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Farewell
MARK BECHTEL
December 25, 2006
In 2006, as in every year, the sports world lost some of its most beloved athletes and superlative characters, from golfing great Byron Nelson and Negro leagues legend Buck O'Neil to pioneering broadcaster Curt Gowdy and Roller Derby queen Ann Calvello
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December 25, 2006

Farewell

In 2006, as in every year, the sports world lost some of its most beloved athletes and superlative characters, from golfing great Byron Nelson and Negro leagues legend Buck O'Neil to pioneering broadcaster Curt Gowdy and Roller Derby queen Ann Calvello

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Randy Walker
52

Northwestern had experienced gridiron success before Walker arrived, in 2001, but seldom consistently. In his last three seasons the Wildcats won at least six games, their first such streak in 74 years. Walker, who got his start at Miami ( Ohio), where he had more victories than any other coach in school history, including Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian, died of a heart attack in June.

Eric Gregg
55

The third black umpire to make the majors, Gregg was one of the most popular and--at nearly 400 pounds--imposing men in blue. He lost his job when he resigned in 1999 because of a failed union bargaining ploy but remained in the public eye in his hometown of Philadelphia. The gregarious Gregg was an honorary chairman of the Wing Bowl eating competition, and he often tended bar at Phillies games.

Johnny Sain
89

Warren Spahn had top billing in the immortal verse " Spahn and Sain and pray for rain," but Sain was the ace of the Braves' 1948 pennant winner. The crafty righthander was 24--15 and beat the Indians' Bob Feller in Game 1 of the World Series with a four-hit shutout (though Cleveland won the title). After going 139--116 over 11 seasons, Sain became the Yankees' pitching coach and helped turn Whitey Ford into a 20-game winner.

Ann Calvello
76

After being one of Roller Derby's good girls for a few years, Calvello "went red shirt" in the 1950s, becoming a baddie. With her dyed hair, heavy makeup and a schnoz that had been broken a dozen times--fans called her Banana Nose--she looked the part as well as she played it. At the end of the day, though, everyone knew it was an act. Calvello was beloved by her peers, and a tournament for roller girls in Texas bears her name.

Boom Boom Geoffrion
75

Though his claim that he invented the slap shot as a kid is often questioned, there's no denying that few used it as effectively as Bernie Geoffrion. The Canadiens' right wing twice led the NHL in scoring, and in 1961 he became the second player to net 50 goals in a season. Geoffrion died hours before the Habs retired his number 5.

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