Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cleaning out the inbox: Passings

   The tributes never stop as the chain of life rolls along without some notable people who recently left us.

Goodbye to Bob "Slick" Leonard at the age of 88.

Slick Leonard might be the "Mr. Basketball" for the hoops-crazy state of Indiana as he was part of the sport there for almost seventy years.

Leonard was a two-time All-American for Indiana and hit the game-winning free throw to give the Hoosiers the 1952 National Championship before a seven-year playing career with the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard then took over as head coach of the Indiana Pacers in the ABA, early in the league's second season (1968-69). kept that job for the remainder of the league's life and for the franchise's first four seasons in the NBA after the league's merger with the ABA.

Leonard coached the Pacers to the best record in the ABA's history, won three ABA titles (1969-70, 71-72, and 72-73),  and lost in two other finals on his way to the basketball hall of fame.

Leonard rejoined the Pacers in 1985 and until recent health issues were the long-time color commentator for Pacers broadcasts.

Goodbye to Ken Reitz at the age of 69.

Reitz played for four teams but spent most of his career with the St.Louis Cardinals, who thought so highly of his defensive prowess that after they traded him to the Giants before the 1976 season, traded for him to return him to St.Louis before the 1977 season.

Nicknamed the Zamboni for his abilities on artificial turf, Reitz had the misfortune to be the best National League defensive third baseman during the career of Mike Schmidt.

Reitz did manage to win one Gold Glove for the Cardinals in 1975, but in a league without Schmidt Reitz would have likely won a few others.

Goodbye to Gerald Irons at the age of 73.

A hard-nosed linebacker that split his career between the Oakland Raiders (six seasons) and Cleveland Browns (four seasons) from 1970-79, Irons was the Raiders third-round pick in the 1970 draft from Maryland-Eastern Shore and was unlucky in his career as Oakland traded him to Cleveland in the off-season before the Raiders 1976 Super Bowl championship team and would retire the season before the Kardiac Kids in 1980 for the Browns.

Irons played in the days before official tackle numbers but did intercept 13 passes in his ten-year career.

Irons's son Grant would play for the Raiders, and his son Jarrett was a two-time All-Big Ten performer for Michigan.

Goodbye to Mike Sensibaugh at the age of 72.

Sensibaugh was an All-American for Ohio State in 1970 and played for the Buckeyes 1968 National Championship team.

Sensibaugh's 22 interceptions over his three seasons in Columbus remains the program's all-time record holder for interceptions in a career.

Sensibaugh punted for Ohio State as well before being chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the eighth round of the 1971 draft.

Sensibaugh played for five seasons in Kansas City before traveling across Missouri to finish his career with three seasons with the St.Louis Cardinals, finishing his NFL career with 27 career interceptions.

Sensibaugh's eight interceptions in 1972 as a Chief led the AFC and trailed only Philadelphia's Bill Bradley's nine in all of pro football.

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