2015 Notable Sports Deaths – WTOP
Feb. 27 — Dick McGee, 84, former athletics director and football coach at Colby College. McGee was named head football coach in 1967 and remained in that position through 1978. He was athletics director from 1974 to 1987.
Feb. 27 — Ed Modzelewski, 86, star fullback on Maryland’s undefeated 1952 Sugar Bowl champion team. “Big Mo,” as he was known, played six years in the pros, mostly with the Cleveland Browns. In 1955, he totaled 732 yards and eight touchdowns for the NFL champions.
Feb. 27 — Lorne Davies, 84, founding athletic director and football coach at Simon Fraser University. Davies began in 1965 and almost immediately began masterminding some of the most forward-thinking measures in Canadian university sport. Davies hired full-time coaches, promoted female participation in university sport and awarded athletic scholarships to student-athletes. He expanded the athletic department from three programs — football, basketball and swimming — in 1965 to one of the most successful university athletic departments in Canada with 17 men’s and women’s programs.
Feb. 27 — Mike Rollo, 59, athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee. Rollo spent 25 years as a trainer and more than 30 years with the athletics department.
Feb. 27 — Buzz Irvine, 81, former Maryland football player. Irvine played center on offensive line and was part of the 1953 national championship team. He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals and later played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL.
Feb. 27 — Chris Johnson, 22, a Duquesne football player who also played for the University of Florida killed himself. Johnson was a senior defensive back and transferred from Florida to Duquesne in 2013.
Feb. 28 — Anthony Mason, 48, rugged power forward who was a defensive force for several NBA teams in the 1990s. The 6-foot-7 Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man award in 1995 with the New York Knicks. Mason played for New York from 1991-1996, and then for the Charlotte Hornets until 2000. He made his only All-Star team in 2001 as a member of the Miami Heat.
Feb. 28 — Gordie Gillespie, 88, one of the winningest coaches in college baseball history. Gillespie spent a quarter-century of his 59-year career as the baseball coach at University of St. Francis (Ill.). Gillespie began his baseball coaching career in 1953 with a 24-year stint at Lewis, where he won three NAIA national championships. He spent 10 seasons at Division III Ripon in Wisconsin, starting in 1996, He retired in 2011 with 1,893 victories, which were the most in college baseball at that time at any level. Gillespie also coached men’s basketball at Lewis for 15 years and started the women’s basketball program at St. Francis in 1976. He started the football program at St. Francis, guiding the team to the NAIA playoffs in its second year.
Feb. 28 — Alex Johnson, 72, winner of the 1970 American League batting title with the then-California Angels. Johnson played for eight teams in his 13-year career. He won the American League batting crown with a .329 average in 1970 as a member of the Angels. Johnson had 78 home runs, 525 RBIs and a .288 average over his career.
Feb. 28 — Spider Thurman, 97, one of Eastern Kentucky University’s most revered former athletes and administrators. Thurman quarterbacked the football team to two Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and was named to the Little All-American football team in 1940 after leading his team to the first undefeated and untied season in history. At Eastern he also lettered in basketball and track.
Feb. 28 — Tom Bettis, 81, former NFL player and coach. After starring at Purdue, Bettis was selected by Green Bay in the first-round of the 1955 NFL draft. He had a successful nine-year career for the Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears. Bettis went on to coach in the NFL for 30 years, including for the 1969-70 Super Bowl IV Champions and the 1966-67 AFC Champions, Kansas City Chiefs.
March 1 — Minnie Minoso, 90, the seemingly ageless Cuban slugger who broke into the majors just two years after Jackie Robinson and turned into the game’s first black Latino star. Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949, hit .298 for his career with 186 homers and 1,023 RBIs. He is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades. He got his final hit in 1976 at age 53 and went 0 for 2 in two games in 1980 for the White Sox.
March 1 — Christian Welp, 51, the 7-foot German center who holds the University of Washington’s career scoring record and played three seasons in the NBA. Welp finished his Washington career in 1987 as the school’s career leader in points, rebounding and blocks. He scored 2,073 points for the Huskies and was the Pac-10 player of the year in 1986. He played two seasons with the 76ers and split the 1989-90 season with Golden State and San Antonio. Welp won nine championships in Europe after his NBA career ended.
March 1 — Jeff McKnight, 52, versatile player who spent six seasons with the New York Mets and Baltimore. McKnight, who made his big league debut in 1989 with the Mets, was mostly an infielder, and played every position in the majors except center field and pitcher.
