It might be the maddest play in the history of March: Charles snatching a teammate's miss and dunking at the buzzer to give North Carolina State a 54--52 upset of Houston for the 1983 NCAA title. A day never went by when he wasn't asked about it. "Just the right guy in the right place at the right time," he said. The 6'7" Charles played one NBA season before a long European career. He died when the bus he was driving crashed.
Unlike most British drivers who dream of Formula One stardom, Wheldon embraced IndyCar racing in the U.S., earning a full-time ride in 2003 and winning the Indy 500 two years later. After a rough stretch, the popular Brit won Indy again in '11, then at the finale in Las Vegas he ran into a wreck that launched his car into the catch fence, killing him. Said car owner Chip Ganassi, "A little bit of everybody in IndyCar racing died today."
December 26, 2011
At a time when tight ends were blockers and possession receivers, Mackey was a big-play threat, averaging 15.8 yards per catch from 1963 to '72. He made five Pro Bowls but was passed over by Hall of Fame voters until 1992. ("I can't believe I got in before John Mackey," said Mike Ditka, the first true tight end inducted, in '88.) The snub may have been due to Mackey's role in the players' union; he became its first president, in 1970.
Snider had the unfortunate lot of playing centerfield at a time when the other two men patrolling the position in New York City were named Mays and Mantle. But to the question of the day—Who would you rather have?—the answer was sometimes surprising. In 1955, SI ran a piece with the headline DUKE OR WILLIE? A VOTE FOR SNIDER. While not as dashing as Mays or Mantle, Snider "reminds one of the careful, easy, loping grace of Joe DiMaggio," the story said. "Next to [Ted] Williams, Snider probably has the best hitting form in the game." As a four-year-old in Compton, Calif., Edwin Donald Snider was nicknamed Duke by his father for the way he strutted around; when he joined the Dodgers in 1947, he became the Duke of Flatbush. Snider was beloved in Brooklyn, where he led the Bums to the '55 World Series title, their only one before going to Los Angeles in '58. He struggled after the move, and five years later he was shipped back to New York, where he played a season with the Mets. He retired in 1964 with 407 career homers, including five straight seasons of at least 40, a feat only two other players—neither one named Mays or Mantle—had accomplished at the time.
Known at first for playing alongside older brother Felípe and younger brother Jes√∫s in the 1963 Giants outfield, Alou was traded to the Pirates in '65. Pittsburgh manager Harry Walker encouraged him to use a heavier bat, choke up and slap the ball to left, and Matty raised his average 111 points, hitting an NL-best .342. He finished in the top five in batting in each of the next three years and was a two-time All-Star.
Called "the most unselfish man south of the North Pole" by SI, the reverend's son was the point guard of John Wooden's first UCLA championship team, which went 30--0 in 1964. An excellent ball handler, he was inspired by a Globetrotters show he saw at age eight. "I practiced dribbling like Marques Haynes for hours," he said. But Hazzard, who was Arthur Ashe's roommate at UCLA, could also score. He averaged 18.6 points as a senior, when he was named national Player of the Year. "I used to love to go to practice," Hazzard recalled. "And when we got to be Number 1, I liked it even better. You got to pay the cost to be the boss." After a 10-year NBA career (he finished in the top 10 in assists five times), he went 77--47 in four seasons as UCLA's coach.
The NCAA's top rusher in 1951, Matson led San Francisco to a 9--0 record in its last Division I season. The NFL's Chicago Cardinals drafted Matson third in '52, but first he took a side trip: to the Helsinki Olympics, where he won a bronze (in the 400 meters) and a silver (4 ... 400 relay) medal. When the 6'2", 220-pound Matson, a six-time Pro Bowler, retired in 1966, he was second to only Jim Brown in all-purpose yards.
Though he's best remembered as the force behind the founding of the Big East in 1979, Gavitt was one of the premier coaches of the '70s. His Providence teams went to eight straight postseason tournaments (reaching the Final Four in '73), and he was chosen to coach the '80 Olympic team, which did not compete due to the U.S. boycott. Gavitt left as Big East commissioner in '90 to run the Celtics.
