A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
*Col. Jack Van Pool was an exceptional athlete before starting a distinguished, 28-year career in the Army. Van Pool was the first player in state history to make All-State in three sports (football, basketball, baseball) during the same academic year. He quarterbacked Capitol Hill High School to a 12-0 state championship season in 1949; the 6-foot, 170-pounder ran for a touchdown and threw for another as the Redskins beat Seminole, 28-14. Van Pool played football and baseball for Oklahoma; he replaced injured Gene Calame at quarterback and helped the Sooners beat top-ranked Maryland 7-0 in the 1954 Orange Bowl. He died Jan. 13 at age 81.
*Gene Horton was diagnosed with Type A diabetes at age 19, but he never let the disease keep him from running. In fact, he continued to run between 15 and 20 miles per day because of the disease. “I want to bring a positive awareness about diabetes, to show kids that it doesn't necessarily (mean you) have to slow you down if you take care of it,” Horton told The Oklahoman in 1990. Horton, a 2-mile state champion at Northwest Classen High School in 1969, once ran 1,100 miles across state to raise money for the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Horton, who died at age 60 from a cancerous brain tumor discovered just before Christmas, sold athletic shoes by trade.
*Jim Cosman was a 6-foot-4, 211-pound right-handed pitcher for the Tulsa Oilers. He spent parts of the 1965 through 68 seasons with the Oilers, then the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Cosman won 19 games and struck out 183 for Tulsa. His time in the majors was brief — 12 games over three seasons — but he threw a two-hit, complete game shutout in his first appearance with the Cardinals in 1966. Cosman entered the waste management business after baseball and retired as a chief of operations. He died at age 69 after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.
*Former Oklahoma City 89ers shortstop Enzo Hernandez died at age 63 in Venezuela. Hernandez spent most of his baseball career with the San Diego Padres, but he played as a 19-year-old Houston Astros prospect in Oklahoma City in 1968. He was traded to the Padres after that season.
*Horseman Ronnie Horn was involved in racing and team roping for many years. Horn's race horses won at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw; he later became involved performance competition, which led to an American Quarter Horse Association world championship. As a boy, he and a friend performed roping tricks at rodeos. The Holdenville native died at age 75.
*William Watts, 79, played football for Kingfisher High School. Graduated from Oklahoma and Southern Methodist law schools and worked for the federal prosecutor in Dallas and the Andrews-Davis law firm in Oklahoma City. Retired in 1999 to play golf and watch OU football.
*Coy Wynn was an award-winning trackster at Cheyenne High School. A family obituary said Wynn had plenty of practice, running to catch the bus each morning. The retired grocer and truck driver died at age Jan. 5, four days before his 83rd birthday.
*Betty Wells Baker graduated from Dickson High School at age 16. The valedictorian complemented her studies by starting on the girls' basketball team. She died at age 82.
*James Crofford joined the U.S. Navy in 1941 — less than a year after playing football and basketball for the Northeast Vikings. The World War II veteran was an avid hunter. Crofford retired from Sun Oil Co. after 39 years. The Cement native died at age 90.
*Del City resident Floyd Deaton died at age 87. He was a four-year letterman in baseball at Norman High School. Deaton also played ball, as a catcher, while in the Army in the 1940s. Retired from Mobil Oil after 36½ years.
Hip, hip hooray for these deeds:
*In the rush to get back to Edmonton, Taylor Hall packed the necessities: clothes, skates and sticks. What the former Oklahoma City Barons star left behind was a new $100 bicycle he used to ride from his apartment to the Cox Center for practice. Hall donated the bike.
“I didn't know what to do with it,” Hall told The Edmonton Journal in one of his first interviews since reporting to the NHL team. “So I left it there and, hopefully, some homeless guy can use it.”
*Edmond native Matt Donovan was selected for the American Hockey League All-Star Game. The first Oklahoma born and trained professional hockey player is a defenseman for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The AHL All-Star Classic is scheduled Jan. 28 in Providence, R.I. The 22-year-old has six goals and 19 points in 37 games. Bridgeport Sound is the afilliate of the New York Islanders.
No. 1 overall draft picks in the four major sports 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
MLB: Tim Belcher, Minnesota Twins
NBA: Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets
NFL: John Elway, Baltimore Colts
NHL: Brian Lawton, Minnesota North Stars
MLB: Alex Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners
NBA: Chris Webber, Orlando Magic
NFL: Drew Bledsoe, New England Patriots
NHL: Alexandre Daigle, Ottawa Senators
MLB: Delmon Young, Tampa Bay Rays
NBA: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
NFL: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
NHL: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins