In Memorium 2021

Henry Aaron Feb. 5, 1934 – Jan. 22, 2021

Nicknamed the "Hammer," for 33 years Aaron held the crown as Major League Baseball's home run king. Though he retired in 1976, he still holds the MLB records for RBI, total bases and extra-base hits. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

John Muckler April 13, 1934 – Jan. 4, 2021

Muckler was an assistant coach, co-head coach and sole head coach of the Edmonton Oilers as they won five Stanley Cups from 1984 to 1990. He later held coaching or senior executive posts with four other NHL teams.

Don Sutton April 2, 1945 – Jan. 18, 2021

Won 324 games over 23 seasons as a starting pitcher for six different teams. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

Tommy Lasorda Sept. 22, 1927 – Jan. 7, 2021

For 20 years, Tommy Lasorda managed the L.A. Dodgers, winning two World Series and 1,599 games. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Floyd Little July 4, 1942 – Jan. 1, 2021

Broncos legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer earned the nickname "The Franchise" as a star running back for nine seasons in Denver. He was also a College Football Hall of Famer for his prolific career at Syracuse, where he ran for 2,750 yards and 35 TDs.

Ted Thompson Jan. 17, 1953 – Jan. 20, 2021

Thompson spent 10 years as a linebacker with the Houston Oilers and 13 as Green Bay Packers general manager, but he’ll be remembered best for one thing: drafting Aaron Rodgers, setting the Packers up for another decade-plus of success.

Paul Westphal Nov. 30, 1950 – Jan. 2, 2021

Westphal, part of the NBA’s “greatest game ever played,” was a five-time All-Star guard from 1972-84 and won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. He also coached in the league and at the college level.

John Chaney Jan. 21, 1932 – Jan. 29, 2021

Chaney, a two-time national coach of the year, was a stalwart in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball. His Temple Owls won six conference titles, made the NCAA tournament 17 times in 24 seasons and advanced to the NCAA regional final five times. He also won a Division II title with Cheyney University.

Tony Trabert Aug. 16, 1930 – Feb. 3, 2021

A powerful serve-and-volleyer, Trabert had one of the best years in tennis history in 1955 when he won five Grand Slam titles, three in singles and two in doubles. He went on to become a tennis commentator for CBS for over 30 years.

Terez Paylor Jan. 28, 1984 – Feb. 9, 2021

The proud Detroit native and Howard University graduate was an NFL writer for the Kansas City Star and Yahoo Sports, where he established a strong fan following, particularly in K.C. As one of the youngest Pro Football Hall of Fame voters, Paylor helped successfully argue for Terrell Owens' honor.

Pedro Gomez Aug. 20, 1962 – Feb. 7, 2021

After spending many years as a baseball reporter for newspapers across the country, Gomez went to work for ESPN in 2003 and became one of the most prominent voices covering Barry Bonds' controversial pursuit of home run history.

Sekou Smith May 15, 1972 – Jan. 26, 2021

Smith was a longtime and beloved NBA analyst, starting his career in newspapers and rising to national prominence with Turner Sports where he appeared on NBA TV, wrote for and hosted a podcast.

Irv Cross July 27, 1939 – Feb. 28, 2021

Cross played cornerback for nine years in the NFL, mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles. He made history as the first African American sports analyst on national TV, becoming the first co-host of “The NFL Today” and earning the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2009 from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Marty Schottenheimer Sept. 23, 1943 – Feb. 8, 2021

Schottenheimer played six years in the NFL as a linebacker but is best known as a head coach in the league, predominantly with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. With a career regular-season mark of 200-126-1, he’s the only 200-win NFL coach not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Leon Spinks July 11, 1953 – Feb. 5, 2021

Spinks won gold at the 1976 Olympics. Two years later, in just his eighth professional fight, he defeated Muhammad Ali to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Vincent Jackson Jan. 14, 1983 – Feb. 15, 2021

Jackson was one of the great small-school successes in modern NFL history, going from Division II Northern Colorado to landing at 64th all-time on the NFL’s receiving-yards list and earning three Pro Bowl appearances with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Darrius Johnson Sept. 17, 1973 – Feb. 25, 2021

Johnson, a standout at Oklahoma, was drafted in the fourth round by the Broncos in 1996 and was a contributor at cornerback for two straight Super Bowl championship teams. Johnson had two interceptions in the postseason at the end of the 1998 season, including one in Super Bowl XXXIII.

Rheal Cormier April 23, 1967 – March 8, 2021

Pitched 16 Major League seasons for five different teams. In 2012, Cormier was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. He died of pancreatic cancer.

Mark Pavelich Feb. 28, 1958 – March 4, 2021

Pavelich set up the United States' winning goal in the "Miracle on Ice" upset of the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics, then played five seasons with the New York Rangers.

Joe Altobelli May 26, 1932 – March 3, 2021

The manager of the 1983 Orioles succeeded Earl Weaver and promptly led a club featuring a young Cal Ripken Jr. to a World Series title. He was known as Rochester's "Mr. Baseball" because of his longstanding involvement with the city's Triple-A team.

Elgin Baylor Sept. 16, 1934 – March 22, 2021

The 11-time All-Star and Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers’ first superstar revolutionized the NBA with his high-flying game that became the model for generations of players to follow, turning a ground game into aerial art. He later became an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler May 23, 1954 – March 13, 2021

From 1980 to 1987, Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, defending his title 12 times, 11 by knockout. His reign finally came to an end via a 12-round, split decision loss to Sugar Ray Leonard. Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

Bobby Brown Oct. 25, 1924 – March 25, 2021

A four-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, Brown squeezed in his baseball career while studying to be a cardiologist in the late 1940s. After serving in the Korean War, he retired to open his practice at 29, but later returned to baseball as American League president in 1984.

Stan Albeck May 17, 1931 – March 25, 2021

Albeck coached at the college and pro level, spanning more than two decades, including a stint with the Chicago Bulls in Michael Jordan’s second season and two Western Conference finals runs with the San Antonio Spurs. He also led his alma mater, Bradley, to an NCAA tournament bid.

Howard Schnellenberger March 16, 1934 – March 27, 2021

Schnellenberger was the architect of Miami’s rise in the early 1980s as the Hurricanes went 11-1 in 1983 and were declared national champions. He coached at four schools but was most successful with the Hurricanes, compiling a 41-16 record in five seasons.

Bobby "Slick" Leonard July 17, 1932 – April 13, 2021

Leonard was part of Indiana's national champion team in 1953. He went on to play and coach in the ABA. He led the Indiana Pacers to three ABA titles. Leonard was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2014.

Terrence Clarke Sept. 6, 2001 – April 22, 2021

A five-star recruit from Boston, Clarke was a freshman at Kentucky who was a projected lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft. The NBA honored him on draft night by calling his name midway through the first round.

Mike Davis April 15, 1956 – April 25, 2021

Davis made his mark with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, helping the team win a Super Bowl in each city. He was a longtime safety, and on the 1983 Raiders he was part of a secondary that shut down a powerful Washington offense in Super Bowl XVIII.

Bobby Unser Feb. 20, 1934 – May 2, 2021

Bobby Unser is one of just 10 drivers to win at least three Indianapolis 500s. He is a two-time USAC champion. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Mudcat Grant Aug. 13, 1935 – June 11, 2021

A star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Grant was the American League's first Black 20-game winner. He later advocated for Black participation in sports and co-authored a book, "The Black Aces."

Colt Brennan Aug. 16, 1983 – May 11, 2021

Brennan’s No. 15 was retired by Hawaii after he threw the most career TD passes of any QB in his time with the school. Brennan threw for over 14,000 yards and 131 touchdowns in three seasons at Hawaii and was a Heisman finalist in 2007.

Mark Eaton Jan. 24, 1957 – May 28, 2021

For 11 seasons, the 7-4 Eaton guarded the paint for the Utah Jazz. Twice named Defensive Player of the Year, Eaton was an all-star in 1989. When he retired in 1994, he ranked second in NBA history in blocks, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Jim Fassel Aug. 31, 1949 – June 7, 2021

Fassel played briefly in the NFL but made his fame as head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 to 2003, famously delivering a playoff guarantee for the 2000 Giants team that made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXV.

Dick Tidrow May 14, 1947 – July 10, 2021

The mustachioed Tidrow pitched for 13 years in the big leagues before embarking on a front office career that saw him spend an influential 28 seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff Oct. 29, 1949 – July 12, 2021

Selected by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round of the 1973 NFL draft, Orndorff rose to fame in professional wrestling. Nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful," Orndorff and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper took on Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the main event of the very first Wrestlemania in 1985.

Mike Marshall Jan. 15, 1943 – May 31, 2021

The first reliever to win a Cy Young Award, "Iron Mike" wielded his signature screwball in 106 games for the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers — a major-league record, one of several distinctions of durability the doctor of physiology still holds.

J.R. Richard March 7, 1950 – Aug. 4, 2021

An iconic 6-foot-8 Houston Astros hurler whose high-velocity fastball was ahead of its time, Richard suffered a stroke in 1980 that prematurely curtailed his career.

Rod Gilbert July 1, 1941 – Aug. 19, 2021

A native of Montreal, Gilbert arrived in New York in 1960 at the age of 19 and didn't speak English, but he loved the city and the city loved him back. After 18 seasons, "Mr. Ranger" left as the club leader in goals and points, and his No. 7 hangs in the Garden rafters.

Tony Esposito April 23, 1943 – Aug. 10, 2021

A fixture in goal for the Blackhawks for nearly two decades, Esposito won the Vezina Trophy three times and is Chicago's career leader with 418 wins and 74 shutouts. He joined his brother Phil in the Hall of Fame in 1988.

Bobby Bowden Nov. 8, 1929 – Aug. 8, 2021

One of the most well-known figures in college football for decades, Bowden coached Florida State to 12 ACC championships and two national championships over his 34-year tenure in Tallahassee. His 377 wins rank second all time in FBS history.

