Forever Young: Roberto Clemente and The Top 10 Sports Stars Who Died Too Soon
Throughout the history of American sports, there has been many athletes that have lost their lives while still active in their respective sport.
While tragic events are just part of life, it can be very difficult to accept that fact that you will never see your favorite pro sports hero again.
In this piece, I will examine the top 10 American professional sports stars that left this earth way too early.
10. Eddie Guerrero
I know some say that pro wrestling isn't considered a professional sport, but I believe it is and this is my list.
Eddie Guerrero was not only the best Mexican professional wrestler to ever take the mat, but he also was one of the best wrestlers over his era as well.
He won 23 titles in his career and was a very good technical wrestler.
Guerrero died in 2005 of heart failure, and like many on this list, he was inducted into his sport's Hall of Fame in 2006.
9. Lyman Bostock
Bostock was one of the best baseball players that you haven't heard of.
He played only four season in the major leagues and compiled a lifetime batting average of .311 while playing for the Twins and Angels.
He was tragically murdered in 1978, and since his murder, his former teammate MLB Hall of Famer Rod Carew said that Bostock could have been one of the best outfielders of his time.
8. Tim Richmond
Richmond, like another man on this list, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was a very aggressive NASCAR driver in his day and was very underrated.
He had 13 wins and 78 top-10 finishes in a 185-race career.
The Ashland, Ohio native died in 1989 from AIDS and since has been inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002.
7. Payne Stewart
Craig Jones/Getty Images
Stewart was an iconic golfer who was known for his Ivy League-style of hats and large array of golf clothes as well.
He had 24 wins over his PGA career, including three major championship trophies.
The world lost Payne in 1999 from a plane accident, leaving behind one of the more colorful golf personalities that the game has seen.
6. Thurman Munson
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Thurman Munson was an excellent catcher for the New York Yankees in the 1970s.
He was an All-Star selection seven times, won three Gold Gloves and also led the Yanks to two World Series titles in 1977 and 1978.
Munson also picked up MVP and Rookie of the Year awards during his career before being killed in a plane accident in 1979.
The Yankees later retired his number in honor of their fallen star.
5. Steve Prefontaine
Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Prefontaine was one of the best distance runners in the American sports history and he had the confidence to go with it.
Although he wasn't a professional athlete very long, Prefontaine was able to pick up a fourth place finish in the 5,000 meters at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Prefontaine passed away at the very young age of 24 in 1975 in a car accident, and after his death there is little doubt that he would have won several Olympic medals in the 5,000 meters, which still has never been done before by an American runner.
4. Derrick Thomas
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
One of the best linebackers to ever step on the gridiron in NFL history.
He amassed 126.5 sacks during his 11-year career and was a Pro Bowl selection on nine different occasions.
DT died in early 2000, weeks after he was seriously injured in a car accident.
Thomas was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2009 for his game-changing abilities that he commonly displayed on the field.
3. Josh Gibson
Gibson was arguably the best hitter ever to play in the Negro Leagues.
His career batting average of .359 and career slugging percentage of .648 both speak for how dominant of a player he was in his time.
Unfortunately, he died in 1947 at the age of 35, after playing 15 season in the league and garnering 10 All-Star selections during that time.
He was posthumously inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1972 by the Negro Leagues Committee.
2. Dale Earnhardt
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Earnhardt Sr. was regarded by some as the best driver in Nascar history.
He won an impressive 76 races out of 677 total in a career that spanned for 27 years.
Dale was killed in 2001 when his car collided with a side wall in the Daytona 500, and his death still remains as one of the most shocking moments in the history of the sport.
1. Roberto Clemente
Clemente was arguably one of the best MLB outfielders of all-time.
He was an All-Star 12 times, a gold glove winner 11 times and also won an MVP during his amazing 18-year career, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The former Brooklyn Dodger was also an excellent person, as he died in a plane accident while trying to help Nicaraguan earthquake victims in 1972.
Clemente was elected into the MLB Hall of Fame the following year for a wonderful baseball career on the field and the wonderful man he was off the field as well.