PHIL RIZZUTO | 89
WHEN HE tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937, Rizzuto—who stood 5'6" and weighed 150 pounds—was told in no uncertain terms by Casey Stengel that he was too small to play in the majors. "Go get a shoeshine box," Stengel said. Undeterred, Rizzuto latched on with the Yankees, and over 13 seasons he served as a catalyst at the top of their slugger-filled lineup. The Scooter was the AL's MVP in 1950 (playing for Stengel), when he hit .324 with 200 hits, 150 of them singles. What he lacked in pop, he made up for with his eye (92 walks that season) and his glove. (He handled 238 straight chances without an error, then a record for shortstops.) "The little guy in front of me, he made my job easy," said centerfielder Joe DiMaggio. "I didn't have to pick up so many ground balls." After his Hall of Fame career, Rizzuto became a Yankees broadcaster, earning attention for his calls of historic moments (such as Roger Maris's 61st homer) as well as his liberal use of the expressions holy cow! and huckleberry.
HOWARD PORTER | 58
A 6'8" FORWARD known for his prodigious jumping, Porter was a three-time All-America at Villanova and the Most Outstanding Player at the 1971 Final Four. The NCAA stripped Porter of the award, however, after finding that he had taken money from an agent. (Villanova also had to forfeit its tournament wins.) He had a disappointing pro career and turned to drugs before undergoing treatment and becoming a parole officer.
DARRENT WILLIAMS | 24
ONE OF THE NFL's best young defensive backs, he was killed in the early hours of New Year's Day, shortly after his Broncos were eliminated from playoff contention. In just two seasons Williams became a hugely popular player in Denver, firing up teammates with his catchphrase "All ready!" He was gunned down in a drive-by shooting after members of his party got into an altercation at a club. His murder remains unsolved.
ERNIE LADD | 68
THE 6'9" Defensive tackle was so imposing that one lineman said he "couldn't see the goalposts" when he went up against him. A four-time AFL All-Star, the Big Cat won titles with the Chargers and the Chiefs before quitting in 1968 to pursue a passion that started as a publicity stunt: pro wrestling. He became one of the ring's most notorious villains, saying he preferred wrestling to football because he could indulge his "gift for gab."
JOE NUXHALL | 79
THE YOUNGEST player in baseball's modern history, Nuxhall debuted at age 15, four days after D Day. He tripped on a dugout step on his way to the bullpen, then gave up five runs in less than an inning. Later he said, "People at Crosley Field that afternoon probably said, 'That's the last we'll see of that kid.'" Hardly. After finishing high school Nuxie won 130 games in 15 seasons with the Reds, then spent 40 years in their broadcast booth.