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THE FAREWELLS
MARK BECHTEL
December 26, 2011
From a Cy Young pitcher to a beer-pitching pass rusher, from a cantankerous owner who revolutionized football to a crafty fútbol player who helped usher in a revolution, the sports world said goodbye to a host of indelible figures
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December 26, 2011

The Farewells

From a Cy Young pitcher to a beer-pitching pass rusher, from a cantankerous owner who revolutionized football to a crafty fútbol player who helped usher in a revolution, the sports world said goodbye to a host of indelible figures

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Randy Savage, 58

The Macho Man was adored (voted most popular in Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 1988) and reviled (voted most hated in PWI the following year). A onetime farmhand for the Cardinals and the Reds, he combined strength with bombastic flair to become a star of the '80s. Savage entered the ring to Pomp and Circumstance—a fitting song for a grappler equal parts talk and action. Ohhhh, yeah.

Ryne Duren, 81

He was the original Wild Thing, a hard-living, harder-throwing righty reliever with Coke-bottle glasses. "Hitters don't like to see that fella," Casey Stengel said, "especially family men." A four-time All-Star, Duren had a dramatic entrance: He'd place a hand on the Yankee Stadium chain-link bullpen fence, hop it and stroll to the hill. His 11-year career was cut short by alcoholism; he later became an addiction counselor.

Ron Springs, 54

The pass-catching fullback for the Cowboys (he had a team-high 73 receptions in 1983) gained greater fame after he retired for his part in an inspiring story. A diabetic, Springs needed a kidney transplant in 2004; his close friend, former Dallas cornerback Everson Walls, donated his organ three years later. Springs slipped into a coma after suffering a heart attack in '07. He never regained consciousness.

Grete Waitz, 57

"I don't know if I'll ever do one of these again," Waitz said in 1978 after winning the New York Marathon in a record 2:32:20. She was a 25-year-old middle-distance specialist from Oslo who had never run more than 13 miles and only entered the marathon on a lark, deciding with her husband-coach, Jack, that it would make a nice getaway to New York City. The race was brutal. Waitz was so taxed that upon crossing the finish line she chucked her shoes at Jack, and she could barely walk for the next three days. (Perhaps it had something to do with her carbless dinner the night before: shrimp cocktail and filet mignon.) But Waitz did return, winning the race eight more times in the next 10 years. Her exploits catapulted her to absurd levels of fame back home, where a newspaper ranked her the most popular Norwegian of all time. "Even the small children and drunk people recognize me," conceded Waitz, who preferred the serenity of the woods, where she did most of her training. "Sometimes people look at me, and because I am not always smiling and laughing, they think I am sad," she said in '79. "I'm not sad, I'm not. I'm maybe a little cool. Not impulsive, but controlled. That's the word. Controlled."

Dick Williams, 82

A fiery manager, Williams dispensed his ire freely, once telling the Phillie Phanatic during a pitching change, "You don't leave this mound right now, you little green [expletive], I'm going to kick your ass." He got the Red Sox job in 1967 at age 38 and whipped a ninth-place finisher into a pennant winner. He later led the A's to world titles in 1972 and '73. Said Oakland slugger Reggie Jackson, "He demanded excellence."

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