Gone But Not Forgotten: Remembering those we lost in sports in 2011

Notable sports figures that we lost during the year

As 2011 comes to a close, Sportsbetting3 takes a look at some of the notable figures in sports that we lost during the year. In the past two moths we did special RIPs on weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev and Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Here we’ll take a look at some sports legends that died earlier in the year.

Seve Ballesteros: Nobody is more responsible for the advancement of international golf than Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros Sota. Ballesteros came to prominence as a teenager by finishing second in the 1976 British Open. The Spaniard went on to win five majors, three British Opens and two Masters. He was a five-time Ryder Cup champion and known for his flashy play and incredible shot making. Tiger Woods called him, “The most exciting player that ever played”. Ballesteros’ career was cut short by chronic back problems. He passed on May 7th at age 57 from complications of a brain tumor.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl: Was a Russian Major League hockey team wiped out in a plane crash on September 7th. Among the victims was Head Coach Brad McCrimmon who played 18 years in the NHL scoring 81 goals with 322 assists in 1222 games. He won a Stanley Cup with the 1989 Calgary Flames. Also on board were players Pavol Demitra who scored 304 goals in 16 years in the NHL and defenseman Ruslan Salei who played in 917 NHL games over 14 years. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff killing 45 of the 46 on board. The cause of the accident was later ruled pilot error.

Grete Waitz: If Reggie Jackson was Mr. October than Grete Waitz was Mrs November. Between 1978 and 1988, Waitz won an incredible nine New York Marathons. A Norwegian, Waitz was a talented 400 and 800 meter runner in her teens. She advanced to 1500 meters where she placed third in the European Championships in 1974. The marathon for women did not become an Olympic event until 1980. Norway was part of the boycott of the Moscow Olympics and finished second to Joan Benoit in Los Angeles in 1984. Waitz passed after a six-year battle with cancer, she was 57.

Harmon Killebrew: The “Killer” was a professional baseball player that hit 573 homers and was known as the face of the Minnesota Twins. Born in Payette, Idaho, Killebrew played first base, third base, and left field. He was the AL MVP in 1969 hitting 49 homers with 140 RBIs. He led the the American League in homers six times, RBIs three times, and was an 11-time All Star. He was known for his tape measure dingers and was elected to MLB Hall of Fame in 1984. Killebrew died May 17th of esophageal cancer.

Randy “Macho Man” Savage: Randall Mario Poffo was a professional wrestler that held 20 championships during has career including six heavyweight championships. Poffo was born in Columbus, Ohio the son of a well known wrestler in the 50s and 60’s, Angelo Poffo. Savage was an excellent baseball player and was signed out of high school with the Cardinal organization where he played from 1971-1974. He was originally called “The Spider” and was given his nmae by Ole Anderson. Savage wrestled in many organizations from 1985-2000. Savage lost control of his Jeep as the result of a heart attack near Tampa. He was 58.

—Dan Wheldon, 33, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner killed in crash in Las Vegas.

—Lorenzo Charles, 47, dunk at buzzer gave North Carolina State 1983 NCAA title.

—Gil Clancy, 88, boxing trainer who guided Emile Griffith to world titles.

—Henry Cooper, 76, knighted English boxer who knocked down Muhammad Ali.

—Al Davis, 82, renegade owner of Oakland Raiders with a half-century in pro football.

—Joe Frazier, 67, bruising heavyweight champion who beat Muhammad Ali.

—Dave Gavitt, 73, basketball coach who helped found Big East Conference.

—John Henry Johnson, 81, running back in San Francisco 49ers’ ”Million Dollar Backfield.”

—John Mackey, 69, pioneered role of tight end before becoming players’ union president.

—Ollie Matson, 80, NFL running back and Olympic champion who was traded for nine players.

—Joe Perry, 84, speedy fullback with 49ers fullback nicknamed “The Jet.”

—Bubba Smith, 66, a 6-foot-7 defensive end and fierce pass rusher who became an actor.

—Duke Snider, 84, “Boys of Summer” center fielder who led Brooklyn to 1955 title.

—Socrates, 57, elegant playmaker and captain of Brazil’s 1982 World Cup team.

—Chuck Tanner, 82, managed “We Are Family” Pirates to 1979 World Series crown.

—Dick Williams, 82, managed Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s to World Series titles in 1972, ‘73.