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Sports Then and Now

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2013

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Unfortunately, one of the inevitable aspects of every year is that we must say goodbye to some memorable greats from the sports world who passed away during that year.

2013 was no different as the sports world lost a number of all-time greats along with many others who may not have ended their careers in a sports Hall of Fame, but who left their own marks on the history of sports.

During the year we reflected on the passing of several athletes at the time of their death including Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Earl Weaver, Deacon Jones, Art Donovan, Bum Phillips and Ed Herrmann. You can remember the legacies of these sports stars by clicking on their name to read the original articles.

In addition to these seven, there were many other well-known figures from the sports world that we lost in 2013. Below are brief remembrances of some of those greats.

Miller Barber – Professional Golfer – 82 years old
After winning 11 PGA Tour tournaments, but never finishing better than fourth in any Major, Barber was one of the early stars of the Senior Tour. He won 24 Senior Tour tournaments, including the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and three Senior U.S. Open Championships in a four-year period.

Walt Bellamy – NBA Hall of Famer – 74 years old
The first pick of the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game as a rookie, but still finished nearly 19 points per game behind NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain (who averaged 50.4 ppg). He went on to average 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during a 14 year career in which he played for five different franchises.

Paul Blair – Major League Baseball Outfielder – 69 years old
An eight time Gold Glove winner, Blair was a key member of two World Series Champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles. He also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees during his 17 year career.

Jack Butler – NFL Hall of Famer – 85 years old
Though his football career ended in 1959, it took until 2012 for Butler to finally be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He passed away less than a year later, but was fortunately able to know that his standout career as a defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers had ensured him football immortality.

Todd Christensen – NFL Tight End – 57 years old
Originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a running back, Christensen’s NFL career floundered until he moved to tight end while playing for the Los Angeles Raiders. He went on to twice lead the NFL in receptions and to have four straight seasons with 80 or more receptions before completing his career with 461 receptions.

L.C. Greenwood was hard to miss with his gold shoes.

L.C. Greenwood was hard to miss with his gold shoes.

L.C. Greenwood – NFL Defensive End – 67 years old
Not that the 6-foot-6 inch Greenwood needed any extra help to stand out on the football field, but he was hard to miss with his gold high top shoes. He also spent quite a lot of time in his opponent’s backfield as a member of the famous “Steal Curtain” defense. Greenwood led Pittsburgh in sacks on six occasions and many feel he should have joined his defensive line mate Joe Greene as a pro football Hall of Famer.

Dick Kazmaier – Heisman Trophy Winner – 82 years old
The last Ivy Leaguer to win the Heisman Trophy, Kazmaier put his Princeton education to use in the business world, instead of going into the NFL. He graduated from Harvard Business School and spent three years in the Navy before founding his own investment firm in Massachusetts.

Mike McCormack – NFL Hall of Famer – 83 years old
A Hall of Fame offensive lineman, McCormack helped pave the way for Jim Brown during his career with the Cleveland Browns. Originally a defensive lineman for the Browns, he had a fumble recovery in the 1954 NFL Championship Game before switching permanently to the other side of the ball. He later served as a head coach in the NFL and was the first president and general manager of the Carolina Panthers.

Chuck Muncie – NFL Running Back – 60 years old
Instantly recognizable as one of the rare NFL players to wear glasses while playing, Muncie was a Pro Bowl selection for the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. In 1981 he tied the then-NFL record with 19 rushing touchdowns and scored 71 rushing touchdowns while running for 6,702 yards in his nine year career.

Ken Norton – Boxing Champion – 70 years old
The man who broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw, Norton was one of several prominent boxers during the golden era of boxing in the 1970s. He was awarded the WBC title in 1978 after it was stripped from Leon Spinks, but in his first defense lost a 15-round battle with Larry Holmes. He is the father of former NFL star Ken Norton Jr.

Andy Pafko watched helplessly as Bobby Thomson's home run sailed over the fence to lift the New York Giants to the 1951 NL Pennant.

Andy Pafko watched helplessly as Bobby Thomson’s home run sailed over the fence to lift the New York Giants to the 1951 NL Pennant.

Andy Pafko – MLB Outfielder – 92 years old
Though he may have been best recognized as the Brooklyn Dodgers leftfielder who watched Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” sail over his head, Pafko was a four-time All-Star during 17 big league seasons. He spent nine seasons with the Chicago Cubs and was on their last World Series team in 1945. He also played for the Dodgers before finishing his career (and winning a World Series) for the Milwaukee Braves.

Jack Pardee – NFL Linebacker and Coach – 76 years old
A linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins for 15 seasons, Pardee then went on to be the only person to serve as a head coach in the NFL, USFL, WFL, CFL and at the college level. He helped bring the run-and-shoot offense to professional football while coaching Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Warren Moon.

Ace Parker – Pro Football Hall of Famer – 101 years old
Before Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, Parker was the ultimate two-sport athlete. He hit a home run in his first Major League at bat and spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics before leaving to concentrate on football. He was a two-time All-Pro quarterback, but missed three seasons while serving in World War II as a Second Lieutenant in the Navy.

George Sauer – AFL Wide Receiver – 69 years old
In six seasons as one of Joe Namath’s primary receivers, Sauer was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and caught eight passes in Super Bowl III as the Jets shocked the football world. Though only 27, he retired following the 1970 season, but returned briefly in 1974 to play for the New York Stars of the WFL.

George Scott – Major League Baseball First Baseman – 69 years old
A power-hitting first baseman, Scott blasted 27 home runs as a rookie and 271 during his 14 year career, but was even better as a fielder than at the plate. He was an eight-time Gold Glove selection while playing primarily for the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.

Bill Sharman – NBA Player and Coach – 87 years old
After earning All-Star honors eight times during his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, Sharman went on to win championships as a coach in both the ABA and NBA. After leading the Utah Stars to the ABA Championship in 1971, he took over the Los Angeles Lakers and led them to a then-record 69 victories and the NBA title in 1972.

Frank Tripucka was one of the first stars of the AFL.

Frank Tripucka was one of the first stars of the AFL.

Frank Tripucka – Pro Football Quarterback – 85 years old
A quarterback at Notre Dame and later in the NFL, CFL and AFL, Tripucka was the first starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos and had his number 18 jersey retired (the number now being worn with his blessing by Peyton Manning). He is the father of former NBA star Kelly Tripucka.

Virgil Trucks – MLB Pitcher – 95 years old
Though he won 177 games in 17 big league seasons, Trucks was at his finest in 1945 when he didn’t win a single regular season game. After winning 30 games during the 1942 and 43 seasons for the Detroit Tigers, Trucks spent the next two years in the Navy, but returned just in time to start two games, including one victory during the 1945 World Series. He won 19 games twice and 20 games in 1953. In 1952 he went 5-19, but pitched two no-hitters and a one-hitter amongst his victories.

Ken Venturi – PGA Golfer and Golf Announcer – 82 years old
Winner of the 1964 U.S. Open and twice the runner-up at the Masters, Venturi won 14 times on the PGA Tour before moving into the broadcast booth. He was a staple of the CBS broadcast crew for golf championships for 35 years.

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