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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In Memoriam 2011

The Daily Hat Trick reflects on the lives of 12 people in the sportsworld who left us last year.

January 2011

Cookie Gilchrist

Gilchrist is probably not a household name among readers under 40. But, during his time, he was a pioneer, both socially and on the gridiron. Gilchrist played in the Canadian Football League and was offered induction into the CFL Hall of Fame. He was the MVP of the American Football League, with the Buffalo Bills in 1962 and was named to the AFL’s All-Time team.

Gilchrist may be best known for his leadership in the boycott of the 1965 AFL All-Star game in New Orleans. Black players were refused service by a number of facilities in New Orleans, in spite of passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which legally ended segregation in public facilities. Their white counterparts joined them in the boycott and the game was moved to Houston, Texas. He was 75.


February 2011

Duke Snider

The Baseball Hall of Famer was a legend in Major League Baseball lore. The Silver Fox batted .295 for his career and hit 407 homeruns. The 8-time All-Star was a member of six pennant winning teams with the Dodgers, five in Brooklyn and one in Los Angeles. He helped the Dodgers win two World Series championships, in Brooklyn in 1955 and in Los Angeles in 1959. He was 84.

March 2011

Drew Hill

Hill played for 15 years in the NFL. He was a member of the high powered air attack of the Houston Oilers and their Run & Shoot offense in the late 1980s and early 1990s, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. He also played for the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons. Hill died from complications from strokes. He was 54.

April 2011

Joe Perry

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joe "The Jet" Perry was a three time Pro Bowl player, a member of the 1950s NFL All-Decade team, as selected by the Pro Football HOF, a three time rushing champion (once in the All America Football Conference and twice in the NFL), and the MVP of the NFL in 1954. Perry played with the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Colts. He was 84.


May 2011

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew was an 11 time All-Star, MVP of the American League in 1969, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He had 573 career homeruns and was a member of the 1965 American League champion Minnesota Twins. He died of esophageal cancer at age 74.

June 2011

Lorenzo Charles

In sports, there are iconic people and iconic moments. Few moments are more iconic in college basketball than Lorenzo Charles' game winning dunk in the 1983 NCAA Championship Game for North Carolina State against the Houston Cougars (a roster that included Hall of Famers Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler). Moments later, the late Jim Valvano, N.C. State coach, can be seen running on to the court in euphoric celebration, looking for a player or staff member to hug. Charles died in a bus crash in North Carolina last June. He was 47.

July 2011

John Mackey

The Hall of Fame, Super Bowl V champion, three time Associated Press All-Pro, five time Pro Bowl tight end passed away at age 69 this past July. Mackey spent nearly his entire career with the Baltimore Colts. Missing only one game in a 10 year NFL career, Mackey was favorite target of the late, Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas. Mackey averaged 16 yards per catch for his career, exceptionally rare from the tight end position.

Mackey’s contributions continued after his retirement. He was the first President of the NFL Players Association. Mackey’s legacy includes his efforts to secure pension and post-retirement benefits for players.

Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. He was the second full-time tight end to be inducted into the Hall (Mike Ditka was the first). Mackey died of frontotemporal dementia.*

August 2011

Bubba Smith

The first pick in the 1967 NFL Draft died this past August at age 66. Smith was a Super Bowl V champion, an Associated Press All-Pro in 1971 and a two time Pro Bowl player. He was well known for his post-playing acting career, including a recurring role as Sergeant Hightower in the Police Academy movie series. Smith suffered from heart disease at the time of his death.

September 2011

Lee Roy Selmon

The Hall of Fame defensive lineman died this past September at age 56. Selmon was the first pick in the 1976 NFL Draft and was the first-ever draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he spent his entire career.

Selmon has 78.5 sacks in his career. He was a six time Pro Bowler, five time A.P. All-Pro (three times on the First Team, two times on the Second Team), Pro Bowl MVP and member of the NFL 1980s All Decade Team. Selmon died of a stroke.

October 2011

Al Davis

The Hat Trick ran an entire article discussing the life of Al Davis upon his passing this past October at age 82 from heart ailments. Davis was a football pioneer. The former commissioner of the American Football League in the 1960s is credited with making the necessary strategic decisions to facilitate a merger with the National Football League. The 1970 merger is often a reference point used for the beginning of the modern era of pro football.

Davis’ Raiders appeared in five Super Bowls during Davids’ lifetime, winning three. The Raiders were the 1967 AFL champions. He hired the first Hispanic Head Coach to win a Super Bowl in Tom Flores (1979), and the first-ever black Head Coach in modern NFL history in Art Shell in 1989 (the only other being Hall of Famer Fritz Pollard in the early 1920s). Davis will forever be associated with his mantra, "Just win, baby!"

 November 2011

Joe Frazier

“Smokin’ Joe” Frazier died this past November of liver cancer at age 67. Frazier was the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and a 1964 Olympic gold medalist.

Frazier’s career may best be remembered for his often heated rivalry with boxing great Muhammad Ali. He had three fights with Ali, including the “Fight of the Century” with Ali in 1971, won by decision, and the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, won by Ali via T.K.O. Frazier was instrumental in helping Ali regain his boxing licenses after Ali had been banned for conscientiously objecting to service in the Vietnam War.


December 2011

Bettye Danoff

Danoff died last month at age 88. She was one of the 13 founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour in 1950. Danoff was active between 1949 and 1961. She died in McKinney, Texas.


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