We recently looked at our baseball hall of fame map of birthplaces, so it’s only fair that we give equal treatment to football, which holds its annual enshrinement this weekend. This year’s eight inductees bring the pigskin sport’s count of hall of famers to nearly 300. There are 37 states and eight countries represented amongst those 295 golden jacket wearers. Check out the map below to see them all plotted by their place of birth, proving geographically that they’re not all born in Texas.
View Football Hall of Famers by Birthplace in a full screen map
Texas may be the state known for its Friday Night Lights, but it’s been edged out by Pennsylvania as the top birthplace of Hall of Famers. Including this year’s representatives from each state, Pennsylvania has 31, with 30 from the Lone Star State. Rounding out the top five are Ohio (24), California (19), and Illinois (17).
In addition to being home of 24 of the football hall of famers, Ohio is also home to the Football Hall of Fame. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame history, Canton was chosen in part because it was where the National Football League was founded. Coincidentally, two Hall of Famers were born in Canton, though Dan Dierdorf and Alan Page didn’t start playing professionally until after the Hall was opened.
While football is a popular high school sport in the United States, the top birthplaces don’t entirely match up with the top recruitment states. MaxPreps lists Texas as second to Florida for top players being courted by colleges. Pennsylvania is 15th on that list. Still, nine of the top 10 recruitment states have produced eight or more hall of famers. Alabama has produced six hall of fame football players, whereas only a few states have more top recruits.
Most of the 13 states do not have a native son representing in Canton are unsurprising. Alaska and Hawaii are distant. Delaware and Maine have small populations. That Iowa has not produced a hall of famed is baffling. The midwest is known for its love of football, after all. There’s a good chance that will be rectified soon—Kurt Warner was born in Burlington, right across the river from Illinois. Warner barely missed in 2015, his first year of eligibility.
Very likely the size of the football Hall of Fame, which opened in 1963, will soon surpass the membership of the baseball hall of fame, which first inducted players in 1936. Canton’s 295 is edging Cooperstown’s 310. Football adds more then five players per year, while baseball’s average is less than four.
One thing baseball and football’s hall of fames do have in common is Chicago. What is it about Chicago? Sure, it’s America’s third most populous city, but it’s by far the most common birthplace for baseball (9) and football (12) hall of famers, more-so than Los Angeles (five each) and New York (eight each).
How about foreign born players? There are twice as many in the baseball hall (17), but they represent almost the same number of countries (nine for baseball, seven for football). The countries represented between the two sports have very little overlap. Only three countries can boast a member of each hall born within their borders: Germany, Canada, and, of course, the United States.