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Living Sports Legends

The acuity of my heightened sense of Graydar is what led me to the small piece located on page two of a recent Sunday's sports page about major leaguer Tony Malinosky. Most of my readers will gasp, "Tony who?" Yes, I realize that the majority of Senior Living bellaonline subscribers are of the female persuasion and may choose not to continue reading the rest of this column, but come on ladies, I had to throw a bone to the guys and since I am sports fan cut me some slack on this one.

Imagine this, Tony is at his home in Oxnard, California and tunes into the (National League Series Division leaders) LA Dodger games and at 99 years of age that is nothing to balk at. He just may be the oldest living ball player with the shortest career. He played third base and shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April of 1937 and ended his career that same year in July. He was asked what seems to be the only question some young reporters can think to ask an older person... what is your secret to a long life? (Don't you just hate that question?) Anyway, Tony apparently replies, "Just keep breathing!" Thanks, Tony, it doesn't get any better than that.

So reading about Malinosky, I couldn't help thinking about other septuagenarian, octogenarian and nonagenarian athletes. If we were putting together a team of legends, at the top of the list would be 98 year old John Wooden and 95 year old Jack LaLanne. Our top ten 80 year olds would include Arnold Palmer at 80; Vin Scully and Gordie Howe at 81; Whitey Ford, Joe Paterno and Tommy Lasorda at 82; Joe Gargiolla at 83; Yogi Bera at 84; and Stan Musiel and Jake Lamatta at 88. This list of silver stars born in the 1930's includes: Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Carl Yaztremski, Bill Russell, Whitey Herzog, John Madden, Pat Summerall, Sandi Kolfax and Willie Mays.

See ladies, I know you actually know many of these names, and no there isn't a test at the end of the article but do you know what these old-timers are up to today?

Winningest coach turned author, the legendary Wooden inspires kids and adults with his speeches and presence in the community. The godfather of physical fitness, LaLanne, went on to develop workout machines, gyms and workout regimes for all ages. And he is still producing CDs and making the exercise circuit today. The voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully is a sportscasters' gentleman and is still calling games to this day! Vin says he will retire in 2010 but ask him after the Dodgers win the series. Mr. Hockey, and a giant to all, Gordie Howe is still around and involved as part owner of the Vancouver Giants. At 82 you will see see old Joe Paterno Saturdays as the very active head coach for the Penn State Nittany Lions. And LA's own Tommy Lasorda is still working as the Special Advisor to the Dodgers Chairman recruiting and spreading baseball goodwill thoughout the year and making money on product endorsements. My all time favorite on this list of greats is Mr. Cub #14, Ernie Banks. He is very active in charity work, and a couple of years ago founded the Live Above & Beyond Foundation and as a winemaker released 512 Chardonnay, named for his 512 career home runs.

Also on this list of amazing athletes are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Stam Muisel. Isn't it great to think that three baseball hall of famers are still setting records making a difference in their communities off the field just like in the old days in the ball park?

And now we have that man at the top, newly inducted into the centenarian hall of fame this week: Tony Malinosky. Now let's play ball.

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