Jeff Harvey

This has been a rough year for everybody and sports have been no exception. Seasons have gone every which way from cancellation to postponement to being restarted in partial form away from fans.

For some reason, being in your sport’s Hall of Fame, whether you’re Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Gale Sayers or the latest Hall of Fame death, Bob Gibson, has been a situation leading to death this year.

I nearly forgot John Thompson in the HOF mortality list.

Since I went into descriptions of the careers of all but Sayers and Gibson, I want to correct that injustice now.

Sayers, known as the “Kansas Comet” for his college, speed and maneuvering on the field, had a great career with the Chicago Bears, albeit injury-shortened. He scored six touchdowns in a game, three by rushing, two by kickoff returns and one by punt return, against the San Francisco 49ers.

He was perhaps better known for being a protagonist in the book “Brian’s Song” about the shortened career and life of his friend, fellow Bears running back Brian Piccolo. He was portrayed in the movie by Billy Dee Williams while James Caan portrayed Piccolo.

He was only active for seven seasons, two which were injury-shortened. The other five put him into Canton at the age of 34, the youngest such player inducted.

While Sayers was lightning on the football field, Gibson was thunder on a baseball mound, a dominant figure even in a pitching era.

Gibson came to the Cardinals in the late 1950s from Creighton University and a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters .

He won 251 games, a then-N.L. record 3,112 strikeouts and a reputation as a fearsome competitor and dominant postseason player with three Cardinals teams in the World Series.

John Donne wrote that anyone’s death diminished him because he was part of mankind. We’ve suffered deaths of people we watched, that we worked with and that we loved and I can say Donne has it pegged.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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