Win­ning sports fig­ures leave world at a loss

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Fred Lief

Mighty se­quoias fell in sports in 2016, trans­for­ma­tional fig­ures who re­shaped the games and the cul­ture — from Muham­mad Ali to Gordie Howe, from Arnold Palmer to Pat Sum­mitt.

And there was loss much too soon. The fa­mous poem “To an Ath­lete Dy­ing Young” tells of a run­ner and his town, and how “shoul­der-high we bring you home.” So it was with the Miami Marlins and 24year-old pitcher Jose Fer­nan­dez, killed in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent.

Base­ball said good­bye to Ralph Branca , Monte Irvin and Joe Gara­gi­ola. Bas­ket­ball lost Jim McMil­lian, Dwayne “Pearl” Wash­ing­ton and the fierce Nate Thur­mond. Gone in box­ing was re­lent­less Aaron Pryor. In foot­ball, it was Buddy Ryan, Den­nis Byrd and Den­nis Green.

Hockey mourned Andy Bathgate, and ski­ing re­mem­bered big-talk­ing Bill John­son. Soc­cer is now with­out the great Jo­han Cruyf. On tele­vi­sion, tennis and the NBA are di­min­ished with the loss of Bud Collins and Craig Sager.

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