"It's tunnel vision, a tunnel life," the Raiders' owner told PEOPLE in 1981, on the eve of Super Bowl XV. "I'm not really part of society." Fitting, then, that Davis's teams were known for their antisocial behavior. First as coach then as managing general partner, Davis stocked his roster with a rogue's gallery of players with nicknames like the Mad Stork and the Assassin. "I don't want to be the most respected team in the league," he explained. "I want to be the most feared." For a long time the Raiders were. And so was Davis, who cultivated a reputation for himself as a man who'd stop at nothing to "just win, baby," leaving many an opposing coach convinced that his locker room was bugged. But Davis didn't build a franchise that won three Super Bowls by being devious; he did it by being daring, independent and, above all, open-minded. He scouted traditionally black colleges, drafted a punter and a kicker in first rounds, and took on countless reclamation projects. He hired the NFL's first Latino and African-American head coaches and its first female chief executive. He didn't just foster an us-against-them mentality, he lived it, suing the league on several occasions. In one of his final acts, he abstained in the vote for the new collective bargaining agreement, the latest in a long line of stands Davis took alone against the NFL.
Born Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, he was one of Brazil's most dazzling footballers ever, a 6'4" midfielder with unerring vision who captained the 1982 national side, widely considered the best team not to win a World Cup. In addition to being a physician, Socrates—known for his love of life (especially drinks and cigarettes)—was a daring thinker, espousing democratic ideals at a time of dictatorship. In '82 the players on his club team, Corinthians, wore shirts that read I WANT TO VOTE for my president. (His beard recalled two of his heroes, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.) As Socrates said in 2010, "There's a need, in the modern society, for people who instigate thinking, who don't accept the status quo."
The Macho Man was adored (voted most popular in Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 1988) and reviled (voted most hated in PWI the following year). A onetime farmhand for the Cardinals and the Reds, he combined strength with bombastic flair to become a star of the '80s. Savage entered the ring to Pomp and Circumstance—a fitting song for a grappler equal parts talk and action. Ohhhh, yeah.
He was the original Wild Thing, a hard-living, harder-throwing righty reliever with Coke-bottle glasses. "Hitters don't like to see that fella," Casey Stengel said, "especially family men." A four-time All-Star, Duren had a dramatic entrance: He'd place a hand on the Yankee Stadium chain-link bullpen fence, hop it and stroll to the hill. His 11-year career was cut short by alcoholism; he later became an addiction counselor.
The pass-catching fullback for the Cowboys (he had a team-high 73 receptions in 1983) gained greater fame after he retired for his part in an inspiring story. A diabetic, Springs needed a kidney transplant in 2004; his close friend, former Dallas cornerback Everson Walls, donated his organ three years later. Springs slipped into a coma after suffering a heart attack in '07. He never regained consciousness.
"I don't know if I'll ever do one of these again," Waitz said in 1978 after winning the New York Marathon in a record 2:32:20. She was a 25-year-old middle-distance specialist from Oslo who had never run more than 13 miles and only entered the marathon on a lark, deciding with her husband-coach, Jack, that it would make a nice getaway to New York City. The race was brutal. Waitz was so taxed that upon crossing the finish line she chucked her shoes at Jack, and she could barely walk for the next three days. (Perhaps it had something to do with her carbless dinner the night before: shrimp cocktail and filet mignon.) But Waitz did return, winning the race eight more times in the next 10 years. Her exploits catapulted her to absurd levels of fame back home, where a newspaper ranked her the most popular Norwegian of all time. "Even the small children and drunk people recognize me," conceded Waitz, who preferred the serenity of the woods, where she did most of her training. "Sometimes people look at me, and because I am not always smiling and laughing, they think I am sad," she said in '79. "I'm not sad, I'm not. I'm maybe a little cool. Not impulsive, but controlled. That's the word. Controlled."
A fiery manager, Williams dispensed his ire freely, once telling the Phillie Phanatic during a pitching change, "You don't leave this mound right now, you little green [expletive], I'm going to kick your ass." He got the Red Sox job in 1967 at age 38 and whipped a ninth-place finisher into a pennant winner. He later led the A's to world titles in 1972 and '73. Said Oakland slugger Reggie Jackson, "He demanded excellence."
