Sports legends passed away in 2017

As we begin a new year, we take a moment to look back on some of those in the world of sports who died in 2017.

On January 22, one former Major League Baseball player and one current player died in separate car accidents in their native Dominican Republic. Former infielder Andy Marte (33) and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura (25) were killed in unrelated car crashes.

Longtime owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, and founder of Little Caesar’s Pizza, Mike Ilitch (87) died Feb. 10.

Boxing Hall of Fame trainer, Lou Duva, who handled the careers of 19 champions, including Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Vinny Pazienza, Hector Camacho, and Pernell Whitaker, died March 8. He was 94.

Former Major League manager Dallas Green died on March 22, he was 82. Green managed the Phillies to the 1980 World Series title, and later managed the Mets and the Yankees.

Steve Palermo was a Major League umpire for 15 seasons, until his career was cut short by a bullet. On July 7, 1991, he and several friends, including fellow umpire Rich Garcia, were dining at Campisi’s Restaurant in Dallas, after working a Texas Rangers game. They heard a scuffle and were told two waitresses were being mugged in the parking lot. In an attempt to apprehend the assailants, Palermo was shot in the back and the bullet hit his spinal cord, resulting in instant paralysis from the waist down. Doctors told Palermo and his wife, Debbie, that he would probably never walk again. Through rehabilitation and determination, Palermo managed to recover, walking with the use of one small leg brace and a cane. He died of complications from lung cancer on May 14. Palermo was 67.

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, died May 27 at the age of 85. Bunning won 224 games in a 17-year Major League career. He became the first pitcher after 1900 to pitch a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues.

John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA Championships, died at 101, on July 23. He was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Notre Dame football’s legendary head coach Ara Parseghian, died Aug. 2 at age 94. He led the Irish to national titles in 1966 and 1973. In 11 seasons at Notre Dame, he compiled an impressive record, 95-17-4, but retired abruptly after the 1974 season at the age of 51.

Former Arkansas coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, died Aug. 14 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 92. Broyles led the Razorbacks football team to a record of 144-58-5, from 1958-1976.

Rollie Massamino, who led Villanova to the 1985 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship, and won more than 800 games in his career, died Aug. 30, after a long battle with cancer. He was 82.

Boxing champ Jake LaMotta, whose life of violence in and out of the ring was portrayed in the movie Raging Bull, died Sept. 20. Although in his 90’s, it is unclear his exact age, as some sources have his birth year as 1921 and others as 1922.

Basketball Hall of Fame forward Connie Hawkins died Oct. 6 at the age of 75. Hawkins was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters for four years, and later played with Pittsburgh in the American Basketball Association, and with the Suns, Lakers and Hawks in the NBA.

Former college basketball coach Jeff Capel II died from complications of ALS on Nov. 13. He was 64. Capel led Old Dominion and North Carolina A&T to NCAA Tournament appearances in the 1990s.

Johnny Bower, the most beloved player to ever wear the Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, died Dec. 26 at age 93. Bower, a Hall of Fame goaltender and two-time Vezina Trophy winner, helped the Leafs win four Stanley Cup Championships including their last one in 1967. He had eight sisters, and taught himself how to play hockey, using a branch as a stick. He made himself goalie pads out of old mattresses. When he was 15, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Canadian Army during World War II, where he was stationed in England as a gunner with the 2nd Canadian Division from 1940 to 1943. His service ended when he was discharged due to rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. After leaving the military, Bower was still young enough to play junior hockey in Canada, and later turned pro.