2017 Notable Sports Deaths

December 29, 2017 - 10:55 am

UNDATED: over four seasons


June 1 — Roberto De Vicenzo, 94, known has much for his scorecard error at the Masters as his British Open victory. De Vicenzo amassed 230 titles worldwide, mostly in South America, but he achieved fame on the biggest stages in golf. He outlasted Jack Nicklaus to win the 1967 British Open by two shots for his only major. At the 1968 Masters, De Vicenzo made a birdie on the par-4 17th hole. Playing partner Tommy Aaron inadvertently entered a 4 instead of 3 on the scorecard, which De Vicenzo signed. Under the Rules of Golf, he had to keep the 4. The 65 became a 66, and instead of a playoff, De Vicenzo was a runner-up to Rob Goalby.

June 1 — Jack McCloskey, 91, general manager who built the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" championship teams. Led by McCloskey draft picks Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman — along with coach Chuck Daly — and trade acquisitions Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Rick Mahorn, Mark Aguirre and James Edwards, the Pistons won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. Known as "Trader Jack," McCloskey helped guide Detroit to nine straight playoff appearances, five Eastern Conference Finals in a row, and three NBA Finals. He was Penn's head coach from 1956-66, coached Wake Forest from 1966-72, and was the Portland Trail Blazers' coach from 1972-74, going 48-116.

June 2 — Jack O'Neill, 94, Northern California surfing world icon who pioneered the wetsuit. O'Neill moved with his wife to San Francisco's Ocean Beach neighborhood in the early 1950s. Looking to surf longer in the frigid Northern California ocean, he began experimenting with various materials until he invented the first neoprene wetsuit.June 3 — Jim Piersall, 87, former major leaguer, who bared his soul about his struggles with mental illness in his book "Fear Strikes Out." Piersall played 56 games in the majors in 1952 before being admitted to a mental hospital with what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. He returned to the majors the next year, going public to shatter society's stereotypes of the mentally ill. The outfielder played in the majors until 1967 for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, New York Mets and Los Angeles/California Angels.

June 5 — Cheick Tiote, 30, combative midfielder who played in the English Premier League for Newcastle and at the World Cup with Ivory Coast died after collapsing in training with his new Chinese team. Tiote was four months into a new career at Bejiing Enterprises.

June 6 — Davey Lambert, 48, British motorcycle rider who died from injuries sustained on June 4 during the Isle of Man TT races. Lambert, making his debut in the race, crashed his 1,000 cc Kawasaki on the third lap of the six-lap event.

June 6 — Horace Burrell, 67, longtime Caribbean soccer official and former ally of several controversial FIFA vice presidents. Burrell oversaw Jamaica's qualification for the 1998 World Cup during two stints as president of the soccer federation from 1994-2003 and since 2007. He was a FIFA disciplinary committee member, but lost that duty when he was banned for three months in a Caribbean bribery case during the 2011 FIFA presidential election.

June 7 — Margaret Hutson, 78, women's college basketball coach who preceded Pat Summitt at Tennessee. Hutson coached Tennessee from 1971-74 and posted a 60-19 record before leaving to pursue her Ph.D. Hutson also coached the Emory & Henry women's volleyball team from 1977-92. She posted winning records in 13 of those 16 years, including eight seasons with at least 20 wins.

June 7 — James Hardy, 31, former NFL wide receiver. Hardy, the former Indiana University star, was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. A series of injuries limited him to 16 games over two seasons in Buffalo. He also played for Baltimore before being released in 2011.

June 12 — Tom Morgan, 76, past owner of the R.L. Winston Rod Company whose quest to build flawless fly fishing rods continued long after he was paralyzed by multiple sclerosis. Morgan's philosophy was to make the best fly rod possible, regardless of cost — every detail, fit and finish had to be perfect. Morgan created full-flex rods that acted almost as an extension of the arm of experienced fly fishermen.

June 13 — Hein Verbruggen, 75, former president of the International Cycling Union who oversaw the worldwide spread of a sport often tainted by doping. Verbruggen often confronted the scourge of doping, and was perceived as being too close to Lance Armstrong, the American rider who was the face of cycling with his seven Tour de France victories before he came embody the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs.

June 13 — Tyler Heintz, 19, freshman football player at Kent State died following a morning workout.

June 13 — Manny Azpurua, 88, thoroughbred trainer who gained national attention while racing Social Inclusion in the 2014 Preakness Stakes. Azpurua had been a fixture on the South Florida racing scene since 1980. He saddled the last starter of his career at Gulfstream in April 2016. He saddled several graded-stakes winners, including Weigelia and Nightmare Affair, who finished third in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

June 14 — Don Matthews, 77, Canadian Football Hall of Fame member. Matthews, one of the CFL's most successful coaches, was a larger-than-life character with a sharp wit who thrived in the spotlight. He had 231 wins and five Grey Cup victories on his resume. Matthews spent 22 seasons as a CFL head coach with B.C., Baltimore, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal.

June 15 — Ashley Beatty, 20, Oral Roberts women's basketball player.

June 18 — Larry Grantham, 78, former New York Jets outside linebacker. Grantham was a starter on the 1969 Super Bowl team. Grantham was an original member of the New York Titans franchise, which became the Jets in 1963 after three seasons. He was a five-time AFL All-Star during his 13 years with the team. His 43 takeaways remain a franchise career record.

June 18 — Tim Hague, 33, former UFC fighter known as "The Thrashing Machine," died two days after he was critically injured when he was knocked out in a boxing match against former Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Adam Braidwood. The match at the Shaw Conference Centre was promoted by KO Boxing. Hague, a heavyweight trained in jiu-jitsu, was 21-13 as an MMA fighter before switching to boxing last summer.

