mike Wilson (Carson)
He played on four of the five Super Bowl winning teams as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
3 – Jim Brideweser (Washington, Los Angeles) Baseball
3 – Tedy Bruschi (Roseville) Football
3 – Bill Cartwright (Elk Grove) Basketball
3 – Je’Rod Cherry (Berkeley) Football
3 – Babe Dahlgren (Mission, San Francisco) Baseball
3 – Chili Davis (Dorsey, Los Angeles) Baseball
3 – Don Drysale (Van Nuys) Baseball
3 – Ron Fairly (Jordan, Long Beach) Baseball
3 – Rollie Fingers (Upland) Baseball
3 – George Foster (Leuzinger, Lawndale) Baseball
3 – Jackie Jensen (Oakland) Baseball
3 – Deron Johnson (San Diego) Baseball
3 – Ted Johnson (Carlsbad) Football
3 – Duffy Lewis (Alameda) Baseball
3 – Dutch Leonard (Fresno) Baseball
3 – Willie McGinest (Long Beach Poly) Football
3 – Irv Noren (Pasadena) Baseball
3 – Tom Morgan (El Monte) Baseball
3 – Stephen Neal (San Diego) Football
3 – Jackie Jensen (Oakland) Baseball
3 – Deron Johnson (San Diego) Baseball
3 – Lonie Paxton (Centennial, Corona) Football
3 – Johnny Rawlings (Los Angeles) Baseball
3 – Sergio Romo (Brawley) Baseball
3 – Art Schallock (Tamalpais, Mill Valley) Baseball
3 – Paul Silas (McClymonds, Oakland) Basketball
3 – Lonnie Smith (Centennial, Compton) Baseball
3 – Shane Spencer (Granite Hills, El Cajon) Baseball
3 – Dave Stewart (St. Elizabeth, Oakland) Baseball
3 – Diana Taurasi (Don Lugo, Chino Hills) Basketball
3 – Butch Wensloff (Tamalpais, Mill Valley) Baseball