March 1 — Brett Young, 47, former Oregon cornerback and CFL player. Young played in the CFL from 1989-96 with three different teams.
March 2 — Dave Mackay, 80, former Tottenham captain who also won the English league and FA Cup double with the club in 1961. Mackay won the FA Cup three times before leaving Tottenham for Derby in 1968. He also played 22 times for Scotland.
March 3 — William H. Schweitzer, 70, lawyer for the American League and Major League Baseball for more than two decades. Schweitzer was an adviser to former baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and his successor, Rob Manfred, and headed baseball’s government relations.
March 6 — Dick Fisher, 95, former two-sport start in football and basketball for Ohio State. Fisher was halfback in football and a guard in basketball from 1939 to 1941. He joined the armed forces in 1942 and returned in 1945 to complete his football playing eligibility. Fisher went on to become running backs coach for the Buckeyes from 1947 to ’50, tutoring 1950 Heisman Trophy winner Vic Janowicz.
March 6 — Dan Lewis, 79, former Detroit Lions running back. The Lions drafted Lewis in the sixth round out of Wisconsin in 1958. He played seven seasons with the Lions and he led them in rushing yardage in 1962 and ’63. Lewis wrapped up his career with Washington in 1965 and with the New York Giants in 1966.
March 7 — Hashim “Rosie” Rasdien, 80, one of South Africa’s outstanding cricket players of his generation. Rasdien was a teacher and a multi-talented sportsman who excelled in cricket, soccer and rugby, representing The SA Malays XI and Transvaal in all three codes. He was undoubtedly one of the great all-round sportsmen in the country in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
March 7 — Whaley Hall, 73, former Mississippi football player. Hall was a lineman on three of coach John Vaught’s outstanding Rebel teams. During his three years, the Rebels went 26-3-2, played in two Sugar Bowls and one Cotton Bowl, and won back-to-back SEC titles in 1962 and 1963. The 1962 team went 10-0 and earned a share of the national championship.
March 9 — Billy Pickard, 81, longtime Texas A&M athletic department official. Pickard was hired as head athletic trainer in 1965, then held various positions over the decades. By 1994 he was named an associate athletic director for facilities and was later named senior associate athletic director for facilities. His full-time status ended in 2009.
March 9 — Olympic gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat, boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud were among 10 people who died after two helicopters filming a reality show crashed in a remote part of Argentina. Arthaud, 57, was the first woman to win the prestigious Route du Rhum trans-Atlantic sailing race. Muffat, 25, a French swimmer won three medals at the 2012 London Olympics and then retired suddenly two years later. Vastine, 28, was a bronze-medal winner in boxing for France at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
March 10 — Lou Spry, 78, longtime NCAA executive and the official scorer at the College World Series for more than three decades. Spry joined the NCAA in 1966 to work on its publications, and later became director of research and publishing. He served in a variety of roles with the national governing body, rising to associate executive director in charge of financial affairs. He retired in 1999.
March 10 — Tim Rucks, 54, second-winningest football coach at Carthage College. Rucks coached for 18 seasons from 1995 to 2012 and compiled a record of 95-79-1 (.546).
March 9 — Ryan Johanningmeier, 38, former offensive lineman for the University of Colorado. Johanningmeier played tackle, guard, center and tight end for the Buffaloes from 1996-99. He went undrafted, but spent time with the Atlanta Falcons in 2000-01.
March 13 — Al Rosen, 91, the muscular third baseman who won the 1953 AL MVP and played on the last Cleveland Indians team to win the World Series. Rosen played his entire career with Cleveland from 1947-56. He was a member of the Indians’ 1948 World Series title team. In 1953, Rosen batted .336 with 43 homers and 145 RBIs. He nearly won the Triple Crown, but was beaten out in for the batting title by Washington’s Mickey Vernon, who hit .337. Rosen was unanimously picked the AL’s top player.
March 13 — Joe McDonnell, 58, Los Angeles sports radio broadcaster for three decades whose caustic comments won him the nickname “The Big Nasty.”
March 16 — Braydon Smith, 23, died two days after losing consciousness after losing a 10-round featherweight bout. Smith had been in an induced coma at a Brisbane hospital since collapsing 90 minutes after a WBC Asian Boxing Council continental title bout with John Moralde of the Philippines. Smith lost in a unanimous points decision.
March 16 — Jack Haley, 51, former NBA player. Haley played nine seasons in the NBA including a reserve role on the Chicago Bulls’ 1996 championship team. Haley played for the Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs during his career. The 6-foot-10 forward-center played three seasons for UCLA and helped the Bruins win the NIT championship in 1985.
