En­berg’s voice si­lenced

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NEWS - BY FRED LIEF

2017 SPORTS DEATHS

Roy Hal­la­day seemed from an­other time. He pitched deep into games — com­plete games, the van­ished art of ma­jor league baseball — and won a cou­ple of Cy Young Awards along the way.

Con­nie Hawkins fi­nally got his chance to take his play­ground wiz­ardry to bas­ket­ball’s big stage and in­sisted he was never bit­ter about the lost years.

Ara Parseghian came to South Bend and re­stored the glory of Notre Dame foot­ball, with the coach bur­nish­ing the Golden Dome as well as the myth.

Aaron Her­nan­dez’s life was of an­other sort, an un­fold­ing tragedy of ruin, surely one of the NFL’s dark­est mo­ments.

And days be­fore Christ­mas, Dick En­berg died at his Cal­i­for­nia home at 82. En­berg’s broad­cast­ing ca­reer spanned six decades, his voice the steady, wel­com­ing sound­track for sports. Whether it was the Olympics or the Su­per Bowl, the Fi­nal Four or Wim­ble­don, horse rac­ing or his beloved baseball, En­berg was there. And al­ways with his trade­mark ex­hor­ta­tion. “Oh, my!”

For­mer Dodgers broad­caster Vin Scully, a leg­end him­self, didn’t hold back in his trib­ute to his late friend.

“To me, Dick En­berg was the great­est all-around sports­caster who ever lived,” Scully said, “and will never be em­u­lated.”

The deaths of En­berg, Hal­la­day, Hawkins, Her­nan­dez and Pares­ghian res­onated largely if dif­fer­ently, and other lives lost in 2017 left a large im­print, too.

Baseball lost Jim Bun­ning, a Hall of Famer who pitched a no-hit­ter and per­fect game be­fore go­ing on to a U.S. Se­nate seat; two tough hom­bres in Don Bay­lor on the field and Dal­las Green in the dugout; Bos­ton Red Sox great Bobby Do­err at 99; Yan­kees front-of­fice whiz Gene Michael; star cen­ter fielder Jimmy Pier­sall, whose psy­chi­atric prob­lems were chron­i­cled in the movie “Fear Strikes Out”; and Steve Palermo, whose um­pir­ing ended in 1991 af­ter he took a bul­let in a park­ing lot.

Bas­ket­ball said good­bye to two NCAA-win­ning coaches, Jud Heath­cote of Michi­gan State and Rol­lie Mas­simino of Vil­lanova; two NBA ex­ec­u­tives who presided over cham­pi­ons, Jerry Krause of Michael Jor­dan’s Chicago Bulls and Jack McCloskey of the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pis­tons; and Gene Con­ley, a two-sport star who played for NBA and World Se­ries cham­pi­ons.

Jake LaMotta, the brawl­ing mid­dleweight champ por­trayed by Robert De Niro in the clas­sic Martin Scorcese film “Rag­ing Bull,” died at 95. Also gone at 94 was Lou Duva, who han­dled 19 cham­pi­ons and seemed to be around box­ing for­ever.

Ten­nis grieved for Pan­cho Se­gura, a cham­pion of the 1940s and ’50s who later coached Jimmy Con­nors; and Jana No­vatna, the 1998 Wim­ble­don champ who five years ear­lier cried on the shoul­der of the Duchess of Kent af­ter los­ing the fi­nal.

Foot­ball is di­min­ished with­out Dan Rooney, the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers chair­man for whom the land­mark mi­nor­ity hir­ing ini­tia­tive is named; and Y.A. Tit­tle, the star San Fran­cisco 49ers and New York Giants quar­ter­back whose photo — bleed­ing and slumped on both knees in the end zone dur­ing a game in 1964 — came to em­body the sport’s fierce com­bat. There was also Cortez Kennedy, the mighty Seat­tle Sea­hawks de­fen­sive tackle; Yale Lary, the safety/punter/re­turn spe­cial­ist for the best teams in Detroit Li­ons his­tory; and Tommy No­bis, the mid­dle line­backer and first player drafted by the At­lanta Fal­cons in 1966. The col­lege game lost Frank Broyles, the pow­er­ful foot­ball coach and ath­letic di­rec­tor at Arkansas.

Golf said farewell to Roberto De Vi­cenzo, the Ar­gen­tine whose in­cor­rect score­card may have cost him the

1968 Masters. Hockey is with­out Milt Schmidt, the cen­ter who led the Bos­ton Bru­ins to two Stan­ley Cups, and Johnny Bower, the goalie who led the Toronto Maple leafs to four Stan­ley Cups and played un­til 45.

Amer­i­can soc­cer ex­ec­u­tive Chuck Blazer died, his ac­knowl­edge­ment of cor­rup­tion in the sport set­ting off a global scan­dal. Horse rac­ing marked the deaths of Hall of Fame train­ers LeRoy Jol­ley and Jack Van Berg as well as Penny Chen­ery, 95, the owner of 1973 Triple Crown win­ner Sec­re­tar­iat.

In auto rac­ing, the voice of Jim Nabors — the for­mer “Andy Grif­fith Show” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C” star sang “Back Home Again in In­di­ana” be­fore the In­di­anapo­lis 500 for decades — was si­lenced. U.S. bob­sled star Steven Hol­comb was found dead at 37 in his room at an Olympic train­ing cen­ter. And sports writ­ing lost some grace with the death of Frank De­ford, the Sports Il­lus­trated es­say­ist.

A hand­ful of cen­te­nar­i­ans died: John Kundla (101), the first coach in Lak­ers his­tory; high school bas­ket­ball coach Lewis D’An­toni (103), the fa­ther of Hous­ton Rock­ets coach Mike D’An­toni; John Risher (107), a for­mer Univer­sity of Vir­ginia foot­ball player who was a mem­ber of the stat crew un­til this sea­son; and Mar­garet Bergmann Lam­bert (103), a Ger­man-Jewish high jumper banned from Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.

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