Tony Gwynn | 54
When asked as a minor leaguer for his philosophy at the plate, one of the game's most methodical, analytical batters replied, "See the ball, hit the ball and run like hell." Even though Gwynn had yet to refine his approach, that didn't stop him from knocking pitches all over the park: The rightfielder led the majors with a .351 average in 1984, his first full season. He won three more batting titles with the Padres in his 20s, gradually expanding his mastery of the art (while himself gradually expanding).
In his 30s, thanks largely to his use of video, Gwynn cemented his status as the best pure hitter of his generation. From 1993 through '97 he won four batting titles and hit .368, finishing at .394 in '94, his best chance at .400 washed away by the strike that ended the season in August.
Like Theodore Roosevelt, Gwynn spoke softly, with a mellifluous drawl. Unlike Teddy, he carried a small stick, a 31-ouncer that allowed him to stroke line drives seemingly wherever he pleased. He hit so many balls between short and third that he dubbed that part of the infield the 5.5 hole.
After starring in baseball and basketball at San Diego State, Gwynn was drafted by not only the Padres but also the San Diego Clippers—on the same day. In 20 MLB seasons, over which he accumulated 3,141 hits, a .388 OBP and five Gold Gloves, he became the most beloved athlete in San Diego history, partly for his play and partly for his infectious cheer. "When you laugh and you can laugh at yourself and laugh at others," Gwynn said in his 2007 Hall of Fame induction speech, "that makes the game a whole lot easier to play."
Lou Hudson | 69
Described by SI's Frank Deford in 1970 as "one of the best shooters alive," Sweet Lou originally wanted to model his game on Elgin Baylor's. Hawks coach Richie Guerin wisely told Hudson to ditch the hooks and fakes and rely on his silky, textbook jumper. The results: six All-Star appearances and a five-year stretch in which the 6'5" swingman never averaged less than 24.7 points.
Eusebio | 71
Benfica's coach was in a barber shop when he first heard of Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. So effusive was the praise that a week later the coach went to Mozambique (then a Portuguese colony) and signed the 18-year-old, who proceeded to score a hat trick in his debut. Eusebio had 679 goals in 678 official matches; in the 1966 World Cup he scored nine times in six games for Portugal.
Robert Newhouse | 64
With thighs the size of an average man's chest—a combined 44 inches around—the stocky Newhouse was the ideal fullback to clear lanes for Cowboys runners like Calvin Hill and Tony Dorsett. But the House could hit a hole as well as make one. He led Dallas in rushing in 1975 (when he gained 930 yards and averaged 4.4 per carry) and is fifth on the team's career rushing list.
Alice Coachman | 90
As an African-American growing up in Albany, Ga., Coachman wasn't allowed to use public facilities, so she trained by running barefoot and jumping over fences. At the 1948 Games in London she showed what she could do in a proper setting, clearing 5'6" in the high jump to become the first black female to win an Olympic gold. She was feted upon her return by President Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and Count Basie, but she wasn't permitted to speak at the ceremony in her hometown, and the mayor refused to shake her hand. "I made a difference among the blacks, being one of the leaders," Coachman, who went on to become a teacher, told The New York Times in '96. "It encouraged the rest of the women to work harder and fight harder."
Oscar Taveras | 22
An unquestioned talent—he entered the 2014 season as the consensus No. 3 prospect in baseball—the outfielder was on the cusp of major league stardom when he was killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Called Baby Vlad by scouts for his similarity to Vladimir Guerrero, Taveras died just 14 days after hitting a game-tying homer for the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Louis Zamperini | 97
The 1936 Olympian (he finished eighth in the 5,000 meters) and record-setting miler at USC was even more celebrated for his postathletic life. A bombardier in World War II, Zamperini survived 47 days at sea and more than two years in a Japanese POW camp, enduring brutal conditions. He became a motivational speaker and the subject of the book and movie Unbroken.
Jack Ramsay | 89
Basketball coaches fall into one of two categories: cerebral X's-and-O's guys and emotional motivators. Ramsay, who held a Ph.D. in education from Penn and was nearly blinded by his own intensity, happened to be both.
