In Memoriam: Athletes Who Passed on in 2011

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIDecember 22, 2011

In Memoriam: Athletes Who Passed on in 2011

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    This is a tribute to the careers of beloved athletes and sports personalities that, in the past year, made the transition from stadium to Elysium.

    The tribute focuses primarily on North American sports leagues, though it is by no means all-inclusive, even with that parameter. 

    Now, put your nostalgia cap on and help memorialize the following people and their remarkable accomplishments.

February 22: George Buksar

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    Accomplishments and Accolades: 

    -Played three professional sports: baseball, basketball, and football

    -All American football player at Purdue University

    -In the 1950 season with Baltimore Colts he made six interceptions for a total of 79 yards

    -Inducted to Indiana Hall of Fame in 2000

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

February 26: Ed Frutig

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -All American Football Player for University of Michigan

    -Played for Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions

    -NFL career was interrupted when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWII

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

February 26: Shawn Lee

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Started in Super Bowl XXIX for the San Diego Chargers

    -Logged 39 tackles and 6.5 sacks in the 1994 season

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

February 27: Duke Snider

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    Accolades:

    -Eight-time All Star

    -Six-time Top 10 MVP

    -.540 slugging percentage (37th all-time)

    -.919 OPS (50th all-time)

    -3,865 total bases (87th all-time)

    -407 home runs (41st all-time)

    -1,333 RBI (77th all-time)

    -1,481 runs scored (74th all-time)

    -850 extra-base hits (65th all-time)

    -17.6 at-bats per home run (59th all-time)

    -Dodgers career leader in home runs (389), RBI (1,271), strikeouts (1,123), and extra-base hits (814)

    -Holds Dodgers single-season record for most intentional walks (26 in 1956)

    -Only player to hit four home runs (or more) in two different World Series (1952, 1955)

    -One of only two major leaguers with over 1,000 RBI during the 1950s.

    -Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

February 28: Wally Yonamine

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Played professional football (USA) and professional baseball (Japan).

    -First American to play in Japan after WWII.

    -Only American admitted to Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

March 2: Art Statuto

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Member of two consecutive national championship teams with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish

    -1950 starting center with the Los Angeles Rams, which reached the NFL Title Game

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

March 6: Frank Ziegler

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -"All Southern" football title with Georgia Tech

    -1950 ranked first in yards gained as a player for the Philadelphia Eagles

    -Part of Eagles 1949 National Championship winning squad

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

March 19: Drew Hill

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Two Time Pro Bowl Selection

    -634 receptions for 9,831 yards and 60 touchdowns, averaging 15.5 yards per catch

    -Three years with 70 or more catches and five with 1,000 yards

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

March 20: Johnny Pearson

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Music composer who wrote "Heavy Action", the Monday Night Football theme song.

    Read an obituary here.

    See some of his composing credits here.

March 29: Jim Seymour

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Made all-American teams in each of his three seasons at Notre Dame

    -First game of 1966 season with Fighting Irish, caught 13 passes for 276 yards (still a N.D. record)

    -Made cover of Time magazine in October 1966

    -Went on to play for Chicago Bears (NFL) and Chicago Fire (WFL)

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 7: Seve Ballesteros

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Nine PGA Tour wins

    -50 European Tour wins

    -Six Japan Golf Tour wins

    -31 additional tour wins

    -Two Masters Tournament wins

    -Three The Open Championship wins

    -Captained the 1997 European Team to a Ryder Cup Win

    -In July 1979 he became the youngest player in more than 100 years to win the Open

    -In 1980 he became the youngest Masters champion (at age 23)

    -Member of the World Golf Hall of Fame

    -Six-time European Tour Order of Merit Winner

    -Three-time European Tour Player of the Year

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 11: Robert Traylor

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -McDonald's All American

    -Broke a backboard in an NCAA game

    -MVP for 1997 National Invitation Tournament

    -An NBA career that spanned from 1998 to 2005

    -2010 Defensive Player of the Year of Baloncesto Superior Nacional

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 13: Derek Boogard

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Often voted league's Most Intimidating Player in player polls

    -A fan favorite (check out this fan tribute video)

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 15: Sammy Wanjiru

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Broke the world record in the half marathon at age 18

    -Gold medal win (with an Olympic record) at 2008 Beijing Olympics for the marathon

    -Won the London marathon (with fastest marathon time ever recorded in UK)

    -Won the Chicago marathon twice (with fastest marathon time ever recorded in US)

    -Won the Fukuoka Marathon

    -Won the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 17: Harmon Killebrew

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -13-time All Star

    -573 career home runs

    -Eight seasons with at least 40 home runs

    -American League MVP in 1969

    -Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984

    -Member of the 1965 Twins World Series Team (Twins lost to Dodgers)

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 20: Randy Macho Man Savage

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Two-time winner of AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship

    -One-time winner of CWA International Heavyweight Championship

    -Three-time winner of NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship

    -One-time winner of GPW International Heavyweight Championship-

    -One-time co-winner of NWA Gulf Coast Tag Team Championship 

    -Three-time winner of ICW World Heavyweight Championship

    -One-time winner of Unified World Heavyweight Championship

    -Four-time winner of WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    -One-time winner of WWC North American Heavyweight Championship

    -Two-time winner of WWF World Heavyweight Championship

    -One-time winner of Intercontinental Championship 

    -Member of Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame - Class of 2009

    -Played minor league baseball

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

May 27: Margo Dydek

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Two-time WNBA All Star

    -All-time WNBA leader in blocks, with 877 blocks in 323 games

    -Nine-time season leader in blocks

    -One-time season leader in defensive rebounds

    -Awarded Polish Gold Cross of Merit

    Read an obituary here.

