- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
An ace in Japan, Irabu chose to come to the U.S. in 1997 and forced the Padres, who owned his rights, to trade them to his beloved Yankees. While he fanned nine of his first 19 batters, he struggled to adjust; his phone bill would reach $600 a day. George Steinbrenner called him a "fat ... toad" in 1999 and traded him to the Expos the next season; Irabu was out of the game by 2002. In July he committed suicide.
Vasili Alexeyev, 69
A Renaissance man—SI called him "the finest gardener, cook, carpenter, singer and checker player perhaps in all of Soviet Russia"—Alexeyev also set 80 weightlifting world records, winning gold medals at the 1972 and '76 Games. "During Shakespeare's times it was said, 'What must be cannot be avoided,' " Alexeyev said. "That is how it is when I lift. To successfully lift the weight cannot be avoided."
Gale Gillingham, 67
The five-time Pro Bowl guard was the last Packer of the Lombardi era to retire, in 1976. At 6'3" and 255 pounds, Gillingham was a heavy hitter for a simple reason: He was one of the rare players of his era to lift weights in the off-season. After leaving the NFL, he competed as a powerlifter; his three sons later entered strongman competitions, earning the Gillinghams the nickname "first family of strength."
Ed Macauley, 83
Nicknamed Easy Ed, Macauley led St. Louis to the 1948 NIT title, then returned home—in a trade of some renown—after six All-Star seasons with the Celtics. Boston dealt the 6'8" Macauley (and Cliff Hagan) to the Hawks for the rights to Bill Russell. Russell led the Celtics to 11 titles, but not in 1958, when Easy Ed & Co. beat Boston in the Finals. Macauley retired in '59 and entered the Hall of Fame the following year.
Wade Belak, 35 The forward, picked 12th in the 1994 NHL draft, played for five teams in 14 seasons, largely as an enforcer.
Derek Boogaard, 28 Another NHL enforcer (589 career penalty minutes, 16 points), he died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.