Winning sports figures leave world at a loss
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.