For those of you keeping score at home, the Mayans got it wrong. If demographers have it right, about 7 billion souls will accompany an intact Planet Earth as it continues its journey through this small corner of the universe. Nevertheless, there are various celebrities and sports figures who “shuffled off their mortal coil” during 2012 and will not join the rest of us on said journey.
This compendium recognizes their passing…
Don Carter converted his final 7-10 split into a spare.
Don Mueller singled to right field for the final time.
Jim Huber went off the air.
Tony Blankley offered his final political analysis.
Gene Bartow followed John Wooden at UCLA then followed John Wooden into Heaven.
Richard Threkeld filed his final story.
Byron Donzis obviated his need ever to wear a flak jacket.
Marty Springstead called his final third strike.
Etta James made it to the Pearly Gates At Last.
Johnny Otis taught St. Peter how to do the hand jive.
Joe Paterno joined Bear Bryant as co-head coaches at Heaven U.
Andy Musser’s microphone went dead.
Greg Cook completed one final pass to Father Time.
Don Fulmer took a ten count.
Don Cornelius took the Soul Train to Heaven.
Charlie Spoonhour got a TTJ – a Transfer To Jesus.
Angelo Dundee laced up a boxer’s gloves for the final time.
Dave Duerson cleaned the clock of an opposing wide receiver one last time.
Whitney Houston got a Celestial Discharge.
[Aside: I was in Australia when news of her death broke. The news crawl at the bottom of our CNN International feed froze with the words “Whitney Houston died in a …” on it. Others on the trip guessed “plane crash” or “car accident” or “domestic violence situation”. My guess was “drug induced stupor”.]
Freddie Solomon caught his final TD pass.
James Farentino taped his final ER episode.
Ben Gazzara started looking for character acting roles in Heaven.
Gary Carter caught his final game.
Harry Wendlestadt threw his final manager out of a game.
Alex Webster took it off tackle for the final time.
Davy Jones took the Last Train to Clarksville and St. Peter met him at the station.
The print edition of The Encyclopedia Brittanica went paws up.
Furman Bisher wrote his final column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Mel Parnell pitched his final shut-out.
Ron Erhardt ran his last practice.
Lacy Banks covered his last NBA game.
This Week In Baseball turned off the cameras for the final time.
Bert Sugar stubbed out his cigar and did the first interview with Angelo Dundee in Heaven.
Dennis Bennett hung his one last curveball.
Earl Scruggs played Foggy Mountain Breakdown in the Celestial Club with God in the VIP section.
Giorgio Chinaglia scored on his final penalty kick.
Jerry Lynch hit his last pinch homerun.
Chief Jay Strongbow stared up at the lights for the last time.
Joe Avezzano drew up his final punt coverage play.
Mike Wallace watched the second hand make its final trip towards the 60 Minutes mark.
Mark Lenzi did one last two-and a half gainer in the pike position.
Dwayne Schintzius slammed his final dunk.
Rich Saul snapped his last football.
Dick Clark watched the ball drop on his lifetime
[Aside: With the passing of Don Cornelius in February, this was not a particularly good year for hosts of teen dance shows on TV.]
Charles Colson found out that political dirty tricks are unnecessary in Heaven.
Bill “Moose” Skowron did lunch with the Grim Reaper.
Amarillo Slim did not fill his straight on the river.
[Aside: Since he remains dead 8 months after the fact, we can properly assume he is not running a bluff here.]
Junior Seau executed his final blitz and got a Celestial Discharge.
George Lindsey – Gomer Pyle’s brother, Goober – went to the Great Gas Station In the Sky.
Vidal Sassoon got his hair cut for the last time.
Carroll Shelby drove his Cobra right through the Pearly Gates.
Mike McGrady was neither naked nor a stranger to St. Peter.
Donna Summer had her Last Dance.
[Aside: In addition to being a bad year for hosts of teen dance shows, this was not a good year for rock musicians like Earl Scruggs, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Johnny Otis and Davy Jones.]
Eugene Polly saw his life go black when the Grim Reaper hit the “Off” button on the remote.
Robin Gibb was no longer Stayin’ Alive.
Johnny Tapia was TKO’d.
Jack Twyman sank one last jump shot.
Orlando Woolridge took down one last rebound.
Lee Roy Ellis blocked his final shot.
[Aside: For former NBA players, bad things happened in threes here.]
Richard Dawson found himself in the middle of a Family Feud in Heaven.
Pedro Borbon assumed room temperature.
Ray Bradbury was glad to see that the temperature in Heaven was not 451 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Bob Welch began his Heavenly search for a Sentimental Lady.
Frank Cady took the morning train out of Petticoat Junction bound for
Green Acres but wound up in Heaven.