For three years, Perry was the speed merchant in the 49ers' Million Dollar Backfield, which included fellow Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle (quarterback), Hugh McElhenny (halfback) and John Henry Johnson (fullback). "You'd take the ball from center and turn, and he was already gone through the hole," Tittle said. Joe the Jet broke two barriers in 1954: He became the first player in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and the sport's first African-American MVP. Perry retired in '63 with 8,378 yards (plus another 1,345 in the All-America Football Conference); he had held the NFL career rushing mark for five years until it was broken by Jim Brown. An avid bowler, Perry took his ball on road trips, and after football he competed as a pro.
The freestyle skier had a shot at Olympic gold in 2006, but on his final attempt Peterson chose to do the hardest jump, which he had created. He didn't land the Hurricane—no other competitor tried it—and finished seventh, saying, "That's what the Olympics are about: going for it and being [your] best, not ending up Number 1." Peterson won a silver in 2010. He killed himself in July.
A former wrestling star who didn't play basketball until he was a high school senior, Gilliam had the size (6'9", 230 pounds) and toughness of another Pittsburgh-area power forward: Maurice Lucas. (When Lucas died last year, Gilliam wrote an obituary.) Known as the Hammer, Gilliam led UNLV to the 1987 Final Four and went second in that year's draft; he averaged 13.7 points and 6.9 boards over a 13-year NBA career.
Six weeks after finishing a rookie year with the Mariners in which he hit .230 with two home runs in 35 games, Halman, who represented his native Netherlands at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, was stabbed to death in Rotterdam. The outfielder's brother, Jason, who had reportedly been hearing voices at the time of the killing, was arrested and is being held indefinitely under psychiatric observation.
John Henry Johnson,81
While Perry relied on speed, his backfield mate relied on brute force: Johnson broke the jaws of at least two would-be tacklers and bruised countless others with a stiff-arm that was more like a punch. After serving primarily as a blocker with the 49ers, the fullback became the first Steeler to gain 1,000 yards, in 1961; when Johnson retired five years later, he ranked fourth all time with 6,803 rushing yards.
The son of a South Carolina farmer and bootlegger, Frazier honed his big left hook by slugging sides of beef in the Philadelphia slaughterhouse where he began working as a 16-year-old. He won heavyweight gold at the 1964 Olympics, then took Jimmy Ellis's championship belt in '70, but the title seemed tainted because he earned it while Muhammad Ali was suspended for refusing to be drafted. After Ali's ban was lifted in 1970 (with Frazier's help), the two agreed to fight at Madison Square Garden, thus beginning a rivalry that would dominate the rest of Frazier's career, if not his life. Ali cast himself as a man of the people and portrayed Frazier as ignorant and an Uncle Tom. "I grew up like the black man—he didn't," Frazier said years later. "I cooked the liquor. I cut the wood. I worked the farm. I lived in the ghetto." Frazier floored Ali to win their first bout, then lost the last two. He retired in '76, shortly after the rubber match and largely bitter at the way he'd been treated by Ali. Still, Smokin' Joe accepted that his foil shaped his legacy. "I can't go nowhere where [the first fight is] not mentioned," Frazier said. "That was the greatest thing that ever happened."
As a young caddie in Pedre√±a, Spain, Ballesteros would venture onto the course only when the wind and rain were so bad that members sought shelter in the clubhouse. He would play with a homemade club, a wooden stick jammed into a discarded head. While it was hardly an ideal way to learn the game, it was no coincidence that Ballesteros was at his best when conditions were most challenging. At a blustery Royal Lytham and St. Annes in 1979, Ballesteros hit just nine fairways in four days. But he still came in at one under par (he made birdie from a parking lot on the 16th hole in his final round) to become, at 22, the youngest British Open winner in 86 years. Nine months later he became the youngest winner of the Masters, during which he made a birdie on the 17th hole after driving onto the 7th green. "Drive fairway all the time, no fun," Ballesteros said. "Make big hook, cause excitement." The excitement rarely abated, as he won two more British Opens, another Masters and a record 50 titles on the European tour. He was also a member of five victorious Ryder Cup teams, as a player or captain. "He's the most imaginative player in golf," Ben Crenshaw said after Ballesteros won the '83 Masters. "Seve's never in trouble. We see him in the trees quite a lot, but that looks normal to him."
