THE RAGING BULL, THE HAWK AND A COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHING LEGEND WERE AMONG THE SPORTS LUMINARIES WHO PASSED AWAY THIS YEAR
Y.A. TITTLE, 90
In November 1954, Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr. became the first pro football player to appear on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The accompanying story proclaimed that the 49ers' seventh-year quarterback was "the most valuable player in professional football today." But Tittle needed more seasoning—almost a decade's worth—before he was to enjoy his greatest success. In '63, when he was 37, he won his first and only MVP award after throwing a record 36 touchdown passes and leading the Giants to the championship game. Tittle hurt his knee in the second quarter of New York's loss to the Bears, and after an injury-filled '64 season he retired from the NFL—but not from his offseason job of selling insurance. "It's like football in some ways," Tittle said in '63. "You learn a presentation and work on it until you know it cold. Then, after 15 or 20 years you begin to know what you're doing."
CONNIE HAWKINS, 75
• Stripped of his prime after being implicated in a college point-shaving investigation, the ultra-flashy Hawk—who was never arrested or charged—was barred from the NBA until 1969, when he was 27. The 6' 8" former Harlem Globetrotter was an All-Star his first four seasons with the Suns.
MILT SCHMIDT, 98
• As the center on the Bruins' famed Kraut Line (with childhood friends Woddy Dumart and Bobby Bauer), Schmidt won two Stanley Cups. The plucky Hall of Famer also earned a pair of titles as Boston's GM after fleecing the Blackhawks in a trade for Phil Esposito.
JANA NOVOTNA, 49
• Five years after a third-set collapse against Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon final left her crying on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent, Novotna became, at 29, the tournament's oldest first-time winner in the Open Era. The Czech serve-and-volley specialist also won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles.
DARREN DAULTON, 55
• A few short years after his infant child was booed at a father-son game, the gritty catcher became the beloved leader of—and best hitter on—the ragtag Phillies team that won the 1993 NL pennant. "He was a man's man and a lady's dream," teammate Tommy Greene told the Delaware News Journal.
ARA PARSEGHIAN, 94
• His Armenian family was Presbyterian, but the man who woke up the echoes at Notre Dame in the 1960s had a streak of self-flagellation that even the most ardent Catholic would admire. "Before a game, his tension builds up almost to a point of physical suffering," Parseghian's wife, Kathleen, told SI in 1959, when her husband was Northwestern's coach. "He has to choke back the tears. I've tried to get him to take tranquilizers but he won't do it. He thinks this suffering is part of the game."
He also believed in the air game (Parseghian's pass-happy offense carried the Wildcats to the top of the polls during the 1962 season) and the occasional bit of gamesmanship. At Miami (Ohio) in '54, he had his team wear ragged uniforms when they practiced on Indiana's field the day before a game. Then, with their spotless uniforms on, his Redskins upset the overconfident Hoosiers.
Parseghian turned the Irish—who had won two games the season before his arrival—into national champs in just three years with a squad that led the country in offense (36.2 points per game) and defense (38 points surrendered). His '73 team also finished No. 1.
JIMMY PIERSALL, 92
• Memorably portrayed by Anthony Perkins in the 1957 film Fear Strikes Out, Piersall struggled with bipolar disorder, spending seven weeks in an institution in '52. He returned to win two Gold Gloves as a centerfielder.
TONY DICICCO, 68
• Shooting hoops with his mom in the driveway as a kid in Wethersfield, Conn., taught DiCicco that there was a place for women in sports. He coached the U.S. to soccer gold in the 1996 Olympics and an epic win at the '99 Women's World Cup.
DAN ROONEY, 84
• Rooney, who oversaw the Steelers' dynasty, was long a voice of reason among NFL owners; the Rooney Rule, established in 2003, requires teams to interview minority candidates for top coaching and executive jobs.
FRANK BROYLES, 92
• The Georgia native turned around Arkansas football, piling up 144 victories over 19 seasons. In 1965, during the Razorbacks' 22-game winning streak, SI wrote, "God love Frank Broyles, and don't cash his personal check. Frame it."
LEE MAY, 74
• The Big Bopper from Birmingham—who was traded from Cincinnati to Houston for Joe Morgan in a deal that gutted him—smashed at least 20 home runs in 11 straight seasons.
STEVE PALERMO, 67
• Palermo saw his umpiring career—and nearly his life—end in 1991, when he was shot while helping two women who were being assaulted. Told he might never walk, he threw out the first pitch in the '91 World Series.
JERRY KRAUSE, 77
• Nicknamed Crumbs by Michael Jordan because he always had evidence of doughnuts on his lapels, the 5' 6" Krause left the White Sox' front office for the Bulls' in 1985, drafting Scottie Pippen, hiring Phil Jackson and stocking Chicago's six title teams.
ROLLIE MASSIMINO, 82
• The son of a Sicilian-born shoemaker, Massimino—a wildly gesticulating bundle of energy—orchestrated one of the greatest upsets in NCAA hoops history when his Villanova team knocked off Georgetown to win the 1985 championship.
• The chestnut colt was one-eighth of a mile from winning the 1999 Triple Crown—he won the Kentucky Derby at 31--1—when he suffered multiple fractures to his left foreleg.
DALLAS GREEN, 82
Jokingly nicknamed Whispers, the stern Green took over the Phillies late in 1979. "We were a lethargic, noncaring team," he said. In his first full campaign, Philly won 91 games and its first World Series.
DON BAYLOR, 68
• The 1979 AL MVP was both a bruiser and a bruisee. An outfielder/DH who once said his first goal at the plate was to get a hit and his second was to get hit, Baylor mashed 338 career homers, drove in 1,276 runs and was plunked 267 times, a modern-day record when he retired. He managed the Rockies to the playoffs in just their third season, in '95.
JAKE LAMOTTA, 95
• A violent man who found his calling in a violent field, LaMotta had one of the sturdiest chins boxing has ever seen. "No son of a bitch ever knocked me off my feet," he often boasted—which was true until 1952, when he suffered his only knockdown in 106 professional fights. LaMotta took staggering amounts of punishment, especially in his six bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson (of which he lost five). He won his only belt when he KO'd middleweight champ Marcel Cerdan in 1949.
A self-described "good-for-nothing bum kid," LaMotta was sent to reformatory school, where he learned to box—but was not reformed. He admitted to beating at least one of his wives (he had seven), and he served time on a road gang for encouraging a minor to be a prostitute. His life story was told on the screen in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull; Robert De Niro earned the 1981 Oscar for his portrayal of LaMotta. "I kind of look bad in it," LaMotta told The New York Times. "Then I realized it was true. That's the way it was. I was a no-good bastard. It's not the way I am now, but the way I was then."
YALE LARY, 86
• As if playing safety (his 50 picks were fifth in NFL history when he retired) and punting (he led the league three times) weren't enough, the Hall of Famer moonlighted as a minor league baseball player and a Texas state representative during his 11-year career with the Lions.
ROY HALLADAY, 40
• The son of a commercial airline pilot, Halladay was killed flying his own plane, four years after he retired as one of his generation's aces. The righty won 203 games and two Cy Young Awards and tossed a pair of no-hitters, including one in the 2010 NLDS, his first postseason start.
From the SI Family
FRANK DEFORD, 78
• The most charming thing about the very charming Princeton alum whose long-form work changed sports journalism was that he never took himself too seriously. Sure, Deford wrote masterpieces in his 50 years on the masthead, always finding the humanity in subjects such as Bobby Knight, Jimmy Connors and Howard Cosell. But he also wrote SI's review of The Karate Kid (he liked it because it was innocent and simple), and his earnest advocacy of the sport led to his enshrinement in the Roller Derby Hall of Fame.
GIL ROGIN, 87
• The fourth managing editor of SI, Rogin joined the magazine in 1955, the year after its debut. He rose through the ranks, writing masterful stories about sports—and wry short fiction for The New Yorker, which published 30 of his works. The eccentric Rogin, who napped in his office every afternoon from two until three, became the top editor in '79 and left SI five years later to run Discover.
BAMBI WULF, 62
• As the chief of reporters, Wulf—who was with SI for 21 years—was responsible for filling entry-level positions, jobs that went to some of the best sportswriters in the field today. The number of scribes who counted her as a mentor is huge. The number who counted her as a friend was even greater.
ROBERT H. BOYLE, 88
• The former Marine who briefly played professional baseball in Spain wrote hundreds of stories on many topics but was most passionate about the environment—both writing about it and going to great lengths to protect it.
CATHERINE JOHNSON, 58
• Her organizational skills as an art department staffer made late-night closes run more smoothly—while her cheerfulness made them more bearable.
STEPHEN THOMAS, 51
• The talented writer with a wry wit specialized in the NFL, then spent time on the NASCAR beat.
CRISTINA SCALET, 53
• Her expertise as a photo editor led to a saying in the office: If Cristina can't find a picture, it doesn't exist.
BRIAN OLDFIELD, 71
• After finishing sixth in the shot put in the 1972 Olympics, Oldfield gave up his amateur status to join a pro circuit. (He also dabbled in bear wrestling.) The hard-partying Oldfield popularized the spin-throw technique, and his career-best outdoor mark of 75 feet was unsurpassed for 13 years.
BOBBY DOERR, 99
• Ted Williams said Doerr was the only Red Sox teammate he was close to. They talked about hunting, fishing and hitting—a topic on which both men knew a thing or two. A career .288 batter, Doerr was a nine-time All-Star whose 223 homers rank 14th among second basemen.
GENE CONLEY, 86
• The only player to win a World Series (with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957) and an NBA championship (three, with the Celtics), Conley was a consummate prankster, but he took his work seriously. A three- time MLB All-Star, the 6' 8" righthander was the winning pitcher in a 1961 game for the Red Sox just 14 days after he helped the C's to a title.
CORTEZ KENNEDY, 48
• Like any good D-tackle, Kennedy stuffed the run. But he also terrorized QBs despite not playing on the edge, registering 58 sacks in his 11-season Hall of Fame career with the Seahawks. Quick and powerful, Kennedy was a handful. "I see Tez grabbing guys by the shoulders and throwing them out of the way like rag dolls," teammate Eugene Robinson said.
JIM BUNNING, 85
• The only man elected to baseball's Hall of Fame and the U.S. Senate, Bunning was served by an assertive—bordering on combative—personality in both professions. "If he had to brush back his mother, I think he'd do it to win," second baseman Frank Bolling once noted of his fellow Tiger. With two outs in the ninth inning of the first of his two no-hitters (the other was a perfect game), the sidearming righty dusted Ted Williams, who popped out on the next pitch. (Bunning was the only pitcher to fan Williams three times in a game, which he did in 1957.) When Bunning retired in 1971, he had 224 wins (118 in the AL and 106 in the NL) and 2,855 strikeouts, then the second-most in history.
Bunning had dabbled with politics as a pitcher, taking an active role in the players' union and leading a group called Athletes for Nixon in 1968. He first ran for office in '77, earning a seat on the Fort Thomas, Ky., city council. Nine years later he was a Republican congressman, and in 1998 he served the first of two terms in the Senate, where he was one of the chamber's most conservative members.