He was always going to be Dr. Jack—originally, though, the medical kind. One year on the court at St. Joe's changed that. "What is this game that runs through my mind?" Ramsay wrote in his 1978 book, The Coach's Art. "It is a ballet, a graceful sweep and flow of patterned movement, counterpointed by daring and imaginative flights of solitary brilliance." So after serving as a Navy frogman in World War II, he took up coaching, eventually at his alma mater. Stress caused an eye condition that threatened to derail his career, but it cleared up and Ramsay returned to the bench in '68--69, with the 76ers. He pioneered the zone press at one end of the floor and a patterned motion offense at the other, never shy about, in the words of one of his players, "layin' down the brow." His glare got results. Before his second career as a widely respected commentator, he won the '77 NBA title with the Trail Blazers and 864 games (second most in history when he retired). So intriguing was the plaid-festooned genius that Pulitzer Prize--winning writer David Halberstam, who could have picked any book topic in the late '70s, chose Dr. Jack's Blazers. The result was The Breaks of the Game, which detailed Portland's postchampionship struggles. To Ramsay, the title was his crowning achievement: "With that team, I had a perfect medium to express my art."
Marvin Barnes | 62
It shouldn't come as a shock that a man nicknamed Bad News would have a short career. After two All-Star seasons in the ABA, where he averaged 24.1 points and 13.4 rebounds, he lasted just four years in the NBA, during which he served a 152-day stretch in prison for having an unloaded pistol in his luggage. (That violated his probation, which stemmed from an incident in college when he hit a Providence teammate with a tire iron.) Still, the 6'8" Barnes will always be remembered as one of the leading characters of the ABA, partly for his play, partly for his big-hearted gestures—he once took 20 kids off a playground and bought them all expensive sneakers—and mostly for his quotability. After looking at an itinerary that had him leaving Louisville at 8 p.m. Eastern time and landing in St. Louis 56 minutes later at 7:56 Central, he refused to board, proclaiming, "I ain't getting on no time machine."
Frank Cashen | 88
After 17 years as a sportswriter, then a few more doing p.r. and advertising for a racetrack and a brewery, he took charge of baseball operations for the Orioles in 1965. Over the next six years Baltimore cashed in four pennants and two World Series titles. Cashen then made over the Mets, who won the '86 Series—their most recent—six years after he became their general manager.
Ray Fox | 98
He burst onto the NASCAR scene in 1955, building the engine that carried Fireball Roberts to victory at Daytona—a win later voided because another mechanic had illegally modified the pushrods. Fox erased any doubt about his skill in '56, when his engines propelled 22 of the first 26 race winners. He later formed his own team, fielding cars for the likes of Cale Yarborough and Junior Johnson.
Jim Brosnan | 84
The righty made his debut in the majors in 1954 with the Cubs, and his debut in print in '58 with SI. He wrote about a three-week summer stretch in which he was traded to the Cardinals and had his cup broken by a line drive. The next season Brosnan (55--47 in nine years) finished his first book, The Long Season, an unflinching look at big league life that presaged Jim Bouton's Ball Four.
Orlando Thomas | 42
A second-round pick of the Vikings in 1995 out of Louisiana-Lafayette, the DB led the NFL with nine interceptions as a rookie. After being slowed by a torn ACL the next season, he played until 2001 and retired with 22 picks. Thomas, whose favorite saying was, "Every day is a holiday," learned that he had ALS in '04, shortly after joining the Cardinals' staff.