June 18 — Patrick Cooper, 16, was fatally mauled by a black bear after he got lost and veered off the trail during the juniors division of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race south of Anchorage, Alaska.

June 18 — Ryan Jones, 26, former NFL linebacker was shot dead in a Reno, Nevada apartment and two other people suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Jones signed a free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and had a stint with the New York Giants before becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. He was the first Montana Tech football player in the college's history to sign an NFL contract.

June 19 — Tony DiCicco, 68, coach of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup soccer champions. DiCicco became the U.S. coach in 1994 and led the team to the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the first games to feature women's soccer. He then guided a team filled with superstars — women's sports trailblazers such as Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Michelle Akers — to the '99 World Cup crown.

June 19 — Ivan Puhich, 89, former jockey's agent who represented such riders as Kentucky Derby winner Mario Gutierrez. Puhich represented Gutierrez in 2012 when the young rider won the Derby aboard I'll Have Another. He also represented Tyler Baze, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice jockey in 2000, Marco Casteneda and William Mahorney.

June 20 — Sergei Mylnikov, 58, goaltender who won Olympic ice hockey gold in 1988 with the Soviet Union. Mylnikov also played on the Soviet team for the 1987 Canada Cup, losing to the Canadians 2-1 in the finals. When the Soviet Union began to allow its players to move to the NHL, Mylnikov did so, but played only 10 games for the struggling Quebec Nordiques.

June 21 — Pete Flynn, 79, popular groundskeeper for the New York Mets who spent five decades manicuring baseball diamonds from the Polo Grounds to Citi Field. Flynn was an original Met who began his tenure with the team during New York's inaugural season in 1962 at the old Polo Grounds. He was the head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium from 1974-2001 and remained on the grounds crew until retiring in 2011, two years after the Mets moved into Citi Field.

June 22 — Frank Kush, 88, fearsome coach who transformed Arizona State from a backwater football program into a powerhouse. Kush compiled a 176-54-1 record while coaching the Sun Devils from 1958 to 1979. His teams won two Border Conference and seven Western Athletic Conference titles. He was head coach of the NFL's Colts for two years in Baltimore and one in Indianapolis from 1982 to 1984, compiling an 11-28-1 record.

June 22 — Keith Loneker, 46, former Kansas offensive lineman who spent three years in the NFL before becoming a modestly successful actor. Loneker helped the Jayhawks to a victory in the 1992 Aloha Bowl, earning first-team All-Big Eight honors, before signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Rams. He wound up spending three seasons with the franchise. After his football career, Loneker appeared in such films as "Rock Star" and "Superbad."

June 22 — Herve Filion, 77, Hall of Fame harness racing driver won retired in 2012 with a then-North American record of 15,179 victories. Born in Angers, Quebec, Filion, came to the United States in 1961 and was the North American victory leader 16 times, earning his first title in 1968 and last in 1990. He had career earnings of $88.4 million.

June 22 — Frank "Sandy" Tatum, 96, former U.S. Golf Association president known for difficult U.S. Open setups and a famous quote after the "Massacre at Winged Foot." After the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, won by Hale Irwin at 7-over par, Tatum — then chairman of the Championship Committee — said: "We're not trying to humiliate the best players in the world, we're simply trying to identify them." Tatum was an accomplished player, winning the 1942 NCAA individual title and leading Stanford to team titles in 1941 and 1942.

June 22 — Joe Ford, 64, member of Vanderbilt's F-Troop team that won the 1974 Southeastern Conference regular season basketball title. Ford played with Jeff Fosnes and Butch Feher with the F-Troop going 74-33 over four seasons, including the 1974 SEC title and an NCAA Tournament berth.

June 26 — Doug Peterson, 71, designer of two America's Cup-winning yachts. Peterson helped design America3, which Bill Koch sailed to victory against Italy in 1992, and then helped design Black Magic for Team New Zealand in 1995, when the Kiwis beat Dennis Conner. He also designed the yacht that Italy's Prada Challenge sailed in the 2000 America's Cup match, a five-race loss to Team New Zealand.

June 27 — Anthony Young, 51, former major league pitcher. He set a major league record with 27 straight losses. Young's streak began in 1992 with the New York Mets and stretched into the next season. In all, the drought spanned 74 appearances. He went 2-14 in 1992 and then 1-16 the next year. Young joined the Chicago Cubs in 1994 and finished with Houston in 1996. He was 15-48 with a 3.89 ERA in his career.

June 27 — Ric Suggitt, 58, rugby coach who guided national teams for both the United States and Canada. Suggitt led the U.S. women's sevens team from 2010 through the end of the 2014-15 World Series season, helping the Americans qualify for the Rio Olympics and to a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. He joined Rugby Canada in 1999 and coached the Canadian men at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He also led Canada's men's sevens team. On the women's side, he guided the senior 15s team and under-19 and under-23 programs.

June 27 — Tom Corcoran, 85, Olympic skier who founded the Waterville Valley ski resort in New Hampshire that became popular with racers and celebrities. Corcoran competed in the 1956 Olympics and again in 1960, when he placed fourth in the Giant Slalom. Corcoran purchased the Waterville Inn and 425 acres at the base of Mt. Tecumseh. He opened Waterville Valley Resort in the winter of 1966-67. Up until the 1990s, it hosted 11 World Cup events, including the 1969 World Cup Slalom and Giant Slalom finals.


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