For the final time, longtime Reds radio announcer Joe Nuxhall, 76, who retired from the booth after Cincinnati's season finale on Sunday. For generations of fans Nuxhall's trademark signoff--"The old lefthander is rounding third and heading for home"--and folksy manner were synonymous with Reds baseball. The native of Hamilton, Ohio, began his 60-year association with the team in 1944, when, at 15, he became the youngest player in the modern era to appear in a major league game. (He allowed five runs in two thirds of an inning.) Nuxhall was shipped to the minors after that but returned in '52 to Cincinnati, where he won 135 games and played in two All-Star Games before retiring in 1966. The next season he was in the Reds' radio booth, mispronouncing names and occasionally confusing left- and rightfield--to the delight of his listeners. Says longtime broadcast partner Marty Brennaman, "He is the most beloved man in Cincinnati sports history."
Former Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, 36, in a fiery crash after leading New York state troopers on a high-speed chase. Last Thursday morning Strzelczyk, who lived in McCandless, Pa., fled after being involved in two minor accidents near Syracuse. He refused to pull over--police say he tossed a beer bottle at them--and after 40 miles his truck rammed an oil tanker at nearly 90 mph. (The other driver suffered only minor injuries.) In 1999 Strzelczyk was arrested after slamming a loaded pistol onto a bar during a political argument. "I had seen trouble with his mood disorders coming," said his mother, Mary Joyce Strzelczyk.
At age 44, Blue Jays television commentator John Cerutti, the team's first-round draft pick in 1981. Cerutti, who was 49-43 in seven major league seasons, was found dead--apparently of natural causes--in his hotel room at SkyDome last Sunday, hours before the team's season ender against the Yankees. Cerutti's death came four months after Tom Cheek, who called every Jays game on the radio from the team's inception until earlier this summer, underwent surgery for a brain tumor. Cheek returned to the booth for home games in August.
For a ride by a 20-foot juvenile gray whale, 60-year-old surfer Spyros Vamvas. On Sept. 27 Vamvas was sitting on his board about 20 yards from shore near San Clemente, Calif., when the whale swam underneath Vamvas and began thrashing, lifting him and his board out of the ocean. The whale, apparently spooked by the encounter, then sped out to sea, leaving Vamvas unharmed. Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphreys, who witnessed the incident, says, "I've worked here for 27 years, and I've never seen anything like it."
By the Red Sox as a the team's good luck charm, 28-inch actor Nelson de la Rosa. Twenty-four hours after he suffered a 6-4 loss to the Yankees two weeks ago, Pedro Martinez showed up at the clubhouse carrying De la Rosa on his shoulder. Martinez met the 36-year-old Dominican actor (The Island of Dr. Moreau) through friends. In a surreal scene in the locker room, De la Rosa posed for pictures on the laps of players and coaches. (According to G.M. Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona checked to see if De la Rosa was battery-powered.) "He's our lucky charm now," said Martinez. "The guys are falling in love with him."
By Nigerian soccer officials, players who braid their hair. Several top national team players, including Nwankwo Kanu (above), do so, prompting a government official to say, "In the developing world the braiding of hair and earrings have a sense of homosexuality." Refs in the country's youth championships were told to eject players who hit the pitch in braids.