Jean Béliveau | 83
Béliveau made his debut with the Canadiens in 1950, as a 19-year-old. In his first game he squeezed off nine shots on goal and was awarded the first star. Then he went back to his junior team, the Quebec Citadels, breaking the hearts of Montreal fans. Why? Béliveau was loyal, for one, but he was also earning a competitive salary while bringing in extra money as a p.r. man for Laval Dairy. (He hosted a kids' radio show and was the Laval Ice Cream Man, the duties of which included handing out treats from the trunk of his car.) Two more brief, successful stints with the Habs followed, and after both he went back to his old team—this time the semipro Quebec Aces, who, for a time, paid him a higher salary than Gordie Howe's. The Canadiens, who held Béliveau's professional rights, grew so frustrated that they hatched a plan to take over the Aces' league and turn it pro, forcing him to join Montreal. He finally did for the '53--54 season and proved well worth the wait.
The high-scoring center with the spectacular vision netted 507 goals for the Canadiens, leading them to 10 Stanley Cups while becoming the first hockey player to make the cover of SI (Jan. 23, 1956). Stories about him routinely included words such as poise, grace and effortlessness. At the start of Béliveau's career Montreal exec Frank Selke described him as "probably the classiest hockey player I've ever seen." (An SI story noted that "an ecstatic woman once paid him tribute by flinging her corset onto the ice during a game.") He retired in '71 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame 14 months later, after the NHL waived its three-year waiting period.
Don Zimmer | 83
Even the most ardent, nostalgic fans tend to overlook Zimmer's contributions to Brooklyn's only World Series title. Zimmer's name doesn't even appear once in Roger Kahn's magnum opus The Boys of Summer, about the 1955 Dodgers. Yet the 5'9", 165-pound second baseman was fifth on the team with 15 home runs in just 309 plate appearances.
That he was even on a big league roster was something of a miracle. Two years earlier he had been in a coma for 13 days after being beaned in a Triple A game. (At the time, he was batting .300 with 23 homers. He didn't play another game and was still named the American Association's top rookie.) Told by Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley that he'd always have a job with the team, Zimmer—who went through life with metal buttons filling the holes that were drilled in his skull—said, "I'm a baseball player.... I gotta have a uniform on."
For the next 60 years the baseball lifer—he got married at home plate before a game in the minors—did just that. He became a minor league player-manager in 1967 and got his first big league coaching job four years later. He managed four teams, most notably the Red Sox, who squandered the 1978 AL East title to the Yankees. Five years later Zimmer unknowingly rented a house that belonged to Bucky Dent. The house had countless pictures of Dent's '78 pennant-winning homer. "I call him up, and I tell him I turned every one of them around, facing the wall," said Zimmer.
Said Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, "All I can tell you—when you say Don Zimmer, anybody who knew him will smile."
Fuzzy Thurston | 80
As a pulling guard, Frederick Thurston (and his counterpart, Jerry Kramer) led the Packers' power sweep, which carried them to five NFL titles in nine seasons. (He won a sixth in his only year with the Colts.) Thurston—who got his nickname for his curly hair as a baby, though it fit his warm personality too—was also a fierce pass blocker. Said one opponent, "He's like a kid brother—always in the way."
Jimmy Ellis | 74
A former sparring partner and amateur foe of Muhammad Ali, Ellis emerged from his rival's shadow—sort of—in 1968, when he won the WBA heavyweight title after it was stripped from Ali. "Multitudes would disagree," SI wrote in '68, "but Ellis may well be the most complete fighter in boxing today." He went on to defend his belt against Floyd Patterson before losing it to Joe Frazier in '70.
Ross Lonsberry | 67
A self-described "prairie boy" from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Lonsberry was a no-nonsense leftwinger who anchored the second line for the Flyers when the Broad Street Bullies won back-to-back Stanley Cups. While he did most of his work in the corners, his game wasn't all defense and penalty-killing. Lonsberry had 32 goals in 1973--74, the season of the first Cup, and added 24 the next year.
Red Klotz | 81
Name a place, and there's a pretty good chance 5'7" Red Klotz lost a basketball game there. Madison Square Garden? Check. Aircraft carrier? Check. Leper colony in the Philippines? Check.
The L's shared one thing: They all came to the Harlem Globetrotters. As the Washington Generals' owner and coach—and, until age 68, point guard—Klotz knew how to put on a show. He insisted his team play hard, except during comic routines. "We're the straight men," he said. "Laurel had Hardy, Lewis had Martin, Costello had Abbott, and the Trotters have us."
