A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
*John Saucier was a legend in sports car racing. He spent 55 years as a Sports Car Club of America member, driving to 28 Midwest Region championships while competing in five different divisions. Saucier was the only driver in Ponca City Grand Prix history to compete in all 26 of its events. The Midwest City resident was an Air Force veteran and FAA employee by trade. He died Friday at age 74.
*LaNese Pierson Craft was a golfer at Stillwater High School and then Northeast High. She played at Oklahoma State, where she was also a majorette in the band. Pierson Craft taught elementary physical education for several years in the Harrah School District. After retirement, the school district named the Claire Reynolds Elementary gymnasium in Pierson Craft's honor. She died recently at age 75.
*George Hanges played baseball for Central High School in Oklahoma City. He spent one season, 1945, playing minor league baseball for the Olean (N.Y.) Oilers, a Class D minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Hanges worked for Nelson Industrial Paint Contracters after baseball, though he continued his love for the sport as a fan. He was a resident of The Villages, Fla., when he died two weeks before his 87th birthday.
*Horseman Don Kniss raised showed paints for many years. He raced thoroughbreds and quarter horses in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Attended Oklahoma State on scholastic and basketball scholarships. Former president of the American Paint Horse Association and a member of the American Quarter Horse Association. The Oklahoma City resident and Amber native died at age 76.
*Wanda Jean Keel played basketball and softball in high school and then coached both as an adult. The Lebanon, OK, native earned a physical education degree at the University of Central Oklahoma, then took a coaching job at a tribal school in Albuquerque, N.M. After returning to Oklahoma, Keel participated in Softball Players Oklahoma Reunion Time (S.P.O.R.T.), an organization that raised money for charities. The Edmond resident was 78 at the time of death.
*Richie Akin was an offensive lineman for the Putnam City North Panthers in 1984 and 1985. The former merchandiser for Mathis Bros. Furniture was employed by Deer Creek Public Schools at the time of death at age 45.
*Paul “Big Daddy” Moser played fast-pitch softball in the 1950s for the powerful Brittain Horton Insurance team. The club won state championships in 1956, 1957 and 1958. Moser, a Midwest City resident, died recently at age 85.
*Machinist and adventurist Bill Stengle raced midget cars. The Enid resident was in training to pilot B-25 and B-26 bombers during World War II, but Japan surrendered shortly before he was scheduled for deployment to the Pacific. Stengle died at age 95.
*Rylee Miller, 21, was a member of the Northwestern State University rodeo team. ... Anthony Hartfield Jr., 20, former U.S. Grant basketball star. ... Patsy Sutton, 74, wife of former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton and mother of Oral Roberts basketball coaches Scott and Sean Sutton.
*Gene Murray, 85, was veteran journalist at The Oklahoman, retiring in 1989 as Sunday editor. What separated Gene from many of the other “grizzled” scribes were the smiles and genuine “How are you doings?” to the sports writers who were wet-behind-the ears cubs in the early 1980s. Thanks for making us feel part of the team, Gene.
World champion teams in the four major sports 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
MLB: Florida Marlins: Mark Redman, 14 wins
NBA: San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, 23.3 ppg
NFL: New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Super Bowl MVP
NHL: New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur, stud then, stud now
MLB: Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter, World Series hero
NBA: Chicago Bulls: MJ. 'Nuff said.
NFL: Dallas Cowboys: The Triplets
NHL: Montreal Canadiens: The Yankees of hockey
MLB: Baltimore Orioles: Tippy Martinez, 21 saves
NBA: Philadelphia 76ers: Say, hey, Dr. J.
NFL: Los Angeles Raiders: LA had two teams in '83.
NHL: New York Islanders: Dynasty
Hip, hip hooray for these deeds:
Just how great was the Oklahoma City Blazers hockey franchise? Oklahoma City continues to monopolize the Central Hockey League — and the city has been out of the Double-A circuit for almost four years.
The CHL announced its second Hall of Fame class, and four of the five inductees have Blazer ties. Coach Doug Sauter, defenseman Hardy Sauter, forward Doug Lawrence and administrator Brad Lund will be inducted during the league's awards banquet in May. The fifth inductee is former commissioner Tom Berry.
The inaugural CHL Hall of Fame class, in 2012, was led by all-time scorer Joe Burton of Oklahoma City. Of the eight total Hall of Famers, five have ties to the Blazers franchise.
Here's a look at the 2013 Blazers class:
*Doug Sauter coached Oklahoma City to a 544-291-83 record — .638 winning percentage — and two championships in 14 seasons.
*Hardy Sauter, Doug Sauter's nephew, was an eight-time All-Star and collected 100 points in a single season three times.
*Lawrence was known the most for playing with the Tulsa Oilers. But the CHL's career assist (684) and penalty-minute (2,109) king spent the 1995-96 season with the Blazers, helping the team to its first championship.
*Lund spent the 1992-2008 seasons as the franchise's president and chief executive officer. The Blazers averaged 10 sellouts per season at either the Cox Center or State Fair Arena. The Blazers led the Central League in average attendance for 16 consecutive seasons and often ranked among the top three attendance leaders in all of minor-pro hockey.