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Las Vegans Kyle Busch, Don Logan emotional after winning awards

There’s an expression about sports that suggests they are more than games. That they’re about life, emotion, passion and some of the greatest highs and lows one can experience.

Those aphorisms were confirmed when two of Southern Nevada’s major sporting icons received top honors in their professions on Thursday.

Longtime Las Vegas Triple-A franchise president Don Logan was named Baseball America’s 2019 Minor League Executive of the Year — a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” he said. It’s the sort of award one receives when one has the vision, patience and perseverance to see a state-of-the-art, $150 million Triple-A ballpark through to completion.

And yet Logan said the honor was bittersweet, because his father did not live long enough to share it with him.

“They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” the Aviators president said from the baseball winter meetings in San Diego in referencing the death of his 89-year-old father, also named Don, in May. “Now I know that’s true.”

There was more poignancy in Nashville, Tennessee, when Kyle Busch concluded his remarks at the NASCAR Awards during which he was feted as the 2019 Cup Series champion.

“Every champion needs someone to go through the rigors of life and racing,” the Las Vegas racer began in addressing his wife, Samantha, and their struggles to have a baby girl through in vitro fertilization.

A tear rolled down Samantha Busch’s cheek as her husband professed his love in a halting voice.

They say rubbin’ is racin’ in NASCAR. Judging from the audience’s reaction at the Music City Center, so, too, is cryin’ a little.

Around the horn

— Astute local football fans may recall that Dustin Forshee, coach of the state finalist Centennial High Bulldogs, played on the offensive line at UNLV for John Robinson and successor Mike Sanford. He was on the team when Sanford went charging after officials following a tough loss at Iowa State.

Forshee said Sanford is now an assistant coach at Wasatch High in Salt Lake City. And that Sanford did not go charging after the zebras when the teams played this season, probably because Centennial won 41-24.

— So the names of two former UNLV head coaches and the face of another came up at a Centennial practice this past week.

Jeff Horton, presently Rocky Long’s offensive coordinator at San Diego State, was back in Las Vegas on a recruiting mission and inquired about the postgame shenanigans following UNLV’s overtime victory at UNR — shenanigans with which he became familiar after resigning as Wolf Pack coach to take the UNLV job in 1994.

“I told them at least they could have thrown Coors Light on me,” Horton recalled about receiving a beer bath from bitter UNR fans in the same end zone where last week’s brawl broke out.

— In a related note, the Golden Knights will hold youth hockey clinics in Reno and Carson City on Thursday and Friday, at which ubiquitous mascot Chance will represent the team. Chance might want to wear a helmet or bring along Ryan Reaves as protection.

— Las Vegas Ballpark will host Dinger Derby on Dec. 14 and 15, during which local fans will be allowed to swing for the fences and win season tickets. The ball doesn’t carry well in December, so if you know a Salt Lake Bees pitcher (team ERA: 6.77) and can talk him into throwing batting practice, it might improve your chance to win. Tickets for teams of four ($15) can be purchased at http://tinyurl.com/vgy5vnb.

— Todd Simon, who coached UNLV to nine victories in 17 games as interim head coach after replacing fired Dave Rice, has been awarded a contract extension through 2024 after turning around the moribund program at Southern Utah. Simon inherited a terrible team and won six games in 2016-17, but has guided the Thunderbirds to 13 and 17 wins the past two seasons and coached Southern Utah to an upset victory at Nebraska in November.

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Kyle Busch was asked during NASCAR Champion’s Week if he ever tried the move he used to pin pro wrestler R-Truth on “Monday Night Raw” on older brother Kurt.

“If I could get through (Joey) Logano’s pit crew, I could do it on him,” he said in reference to a 2017 fracas at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during which he suffered a bloody forehead.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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