Klotz could win: He was on the Baltimore Bullets team that took the 1948 title in the BAA (forerunner of the NBA), becoming the shortest pro hoops champ. And in roughly 14,000 games he beat the Trotters (maybe) six times.
Earl Morrall | 79
Don Shula coached some legendary quarterbacks in his 33-year career with the Baltimore Colts and the Dolphins, but he held a special place in his heart for the flat-topped supersub from Michigan State. "I've always said [Johnny] Unitas, [Bob] Griese and Dan Marino are in the Hall of Fame," Shula said in 2007, "and Earl is in my own personal Hall of Fame."
Only four times in his 21-year NFL career did Morrall start at least 10 games. One of those seasons was 1968, when he filled in for Unitas, who had suffered an arm injury in the preseason finale. Morrall threw for 2,909 yards and a league-leading 26 touchdowns, winning the MVP award and leading the Colts to Super Bowl III. Baltimore was upset by the Jets but won the Super Bowl two years later, with Morrall again filling in for an injured Unitas. Morrall entered the game in the second quarter trailing the Cowboys 13--6 and rallied the team to a 16--13 victory.
So it didn't come as a surprise that before the 1972 season, Shula—who had then moved on to Miami—jumped at the chance to claim Morrall off waivers for $100. He already had a QB in Griese, but, as so often happened when Morrall was around, the incumbent got hurt. Griese broke his ankle, and Morrall led the league's only undefeated Super Bowl champ to nine straight wins before Griese returned for the AFC title game.
After retiring, Morrall was the quarterbacks coach at the University of Miami, mentoring Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and 1986 Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde. He also served as the mayor of suburban Davie, Fla., for one year.
Don Meyer | 69
Sixth among college basketball coaches with 923 wins, he went 665--179 at Lipscomb, earning the 1986 NAIA championship, then took over D-II Northern State in '99. In 2008 he lost part of his left leg in a car accident, and while being treated for his injuries was discovered to have cancer. He continued to coach, in a wheelchair, until '10, winning the Jimmy V Award at the '09 ESPYs.
Alvin Dark | 92
A career .289 batter, he was the first NL shortstop to twice hit 20 homers, the second time in 1954 for the champion New York Giants. As a manager, Dark won a pennant with San Francisco in '62 and the World Series with the A's in '74. He was also embroiled in controversy for having an affair and for his remarks (which he said were taken out of context) disparaging black and Latino players.
Rob Bironas | 36
An All-Pro kicker, Bironas spent two years in the Arena Football League before he earned training camp shots with three NFL teams. He debuted with the Titans in 2005, at 27; in '06 he became the sixth kicker to make a field goal of at least 60 yards. The following October he was AFC player of the month—a rare honor for a kicker. Bironas died in a car accident six months after Tennessee released him.
Jack Fleck | 92
In signing off its coverage of the 1955 U.S. Open, NBC declared Ben Hogan, who had a two-stroke lead, the champ. No one told Fleck, a 32-year-old muni course pro from Bettendorf, Iowa, who had joined the Tour six months earlier. He made two birdies in the last four holes to tie Hogan, then, using a set of Hogan model clubs, won an 18-hole playoff the next day. "I out-Hoganed Hogan," Fleck would say years later.
Wallace Jones | 88
The only Kentucky athlete to have both his football and basketball jerseys retired, Jones (aka Wah Wah) was best known for his work on the court. He was a 6'4" forward on the Fabulous Five, which won the 1948 NCAA title then took Olympic gold as a unit in London. In '49 the Wildcats repeated as champs. Jones played three NBA seasons before being elected sheriff of Fayette County, Ky.
Doug Mohns | 80
Nicknamed Diesel because his legs churned like pistons, Mohns was the second NHL defenseman to score 20 goals in a season. He played 22 years, mostly for the Bruins and the Blackhawks, and made seven All-Star teams. His longevity led to his becoming famous for something else: the toupee he sported in his later years. Said Mohns, "If you lose teeth, you get new ones, right?"