    See her career stats here.

June 27: Lorenzo Charles

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Made the game winning point with a momentous dunk in the 1983 NCAA Championship Game

    -His .575 shooting percentage in 1985 remains a North Carolina State University record for seniors

    -Played briefly in the NBA with Atlanta Hawks

    -Played for several European teams

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

July 25: Jeret Peterson

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -1999 U.S. Junior National Championships – Gold – Aerials

    -2000 World Junior Championships – Bronze – Aerials

    -2001 World Junior Championships – Bronze – Aerials

    -2001 Junior Freestyle Skier of the Year – by Ski Racing magazine

    -2005 World Cup season – 1st place – Aerials

    -2006 U.S. National Championships – Gold – Aerials

    -2010 Olympic Winter Games – Gold – Aerials

    -Only person in the world to perform and land "The Hurricane"

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

July 27: Hideki Irabu

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Won two World Series rings with the New York Yankees

    -Holds the Pacific League record for fastest pitch (98 mph) 

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

August 3: Bubba Smith

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Part of the Baltimore Colts Super Bowl V Championship Team (1970)

    -Two Pro Bowls (1970, 1971)

    -First team All-Pro (1971)

    -Acted in 49 movie and television roles, including several 'Police Academy' movies as Moses Hightower

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

August 15: Rick Rypien

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -In his final year with the Regina Pats (junior career), he logged 22 goals, 29 assists

    -MVP for the Regina Pats

    -Fans' choice as most popular player (Bill Hicke Award) with the Regina Pats

    -Molson Cup champion

    -Went on to play alternately with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) and Vancouver Canucks (NHL)

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

August 24: Mike Flanagan

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -All-Star (1978)

    -Part of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series championship team

    -1979 AL Cy Young Award

    -1979 AL TSN Pitcher of the Year

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

August 31: Wade Belak

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -136 Fights as an NHL Enforcer

    -An NHL career that spanned from 1994-2011

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

September 7: Players and Coaching Staff of Hockey Club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

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    On Wednesday, September 7, 4:05pm Moscow Time, a Russian private jet carrying 45 passengers, including most of the coaching staff and players of Hockey Club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, crashed into the bank of the Volga River and killed all but one on board.

    The team was full of talented players and had an eager new coach.

    Read about the tragedy here.

    See team stats here.

    Go here for a complete list of the deceased.

September 23: Orlando Brown

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -An NFL career that spanned from 1994-2005

    -Transitioned from a defensive lineman at South Carolina State to a top offensive tackle in the NFL until an infamous mishap disrupted his career

    -Started in 119 out of 129 career games

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

September 27: Dave Hill

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -25 professional wins

    -1969 Vardon Trophy winner for best scoring average (70.34 shots per round)

    -13 PGA tour wins

    -Six Champions Tour wins

    -Three-time member of US Ryder Cup team

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

October 8: Al Davis

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Owned Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Football Team from 1970 to 2011

    -At age 33 became the head coach and general manager of the Oakland Raiders

    -Served as commissioner of the American Football League the NFL 

    -Helped bring about the NFL-AFL merger

    -Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992

    -Named 1963 AFL Coach of the Year

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

October 16: Dan Wheldon

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -IRL IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year

    -Two-time Indianapolis 500 Winner

    -One-time 24 Hours of Daytona Winner

    -IRL IndyCar Series Champion - 2005

    -U.S. F2000 National Championship - 1999

    -Won eight National British racing titles

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

November 17: Kurt Budke

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -423-104 (.802) record as Head Coach

    -Holds the record for highest winning percentage in NJCAA -  273-31 (.898)

    -Led the women’s basketball at OSU to the NCAA. tournament in three of the past five years

    Read an obituary here.

November 7: Joe Frazier

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -37 fights, 32 wins (27 by KO)

    -Heavyweight gold medalist in 1964 Olympic Games

    -Became undisputed World Heavyweight Champion in 1970

    -Defeated Muhammad Ali  to defend the title in "The Fight of the Century" (see the full fight here)

    -Rated among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time by the IBRO

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

November 21: Greg Halman

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Short-Season A All-Star teams

    -Northwest League All-Star Team

    -Short-Season A Player of the Year - 2007

    -Member of the Netherlands gold medal winning team in the 2007 European Baseball Championship

    -Mariners' Minor League Player of the Year - 2009

    -Played MLB with the Seattle Mariners 

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

December 17: Harley Sewell

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Four Pro Bowls

    -Member of College Football Hall of Fame

    -1953 round one draft selection - Detroit Lions

    -11 years as an NFL player (Detroit Lions and LA Rams)

    -37 years as a scout (for the Rams)

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.

December 21: Yevhen Rudakov

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -Soviet Footballer of the Year - 1971

    -Ukrainian Footballer of the Year - 2971

    -Three-time Best Goalkeeper of the USSR

    -Part of Soviet Union bronze medal winning team in 1972 Olympics

    See a photo tribute here.

    See his career stats here.

December 27: Catê

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -2001 Midnight Riders Man of the Year

    -Campeonato Paulista 1991, 1992 as part of Club São Paulo

    -Campeonato Mineiro 1994, as part of Club Cruzeiro

    Read an obituatry here.

    See his career stats here.

December 29: Rosman García

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    Accomplishments and Accolades:

    -First starting pitcher in Staten Island Yankees history

    -Played part of 2 MLB seasons with the Texas Rangers

    Read an obituary here.

    See his career stats here.