81 | Being the only badminton player to appear on the cover of SI changed Alston's life. In 1955 he was an FBI agent who was about to be shifted to surveillance work, but once he became famous, his bosses chose to keep him as an investigator. (Among the cases he worked was the Patty Hearst kidnapping.) When not catching bad guys, Alston won 12 national championships, including two in mixed doubles with his wife, Lois.
62 | The Mickey Mantle comparisons started early: Both were from Oklahoma and signed by the Yankees; both were shortstops turned centerfielders with strong arms and terrific speed. If Murcer didn't quite live up to those expectations—well, it was Mickey Mantle. Still, when he retired in 1983 after 17 seasons to embark upon a career as a Yankees broadcaster, Murcer had five All-Star appearances, a .277 average and 252 homers; for many summers he was the only exciting thing about a dreary team. He was traded in '74, just as the Bombers started to get good again, then reacquired in '79. Six weeks after he returned, his best friend, Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, died in a plane crash. Murcer eulogized him, quoting the philosopher Angelo Patri: "The life of a soul on earth lasts longer than his departure." He returned to the Bronx from the funeral in Canton, Ohio, that day and, playing without sleep in front of a national TV audience, hit a three-run homer and a walk-off two-run single in a 5--4 win, the defining performance of his career.
44 | Though he stood 7 feet tall and weighed as much as 340 pounds, Duckworth preferred to do his damage with midrange jumpers. And he did plenty: He was a two-time All-Star who averaged 11.8 points over 11 NBA seasons. That he wasn't a banger fit his personality. "He was a big, loving teddy bear," said former Trail Blazers teammate Terry Porter. "At times guys got frustrated because he didn't have a mean streak."
77 | Blessed with a rich baritone, Jones was a natural. He started his broadcasting career as a 15-year-old gofer at a radio station in Fort Smith, Ark., but within two hours he was on the air. He made his network TV debut with an AFL game on ABC in 1960, and when he left the booth (from NBC) 38 years later, he had covered 28 sports and two Super Bowls. Jones was also a member of USC's '51 national championship-winning tennis team.
81 | Edward Walter Spulnik wrestled as a bad guy under several names, including Tarzan Kowalski, Hercules Kowalski, Wladek Kowalski and the Polish Apollo. But none worked as well for him as Killer Kowalski, the nom de guerre he adopted after a 1952 incident in which he accidentally ripped off the ear of Yukon Eric while performing a knee drop. Kowalski went to visit Eric in the hospital, and the two shared a laugh at the absurdity of the injury. Some newspapermen who overheard them reported that Kowalski had been laughing at Eric, not with him. "When I climbed into the ring that night, the crowd called out, 'You animal, you killer,'?" he said in 1989. "And the name stuck." Kowalski, who legally changed his name in 1963, went on to become the preeminent villain of his day. One fan threw a pig's ear at him, and another—a woman—stabbed him in the back. Outside the ring he was, predictably, a gentle giant, working for children's charities and becoming a vegetarian. He fought into his 50s, winning several belts and pinning Andre the Giant in '72. In retirement he opened a wrestling school in Salem, Mass., where he tutored the likes of Chyna and Triple H.