Tom Gola | 81
"When I was growing up, you whispered the name Tom Gola because he was like a saint," Wilt Chamberlain said of his fellow Philadelphian. Before helping the Warriors to the 1956 title, the 6'6" Gola starred at La Salle, where he was known as Mr. All-Around. Gola is one of only two NCAA players to reach the 2,000 mark in both points (2,462) and rebounds (2,201, still an NCAA record).
Matthew Saad Muhammad | 59
Born Maxwell Loach, he was orphaned as an infant and sent with an older brother to live with an aunt. When she could no longer care for them both, she told the older boy to abandon Maxwell. The nuns who took in the five-year-old rechristened him Matthew (for the saint) Franklin (for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, near where he was found). He changed his name in 1979, when he converted to Islam, after winning the WBC light heavyweight belt, which he held for 2½ years. The eighth round of his '80 bout with Yaqui Lopez was voted the eighth most exciting ever by Ring magazine; Muhammad took three dozen straight punches without firing back. Found living in a shelter in 2010, he became an advocate for the homeless.
Bob Suter | 57
He didn't score a point in the 1980 Olympics, but Suter played an integral role in the U.S.'s gold medal performance. A rugged defenseman, he provided plenty of the feistiness that was a hallmark of the team. Suter, who never played in the NHL, was involved in grassroots hockey and scouting in his hometown of Madison, Wis. His son Ryan won a silver medal with the U.S. at the 2010 Games.
Ralph Wilson | 95
An original AFL owner, Wilson bought the Bills in 1960 for $25,000. He helped build them into winners and the AFL into a viable league, fighting for policies such as gate- and revenue-sharing. Wilson steadfastly refused to move the team to more lucrative environs, saying, "I couldn't bear to do that to the people of Buffalo." In fact, he never voted in favor of any franchise's relocation.
Ralph Kiner | 91
Falsely credited with the line "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords" (a teammate said that), Kiner made a compelling case for its veracity. Despite playing mostly in Pittsburgh, he lived large, dating Liz Taylor and Janet Leigh and playing golf with Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (who was one of the Pirates' owners).
Kiner stroked 23 home runs as a rookie outfielder, in 1946. The next year the Bucs acquired veteran slugger Hank Greenberg, who served as a mentor to Kiner. That same season the team moved the bullpens at Forbes Field from foul territory into leftfield, making the park's dimensions more reasonable. The pens were initially nicknamed Greenberg Gardens. Not long after Kiner walloped 51 home runs in '47, they became Kiner's Korner.
His career was limited to 10 years because of back injuries, but few sluggers have had such a decade. Kiner hit 369 homers and had at least a share of the league lead for seven seasons.
In 1962, Kiner became a broadcaster for the expansion Mets. For the next 53 years he was a mainstay in the booth, providing a mixture of astute observations and hilarious malaprops. ("It's Father's Day today at Shea, so to all you fathers out there, happy birthday.") In 1983 he welcomed his new partner, Tim McCarver, as Tim MacArthur. After New York lost, McCarver said, "General MacArthur once said, 'Chance favors a prepared man, and the Mets just weren't prepared tonight." To which Kiner replied, "Douglas MacArthur also said, 'I shall return,' and we'll be right back after this commercial."
Bob Welch | 57
Joining the Dodgers barely a year after he was drafted out of Eastern Michigan, the righthander made a huge impact on the 1978 pennant race. He won seven games down the stretch, including the NL West division clincher. And in the World Series, he fanned Reggie Jackson with two on and two out in the ninth to preserve a 4--3 Game 2 win over the Yankees. "It was all downhill after that," the pitcher would say years later.
Welch was an alcoholic. His behavior reached a low when he drunkenly challenged Giants outfielder Terry Whitfield to a fight before a 1979 game. The Dodgers finally persuaded Welch to check into rehab in January '80. He spent 36 days in a facility in Arizona, pitching to a minor league catcher twice a week as a fellow patient stood in the batter's box.