In 1954, Senators owner Clark Griffith realized the benefit of having a team in the nation's capital: It's the home to baseball fans with constituents all over the country. So it was that Griffith found himself one afternoon talking to Herman Welker, a senator from Idaho, who was raving about a power-hitting 17-year-old in a small town called Payette. The Nats dispatched a scout, who saw Killebrew go 12 for 12 with four homers, including a 435-footer, in a semipro game. Killebrew initially drew comparisons to Joe Hardy, the Senators' fictional slugger in Damn Yankees, but he was inconsistent; after he struck out against the Yankees to end a game, sportswriter Bob Addie told him, "You may look like Joe Hardy to some, but today you were more like Andy Hardy." As Killebrew matured, he developed into one of the most reliable home run hitters ever, with a career total of 573, 11th all time. He went deep once every 14.2 at bats; at the time only Babe Ruth and Ralph Kiner had a better ratio. Power wasn't the only thing the stocky Killebrew had in common with the Bambino. "He never showed you up, no flaps down or anything," Tommy John told ESPN. "Just that little number 3—like Babe Ruth—trotting like he hit 'em before and he would hit 'em again."
Never flashy or overpowering, Forsch was definitely dependable. For six straight seasons, beginning in 1975, the righty made more than 30 starts, his ERA never rising above 3.94. Forsch, who was drafted as a third baseman, finished with 168 wins and hit a dozen homers. He was one of only 30 pitchers to hurl two no-hitters; Bob and his older brother, Ken, were also the only siblings to throw no-nos.
Nicknamed Zeus by his mother—before he was even born—Brown was an undrafted tackle who became a force for the Browns. His nine-year career was interrupted in 1999 by a bizarre incident in which he was temporarily blinded in one eye by a referee's penalty flag. The 6'7", 350-pound Brown shoved the ref and wound up suspended for two weeks. He died of complications associated with diabetes.
Before committing suicide in February, Duerson, a four-time Pro Bowl safety for the Bears, asked his family to have his brain tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to dementia and depression. The tests came back positive. Duerson was the NFL's Man of the Year in 1987 and served as one of the union's representatives on the board that rules on the disability claims of retired players.
After 12 years as an NHL assistant, Brad McCrimmon took a job as a head coach. That it was in Russia did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm. But the former defenseman, who played for six teams in 18 NHL seasons, never got the chance to lead Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League. On Sept. 7 the plane carrying the team crashed as it took off for Minsk, where Lokomotiv was to play its season opener. Of the 45 people on board 44 were killed, including McCrimmon, 52, and the entire roster. Among the deceased:
• Pavol Demitra, 36, a three-time NHL All-Star center and captain of the Slovakian national team
• Alexander Karpovtsev, 41, a key blueliner for the Rangers when they won the Stanley Cup in 1994 and one of McCrimmon's assistants
• Igor Korolev, 41, who played 12 seasons in the NHL and was also an assistant
• Stefan Liv, 30, a goaltender for Sweden when the country won the Olympic gold medal in 2006.
Following the crash, a draft was held to allow Lokomotiv to restock its roster. The team is playing the 2011--12 season in the second-tier Russian league.
In an era when the most famous shortstops were Scooter and Pee Wee, Marion stood out for standing tall. Nicknamed Octopus, the 6'2" Marion was so good with the glove that he was named NL MVP for the champion Cardinals in 1944 despite batting just .267 with six homers. "Around St. Louis there's a sense of the history of the game," said Joe Torre. "He was the one you [were] measured against."
For nearly 60 years, LaLanne preached the virtues of exercise and healthy living, hosting his own TV show from 1951 to '85 and appearing on countless others. LaLanne wasn't all talk: At age 70 he towed 70 boats with 70 people for a mile and a half—while handcuffed and shackled. "It's a religion with me," the 5'6", 150-pound LaLanne said of fitness in 1999. "Billy Graham was for the hereafter. I'm for the here and now."
After 11 NFL seasons marked by brilliance (four Pro Bowls as a Raiders defensive tackle) and, occasionally, indifference, McGlockton was a passionate assistant at Stanford for two years before dying of an apparent heart attack. "There was no one who could block Chester if he didn't want to be blocked," former NFL guard Steve Wisniewski said. "He matured in his years beyond football."
