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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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In an era when the most famous shortstops were Scooter and Pee Wee, Marion stood out for standing tall. Nicknamed Octopus, the 6'2" Marion was so good with the glove that he was named NL MVP for the champion Cardinals in 1944 despite batting just .267 with six homers. "Around St. Louis there's a sense of the history of the game," said Joe Torre. "He was the one you [were] measured against."

Jack LaLanne, 96

For nearly 60 years, LaLanne preached the virtues of exercise and healthy living, hosting his own TV show from 1951 to '85 and appearing on countless others. LaLanne wasn't all talk: At age 70 he towed 70 boats with 70 people for a mile and a half—while handcuffed and shackled. "It's a religion with me," the 5'6", 150-pound LaLanne said of fitness in 1999. "Billy Graham was for the hereafter. I'm for the here and now."

Chester McGlockton, 42

After 11 NFL seasons marked by brilliance (four Pro Bowls as a Raiders defensive tackle) and, occasionally, indifference, McGlockton was a passionate assistant at Stanford for two years before dying of an apparent heart attack. "There was no one who could block Chester if he didn't want to be blocked," former NFL guard Steve Wisniewski said. "He matured in his years beyond football."

Mike Mitchell, 55

A dangerous scorer inside and out, Mitchell was also versatile off the court: He grew up designing and making his own clothes. He could afford to give that up when the Cavaliers made him their top pick out of Auburn in 1979. The 6'7" forward averaged 19.8 points over his 10-year career, once even leading the Spurs in scoring while George Gervin was on the team. Mitchell's secret: "I like to take all the shots."

Bubba Smith, 66

"I wish I had that mean streak, but I don't," Smith said early in his 10-year pro career. "Just nothing very mean lives in my soul. You've got to arouse me." But when Smith was aroused he was one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the game. A star at Michigan State—where even the coeds wore buttons reading KILL, BUBBA, KILL—the 6'7", 285-pound Smith memorably knocked Notre Dame quarterback Terry Hanratty out of the teams' 1966 Game of the Century, which ended in a 10--10 tie. After the season he had three sacks in the College All-Star Game against Vince Lombardi's Packers, who were in mid-dynasty. The Colts drafted Smith with the No. 1 pick, and while he had his moments in the NFL (two Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl V ring), he retired because of a knee injury at age 31. Smith returned to the public eye a few years later in Miller Lite commercials that played off his brutish reputation. In one spot Smith and Bears linebacker Dick Butkus return from a chukkers of polo and lament how difficult it is to play such a civilized sport. When Butkus points out that water polo is next, Smith replies, "I hope those horses can swim." High art it wasn't, but the ads (which Smith stopped making in the mid-1980s, in part because he didn't drink alcohol) helped him land several movie roles, most notably as Moses Hightower, a florist turned cop, in the Police Academy franchise.

Paul Splittorff, 64

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