Once sober, Welch was a steady starter—until he became much more after a trade to the A's before the 1988 season. Oakland pitching coach Dave Duncan had Welch, who relied on just a fastball and a curve, learn a splitter from teammates Dave Stewart and Mike Moore. "With our club," Duncan said, "the split-finger is a team project." Score one for teamwork: In '90, Welch won the Cy Young Award, going 27--6 with a 2.95 ERA. No pitcher has come within two wins of that total since.
Although he was an ace of the A's, Welch didn't pitch in the 1989 World Series. He was scheduled to start Game 3, but an earthquake postponed the Series for two weeks, causing him to miss his turn in a sweep of the Giants. Welch won one last ring in 2001, as the Diamondbacks' pitching coach.
Pat Quinn | 71
As coach of the Maple Leafs, the Big Irishman got a standing ovation from Montreal fans in 2002. The reason? He had just led Canada to its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years, which provided a measure of validation for Quinn. Though he did take two NHL teams to the finals—the 1979--80 Flyers, whose 35-game unbeaten streak is still a record, and the '93--94 Canucks—he never hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Alfredo Di Stefano | 88
In 1953 both Real Madrid and Barcelona paid for the rights to the Argentine forward, who was playing in Colombia, and each team argued it had made a legal purchase. The Spanish football federation decided on a curious compromise: Di Stefano would alternate seasons between the two clubs. When he started slowly at Real, Barcelona sold its claim on Di Stefano in what proved a bad bit of business: He led Real to five consecutive European Cups, pouring in 216 goals in 282 league matches. Wrote Bobby Charlton, the hero of England's '66 World Cup win, "I had never seen such a complete footballer.... It was as though he had set up his own command centre at the heart of the game. He was as strong as he was subtle. You just could not keep your eyes off him."
Jerry Coleman | 89
The only major leaguer to see combat in both World War II and the Korean War, Coleman, who was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, was an infielder during the Yankees' dynasty of the 1950s. The MVP of the '50 World Series, he retired in '57 and moved into broadcasting, ultimately calling Padres games for 41 years. In 2005 he won the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting.
Frank Jobe | 88
The elbow operation that has saved the careers of countless pitchers was named for Tommy John, but it was invented and perfected by Jobe. John, who won 164 games after the 1974 procedure that replaced his left ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from his wrist, said of the orthopedic surgeon in '99, "I think there should be a medical wing in the Hall of Fame, starting with him."
Charlie Powell | 82
In 2013, U-T San Diego anointed Powell the greatest athlete to come out of the area, which also produced Ted Williams. It was an easy call. Powell excelled in track (sub-10-second 100-yard dash), field (shot put), baseball (signed by the St. Louis Browns), basketball (courted by the Globetrotters), football (reputedly 10 sacks in his NFL debut) and boxing (25-11-3, with 17 KOs).
Mel Patton | 89
For 13 years Pell Mel was the World's Fastest Man. His 1948 mark of 9.3 seconds in the 100-yard dash stood until '61. He finished a disappointing fifth in the 100 meters at the '48 Olympics but won gold in the 4 √ó 100 relay and the 200. Patton had a strange way of gauging his performance: He'd throw up if he ran well. "My stomach seemed to know before the timer did," he said.
Viktor Tikhonov | 84
In 17 years as the hard-line coach of the Soviet Union (and after its 1991 collapse, the ad hoc Unified Team), Tikhonov won three Olympic gold medals. But he'll be best remembered for the time he had to settle for silver, in '80, after losing to the U.S. in the Miracle on Ice. Tikhonov's Soviet team won eight world championships; he also coached CSKA Moscow to 13 consecutive European titles.
Ed Sprinkle | 90
Known as the Meanest Man in Pro Football—though he weighed only 200 pounds—the Bears' end was named to the NFL's all-decade team for the 1940s. Sprinkle would reach over a blocker and grab a QB by the throat, then toss him to the ground. Fellow tough guy Don Paul said, "It reaches the point where a passer is looking for his receiver with only one eye. With the other he's looking for Sprinkle."