A dangerous scorer inside and out, Mitchell was also versatile off the court: He grew up designing and making his own clothes. He could afford to give that up when the Cavaliers made him their top pick out of Auburn in 1979. The 6'7" forward averaged 19.8 points over his 10-year career, once even leading the Spurs in scoring while George Gervin was on the team. Mitchell's secret: "I like to take all the shots."
"I wish I had that mean streak, but I don't," Smith said early in his 10-year pro career. "Just nothing very mean lives in my soul. You've got to arouse me." But when Smith was aroused he was one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the game. A star at Michigan State—where even the coeds wore buttons reading KILL, BUBBA, KILL—the 6'7", 285-pound Smith memorably knocked Notre Dame quarterback Terry Hanratty out of the teams' 1966 Game of the Century, which ended in a 10--10 tie. After the season he had three sacks in the College All-Star Game against Vince Lombardi's Packers, who were in mid-dynasty. The Colts drafted Smith with the No. 1 pick, and while he had his moments in the NFL (two Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl V ring), he retired because of a knee injury at age 31. Smith returned to the public eye a few years later in Miller Lite commercials that played off his brutish reputation. In one spot Smith and Bears linebacker Dick Butkus return from a chukkers of polo and lament how difficult it is to play such a civilized sport. When Butkus points out that water polo is next, Smith replies, "I hope those horses can swim." High art it wasn't, but the ads (which Smith stopped making in the mid-1980s, in part because he didn't drink alcohol) helped him land several movie roles, most notably as Moses Hightower, a florist turned cop, in the Police Academy franchise.
A 25th-round pick in 1968, Splittorff was the first player drafted by the expansion Royals to reach the majors. In 15 seasons with Kansas City he had a franchise-record 166 wins, including 20 in '73. Splittorff had a quick wit: "Anything that goes that far should have a stewardess on it," he said upon seeing George Brett hit a towering homer in 1983—five years before Kevin Costner made the same joke in Bull Durham.
In 1945 the Eagles drafted Pihos out of Indiana knowing that military service would delay his NFL career—but he was well worth the wait. A two-way All-Pro, Pihos turned the tight end position into a pass-catching job. He led Philadelphia in receptions eight times in his nine years (during which the Eagles won two titles), then retired at 32 on the advice of Joe DiMaggio, who told him to "go out on top."
Before Michael Phelps, no male Olympian was more decorated than Andrianov, a Soviet gymnast who won 15 medals in 1972, '76 and '80. Raised by a single mother, he was a troublemaker and a truant until, at age 12, he saw a boy walking on his hands and became intrigued by gymnastics. (The sport provided structure and discipline but didn't totally tame Andrianov, who still enjoyed his vodka.) His immense upper-body strength gave him an edge on the rings and vault, yet he was still agile enough to thrive in the floor exercises. Andrianov won an Olympic medal in each of the six disciplines. "There wasn't one event where he was the best in the world," U.S. gold medalist Peter Vidmar told The New York Times, "but if he hit, he was going to win."
Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 12th round in 1979—two spots ahead of Mr. Irrelevant—Hill, a 5'9", 172-pound receiver from Georgia Tech, never had a 20-catch season until 1985, when he was traded to the Oilers. During seven years in Houston he became a favorite target of Warren Moon ("I can read his body language like a book," the QB said), averaging 69 receptions and twice making the Pro Bowl.
An imposing center—she stood 7'2"—the soft-hearted Dydek was nicknamed Ppych after a whipped-cream-covered cake popular in her native Poland. Known to cry after a loss, she refused to dunk ("I prefer to leave that to Jordan," she said), but she did dominate in the paint, leading the WNBA in blocked shots nine times. Dydek died in May while pregnant with her third child, eight days after suffering a heart attack.
The AL Cy Young winner in 1979, when he went 23--9 for Baltimore, Flanagan was so crafty that he didn't need to use his admitted "great bullpen spitter" in games. He was known for his quips—he told the Orioles' mascot to "take two worms and call me in the morning" after the bird fell off the dugout—which served him as a broadcaster. For six years Flanagan was also the O's G.M. He committed suicide in September.
