“The Lord is first; my friends are second and I am third.” – Gale Sayers
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Chicago Bear legend and Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame member Gale Sayers. Mr. Sayers, age 77, passed Wednesday, September 23, 2020 after a long battle with dementia. He was the personification of class in sport and in life. Because of Gale’s exemplary display of charity, class and football accomplishments, we hold an annual honor in his name. NFL great Desmond Howard was our most recent recipient of the Gayle Sayers Award in 2019.
Nicknamed the Kansas Comet out of the University of Kansas, the All-American halfback was drafted 4th overall by George Halas and the Chicago Bears in 1965 and went on to win rookie of the year honors amassing an NFL rookie record of 22 touchdowns and 2,272 all-purpose yards. The overnight sensation and immediate impact superstar was famously quoted, “Give me 18 inches of daylight. That’s all I need.” Following his dynamic rookie season, Mr. Sayers went on to earn the NFL rushing title in his second season and five consecutive first-team All-Pro honors. In a storied career that was ultimately cut drastically short by knee injuries, he retired in 1972 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 as the youngest inductee ever at the age of 34. A record that still holds today. Former teammate and Chicago Bear great Mike Ditka has said that Sayers was the greatest player he’s ever witnessed. High praise from a man that also coached Walter Payton. Sayers still holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in a game with six and his career kickoff return average of 30.56 yards is a record for players with at least 75 attempts. He is largely considered the best open field runner in the history of the game.
While his accomplishments on the field made him a name in football, it was Gale’s 1970 autobiography titled, “I Am Third” made into the 1971 television move “Brian’s Song” that made him a global star. The film starring Billy Dee Williams as Gayle Sayers and James Caan as Brian Piccolo documents the story of the two Chicago Bear teammates as Piccolo battles a terminal cancer diagnosis while they simultaneously break the color barrier together as the first interracial roommate duo the history of the NFL. A notable aspect of Sayers' friendship with Piccolo, a white man, and the first film's depiction of their friendship, was its effect on race relations. The first film was made in the wake of racial riots, escalating racial tensions fueled by Martin Luther King’s assassination, and charges of discrimination across the nation. Sayers and Piccolo were devoted friends and deeply respectful of and affectionate with each other. Piccolo helped Sayers through rehabilitation after injury, and Sayers was by Piccolo's side throughout his illness until his death in June 1970.
After his playing career ended, Sayers briefly worked as a television commentator and stockbroker and then for his alma mater, The University of Kansas. He was the athletic director at Southern Illinois University for five years before resigning in 1981.
He had several business ventures, including a successful computer supply company in the Chicago area named Sayers 40 Inc and was widely known for his philanthropy towards youth causes. He was a strong supporter of the Cradle Foundation an adoption organization in Evanston, IL and founded the Gale Sayers Center in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. The Gale Sayers Center is an after-school program for children ages 8–12 from Chicago's west side and focuses on leadership development, tutoring, and mentoring.
Sayers was married to Linda McNeil in 1962, during his freshman year in college; they were divorced in June 1973. That December he married Ardythe Elaine Bullard. She survives him. In addition to his stepson Guy, he is also survived by a daughter, Gale Lynne, and two sons, Timothy and Scott, from his first marriage; two other stepsons, Gaylon and Gary; two brothers, Roger, a former track and field star, and Ron, who played eight games as a running back for the San Diego Chargers in the N.F.L.; and two grandchildren.
by: MLSsoccer staff
Chicago Fire FC announced Tuesday that Frank Klopas, a servant of the club in several capacities since 1998, has been named to manager Raphael Wicky's coaching staff as an assistant.
“I’m very pleased to have Frank join our coaching staff,” Wicky said in a statement. “He has been an integral part of the Fire since its very beginning. His passion for the club and his knowledge of the league will be extremely valuable for our staff and players. I look forward to working with him.”
Klopas has served as a player, head coach, technical director, team ambassador and broadcaster for the Fire over the course of 22 years. His honors include helping the Fire win the double (MLS Cup, U.S. Open Cup) during their inaugural season. He was inducted into the club's ring of fire as a player in 2004 and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
“My heart has always been with the Fire,” Klopas said. “I’m honored to join Raphael’s staff and I’m excited for the future of the Club.”
After concluding his playing career in 1999, Klopas served as the Fire’s assistant coach in 2000 and technical director from 2008-2011 before becoming the sixth full-time head coach in club history on Nov. 3, 2011.
Klopas was the first former Fire player to be named head coach, and he he helped guide the Fire to the U.S. Open Cup final and the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Klopas then spent two years as Montreal Impact head coach, leading the club to the 2014 Canadian Championship and the final of the 2014-15 Concacaf Champions League. In 2016, Klopas returned to the Fire to become the club’s broadcast color analyst.
If you had bet across the board on the lifetime success of Tom F. Carey, you would have won big. A giant in the business of horseracing and a Chicago Catholic League gridiron legend, Mr. Carey, 87 passed away peacefully Dec. 17th at his home in Florida after a long bout with Alzheimer’s. He is a 1998 inductee to Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
Tom, a native of Chicago’s Southeast Side was born Nov 11, 1932 into what is today one of the most recognizable families in all of horseracing. The Carey’s of Hawthorne Race Track. It’s rare to find a man with two destinies; one in football and the other in the business of horseracing, but Tom certainly did and made the very best of both.
