Death waits for us all, and in an age of pandemic it’s nearer than ever. This weekend we’ve seen it take Tom Dempsey, NFL placekicker, Bobby Mitchell, NFL halfback and wide receiver, and Al Kaline, rightfielder extraordinaire for 22 years with the Detroit Tigers.

Dempsey set the record for longest field goal in NFL history at 63 yards in 1970 when he hit it in the closing seconds of a game against the Lions to give the Saints the win. It held up until Jason Elam of the U of Hawai’i and the Denver Broncos matched it in 1998. It has since been extended to 64 yards by the Broncos’ Matt Prater in 2013. He died from COVID-19.

Dempsey had been battling Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He was a resident at the Lambeth House senior living center in New Orleans, which has been hit hard by the virus. More than 50 residents have been affected, according to

Bobby Mitchell, along with Leroy Jackson and John Nisby, were the first black players for the Washington Redskins when they started the 1962 season with the team. George Marshall, the team’s owner, had made it clear he didn’t want black players on his team, but then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the Kennedy Administration made it known that he should integrate.

During his first six seasons with the Redskins, he never caught fewer than 58 passes. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection — once as a running back and three times as a wide receiver.

Mitchell, a seventh-round draft pick in 1958, retired in 1969, finishing his 11-year NFL career with 14,078 total yards. He had 91 career touchdowns, including 65 receiving and 18 rushing. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.

Kaline joined the Tigers directly from high school in 1953. In 1955 he won an AL batting title and finished second to Yogi Berra in the MVP voting. He won the Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship, community involvement and contribution to his team in 1973.

Kaline made his lone appearance in a World Series in 1968, on the Tigers team led by pitchers Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich. Kaline had been sidelined for part of the season with a broken arm, and when he returned he was used mostly as a pinch hitter or first baseman because the outfield trio of Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley and Jim Northrup was playing well.

When the Tigers clinched the pennant, Kaline went to manager Mayo Smith and told him that he didn’t deserve to start in the World Series. Smith ignored him and played Kaline, who batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight as the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Kaline was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility.

46 thoughts on “Obituaries

  1. Player(s) from each team offer recommendations for binge-watching.

    From the Dodgers, Will Smith:

    Ozark, The Sinner, Little Fires Everywhere: Ozark is a thrilling crime drama series starring Jason Bateman, whose character relocates his family after a money-laundering scheme takes a turn for the worse. The Sinner, meanwhile, is a suspenseful crime drama that follows detective Harry Ambrose as he works through mysterious cases. As for Little Fires Everywhere, the miniseries drama — based on the book by the same title — stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

    • I watched part of one episode of Ozark, may retry it. I’ll enthusiastically recommend Money Heist and Peaky Blinders, but will also add Broadchurch, Bloodline, Border Town and Deadwind (both Finnish), Babylon Berlin, Occupied (Norwegian), Hinterland, all on Netflix. MHZChoice has lots of good Scandi-Noir (I think you can get a free week’s trial), while BritBox has Shetland, New Blood and others.

      • Broadchurch is great, and much better than the version they did over here (Gracepoint). I also liked Hinterland a lot. My binges so far have been The Expanse, Star Trek – Picard, and an Australian show called Sea Patrol, and I liked all of them, and especially recommend The Expanse.

        Another show which lovers of British mysteries might like is The Brokenwood Mysteries, which is actually from New Zealand. It’s sort of like if Columbo lived in the Kiwi version of Cabot Cove, and the neat thing is that most of the walk on roles are recurring, so someone you meet in series 1 may end up a victim in series 4 (or the murderer). It’s a lot of fun. It can be found on Acorn, along with a lot of other British and Commonwealth shows.

        • I’ve watched most of Brokenwood. Acorn has some good foreign-language programs, including the Dutch Schouwendam 12, which is really complex, and the Scandi-noir Black Widows (in the truly black humor category).

  2. Well now, this is interesting: MLB players and team employees will be participating in a coronavirus antibody study.

    The study, which is being run by Stanford University, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL), will use test kits that draw blood via pinprick and offer results within 10 minutes. The test will detect the prevalence of IgM, an antibody produced relatively early in those who have been infected with COVID-19, and IgG, a second form that doctors said lasts long after the infection happens. A positive test would confirm a person did in fact contract coronavirus, even if he or she was asymptomatic.

  3. “Some local officials in California have suggested ongoing restrictions lasting toward the end of the year. The top administrator for Santa Clara County — home to the San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Sharks and Stanford University — said at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday that he suspected sports games wouldn’t be held until Thanksgiving at the earliest.”

  4. Just found out I’ll need ankle replacement surgery. Better than hip replacement, I guess.

      • I’d never heard of it either, but it sounds pretty routine. It won’t be until at least July, under current circumstances. Recovery time is about six to eight weeks.

  5. Really enjoying Joe Posnanski doing write ups on the 100 greatest baseball players for the Athletic. He is also doing a weekly write up on “favorite” ballplayers. A real treat.

  6. Jerry Reuss answers fan questions in today’s edition of Dodgers Dugout from the LA Times.

    By the way, Reuss has musical interests and he shares them on Facebook intermittently. He’s pretty meticulous about researching song and artist history and then publishing the results there.