The center joined the Bills from the USFL in 1986, on the same day as Jim Kelly. The team sent a limo for the QB. It sent an equipment van for Hull, who was just happy for the ride. An agile 6'5" and 284 pounds, he was ideal for the no-huddle offense, which propelled Buffalo to four AFC titles and Hull to three Pro Bowls. Said Bills linebacker Darryl Talley, "As long as Jim had his hands under his [butt], we had a chance."
Famed for scoring 29 points in Memphis State's loss to UCLA in the 1973 NCAA final, Finch was also a hometown star whose play buoyed the city after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Finch later spent 17 seasons on the Tigers' bench, 10 as the head coach. The Memphis Commercial Appeal recalled the man who inspired the community—black and white—with a simple epigram: Memphis' unifier.
Lee Roy Selmon,56
In 1973 three fourths of the Oklahoma defensive line came from a sharecropper's farm in the tiny town of Eufaula (pop. 2,500) in the eastern part of the state. They were the Selmon brothers, the youngest and baddest of whom was Lee Roy. When they weren't trampling their mother's flower bed playing football, Lucious, Dewey and Lee Roy worked as janitors to help make ends meet. (That left little time for socializing, which perhaps explains why Lee Roy's prom date was Dewey.) Lee Roy won the Outland Trophy in '75 and the next year was the No. 1 pick and the first player drafted by the expansion Buccaneers. (Dewey was the third.) The team was terrible, but Lee Roy stood out—for both his play and his attitude. "Whenever I want to feel good," coach John McKay said, "I think about Lee Roy Selmon." Tampa Bay shockingly reached the '79 NFC title game; that season Selmon was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Those who faced the ferocious 6'3", 256-pound pass rusher never forgot him. Bears tackle Ted Albrecht told his coach at halftime, "I never want to be hit in the mouth by a hockey puck, I don't want to be buried at sea, and I don't want to play the second half against Lee Roy Selmon."
Though he had soft hands and surprising hops, Traylor knew his strength: his size. Nicknamed Tractor, the 6'8" 300-plus-pounder bullied foes at Michigan. "It's nice to pull up in a limo," he said, "but when it's time to haul ass, you need an 18-wheeler." The Mavericks picked him sixth in 1998, then dealt him to the Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity. Traylor, who died of a heart attack, had a seven-year NBA career.
Picked in the 19th round from tiny Arnold College in Milford, Conn., in 1951, Robustelli, who had served in the Navy in World War II, was old for a rookie. But he stuck with the Los Angeles Rams and, after being traded to the Giants in '56, became a force in one of the NFL's most celebrated defenses. A six-time All-Pro end, he played in six title games with New York, and his 79 sacks rank sixth on the team's alltime list. "Andy had a quiet confidence," said former teammate Sam Huff. "When he spoke, you listened." The Hall of Famer was also a shrewd businessman, which paid off in the 1956 championship game, played on a frozen Yankee Stadium field, the Giants wore sneakers borrowed from Robustelli's sporting goods store and routed the Bears 47--7.
A sarcastic (and profane) pro in a cardigan era, Hill was called "the Don Rickles of the golf tour" by SI in 1970, when he said that Hazeltine, the host of the U.S. Open, needed "only 80 acres of corn and a few cows to be a good farm." He had the PGA's low scoring average in 1969 and was a 13-time winner even as he paid untold fines. "They're trying to make a gentleman out of me," Hill said in '71, "and that's impossible."
An aggressive tactician and eternal optimist, Tanner was skilled at handling players with outsized personalities. His 1979 Pirates, who featured bristly stars Dave Parker and Bill Madlock, got along so famously that their theme song was the disco anthem We Are Family. That team beat the Orioles to win the World Series, Tanner's only title in a 19-year career marked by 1,352 wins, the 28th most all time.
After turning pro out of high school, Gilchrist was cut by the Browns in 1954 and went to Canada, beginning a 14-year career of bruising runs and bitter exits. Gilchrist, who never lasted with one team more than three years, returned Stateside in '62 and became the AFL's first 1,000-yard rusher in an MVP season for the Bills. Said one linebacker of tackling the 6'3", 251-pound fullback, "You feel Cookie for three days."