Cigar | 24
When he was 6 months old, the horse who would eventually be named Cigar (after an aviation checkpoint in the Gulf of Mexico, not a stogie) cut himself on a fence. The injury, coupled with the horse's general runtiness, seemingly quashed his future before it began. "You couldn't have got 50 cents for him," said the assistant manager of Brookside Farm. By the time Cigar stopped racing six years later, in 1997, he had won substantially more: a then record $9,999,815. His fortunes changed as a 4-year-old, when his trainers stopped racing him on turf—his sire had excelled on grass—and put him on dirt. Cigar reeled off 16 straight wins, tying Citation's record, and was named Horse of the Year in '95 and '96. Said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, "He's the horse who carried our banner worldwide at a time when we needed a hero."
Rubin Carter | 76
A menacing presence with a big left hand, Carter began boxing in the Army, which he joined after running away from reform school. A four-year prison stint for mugging held up the start of his pro career, which began with 20 wins in 24 bouts. Victories over Jimmy Ellis and Emile Griffith helped the man nicknamed Hurricane get a middleweight title shot against Joey Giardello in 1964. Carter lost a unanimous decision, and from that point forward his career stagnated before it crashed to a halt. In '66 he was arrested with a friend and charged with three murders in a Paterson, N.J., tavern shooting. He was found guilty by an all-white jury on circumstantial evidence and questionable witness testimony.
In prison Carter wrote a book detailing what he saw as his unjust conviction. The 16th Round came out in 1974, and it inspired Bob Dylan to write a protest song, "Hurricane." (The song, like the biopic that came out in '99, was less than scrupulous with the facts. Carter, who had lost three of his last five fights, was hardly "the number one contender for the middleweight crown.") By then a cause cél√®bre, Carter had his conviction overturned in '76, then was found guilty in a new trial. That verdict was overturned in federal court in '85, the judge writing that the conviction had been "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure."
Carter moved to Toronto, where he became a motivational speaker and an advocate for those wrongly imprisoned. "I don't feel comfortable in the U.S. at all," he told The New Yorker in 2011. "People are too mean, too hot-tempered, too ready to believe things that don't exist."
Jack Brabham | 88
You would expect a three-time world driving champion to be a speed demon, but Brabham took more checkered flags with his savvy head than with his heavy foot. His philosophy was, as he often articulated, "to win a race in the slowest possible time"; his "most distinguishing characteristic," according to SI, "[was] his prudence." That's not to say that Brabham didn't have a daring streak. When he was five, he took his tricycle too far from home in Hurstville, Australia, and his mother punished him by removing the handlebars. Young Jack happily told her that was fine because without them he "could do more things" on his trike.
But Brabham was, like the great Juan Manuel Fangio before him, an excellent wrench, a driver who could sense what his car was doing and react to it. The Aussie won his first Formula One championship in 1959, wrapping it up at Sebring, where he ran out of gas 400 yards shy of the finish. Because F1 rules dictated that the car had to cross the line without assistance for the driver to receive points, Brabham got out and pushed the Cooper across. True, he already had enough points to earn the title, but he believed that failing to finish wasn't fitting for a champion. The next year Brabham captured his second crown in more conventional fashion, and he added a third in '66.
Most racing aficionados argued there were plenty of faster drivers around. In 1966 one rival even called him "a plodder, a middle-of-the-roader. There are six or seven better." Maybe, but only four men, plodders or otherwise, have won more world driving titles than Brabham.
Jim Fregosi | 71
He was an original Angel, picked by Los Angeles in the 1960 expansion draft, when he was just 18. In 11 years with the team, Fregosi was a six-time All-Star shortstop. After retiring with a .265 average over 18 seasons, he returned to manage the Angels when he was just 36, leading the team to its first division title in '79. In '93, with the Phillies, he won his only pennant.
