A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
*Former Oklahoma lineman Duane Cook died of an apparent heart attack. The Amarillo, Texas, native played for the Sooners from 1960 through 1962, helping the '62 team finish 8-3 and as Big Eight champion. Though Cook played both offense and defense for OU, the St. Louis Cardinals selected him as a guard in the eighth round of the 1963 NFL Draft. He never played a regular-season game in the NFL, however.
*Mike Berry was one of finest bowlers in Oklahoma history. The left-hander led the state in average (220) for the 1980-81 season. Smith won many tournaments since his career began in the 1950s; he also rolled seven 300 American Bowling Congress-sanctioned games; four 800 series'; and finished 10th out of 972 competitors at the 1983 High Rollers Tournament in Las Vegas. The Oklahoma Bowling Council inducted Smith into its Hall of Fame in 2009. By trade, the former Del City Eagles football and baseball player worked at OKC Day Shelter for the homeless. He died recently at age 66.
*Horseman Jerry Fisher died at age 76. The Fitzhugh resident was a member of the U.S. Team Roping Association, winning the 1973 All-American Futurity. Fisher trained five quarter horses that won world championships, including Go Man Go, Time to Think Rich and What A Way To Go.
*Roy Worley played football and basketball at Ardmore High School in the late 1940s. He became an accomplished bowler, once winning the city championship. The Korean conflict veteran was a vice president with BancFirst in Ardmore. He died at age 81.
*Tom Murphy, 59, played basketball and baseball in the 1970s for Bishop McGuinness High School. He participated in intramural athletics at Oklahoma State; in 1975 he tried out for the Cowboys' basketball team and made the junior varsity. The highlight of Murphy's collegiate career was hitting the game-winning free throws as the O-State JV beat the Oklahoma JV by two points. Murphy went into the construction business after college, but he remained in athletics by assisting McGuinness girls basketball coach — and eventual father-in-law — Phil Kierl Sr. Murphy also played in 3-on-3 basketball tournaments and the Catholic Softball League. The competitor battled brain cancer for 14 years after initially being told he had six months to live.
*Kenneth Vrooman worked in management by trade; he was a leader going back to his days as a high school athlete at Northwest Classen. Vrooman ran cross country and track for the Knights, helping the 1967 track team win the state championship. He was a member of a mile relay that twice broke the state record. He later ran track at Oklahoma State. As an adult, he attended several track meets as a spectator. Vrooman, 64, died recently from cancer.
*Other people with Oklahoma roots who enjoyed the game day experience: Jean Mattox Duke, 84, longtime season-ticket holder to Oklahoma Sooner sports. ... Jackie Smith, 44, wrestler and football player for Southeast High. ... Jerry McNabb, 67, basketball player at Lexington High School. ... Glenn Conn, 83, award-winning bowler. ... Jack Hoskins, 73, organized the first pistol team for the Bethany Police Department, which went on to win several championships. ... Wayne Caves, 58, a wrestler at Tulsa Webster High School who later raced motorcycles. ...
*Special recognition: Joe Weider was a body building pioneer whose fitness magazines and weightlifting equipment led to the success of many high school, college and professional athletes. Famed body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger called Weider “the godfather of fitness.” The Montreal, Canada, native died at age 93 from heart failure.
*Former Oklahoma City Blazers forward Brenden Morrow was named to the Dallas Stars' 20th anniversary team. The Stars are celebrating 20 years in the Metroplex by selecting players who have excelled for the franchise since it moved from Minnesota. However, only weeks after Morrow received a standing ovation for the honor, the Stars traded their beloved captain to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Morrow played for the Blazers during the NHL lockout in 2004.
*Steve Lynn of Oklahoma City won a gold medal in alpine skiing at the 10th annual Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, South Korea. Lynn, 39, participated in Super G, slalom and downhill.
The American Sprint Car Series is no slouch. Several of its drivers are top-notch.
But national championship contender Wayne Johnson is officially a professional race car driver. A news release said the Oklahoma City native has joined the World of Outlaws circuit, where he is scheduled to run more than 50 percent of its races. Despite Johnson's experience, he will be a “rookie” with the Outlaws, who are generally regarded as the pro sprint car series.
In the World of Outlaws' 35-year history, five Oklahoma drivers have earned Rookie of the Year honors: Greg Wooley of Oklahoma City in 1984; Andy Hillenburg of Broken Arrow in 1988; Aaron Berryhill of Broken Arrow in 1992; Danny Wood of Norman in 2000; and Shane Stewart of Bixby in 2005.
Johnson, who was the 1992 Super Modified points champion at Oklahoma City's old State Fair Speedway, will still run some ASCS events but not on a full-time basis like he has in past seasons.