2012 Notable Sports Deaths


Associated Press

Posted on December 24, 2012 at 4:06 AM

March 5 — Roland Lakes, 72, former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman. A second-round draft pick by San Francisco in 1961 out of Wichita State, Lakes played 10 of his 11 NFL seasons with the Niners. He spent his final season of 1971 with the New York Giants.

March 5 — Delvy Lewis, 68, the starting guard for the Kansas team that lost to Texas Western in the 1966 NCAA basketball tournament.

March 7 — Wlodzimierz Smolarek, 54, former Polish striker. Smolarek was part of the Poland soccer team that finished third at the 1982 World Cup. He scored 13 goals in 60 games for Poland between 1980 and 1992.

March 7 — Marcos "Marquitos" Alonso Imaz, 78, former defender with Real Madrid. Marquitos helped the club win a record five straight European Cups.

March 8 — Charlie Hoag, 81, a four-sport standout at Kansas who helped the United States win the gold medal in basketball at the Helsinki Olympics. Hoag played football, baseball, basketball and competed in track for Kansas from 1950-53. The two-time All-Conference halfback was at his best on the hardwood, where he helped coach Phog Allen's team win the 1952 NCAA championship. Later that summer, Hoag joined Kansas teammate Clyde Lovellette on the U.S. team that beat the Soviet Union for Olympic gold.

March 9 — Harry Wendelstedt, 73, longtime umpire who worked five World Series. Wendelstedt also called seven NL championship series and four All-Star games, and was behind the plate for five no-hitters. He was on the major league umpiring staff from 1966-98.

March 9 — Monroe Brown, 41, the point guard who helped Penn State upset UCLA in the first round of the 1991 NCAA tournament. A four-year starter, Brown teamed with backcourt mate Freddie Barnes to help the Nittany Lions win the Atlantic 10 conference tournament his junior season before beating UCLA 74-69 in the first round of the NCAAs.

March 10 — Nick Zoricic, 29, a Canadian ski racer died after crashing heavily in a World Cup skicross race held in Grindelwald, Switzerland.

March 10 — Richard "Tiny" White, 86, former All Blacks lock who was regarded as New Zealand's finest rugby players in his position.

March 11 — Henry Adefope, 84, former IOC member from Nigeria. He served as an IOC member from 1985 to 2006 and since 2006 had been an honorary member. Adefope led Nigeria's national Olympic committee from 1967 to 1976.

March 11 — John "Clarkie" Souza, 91, a striker on the U.S. soccer team that upset England in the 1950 World Cup. Souza made 16 appearances for the national team from 1947-54. Souza and his 1950 World Cup teammates were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.

March 11 — Herman "Bubba" Scott, 84, former Troy football player and coach at Howard College, Samford.

March 11 — Wayne Frazier, 73, former NFL and Auburn offensive lineman. Frazier lettered at Auburn 1959-1961. The San Diego Chargers drafted him in the 1962 AFL Draft, and he played seven games for the Chargers in 1962. He also played for Houston, Kansas City and Buffalo from 1965-67.

March 12 — Dick Harter, 81, a veteran NBA assistant who led Penn to two NCAA tournament appearances and was the Oregon coach when the Ducks ended UCLA's 98-game home winning streak. Harter was the Charlotte Hornets' first head coach. He was also an assistant with the Indiana Pacers three times before retiring in 2010. He was the defensive coach under Larry Bird when the Pacers reached the NBA Finals in 2000. Before that, he assisted Chuck Daly in Detroit, Pat Riley with the New York Knicks and P.J. Carlesmo in Portland. Harter coached at Rider, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Penn State, compiling a college record of 295-196 and two Ivy League championships with the Quakers.

March 15 — Bill Groce, 75, former North Texas fullback. During his senior year, the team won the 1959 Missouri Valley Conference Championship. They played in the 1959 Sun Bowl, losing to New Mexico State 28-8.

