With help from coaches, fans, media and local sports historians, SBLive 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 Bud Black to Urgel “Slim” Wintermute, Cowlitz County has produced several outstanding male athletes. Take a look at SBLive’s list of the top male athletes to ever come out of Cowlitz County and cast your vote in the poll.
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
BEST MALE ATHLETES IN COWLITZ COUNTY HISTORY
High School: Mark Morris (class of 1975)
Notable stat: Has two World Series titles — one as a player (1985) and another as a manager (2002).
Bud Black is known today as a World Series-winning positional coach, and a manager of more than 13 years.
It’s only added to an impressive legacy that included 15 years pitching in MLB for six different clubs.
Black was in the starting rotation for a World Series-winning Kansas City Royals team in 1985. He was the starting pitcher during the infamous George Brett pine tar incident.
The lefty, who is arguably the most famous person to come out of Longview, won 121 games across his professional career.
After a successful prep career at Mark Morris, he excelled at Lower Columbia College. But he wasn’t a heralded recruit at the D-I level. So on a visit to San Diego State, he slipped a note under the door of the head baseball coach asking for an opportunity. LCC coach Ed Cheff gave SDSU a glowing recommendation, and from there, Black thrived.
Black was the pitching coach for the Angels for seven seasons, including the 2002 World Series championship-winning team under manager Mike Scioscia. The Padres hired him as manager in 2007 and was fired in 2015. He’s now the manager of the Colorado Rockies.
(Bud Black feature photo by Mwinog2777)
URGEL “SLIM” WINTERMUTE
High School: R.A. Long (class of 1935)
Notable stat: According to the University of Oregon, he once pulled down 31 rebounds in a game against Washington.
Slim Wintermute is known for what he did as the star center of the University of Oregon’s basketball team in 1939.
The team — then known as the Tall Firs —won the first-ever NCAA National Championship. The 6-foot-8 center was the team’s consensus first team All-American on a team that championed the fast break and beat Ohio State, 46-33, in a worn down midwest gym to claim a broken trophy.
In the 1930s, Wintermute’s 6-foot-8 frame was gargantuan, and helped him dominate the paint as the team’s defensive center. He could shoot the ball from the outside, too. Oregon inducted him into its athletic hall of fame in 1994, and his No. 22 is one of only six retired jerseys.
Wintermute played a year of pro ball for the National Basketball League’s Detroit Eagles before returning to Portland to play in the Pacific Coast Basketball League.
He was presumed dead in 1977 at age 60 when he mysteriously vanished off of his 37-foot boat on Lake Washington.
Doug Christie, Mark Morris (basketball) – Most know Christie for his run at Rainier Beach, and subsequent 15-year NBA career. But the tough-nosed guard spent his formative years in Cowlitz County, attending Cascade Middle school and Mark Morris High for two years before moving to Seattle.
David Richie, Kelso (football) – Physically, Richie may be the best pure athlete to ever come out of Kelso. The 6-foot-4 defensive end had sprinter speed as a star at Kelso, then beefed up to start at Washington amid two Pac-10 title runs before playing four years in the NFL — one as a reserve with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in 1998. He played in the XFL’s Million Dollar Game in 2001.
Jason Schmidt, Kelso (baseball) – The three-time MLB All-Star is etched on the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame. Before his 14 seasons in MLB, Schmidt was the 1991 Gatorade state player of the year at Kelso, where he tossed a 20-strike no-hitter. The righty signed with the Braves in the eighth round out of high school.
Rick Sweet, Mark Morris (baseball) – Sweet played around four years in the major leagues as a catcher by way of Lower Columbia College and Gonzaga. He’s a longtime minor league manager.