With help from coaches, fans, media and local sports historians, Scorebook Live has put together its lists of the best athletes — male and female — to emerge from every county in the state of Washington. We looked back as far as the turn of the 20th century, and we examined the totality of each athletes’ career, not only what they did in high school.
As comprehensive as our lists are, we also want to hear your opinions. We have included polls where you can vote for the best male and female athletes by county. You can also leave your comments below or hit us up on Twitter @sblivewa.
From Mel Hein to Mark Hendrickson, Skagit County has produced several world-class male athletes. Take a look at Scorebook Live’s list of the top male athletes to ever come out of Skagit County and cast your vote in the poll.
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
BEST MALE ATHLETES IN SKAGIT COUNTY HISTORY
High School: Burlington (class of 1927)
Sports: Football, track and field, basketball
Notable Stats: Hein was an All-Pro center in the NFL for eight consecutive seasons (1933-40).
There was a reason Mel Hein was one of the true superstars of the NFL. He had skill. He had speed. And he had stamina.
Very shortly after arriving at Washington State University, Hein was given the name “Old Indestructible” for his ability to absorb punishment and still keep ticking. He was an All-American center for the Cougars, and also was a member of their basketball and track and field teams.
In 1931, Hein signed a free-agent contract with the New York Giants. For 15 seasons, he never missed a game – and rarely missed a minute (he went both ways at center and linebacker).
Seven years later, Hein became the first lineman to ever receive the NFL most valuable player trophy. He played in seven NFL championship games, winning league titles in 1934 and 1938.
After a long coaching career, Hein was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
High School: Mount Vernon (class of 1992)
Sports: Basketball, baseball, tennis
Notable Stats: For six consecutive years, the 6-foot-9 left-handed Hendrickson was selected in the Major League Baseball draft, starting with Atlanta out of high school in 1992, then San Diego, Atlanta (again), Detroit, Texas and finally Toronto in 1997.
All Hendrickson wanted to do was to excel in as many sports as he could. He did just that, leading Mount Vernon to two state basketball championships, a pair of state baseball titles – and advancing to the postseason in tennis.
Multiple times at Washington State University, he was selected to the all-Pacific-10 Conference teams in basketball and baseball, and was part of the Cougars’ 1994 NCAA Division I basketball tournament-bound squad.
Drafted by Philadelphia in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft, he played four seasons of professional basketball. After retiring in 2000, he turned his attention full-time to professional baseball with the Blue Jays.
In 2002, Hendrickson became the 13th man to play both in the NBA and MLB when he pitched in a game against Seattle. He played professional baseball for 13 years.
(Mark Hendrickson feature photo by Keith Allison)
Cam Cleeland, Sedro-Woolley (football, basketball, baseball) – Second-round NFL Draft pick out of UW played eight seasons of pro football.
Kyle Kendrick, Mount Vernon (baseball, football) – Spurned college football to become MLB pitcher, win 2008 World Series with Philadelphia.
Rien Long, Anacortes (football) – WSU All-American and Outland Trophy winner spent three seasons as defensive tackle in NFL with Tennessee.