March 16 — Mervyn Davies, 65, Grand Slam-winning Wales captain. In 1976, Davies led Wales to its fifth Grand Slam in rugby's Five Nations.

March 18 — Furman Bisher, 93, famed Georgia sportswriter who covered everything from major golf tournaments to the Triple Crown during a career that spanned six decades. Bisher retired in 2009 after 59 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writing his final column on the same typewriter he used in 1950.

March 20 — Ian Naismith, 72, grandson of the inventor of basketball James Naismith, and who ran the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, dedicated to promoting youth sports. The North Carolina-based foundation Naismith ran gained attention in 2010 when it sold James Naismith's original 13 rules of basketball at auction for more than $4 million to help its work.

March 21 — Mel Parnell, 89, former Boston Red Sox pitcher. The left-handed pitcher was masterful in Fenway Park, where pitchers fought the green wall, a home run hitter's dream only 310 feet down the left field line. Parnell, who faced some of the best hitters of the 1940s and early 1950s, was 70-30 at Fenway and had a lifetime record of 123-75.

March 21 — Ron Erhardt, 80, the offensive architect of the New York Giants' two Super Bowl titles under Bill Parcells. During Erhardt's eight seasons as offensive coordinator, the Giants reached the playoffs five times, won three NFC East titles and two Super Bowls. Erhardt was New England's head coach from 1979-81, compiling a record of 21-27. Erhardt was 67-7-1 and won two college division national championships at North Dakota State University.

March 22 — Mickey Sullivan, 80, Baylor University's winningest baseball coach. Sullivan led Baylor's baseball program to 649 wins, the most in program history. He also led the Bears to three Southwest Conference Tournament titles and the 1977 and 1978 College World Series.

March 23 — Marje Everett, 90, longtime chairwoman of Hollywood Park. Everett served on the board of directors from 1972 to 1991 and as chairwoman, CEO and president of the track from 1985 to 1991. During her tenure, Hollywood Park hosted the Breeders' Cup twice.

March 24 — Dennis Bennett, 72, former major league baseball pitcher. Bennett pitched for Philadelphia, Boston, the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels in his career. He pitched 28 complete games and six shutouts and had a career record of 48-49 with a 3.69 ERA.

March 24 — Vigor Bovolenta, 37, Italian volleyball player was stricken with a heart attack while playing a match. Bovolenta was instrumental in helping Italy win the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also played on the team that won the 1995 European championship and finished runner-up in 2001.

March 25 — Bert Sugar, 75, an iconic boxing writer and sports historian who was known for his trademark fedora and ever-present cigar. Sugar was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005. Sugar wrote more than 80 books, including "The 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time."

March 25 — Larry Stevenson, 81, a skateboard maker who helped take the sport from an early 1960s kid's gimmick often compared to the hula hoop to a respectable and eventually professional sport on par with surfing. Larry Stevenson was a design innovator who developed features still found on skateboards 50 years later and a businessman who was among the first to make professional and mass-produced boards.

March 25 — Samantha Wopat, 19, Stanford volleyball player.

March 26 — Barry Bullard, 73, starting tackle on the 1960 Washington Huskies Rose Bowl team.

March 26 — John Hoke, 80, former Miami (Ohio) player and the father of Michigan coach Brady Hoke. John Hoke played for Woody Hayes at Miami (Ohio) and was a teammate of Bo Schembechler.

March 26 — Sisto Averno, Sr., 86, former NFL guard. Averno, the final pick of the 1951 NFL draft, played for the original Baltimore Colts, the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans and the Baltimore Colts (19531954).

March 29 — Montjeu, 16, the winner of six Group One races and a renowned sire. The stallion is best known for winning the French and Irish Derbies in 1999 plus the Prix de L'arc de Triomphe. In 2000, he won the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Monjeu sired three Epsom Derby winners, including Pour Moi in a prolific 2011 in which 15 horses with his bloodlines won group or graded races.

