Jul 09

Farewell, Peter Sauer

AP

The most famous player from Stanford’s 1997-98 Final Four men’s basketball team is Mark Madsen, whose roar punctuated the team’s final-minute rally in the 1998 Elite Eight against Rhode Island in St. Louis – the last March Madness game I attended.

But the final points scored by the team that year came during another furious comeback attempt in the national semifinal against Kentucky, a three-pointer from the baseline that I can still remember with seconds remaining in overtime that cut the Wildcats’ lead to a single point. That shot came from Stanford’s captain, Peter Sauer, the kind of steadfast player no championship team could do without.

It was barely 12 years ago. It was incomprehensible to learn today that Sauer collapsed and died while playing a rec hoops game Sunday in New York – 35 years old. A financial executive, Sauer leaves behind a wife and three daughters. His father is former Pirates president Mark Sauer.

From Laurence Arnold of Bloomberg:

… After Stanford, he signed with the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and was cut in the summer of 1999, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile in July 2000. He then moved to Greece to play for the B.C. Iraklis Thessaloniki professional team, shunning minor leagues in the U.S.

“Basketball will take me places and afford me experiences I might not have had,” Sauer told the Post-Gazette. “But it is not my life. I see myself playing maybe three to five more years and then going out and getting a real job and living a more normal existence.” …

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And another farewell, to a Los Angeles Ram of my youth, offensive lineman John Williams. From the Times:

… It took him five years as a part-time student before he earned his doctorate in dentistry. He retired from the NFL after tearing a calf muscle during the 1979 season and moved back to Minneapolis to open his dental office.

The 6-foot, 3-inch 256-pounder described his off-the-field work with patients in the Times interview.

“There is curiosity and some of that normal fan-athlete identification,” he said. “But the main thing is rapport. Rapport is everything in dentistry. The ability to instill confidence.”

In Minneapolis, Williams worked to revitalize the urban district where he established his business and was named the city’s volunteer of the year in 1992.

Trained in forensic dentistry, Williams joined a team of public health professionals who helped identify remains of victims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. …