Actor and entertainer Alan Thicke died from heart failure this week at the age of 69 while playing ice hockey with his young son.
Thicke was a Canadian performer who first came to the attention of American audiences when in the early 1980's he fronted a late night talk show to challenge Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show. Like everyone else who tried to do that, Thicke failed, or, more accurately, his show failed, but he went on to star as Jason Seaver, the father in the mid-eighties family sitcom, "Growing Pains". The show was a hit that lasted several seasons, and Thicke went on to a comfortable career as a performer, songwriter, and commercial pitchman for some outfit that had something to do with avoiding trouble with the IRS.
I last heard Alan Thicke on a radio interview on ESPN Radio while I was driving home from our Cooperstown vacation in June. The Stanley Cup Playoffs were being contested at the time and Thicke was on with Dan Lebatard and talking about the fact that he was, indeed, the composer and lyricist of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight song. He was self-deprecating and delightful in the interview.
Sportscaster Craig Sager succumbed yesterday after a three year battle with leukemia. He was 65 years old. His story is fairly well known to sports fans in general and basketball fans in particular. Sager was the regular sideline reporter on Turner Broadcasting's NBA coverage. He was known for his outlandish and outrageous sport coats, but also for his love of the game, his insight, and his ability to interview both coaches and players at times when they didn't always want to be interviewed.
I last remember seeing Sager during TBS' coverage of the NCAA Championship Game between Villanova and North Carolina. The stands that night were thick with former UNC and Villanova players, and Sager interviewed many of them, including Michael Jordan. At the end of that interview, I can remember Jordan looking at Sager and with all sincerity saying "It's good to see you here. You doing alright?" It said a lot about the regard in which Sager was held.
RIP Alan Thicke and Craig Sager.