March 29 — George Anderson, 82, former Oakland Raiders trainer. Anderson was the first head trainer for the Raiders and served in that role from 1960-94. He developed a knee brace to help quarterback Ken Stabler play after injuring his MCL that eventually was called the Anderson Knee Stabilizer.

March 29 — Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, 81, former NHRA Pro Stock racer. Jenkins, one of drag racing's most influential stars, was known as much for his mechanical achievements than for his driving.

March 27 — Micah True, 58, renowned long-distance runner. True was a central figure in the book "Born to Run."

April 1 — Giorgio Chinaglia, 65, former New York Cosmos star. Chinaglia was the all-time leading scorer in the North American Soccer League after starring with the Italian club Lazio. In 1976, he joined the Cosmos and played alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. He played for Italy at the 1974 World Cup.

April 3 — Jose Maria Zarraga, 81, former Real Madrid great who helped the Spanish powerhouse to a record five straight European Cups. Zarraga played in midfield for a team that included Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas and which won the European Cup every year between 1956-60, plus six Spanish league titles and one Intercontinental Cup.

April 4 — Somali Olympic Committee head Aden Yabarow Wiish and Somali Football Federation chief Said Mohamed Nur were among at least 10 people killed in the explosion at the newly reopened national theater in Mogadishu, Somalia during a ceremony also attended by top government officials.

April 4 — Chief Jay Strongbow, 83, celebrated professional wrestler from the 1960s and 70s. Strongbow, whose real name was Joe Scarpa, undertook wrestling in the late 40s and lasted until the early 80s. As Chief Jay Strongbow, the Italian Joe Scarpa hit his stride in the 70s as he choreographed the Native American character.

April 5 — Joe Avezzano, 68, former Dallas Cowboys special teams coach. He was the Cowboys' special teams coach from 1990 to 2002, prowling the sidelines as the team won Super Bowls in 1993, '94 and '96. Avezzano was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year three times. He was the head coach at Oregon State from 1980 to 1984, compiling a record of 6-47-2.

April 6 — Gary Tinsley, 22, University of Minnesota linebacker. Tinsley completed his eligibility at the end of the 2011 season. He lettered all four years and started every game over his final two seasons with the team.

April 7 — Billy Tomlinson, 68, former Tennessee tailback. Tomlinson lettered three seasons from 1963-65. He also returned both kickoffs and punts during his career.

April 8 — Blair Kiel, 50, former Notre Dame quarterback and punter who played for Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Green Bay in the NFL. Kiel played for the Irish from 1980-83, completing 297 of 609 passes for 3,650 yards with 17 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.

April 9 — Mark Lenzi, 43, Olympic diving champion. Lenzi won the 3-meter springboard at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and won the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Lenzi won two NCAA diving championships, 18 international competitions and was twice named America's diver of the year.

April 10 — Roger Blalock, 65, former basketball player and senior associate athletic director at Purdue. Blalock was a two-year basketball letter winner at Purdue who averaged 12.3 points per game during the 1966-67 season. Blalock was assistant basketball coach at Purdue from 1974 to 1979. Blalock was senior associate athletic director from 2004 until he retired on Jan. 31.

April 10 — Kurt Crain, 47, South Alabama assistant coach and former Auburn All-America linebacker in 1987.

April 13 — Inge Braten, 63, renowned cross-country skiing coach who led Norway through two Olympics. Braten coached the Norwegian national team from 1990-94, leading stars such as Vegard Ulvang and Bjoern Daehlie through their multiple medal successes in both the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville as well as the 1994 games in Lillehammer. He went on to coach the Swedes, from 2005-2007, and then also Canada and Switzerland.

April 14 — Piermario Morosini, 25, Livorno midfielder died after suffering cardiac arrest during his team's Serie B match at Pescara, Italy.

April 14 — Emile "Butch" Bouchard, 92, longtime Montreal Canadiens captain and four-time Stanley Cup winner. The defenseman captained the Habs for eight years before retiring after the 1955-56 season. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup four times while he was with the team, twice while he was captain.