The left wing on the famed French Connection line, Martin was the Sabres' most lethal scoring threat—and leading jokester. (He liked to exit an airport bathroom with 100 feet of toilet paper sticking out of his pants.) The Quebec native scored 44 goals as a rookie in 1971--72, the first of seven straight All-Star seasons. Two years later he became Buffalo's first 50-goal scorer; his 382 goals rank second in franchise history.
An ace in Japan, Irabu chose to come to the U.S. in 1997 and forced the Padres, who owned his rights, to trade them to his beloved Yankees. While he fanned nine of his first 19 batters, he struggled to adjust; his phone bill would reach $600 a day. George Steinbrenner called him a "fat ... toad" in 1999 and traded him to the Expos the next season; Irabu was out of the game by 2002. In July he committed suicide.
A Renaissance man—SI called him "the finest gardener, cook, carpenter, singer and checker player perhaps in all of Soviet Russia"—Alexeyev also set 80 weightlifting world records, winning gold medals at the 1972 and '76 Games. "During Shakespeare's times it was said, 'What must be cannot be avoided,' " Alexeyev said. "That is how it is when I lift. To successfully lift the weight cannot be avoided."
The five-time Pro Bowl guard was the last Packer of the Lombardi era to retire, in 1976. At 6'3" and 255 pounds, Gillingham was a heavy hitter for a simple reason: He was one of the rare players of his era to lift weights in the off-season. After leaving the NFL, he competed as a powerlifter; his three sons later entered strongman competitions, earning the Gillinghams the nickname "first family of strength."
Nicknamed Easy Ed, Macauley led St. Louis to the 1948 NIT title, then returned home—in a trade of some renown—after six All-Star seasons with the Celtics. Boston dealt the 6'8" Macauley (and Cliff Hagan) to the Hawks for the rights to Bill Russell. Russell led the Celtics to 11 titles, but not in 1958, when Easy Ed & Co. beat Boston in the Finals. Macauley retired in '59 and entered the Hall of Fame the following year.
Wade Belak,35 The forward, picked 12th in the 1994 NHL draft, played for five teams in 14 seasons, largely as an enforcer.
Derek Boogaard,28 Another NHL enforcer (589 career penalty minutes, 16 points), he died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.
Don Chandler,76 The punter on the NFL's all-decade team for the 1960s also kicked four field goals for the Packers in Super Bowl II.
Nick Charles,64 CNN's first sports anchor, in 1980, he was a mainstay on the network for two decades and called countless title fights.
Wes Covington,79 The slugger hit a combined 45 homers in just 622 at bats for the Braves as they won NL pennants in 1957 and '58.
Teddy Forstmann,71 The financier and philanthropist bought IMG, the agency that represents Peyton Manning and Roger Federer.
Woodie Fryman,70 Picked up off waivers in August 1972, the two-time All-Star won 10 games as the Tigers rallied to the AL East title.
Peter Gent,69 A hoops star at Michigan State, the former Cowboys receiver achieved notoriety for his 1973 roman √† clef, North Dallas Forty.
Charlie Lea,54 Baseball's first French-born All-Star, Lea threw a no-hitter for the Expos in 1981 and won the '84 midsummer classic.
Jim Northrup,71 In 1968 he succeeded Tigers rightfielder Al Kaline and hit a record four grand slams—then a fifth in the World Series.
Rick Rypien,27 The rugged center, who struggled with depression throughout his six-year NHL career, committed suicide in August.
Joe Steffy,85 The College Football Hall of Famer won the 1947 Outland Trophy at Army blocking for Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard.
FROM THE SI FAMILY
Lou Capozzola,61 In 21 years at SI he was the go-to man for hockey; his final assignment, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, yielded the cover of SI's Bruins commemorative.
Saxon Kim Chapin,69 An excellent junior tennis player, Chapin wrote primarily about that sport and stock car racing before leaving SI to write books and a documentary.
Brian Lanker,63 The 1973 Pulitzer Prize--winning photographer took some of SI's most memorable portraits, including shots of Bill Russell, Dean Smith and John Wooden.