Notable Sports Deaths in 2020: February

By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus

As the year slowly begins to wind down, BASN will devote the final 12 days of 2020 to look back at the pioneers, contributors, and innovators we lost during the last 12 months. The specter of Covid-19 has been prevalent all year and the sports world was no different.

Today, we focus on the month of February.

FEBRUARY

Willie Wood, NFL Hall of Famer (2/3)

Wood was a legendary Hall of Fame defensive back for the Green Bay Packers. Wood was one of the best defensive backs in NFL history, grabbing 48 interceptions during his career, with a reputation of a tough hitter. He had a memorable interception in Super Bowl I when the Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. He returned the ball to the Chiefs’ 5-yard line to set up a touchdown, a key moment that turned a 14-10 game into a 35-10 romp. He was part of five NFL championship teams and two Super Bowl winners. A quarterback at USC, Wood turned into a feared member of Vince Lombardi’s defense. The 83-year-old Wood played for the Packers from 1960 through 1971.

Angel Echevarria, MLB player (2/7)

Echevarria, an outfielder and first baseman, played for the Colorado Rockies (1996-2000), Milwaukee Brewers (2000-01) and Chicago Cubs (2002) before spending two seasons playing in Japan. He batted .280 during his MLB career. His best season was 1999 when he batted .293 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 102 games. He attended Rutgers University and was selected by the Rockies in the 17th round of the 1992 MLB Draft. Echevarria hit 31 home runs for Rutgers. He currently is fourth in career home runs for the Scarlet Knights, sixth with 145 career RBIs and 10th with 329 total bases.

Tony Fernandez, MLB player (2/15)

Fernandez, a five-time All-Star who is the Toronto Blue Jays’ all-time leader in hits and games played, died at the age of 57. Fernandez had been dealing with kidney disease and suffered a stroke. He was signed by the Blue Jays as a teenager out of the Dominican shortstop hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris. He helped the Jays reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 1985 and was named an All-Star for the first time the following season. A smooth fielder, Fernandez won four consecutive Gold Glove awards at the position from 1986-89. He was also involved in one of the biggest trades the franchise ever made when he and first baseman Fred McGriff went to the San Diego Padres in exchange for second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter. Fernandez played two years for the Padres and another for the New York Mets before returning to Toronto in a midseason trade in 1993 and helping the Blue Jays win their second of back-to-back World Series titles. After leaving Toronto as a free agent at the end of the ’93 season, he eventually returned for a third stint with the club in 1999 — when, at 37, he became an All-Star for the fifth time. In addition to the Blue Jays, Padres and Mets, Fernandez also played for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers during his 17-year major league career. He finished with 2,276 hits, 246 stolen bases and a .288 batting average.

Nesby Glasgow, NFL player (2/25)

Glasgow, a cornerback who was part of Don James’ first University of Washington football recruiting class and a Rose Bowl hero, died after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. He was 62. Glasgow, a Los Angeles native, also played five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks during a 14-year NFL career. He was an integral part of the rise of Washington football under James, best known for his game-saving interception in the end zone at the end of the 1978 Rose Bowl, which the Huskies won over Michigan 27-20. Glasgow was voted a team captain the following season before being drafted in the eighth round by the then-Baltimore Colts in 1979. Glasgow was a two-time All-Pac-8 selection at corner and a third-team All-America choice. He was inducted to the Husky Hall of Fame in 2001. He started four games as a rookie before becoming a full-time starter at free safety the following season, starting 114 of 128 games in which he played for the Colts from 1979-87 and voted as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1984.

Gloster Richardson, NFL player (2/27)

Richardson, a wide receiver on the Kansas City Chiefs’ team that won Super Bowl IV, died at age 77.  He took part in setting in motion one of the most iconic plays in Chiefs history — 65 Toss Power Trap. It was Richardson who coach Hank Stram grabbed and sent into the huddle with the instructions for the play. “Gloster, tell (Dawson), 65 Toss Power Trap. It might pop wide open,” Stram said then. The Chiefs picked Richardson in the seventh round of the 1965 AFL Draft out of Jackson State University, near his hometown of Greenville, Miss. He made his debut two years later. He enjoyed a career year in 1968, catching 22 passes for 494 yards and six touchdowns. In 1969, the Chiefs’ championship season, Richardson had 23 catches for 381 yards and two scores. He caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in a 13-6 first-round playoff win against the Jets. He later played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns and added a second Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys in the 1971 season. In all, Richardson played in 92 professional games, catching 92 passes for 1,976 yards and 18 touchdowns. He coached wide receivers at Mississippi Valley State from 1983-84, including NFL legend Jerry Rice.

NEXT: March.

Anthony McClean can be reached via email at anthonymcclean@basnnewsroom.com.

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