A football star at Chicago Mt. Carmel and a lifelong contributor and champion of the school, he was the quarterback of coach Terry Brennan’s undefeated 1950 City Championship team that Chicago Sun Times prep reporter Taylor Bell heralded as the greatest Illinois high school football team of its era. Post-graduation he and five Mt. Carmel Caravan teammates headed to the University of Notre Dame where they joined fellow Catholic League legend and Fenwick High School alum Johnny Lattner. Tom played quarterback for the Irish from 1951-1953 under Frank Leahy and then again for his former high school coach and Notre Dame alum Terry Brennan for his senior season in 1954. He and Ralph Guglielmi were the QB’s the year Lattner won the Heisman in 1953 and he later called Lattner, “The greatest athlete he ever saw play.”
Tom returned to Mt. Carmel High School in 1956 to take over the football program as head coach and helmed the program from 1956-1960. As head coach of the Caravan he won 4 sectional titles and the 1960 City Prep Bowl Championship, with his younger brother Tony, also a future Notre Dame star, playing quarterback. The quarterbacking Carey’s along with the quarterbacking Lynch brothers of today’s modern era hold the unique distinction of being the only brother combinations in Mt. Carmel history to have coached each other to a championship win. Current Mt. Carmel head football coach Jordan Lynch coached his younger brother Justin to a class 7A State Championship win this past fall.
Foregoing an almost certain celebrated career in coaching, Tom elected to get a law degree from Northwestern and in 1969 joined his father Robert F. Carey in the century plus family business of owning and operating Cicero’s Hawthorne Race Track. He became president of Hawthorne in 1980.
Tom helped Arlington International Racecourse rebuild after a 1985 fire at the northwest suburban track that could have put Arlington permanently out of business. He offered to let Arlington run races at Hawthorne, which it did.
Without that, “You would have had a pause in racing in Illinois, and the horses may not have come back,” said Jim Miller, director of media relations for Hawthorne.
“Smoke was still coming out” when Mr. Carey arrived to lend a hand, said Dick Duchossois, chairman emeritus of Arlington. “He was the first one sitting on our doorstep to say ‘You can run the rest of your meet at Hawthorne.’”
“We went over there with all of our troops” to finish the season and many racing jobs were saved as a result, Duchossois said. Tom was a hands-on, highly visible figure at Hawthorne, which is now operated by his nephew Tim Carey.
“On racing day, he would be there in the winner’s circle,” Miller said. “He would be in the paddock as the horses were being saddled. He would eat in the food court with the patrons.”
During his era, top thoroughbreds that ran at the track included Cryptoclearance, Awesome Again and Black Tie Affair. If there is ever a horse to be named in Tom’s memory, “Double Destiny” has a nice ring to it.
Tom is survived by his wife Susan and six children. Services were held.
The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame is proud to share that 2017 inductee Ken “Hawk” Harrelson has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Ken will enter Cooperstown as as a recepitant of the Ford Frick Award given annually for excellence in broadcasting. He is the 16th member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame/Chicago White Sox organization to call Cooperstown home and the third Ford Frick Award winner joining Harry Cary and Jack Brickhouse. The Frick Award is voted on by a 15-person committee that includes the award's 11 living recipients and four current broadcasters and baseball historians. The award is named in honor of the former writer, broadcaster, National League president, and baseball commissioner. Frick was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
An exemplary ballplayer for nine years in the big leagues, Hawk entered the broadcasting booth with the Red Sox in 1975 before joining the White Sox broadcasting team in 1982. He served as the team's general manager in 1985, joined the Yankees as a broadcaster in 1987-88, then returned to the White Sox booth in 1989. Harrelson, 78, retired from broadcasting following the 2018 season.
Known for his “Homerism” and unabashed love for his team, he was sometimes criticized by media professionals and loved by White Sox fans. Some of his more famous “Hawkisms” or catch phrases include, “You can put it on the board. Yes!!!! (White Sox home run), Grab some bench! (Strikeout) and Don’t stop now boys!! (White Sox rally). Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame President Charles Carey said, “It is with great honor that we share this news. Ken “Hawk” Harrelson is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable voices in baseball history. While inspiring the minds of a generation of White Sox fans; his knowledge of the game, baseball history and love for the White Sox is legend. He couldn’t be more deserving. We are thrilled for him.” Ken will be enshrined in Cooperstown in July of 2020 and The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame will celebrate its 41st year and hold its induction ceremony for 2020 in September.
Former San Francisco 49ers tackle Cas Banaszek passed away on December 4, 2019, at the age of 74.
Banaszek was originally selected by San Francisco in the first round (11th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 11-year career with the 49ers (1967-77), appearing in 120 games (112 starts). Banaszek, a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 1968, is also a member of the 10-Year Club, which honors all players who spent 10-or-more years with the 49ers, and is one of 51 players who have joined this exclusive fraternity.
Following his playing career, Banaszek spent one season (1981) as an assistant offensive line coach for the 49ers and was part of the Super Bowl XVI Championship team.
Born Casimir Joseph Banaszek on October 24, 1945, he attended Northwestern University and was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wife, Diann, his two children, Cas Jr. and Jennifer, his brother, Ken, and four grandchildren, Emma, Jane, William and Gabrielle.