Phoenix Residential Survey
Opinion Questions: We asked several residents to answer these questions, do you agree with their answers?
Who is the best athlete you saw from Phoenix?
The best athlete was Quinn Buckner. He was an All-American in football and basketball. He was one of the last athletes to play both sports in college and started in both. He was a great leader who made those around him better. He was also a true role model for the community. My second choice would be Art Riley. He was an excellent football player and led Thornridge to the state championship in football in 1970. He also excelled in track and field. He was the state champion in the shot and discuss at Thornridge.
The best I ever saw was Greg Rose. He was a better athlete than he was a basketball player. He could have dominated in track or football if he had chosen to play. My second choice would be Nee Gatlin, he was the sixth man on the state championship team but he could have easily started. He was he best baseball player at Thornridge but because of prejudice they would not allow him to play.
My vote goes to Curt Parham, he was an All-American baseball player. He was the number one rated baseball player in the nation as a junior. He was the starting tailback on the football team and was the starting point guard on the basketball team that only lost two games that season. I played on the baseball team with him and I assure you he was the best.
The best was Quinn Buckner. There is no doubt about it.
The best I ever saw was Michael Clark. Mike was about 6’4” and could play every position on the basketball floor. He was an excellent shooter and was as smooth as silk. I thought for sure that he would make it as a professional.
The best I ever saw was Greg Rose. He was just simply a superb athlete. My second choice is one that will surprise you. It is a fellow named Chuckie Jenkins. He never played high school sports but around the playground he excelled at every sport he tried.
No question. The best I ever saw was Quinn Buckner. He was 6’3” 210lbs. solid as a rock, quick as a rattlesnake and mean as a junkyard dog. Living next door to him I got to see first hand how good he was. There is no athlete in this town that could hold down a candle to Quinn.
A lot of people probably don’t remember that Darnell “Dusty” Sanderfer was one of the best athletes to ever play basketball in Phoenix. He was the quickest player I ever saw and was a true playground legend.
The best I ever saw was Frances Hood. He was an excellent pitcher and played for the Phoenix Tigers. That team had another good pitcher named Peaches, I don’t recall what his real name was but he and Frances were the best. That Phoenix Tigers team had a number of good players including Hubert Clark and Steve Ellison. Hubert was probably the best hitter and big Steve was the catcher and that team rarely lost. The Phoenix Tigers were sort of semi-pro baseball team that played against the other towns in the area.
The best I ever saw was J.D. Lewis. He was a excellent baseball player. He could hit, pitch, and run better than anyone around. We were all sure that he would go pro. Sherman Cantrell was also an excellent athlete. He had a tryout with the White Sox in the 1950s. J. D. Lewis was the father of Herschel Lewis, the all-state basketball player in '68.
That is a rather unfair question because there has been so many great athletes in Phoenix. It is difficult to just say one, so I would mention several. J. D. Lewis was an outstanding pitcher and should have gone pro. Sherman Cantrell and the entire Cantrell family were outstanding players. Sherman had a tryout with the White Sox and should have made the team but they came up with an excuse (he was too short). This was the 1950s and prejudice was still a major problem. Darnell Sandford was an excellent all around athlete. He excelled in football and track and was one of the first athletes from this community to receive an athletic scholarship, he graduated from either Iowa or Iowa State Teachers College. Joe Holly was another outstanding baseball player but was never given a chance to play at Thornton during the 1950s. He and Sherman were better that any of the players on the team but were never given a chance to play. Most people have probably forgotten this athlete, but he was one of the best wrestlers to attend Thornton Township High School. His name was Levi Henderson. Levi was a two time state wrestling champion in the 1950s.
This is a short list of other athletes that weren't mentioned:
- Joe Warnell, all-state football player at Thornton Township High School, attended University of Missouri, with Johnny Roland.
- Eric Herring, two time state basketball player at Thornton Township High School.
- Eddie Herring, all-area basketball and baseball player at Thornton Township High School
- Antonio Cooper, all-state basketball player at Thornridge, finished 3rd in the state in triple jump in 1991, attended Illinois State University.
- Donnell Baylock, track and field, finished 3rd in state in long jump, member of 4x100 relay team finished 3rd in state in 1994, NCAA Division 2 indoor long jump champion 1996.
- Tiffany Smith, member of Coolidge Tigers state champions 1991, member of Thornridge 1994 4x100meter relay tam that finished 4th in state.
- Edgar Anderson, all-state baseball player Thornridge
- Lorenzo Davis, All-American football and all state wrestler at Thornridge High School in 1983
- Anthony White, led the Coolidge Tigers to 3 state championships in 1982-84. As a 6th grader, White was leading scorer on the 8th grade team and could dunk a basketball, he attended Thornwood High School and Akron University, Ohio.
- Kim Winfield finished 2nd in the state in the 400 meter in 1996.
- Kevin Duckworth, all-state basketball player at Thornridge High School, played twelve seasons in the NBA with Portland Trail Blazers.
- Sam Mack, all state basketball player at Thornridge, played with the Golden State Warriors of the NBA
- Kim McQuarter, All-American basketball player at Marshall High School
- Lloyd Batts, considered by some to have been the greatest high school basketball star in Illinois history.
- Venus Mims, “Too-Son” outstanding football & basketball player at Thornton Township High School
- Homer Thomas, track star at Thornton Township High School.
- Oliver Carter
- James Snoddy
- Marvin Wells
- Boyd Batts
- Joe Hawkins
- Jimmy Winters
- PeeWee Hamilton
- Michael Henry
- Lafayette Henry
- Bill Cunningham
We are sure that a lot of great athletes have been missed. How many can you name?