Malcolm Glazer | 85
A businessman with several interests, he purchased the moribund Buccaneers in 1995; eight years later the franchise won its only Super Bowl. Glazer and his family then turned their sights on a different kind of football team, buying Manchester United for $1.4 billion in 2005. Their takeover left some fans so alienated that they broke away and formed a rival club.
Carol Vadnais | 68
A converted forward, Vadnais was a standout offensive defenseman during his 17-season NHL career. The six-time All-Star was a speedy skater and deft puckhandler who won Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (1968) and the Bruins ('72) and helped the Rangers reach the '79 finals. He had come to New York from Boston along with Phil Esposito in one of the biggest trades in NHL history.
Caldwell Jones | 64
One of seven brothers—four of whom played in the NBA—he was known for hard work and reliability, a reflection of his upbringing on a farm in McGehee, Ark. Jones twice led the ABA in blocks and was a two-time NBA All-Defensive first-teamer. A key member of the 76ers, he was dealt to the Rockets for Moses Malone before 1982--83, when Philadelphia won its last title.
Chuck Noll | 82
"Look, I want a coach who knows how to win," linebacker Jack Lambert said in 1980. "I wouldn't care if he came dressed in a mink coat." The odds of that happening with Noll were pretty long. Noll spent 23 years on the Steelers' sideline, most of them in a black V-neck or a windbreaker labeled PITTSBURGH STEELERS COACH. But he certainly knew how to win.
Noll was the only coach to win four Super Bowls, and he did it without losing one. Pittsburgh made the playoffs from 1972 to '79, going 59--1 against sub-.500 teams. Eleven members of his Steelers are in the Hall of Fame.
Noll wasn't a backslapper or an innovator; he was a lifelong learner who mastered the finer points of the game. Neither of his parents had gone beyond eight grade, but Noll put himself through Cleveland's Benedictine High. The only sport he played as a freshman was basketball because the morning practices didn't conflict with his job at a meat market. The games did, but no matter. "Made all the practices, missed all the games," he said. "They never said anything. You can tell how important I was to the team."
An undersized guard at Dayton, Noll was drafted in the 20th round by the Browns. After retiring at 28, he coached under offensive whiz Sid Gillman and defensive specialist Don Shula. He took over a Pittsburgh team that had gone 2-11-1 in 1968 and had never won a playoff game. Within six years the Steelers were Super Bowl champs.
In 1979 linebacker Andy Russell watched Noll refining the techniques of some kids he knew he was going to cut. "He enjoyed it more than coaching the superstars," he said. "He just loves to teach."
Raymond Beadle | 70
A three-time NHRA Funny Car champ as a driver, he also won a NASCAR title in 1989 as the owner of Rusty Wallace's car.
Sy Berger | 91
The father of the modern baseball card worked for Topps for decades, adding stats, team logos and replica autographs.
Bill Campbell | 91
The broadcaster called Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game and other fabled moments in Philadelphia sports.
William Clay Ford | 88
The last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford owned a controlling interest in the Detroit Lions for more than 50 years.
Jack Kraft | 93
One of the biggest names in Philadelphia hoops, he coached Villanova to the 1971 NCAA title game, a loss to UCLA.
Philip Lutzenkirchen | 23
Among Auburn's best-loved players, the tight end caught the Iron Bowl--winning TD during the Tigers' BCS title season of 2010.
Gordie Soltau | 89
A three-time Pro Bowler, the versatile 49ers receiver is one of three NFL players to score 25 touchdowns and kick 70 field goals.
Ernie Terrell | 75
A 6'6" boxing Hall of Famer with an 82-inch reach, he twice defended his heavyweight title before losing a 1967 decision to Muhammad Ali.
Pete Van Wieren | 69
The Professor spent 33 years in the Braves' booth, attracting a national audience when Atlanta's games aired on TBS.
Kevin Ward Jr. | 20
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Pat Ryan | 75
Initially a secretary at SI, she moved up the ranks to edit the longer back-of-the-book pieces. After two decades at the magazine she later became the first woman in 27 years to hold a top editorial position at Time Inc., when she took over PEOPLE in 1982.