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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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Steve Howe
48

The 1980 NL Rookie of the Year got the final out for the Dodgers when they won the World Series in '81, but drug use kept the lefthander from reaching his potential. Seven suspensions cost Howe five seasons in his prime, but he still saved 91 games before he was released by the Yankees in 1996. He died in a pickup truck accident in Coachella, Calif.; an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine was found in his system.

Curt Gowdy
86

His first booth was a couple of orange soapboxes--you take what you can get when you're calling at a six-man high school football game on a frigid Wyoming afternoon in 1943--but as his career progressed, Gowdy found himself in press boxes the world over, providing play-by-play for some of the most memorable sporting events ever. As the voice of the Red Sox, he described Ted Williams's last at bat. He called Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th homer for NBC. He was in the booth for Super Bowl III when the Jets upset the Colts (his most famous game) and for Franco Harris's Immaculate Reception. Gowdy also worked Olympics, Final Fours and Rose Bowls, and for more than 20 years was the host of ABC's The American Sportsman. He had a direct style, never resorting to gimmicks or catchphrases, and in '70 became the first sportscaster to win a Peabody Award. Said Gowdy, "I tried to pretend that I was sitting in the stands with a buddy watching the game, poking him in the ribs when something exciting happened."

Louise Smith
89

A fearsome driver in stock car racing's rough-and-tumble early days, Smith was the first woman to compete in NASCAR's top series, in 1949. Against the likes of Lee Petty and Curtis Turner, the hard-charging Smith mixed it up on (and, if necessary, off) the track. Smith won 38 races on local short courses and was the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, in 1999.

Rod Dedeaux
91

Thanks to a successful trucking business he started in 1935 with part of his $1,500 major league signing bonus, Dedeaux reportedly coached USC for $1 a season when his brief career as a shortstop ended. If that's true, his alma mater never struck a better deal. The Trojans won 11 national titles during his 45 years, and Dedeaux turned out 59 big leaguers, including Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson.

Peter Norman
64

The third man in one of the most famous photos in sports-- U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos's raising their gloved fists on the 200-meter medal stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics--played a key role in its origin. Carlos had forgotten his pair of gloves; Norman, an Australian who won the silver, suggested he wear one of Smith's. Norman, whose Olympic time (20.06) still stands as the record Down Under, supported their Black Power statement by wearing a badge during the medal ceremony, and the three men remained close. Carlos and Smith traveled to Australia to serve as pallbearers at Norman's funeral.

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