Dave Boswell and Billy Martin resumed their punch-up at the Pearly Gates.
Teofilo Stevenson heard the bell toll ten times.
Rodney King went to the Eternal Care Unit.
R.C. Owens caught his final “Alley Oop Pass”.
LeRoy Neiman began sketching Jesse Owens’ portrait in Heaven.
Karl Malden stopped patrolling the Streets of San Francisco.
Nora Ephron began sampling the “gastroporn” in Heaven.
Andy Griffith passed through the Pearly Gates and George Lindsey greeted him with a “Hey!”
Ben Davidson started waiting just inside the Pearly Gates – with a Miller Lite in hand of course – for Len Dawson to arrive so he could spear Dawson.
Ernest Borgnine set a course for Heaven on PT 73.
Jon Lord found there was indeed Smoke on the Water in Heaven.
Celeste Holm faded to black.
Stephen Covey began to compile the 7 Habits of Successful Souls in Heaven.
Kitty Wells became Heaven’s Honky Tonk Angel.
William Raspberry became an op-ed columnist for the Cosmic Tribune.
Robert Creamer began writing for Celestial Sports Illustrated.
Pancho Martin saddled his last horse.
Sally Ride took the ultimate space ride.
Chad Everett began staffing the Heavenly Medical Center.
Gore Vidal – a master polemicist – did not find much need for his work in Heaven.
Sherman Hemsley kept movin’ on up all the way to the Pearly Gates on the East Side.
Art Malone went off tackle for the final time.
Marvin Hamlisch held Heavenly auditions for A Chorus Line.
Dan Roundtree boxed out for his final rebound.
Johnny Pesky started his last double play.
Helen Gurley Brown said, “Good girls go to Heaven but bad girls go everywhere,” so I guess we do not know where Ms. Brown went.
Michael Dokes had his final sparring session.
Ron Palillio – Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter – raised his hand and Father Time called on him.
Jimmy Carr defended his last pass.
Hal David knew the way to San José but he detoured to Heaven.
Neil Armstrong rode the Lunar Excursion Module all the way to the Pearly Gates to be greeted there by Sally Ride.
Steve Van Buren ran across the goal line and into Heaven.
Phyllis Diller did lunch with Father Time.
Rev. Sun Myong Moon went to meet his master.
Michael Clark Duncan walked The Green Mile for real.
Art Modell moved his personal franchise from Earth to Heaven.
Les Moss warmed up his final pitcher.
Steve Sabol went to the great film editing room in the sky.
Andy Williams sailed down Moon River and wound up meeting St. Peter.
Beano Cook started voting for Heisman Trophy winners from Heaven.
Alex Karras had to promise St. Peter he would not eat any beans around a campfire in Heaven.
Arlen Specter became Chairman of the Scowling Committee in the Cosmic Legislature.
Russell Means met up with The Great Spirit.
George McGovern found out there were no wars to oppose in Heaven.
Eddie Yost drew his final base on balls.
George Smith – a Navajo Code Talker – deployed to Heaven without any war that needed his service.
Pascual Perez broke off his final screwball.
Darrell Royal held his final practice.
Carmen Basilio answered the bell for the last time.
Warren Rudman arrived in Heaven and found the budget there was already balanced.
Larry Hagman was not shot – but he wound up at the Pearly Gates anyway.
Marvin Miller – sadly – was admitted to Heaven before he was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mickey “Guitar” Baker put down is pick for the final time.
Zig Ziglar held his first motivational seminar in Heaven.
[Steven Covey was a featured speaker.]
Buddy Roberts sneaked past St. Peter woth a “foreign object” concealed in his rasslin’ tights.
Rick Majerus was indeed able to squeeze his ample frame through the Pearly Gates.
Dave Brubeck began an eternal set at the Cosmic Lounge.
Ravi Shankar began sitar lessons in Heaven.
Jenny Rivera took a Celestial Transfer.
Susan Luckey began a run in The Music Man in Heaven.
Daniel Inouye (D- HI) went to join the Eternal Legislative Session.
[Aside: 2012 was not a good year for former Senators such as Warren Rudman, Arlen Spector and George McGovern in addition to Daniel Inouye.]
Robert Bork began lecturing at the Cosmic School of Law.
Larry Morris sacked his last quarterback.
Jack Klugman – as Oscar Madison – slept in an unmade bed for the last time.
Midge Richardson – formerly a nun and then editor of Seventeen Magazine – found out if that was a good choice.
The print edition of Newsweek ceased to exist
The print edition of The Sporting News ceased to exist.
Let us remember all of these people and institutions positively as 2012 draws to a close. May they all rest in peace…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………