Hank Aaron, 86, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark with 755 homers and a legacy as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday peacefully in his sleep.
“Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home-run king. It was a title he would hold for more than 33 years, a period during which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan.
Ted Thompson, 68, whose 13-year run as Green Bay Packers general manager included the team’s 2010 Super Bowl championship season, died Wednesday night at his home in Atlanta, Texas. Thompson announced in May 2019 he had been diagnosed with an autonomic nerve disorder.
He was the general manager from 2005-17 and drafted many notable players on the current roster, including two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He acquired 49 of the 53 players on the Packers’ 2010 championship team. Thompson spent more than two decades in the Packers’ front office and was the team’s director of pro personnel when the Packers won the Super Bowl for the 1996 season and captured the NFC title the following year.
Don Sutton, 75, the Hall of Fame pitcher whose uniform number was the last one retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers, died at his Rancho Mirage, California, home Tuesday after what a Hall of Fame statement said was “a long battle with cancer.”
A four-time All-Star, Sutton had a career record of 324-256 and an ERA of 3.26 while pitching for the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, California Angels and the Dodgers again in 1988, his final season.
The durable Sutton never missed a turn in the rotation in 756 big league starts. Only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan made more starts than Sutton, who never landed on the injured list in his 23-year career.
Joe Scheidler, 93, the founder of the Anti-abortion Action League and prominent figure in the anti-abortion movement, died Monday, at his home in Chicago. The cause was pneumonia.
Scheidler was at the center of a legal battle with the National Organization for Women that led the U.S. Supreme Court to decide that a federal law against extortion was improperly used to punish anti-abortion demonstrators, the website of his organization reports. “Now we can go on protesting and counseling at the clinics, doing the things that we do,” Scheidler told The Associated Press in 2003 following the decision.
Gen. Nikolai T. Antoshkin, 78, the commander of a perilous helicopter firefighting operation in which he and other pilots braved radiation exposure to contain the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, died Jan. 17. The head of the ruling party’s faction in Russia’s Parliament, where he had been a deputy since 2014, said Antoshkin had been hospitalized with COVID-19. Teams of military and civilian workers were sent to the reactor north of Kyiv that exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation into the atmosphere. They became heroes and are now widely revered in Russia for preventing an already terrible disaster from becoming worse.
Phil Spector, 81, the visionary record producer who revolutionized pop music in the early 1960s with his majestic sound and fierce ambition but spent his final years in prison after shooting and killing an aspiring actress in his Alhambra, California, mansion, died Jan. 16 of natural causes, said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Margo St. James, 83, who became one of the nation’s most prominent rights advocates for sex workers, devoting her life to the cause of decriminalizing prostitution and destigmatizing its practitioners, Jan. 11 in a memory care facility in Bellingham. Her sister, Claudette Sterk, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in Bellingham, most of her activism was done in San Francisco, where she founded a group called COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) in 1973 to press for health care, legal rights and financial security for sex workers. In the process, St. James sought to reframe prostitution as a profession with legitimate workplace and human rights issues rather than something sinful.
Dr. Harold Bornstein, 73, who for a time was Donald Trump’s personal physician and who had attested in December 2015 that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” died Jan. 8. Loquacious, hirsute and eccentric, Bornstein, a gastroenterologist, was Trump’s personal physician from 1980 to 2017. Bornstein later revealed that Trump had dictated the glowing assessment of his health.
Dorothy Schmidt Cole, 107, recognized last year as the oldest living U.S. Marine, died Jan. 7 of a heart attack in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Cole, then Dorothy Schmidt, enlisted as one of the earliest female Marine reservists after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She left home to head to Pittsburgh, where she hoped to volunteer for the Navy, but because she was only 4 feet, 11 inches tall, she was deemed too short to meet Navy standards.
Undaunted, Cole learned how to fly an airplane and persuaded the Marine Corps to let her try to be a pilot. But after completing six weeks of boot camp with the Women’s Reserve’s First Battalion on the beaches of Camp Lejeune near Jacksonville, North Carolina, “They put me behind a typewriter instead of an airplane,” Cole said.
In July 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve into law, giving women the chance to fill positions left open by men headed to combat. Cole enlisted five months later at age 29, becoming one of the earliest volunteers for the branch.
Alice Hoagland, 71, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her son Mark Bingham helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison’s disease.
International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup.