Many leg­ends of the games pass on

Some died in old age while oth­ers were vic­tims of vi­o­lence.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Fred Lief Top: Joe Paterno (col­lege foot­ball), Rick Ma­jerus (col­lege bas­ket­ball), Ju­nior Seau (NFL). Bot­tom: Marvin Miller (base­ball), Gary Carter (base­ball), An­gelo Dundee (box­ing). AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

He went to work where a statue of him stood out­side the sta­dium, his place of busi­ness for more than a half cen­tury. He would not live to see the statue hauled away.

The other never had a statue erected in his honor, although some said there should be one, bronze or oth­er­wise, at the doorstep of the Base­ball Hall of Fame. He would live to see him­self spurned by the Hall five times.

Joe Paterno and Marvin Miller, a cou­ple of New York­ers, were bookends to the year’s losses in sports — the foot­ball coach dy­ing at 85 in Jan­uary, the union leader at 95 a few days shy of De­cem­ber.

The year’s obit­u­ar­ies in sports also came with a tragic sound­track of gun­fire: Ju­nior Seau, Hec­tor Ca­ma­cho, Jo­van Belcher. More qui­etly, base­ball now moves on with­out Gary Carter and bas­ket­ball with­out Jack Twyman and Rick Ma­jerus. Big names in box­ing like An­gelo Dundee and Car­men Basilio also were lost.

Paterno’s death came less than three months af­ter it was dis­closed he had lung can­cer. That news fell on a State Col­lege, Pa., com­mu­nity al­ready shocked by the child sex-abuse rev­e­la­tions re­gard­ing long­time as­sis­tant coach Jerry San­dusky.

Miller sent a bull­dozer through the land­scape of Ma­jor League Base­ball, and by the time he was done the ter­rain of all pro­fes­sional sports would never look the same.

Miller ran the union from 1966 to 1981. He clashed with own­ers and com­mis­sion­ers who were wary of him ev­ery step of the way. When he started, the min­i­mum salary was $6,000; this past sea­son, the min­i­mum was $480,000. When he took over, base­ball was still a decade away from its first mil­lion-dol­lar player; to­day, the av­er­age salary is $3.2 mil­lion.

The very own­ers who fought Miller watched the value of their fran­chises soar to fab­u­lous sums.

“Any­one who’s ever played mod­ern pro­fes­sional sports owes a debt of grat­i­tude to Marvin Miller,” Dodgers pitcher Chris Ca­puano said. “He gave us own­er­ship of the game we play.”

Gun vi­o­lence cut across sports this year.

Seau, the one-time fierce line­backer of his home­town San Diego Charg­ers, shot him­self in the chest at 43, leav­ing no note and so many in foot­ball shaken. Ca­ma­cho, 50, the loud, boast­ful fighter and a cham­pion sev­eral times, was shot in the face while in a car in Puerto Rico.Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs shot his girl­friend to death. The 25-year-old line­backer then drove to the Ar­row­head Sta­dium park­ing lot, thanked his coach and gen­eral man­ager who were there and put a bul­let in his head.

Ca­ma­cho’s death was one of so many in box­ing. The lineup could fill a wing of its Hall of Fame:

Dundee, the peer­less trainer who was in the cor­ner for Muham­mad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and al­ways drew the best out of his fight­ers, was 90. Former heavy­weight champ Michael Dokes, with a long string of vic­to­ries and a long rap sheet, was 54. Te­ofilo Steven­son, the three-time Olympic cham­pion from Cuba with a thunderbolt for a right hand, was 60. Emanuel Stew­ard, who ran the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit and trained Thomas Hearns and Len­nox Lewis, was 68. And box­ing his­to­rian Bert Sugar, the racon­teur with the fe­dora and ci­gar, was 75.

Base­ball be­came a lit­tle less joy­ful with­out Carter, “The Kid” gone at 57 from a brain tu­mor. A Hall of Fame catcher mostly with the Mets and Ex­pos, Carter was a com­man­der be­hind the plate who never lost sight of what a plea­sure it was to play the game.

Lee MacPhail, the long­time ex­ec­u­tive who ruled in the Ge­orge Brett Pine Tar case, died at 95, the old­est-liv­ing mem­ber of the Base­ball Hall of Fame. Bill “Moose” Skowron, the sturdy first base­man for the great Yan­kee teams of the 1950s and ’60s, was 81. Also leav­ing the game were two men who saw a lot of balls and strikes — um­pires Marty Spring­stead and Harry Wen­del­st­edt.

Bas­ket­ball is poorer for Twyman’s death at 78. He was a crit­i­cal piece of the Cincin­nati Roy­als, and in 1960 av­er­aged more than 31 points. Ma­jerus, 64, kept turn­ing out win­ners in 25 years of work­ing the side­lines with plenty of laughs along the way.

The NFL is now with­out two com­pelling fig­ures straight out of cen­tral cast­ing.

Ben David­son, 72, was a men­ac­ing 6-foot-8 de­fen­sive end with a han­dle­bar mus­tache, epit­o­miz­ing ev­ery­thing nasty of those Oak­land Raiders of yore. He later be­came a TV pitch­man and ac­tor.

Alex Kar­ras, 77, was a de­fen­sive line­man for the Detroit Lions, and one mean hom­bre. Kar­ras showed a comic touch in the “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” booth and in movies, notably “Blaz­ing Sad­dles.”

Art Modell, one of the NFL’s most im­por­tant own­ers, died at 87. He moved his Browns from Cleve­land to Baltimore, a de­ci­sion that shad­owed him the rest of his life.

Dar­rell Royal, 88, was all folksy in giv­ing foot­ball the wish­bone of­fense while win­ning two na­tional cham­pi­onships at Texas.

The clat­ter of pins si­lenced for a moment with Don Carter’s death at 85. With his hunched shoul­ders and cocked el­bow, Carter was known as “Mr. Bowl­ing,” and with the game spread­ing across the coun­try in the 1960s he was the sport’s first su­per­star.

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