April 15 — Murray Rose, 73, four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist for Australia. The British-born Rose won three gold medals in Melbourne in 1956 and gold, silver and bronze in Rome in 1960. His golds in 1956 came in the 400 and 1,500-meter freestyle events and the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. In Rome, he won the 400 gold and silver in the 1,500.

April 15 — Dwayne Schintzius, 43, former University of Florida basketball star. The 7-foot-2 center played for the Gators from 1987 to 1990, helping Florida to its first three NCAA Tournament appearances. Schintzius was drafted 24th overall in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs in 1990. He also played for the Kings, Nets, Pacers, Clippers and Celtics during an eight-year professional career.

April 15 — Ron Plaza, 77, minor league roving instructor for the Oakland Athletics who spent more than six decades in pro ball. Plaza was entering his 30th season as Oakland's minor league roving instructor and his 61st in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager. Plaza played in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system as an infielder for 12 years.

April 15 — Rich Saul, 64, six-time Pro Bowl center who played on the only Los Angeles Rams team to reach the Super Bowl. Originally the Rams' eighth-round draft pick out of Michigan State in 1970, Saul earned Pro Bowl status in each of his last six seasons from 1975 to 1981 and finished his career with 105 consecutive starts.

April 17 — Andy Porterfield, 80, a 55-year member of the Sports Car Club of America. The two-time SCCA National Champion was widely associated with two things - the Porterfield Brakes company that he started and Corvettes. He was honored with the Woolf Barnato Award, SCCA's highest honor, in 2009.

April 17 — Dom Valentino, 83, longtime sportscaster. Valentino was the play-by-play man for the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA. He moved with the team when it became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1972. In 1975, he joined the New York Yankees' radio team and called games the New York Nets, who were playing in the ABA with Julius Erving, and the NHL's Islanders. He also called games for the Oakland Athletics in the early 1980s.

April 18 — Robert Earl "Bob" Smith, 78, an orthodontist whose passion for skiing powder snow helped turn him into a goggle and sunglasses pioneer. After frustrating goggle-fogging experiences while skiing in Utah in the 1960s, Smith used dental tools and foam to create a double-lensed ski goggle whose inner lens was protected from the cold.

April 19 — Valeri Vasilyev, 62, standout Soviet Union defenseman who won two Olympic gold medals. Vasilyev played on the Soviet teams that won Olympic gold medals in 1972 and 1976. He also played on the national team when it had two of its biggest losses — the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" match that gave the United States the gold at the Lake Placid Games and the 1972 Summit Series against Canadian NHL players.

April 20 — Holger Schmezer, 65, Germany's two-time Olympic champion dressage coach. Schmezer coached Germany's team dressage gold medalists at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Games. He was to step down after the London Olympics.

April 20 — Ray Easterling, 62, former Atlanta Falcons safety who helped lead the team's vaunted defense in the 1970s. Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979, helping to lead the team's "Gritz Blitz" defense in 1977 that set the NFL record for fewest points (129) allowed in a season. He later filed a high-profile lawsuit against the NFL targeting the league's handling of concussion-related injuries.

April 21 — Samia Yusuf Omar, 21, one of Somalia's best female athletes drowned. Omar ran in the 200 meters race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed last in her qualifying heat.

April 22 — Roland Dale, 84, former Southern Miss athletic director. Dale played his college football at Mississippi. He was an assistant football coach at the school under coach John Vaught for more than a decade during the 1960s and 1970s. He was an assistant at Southern Miss during the 1950s and returned in 1974 to lead the athletic department.

April 23 — LeRoy Walker, 93, the first African-American to lead the U.S. Olympic Committee and the first black man to coach an American Olympic team. Walker led the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1992 to 1996, both shepherding the summer games played in Atlanta and leading the group when the 2002 Winter Olympics were awarded to Salt Lake City. Walker earned 11 letters in football, basketball and track and field from Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., Walker was hired to coach football and basketball at North Carolina Central University and instituted a track program. Walker coached 40 national champions and 12 Olympians.