The dreaded celebrity Rule of Three has struck again. With Leslie Nielsen’s death yesterday, we have now lost three great men over the past few months.
On November 4, former Reds and Tigers manager Sparky Anderson passed away at the age of 76. Sparky’s death shocked me for two reasons: (i) I thought he had died some time ago and (ii) the only way he was 76 is if we are counting in dog years. He had to have been at least 76 when he was leading the Big Red Machine to two consecutive World Series championships in 1975 and 1976 and I could have sworn he was 80+ when he guided the ’84 Tigers to their last championship. Captain Hook must (a) have come out of the womb with that silver mane or (b) be the actual inspiration for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Case in point, here is the man at 41:
This year also saw the passing of one of my all-time favorite basketball players and humanitarians, Manute Bol (OK, while the list of notable basketball playing humanitarians may not be that long, we do have David Bing, the Admiral, Mutumbo, Roy Tarpley, who must have raised Columbia’s GDP by a percent or two with his coke habit and Lamar Odom who saved the rest of mankind from Khloe Kardashian). Every kid growing up in the 80s and 90s that watched the NBA, regardless of which team they rooted for, universally loved Bol. He has the unique distinction of being the only player in NBA history to finish with more blocks (2086) than points (1599). As the years have past and he has became known for fighting the Fridge on Fox’s Celebrity Boxing and his one day stint with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League, it is easy to forget that he was once a defensive force (he averaged 5 blocks a game during the 86-87 season and also led the league in swats in 88-89). Also, nothing was cooler than watching Bol hover around the arc and launch 3s (he threw up over one a game in 88-89). OK, maybe one thing was cooler: this picture of Manute and Mugsy Bouges during Mugsy’s rookie campaign with the Bullets.