March 17 — Bob Appleyard, 90, former Yorkshire cricketer. Appleyard’s first-class career spanned just eight years — 1950-58 — but he took 708 wickets at an average of 15.48. Appleyard is the only cricketer to capture 200 first-class wickets in his first full county season.
March 18 — Allen Jerkens, 85, Hall of Fame trainer who pulled off some of horse racing’s biggest upsets. Affectionately known as “The Chief,” Jerkens twice pulled off memorable upsets of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, first with Onion in the ’73 Whitney Handicap and then with Prove Out in the Woodward Stakes. In the 1960s, his Beau Purple upset five-time Horse of the Year Kelso three times, which led to Jerkens’ other nickname, “The Giant Killer.” He won more than 3,800 races and earned more than $100 million.
March 20 — Marv Schneider, 84, an Associated Press sports writer, editor and broadcaster for more than four decades. Schneider started with AP in the radio department and then moved to sports. When the news agency launched its broadcast network, Schneider became its New York correspondent. His signature tag line “Marv Schneider, New York,” was familiar to listeners all over the country and the world.
March 20 — Norman Mac Lean, 84, a prolific New York-based sports writer and author, amateur hockey league commissioner and managing editor of 25 editions of “Who’s Who in Baseball.” A longtime contributor to The Hockey News, Hockey Pictorial and Hockey Illustrated, Mac Lean authored several books about hockey.
March 20 — Pedro Aguayo Ramirez, 35, son of a Mexican wrestling legend died from a blow suffered in the ring of a municipal auditorium in Tijuana. Known as Hijo del Perro Aguayo, he fell unconscious on the ropes, apparently after receiving a flying kick from fellow wrestler Oscar Gutierrez, known as Rey Misterio Jr. Aguayo had wrestled for 20 years and was the son of Pedro “Perro” Aguayo, now retired and a member of the Aztec lucha hall of fame.
March 21 — Chuck Bednarik, 89, Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the last great two-way NFL players. Known as “Concrete Charlie,” epitomized the tough-guy linebacker and was an outstanding center for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 to 1962. Bednarik flew 30 combat missions over Germany as a gunner during World War II. He then played center for Penn from 1945 to 1948, and was selected first overall in the 1949 NFL draft by the Eagles. In 1950, he was All-NFL as a center, then he was voted All-NFL as a linebacker in 1951 through 1957, and again in 1960.
March 21 — Vince Kendrick, 63, fullback who scored the first touchdown in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. Kendrick was one of the University of Florida’s first black players, playing from 1971 to 1973. Kendrick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1974 NFL draft. In 1976, he was selected by the Bucs in the NFL expansion draft, and scored on a 1-yard run during a 10-6 preseason loss against Green Bay.
March 21 — Betty Brey, 83, former Olympic swimmer and mother of Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey. She swam at Purdue and competed in the 1956 Olympics. She later was a swim coach at George Washington University.
March 23 — Earl Baltes, 93, founder and longtime promoter of Eldora Speedway. Baltes built Eldora, nestled in rural west-central Ohio, in 1954 and slowly shaped it into a showplace for dirt motorsports. Eldora races were shown on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
March 23 — Nick Peters, 75, former Spink Award winner who covered the San Francisco Giants for 47 years.
March 23 — Don Hutt, 62, former Boise State wide receiver. Hutt owned school records for career receptions (189) and career touchdown catches (30) until 2010.
March 25 — Jimmy “Red” Phillips, 79, former Auburn football player and an NFL first-round draft pick. Phillips was a receiver and defensive lineman for Auburn from 1955-57 and helped the Tigers win the 1957 national championship. Phillips played for the Los Angeles Rams and the Minnesota Vikings during his 10-year NFL career. He was named the Pro Bowl in 1960, ’61 and ’62 while playing for the Rams.
March 27 — Hot Rod Hundley, 80, former NBA player and broadcaster. Hundley broadcast 3,051 Jazz games from 1974-2009. He joined the franchise before its first season in New Orleans in 1974-75 and moved with the team to Salt Lake City in 1979-80. Hundley starred at West Virginia, averaging 24.5 points in three varsity seasons. He played six seasons with the Lakers in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
March 27 — Daundre Barnaby, 24, Canadian track athlete. Barnaby was born in St. Ann, Jamaica, becoming a Canadian citizen in 2012. The 400-meter specialist competed for Canada at the London Olympics and last represented the country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.