Keith McCants April 19, 1968 – Sept. 2, 2021

The former Alabama linebacker was an All-American in 1989 and part of a Crimson Tide team that won the SEC that season. That success made him the No. 4 pick in the 1990 NFL draft and he compiled 184 tackles and 13.5 sacks across six seasons.

David Patten April 19, 1974 – Sept. 2, 2021

Patten was part of three New England Patriots Super Bowl championship teams. His biggest NFL moment was a touchdown catch in an upset of the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Jerry Remy Nov. 8, 1952 – Oct. 30, 2021

A Massachusetts kid who became an All-Star second baseman for the Red Sox, Remy ascended to Boston icon status during a jovial 34-year run as the fervent Red Sox fan base's favorite broadcaster.

Pedro Feliciano Aug. 25, 1976 – Nov. 7, 2021

A Puerto Rican relief pitcher who became known as "Perpetual Pedro" during a run of success with the New York Mets, Feliciano led MLB in games pitched in three straight seasons from 2008 to 2010.

LaMarr Hoyt Jan. 1, 1955 – Nov. 29, 2021

A sinkerball pitcher who won the 1983 AL Cy Young Award with the Chicago White Sox, Hoyt leveraged strong control to reach the top of the game, but quickly tumbled out of baseball as he struggled with drug abuse and related legal troubles.

Lee Elder July 14, 1934 – Nov. 28, 2021

In 1975, Elder became the first Black man to play in the Masters. He won four times on the PGA Tour. In 2021, prior to his death, he was invited to be an honorary starter of the Masters.

Sam Huff Oct. 4, 1934 – Nov. 13, 2021

Overcoming a hardscrabble upbringing in rural West Virginia, Huff developed into one of the league’s best linebackers of the 1950s and 1960s, earning five Pro Bowl bids on his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. The longtime Washington radio broadcaster left the booth in 2012.

Demaryius Thomas Dec. 25, 1987 – Dec. 9, 2021

Thomas had some great moments with the Broncos, most memorably a touchdown catch from Tim Tebow in an overtime playoff win over the Steelers. He was also remembered for his charitable work in Denver.

Al Unser May 29, 1939 – Dec. 9, 2021

One of only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, Unser also won the open-wheel season championship three times. He and his son Al Unser Jr. are the only father and son to win the Indianapolis 500.

Del Crandall March 5, 1930 – May 5, 2021

Crandall was an 11-time all-star catcher with the Milwaukee/Boston Braves. Crandall played a total of 16 years in the bigs, winning four gold gloves.

Greg Noll Feb. 11, 1937 – June 28, 2021

"Da Bull" was a big-wave surfing legend and renowned surfboard maker.

Dicky Maegle Sept. 14, 1934 – July 4, 2021

Maegle was an All-American running back at Rice who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played seven seasons as a defensive back in the NFL. To some, Maegle was most known for an infamous play in the 1954 Cotton Bowl where an opposing player came off the bench to tackle him.

Shirley Fry Irvin June 30, 1927 – July 13, 2021

A tennis star in the 1950s, Fry Irvin won singles and doubles titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments, one of only six women to achieve that feat. She took several years off to work as a secretary at a newspaper in Florida before returning to claim the No. 1 world ranking in 1956.

Bill Freehan Nov. 29, 1941 – Aug. 19, 2021

A Detroit native who became the hometown Tigers' stalwart catcher, Freehan won the World Series in 1968 — blocking the plate to keep St. Louis Cardinals star Lou Brock at bay in a key Game 5 play.

Budge Patty Feb. 11, 1924 – Oct. 4, 2021

A glamorous figure on and off the court in the 1950s, Patty won 46 singles titles, including Wimbledon and the French Open in 1950 when he was ranked No. 1 in the world. Born in Arkansas and raised in Los Angeles, he lived most of his life in France.

Darlene Hard Jan. 6, 1936 – Dec. 2, 2021

One of the last stars of the amateur era, Hard won 21 Grand Slam tennis championships in the 1950s and early '60s, mostly in doubles. The hard-serving Californian was the top-ranked American woman from 1960-63.

Parys Haralson Jan. 24, 1984 – Sept. 13, 2021

A fifth-round draft pick in 2006, Haralson collected 28 sacks and five fumble recoveries in nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, later serving as director of player engagement for the 49ers.

Tom Matte June 14, 1939 – Nov. 2, 2021

Matte was a two-time Pro Bowl running back who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 1969. He is best known for two starts as an emergency quarterback in 1965, including an overtime playoff loss at Green Bay.

Paul Mariner May 22, 1963 – July 9, 2021

Mariner spent a decade in the English First Division with Ipswich Town and Arsenal, but it's his decade in broadcasting that really resonates on this side of the pond. His wise, reserved presence on ESPN platforms that coincided with soccer coverage's rise in the USA will be sorely missed.

Gerd Müller Nov. 3, 1945 – Aug. 15, 2021

Müller's 14 goals represented the World Cup scoring record for 32 years, and his final goal won the tournament for West Germany in 1974. The former Ballon d'Or winner also remains the Bundesliga's record goal-scorer with 365 across 15 seasons with Bayern Munich.

These are the sports figures we lost in 2021.