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Harnessing the talents of a giant from Joliet, Ill., named George Mikan, Meyer built DePaul basketball into a national power in the 1940s. The Chicago commuter school remained a juggernaut despite relying almost solely on local talent; Meyer didn't leave Illinois to recruit a player until he was 69. The man everyone called Coach--including his wife of 46 years, Marge, whom he met when she played for his CYO team--led the Blue Demons for 42 seasons, guiding them to two Final Fours and a 724--354 record.
The righthander pitched for seven teams in nine years, with a career-best 13--6 mark for the A's in 2001. Four days after the Tigers eliminated his Yankees from the playoffs, Lidle died when a small plane carrying him and his flight instructor crashed into a Manhattan high-rise. (An avid flier, Lidle had earned his pilot's license in February.) It has not been determined who was flying the plane.
Perhaps the best pound-for-pound boxer of the 1940s, the two-time featherweight champ won 135 of his first 137 bouts. Nicknamed Will o' the Wisp because he was nearly impossible to hit, the little man (5'6") was a larger-than-life character: He had six wives and an endless supply of one-liners. When meeting an old foe, he'd often say, "Why don't you lie down so I can recognize you."
If he wasn't the best golfer ever, Lord Byron was certainly the most consistent: His 1945, 11-tournament winning streak is considered the sport's untouchable mark. Nelson retired early, at age 34, to his ranch in Roanoke, Texas, but he remained visible. He lent his name to a PGA tournament, worked 20 years as a TV analyst and teed off at the Masters until he was 54. His enduring legacy, though, lies in the players he counseled. Tom Watson credits Nelson with teaching him to slow down and breathe between shots, and countless others got tips from a man whose swing was so pure that the robot the USGA devised to test equipment was named Iron Byron.
He was the first man to reclaim the undisputed heavyweight championship, a remarkable feat given that there was also no disputing Patterson's place as boxing's most gentlemanly competitor; he once helped Chester Mieszala's pick his mouthpiece up from the canvas after knocking it out with a hard blow. Patterson took the title from Archie Moore in '56, lost it to Ingemar Johansson in '59, then won it back by flooring the Swede the next year. Typically, in retirement Patterson became friends with Johansson; though they lived on different continents, they often visited each other.