New Year’s Eve is a time to reflect on the year that’s ending, and it’s always a bittersweet exercise. It was a tremendous year in the world of sports, from the Giants’ improbable Super Bowl win, to the amazing spectacle of the Olympic Games in Beijing, to Tiger Woods winning the US Open on a broken leg. The Celtics and Lakers renewed their rivalry, Yankee Stadium closed, and Michael Phelps won 600 gold medals. But the sports world also lost some legendary figures. Three NFL Hall of Famers died this year, including Sammy Baugh, the first great quarterback. Legendary sportswriters Bill Heinz and Jerome Holtzman both passed away, and so did longtime Rams owner Georgia Frontiere.
I’ve put together a list of some of the end of year tributes on the web that I recommend.
Best of 2008 articles
- King Kauffman Year in Sports:
- Sports Illustrated: Best of 2008
- NY Times Year in Pictures
- NPR: Best Year in Sports History? (podcast)
- Boston Globe: Notable Sports Figures who Died in 2008
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentnel: Farewells in 2008
There are two other names that don’t show up on most of these sports lists, because their endeavors don’t fit into the modern definition of sport. One was Bobby Fisher, the reclusive and eccentric former world chess champion. The other was Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary’s feat came in 1953. Fisher won the World Chess Championship in 1972, but refused to defend his title in 1975 and stopped playing competitive chess.
I wanted to offer up another list of links. In every sport, there are groups of researchers who specialize in keeping track of former players who pass away. When a guy like Sammy Baugh dies, it’s on the front page of sports sections across the country. When a less well-known player dies, it can escape notice. This sort of biographical research is crucial to folks like me who create sports encyclopedias and other reference sources.
- NFL Players who died in 2008
- MLB Players who died in 2008
- Basketball Player Necrology
- Hockey Players who died in 2008
- Boxers who died in 2008