At age 78, Stanley Dancer, harness racing's most successful driver, trainer and owner, of complications from prostate cancer. Dancer, who began driving in 1945, was the face of harness racing during the sport's golden era in the 1960s and '70s. He won 3,781 races and more than $28 million in purses, taking the trotting Triple Crown twice (in 1968 with Nevele Pride and in '72 with Super Bowl) and the Triple Crown for pacers once (in '70 with Most Happy Fella) before retiring 10 years ago. Dancer's aggressive style and indestructibility--he survived 32 spills on the track, plus four auto accidents and a helicopter and a plane crash--brought him fame beyond racing: He made SI's cover in 1968, was friends with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and was name-checked by Paul Simon in the song Groundhog. "It breaks my heart that harness racing is not as popular as it once was," he said in 1995.
By a bloc of NHL veterans, that new Players' Association executive director Ted Saskin step down. The union's former senior vice president of business affairs, who was hired when ex-chief Bob Goodenow resigned in July, was offered a $2 million a year contract by the association's 37-member executive board. But several members of the rank and file are upset that a search committee wasn't formed to find other candidates, and that Saskin's hiring was not put to a secret ballot. Said Minnesota Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson to the Toronto Star, "This is supposed to be a democratic union and it's become communist."
September 18, 2005
By the Court of Arbitration for Sport, marathoner Vanderlei de Lima's appeal for a duplicate gold medal from the 2004 Olympics. The Brazilian was leading with two miles to go when a spectator leaped out of the crowd and pushed him off the course. It took De Lima about 15 seconds to recover, and he finished third, 1:16 behind winner Stefano Baldini of Italy. The man who interfered with him, Neil Horan of Ireland, was defrocked as a Catholic priest last January. Horan received a 12-month suspended sentence and a $3,600 fine.
By the Yankees, a coin toss for the right to host a one-game playoff should they finish in a tie with the Red Sox for first in the AL East. The last time the teams had a one-game playoff, in 1978, home field advantage meant little, as Bucky Dent's home run beat Boston 5-4. The Bombers, who on Monday were three games behind Boston, finish the season with a three-game set at Fenway Park.
By a Sunni Muslim cleric, a religious decree, or fatwa, against teenage tennis star Sania Mirza demanding that she stop wearing short skirts and sleeveless shirts on the court. Mirza (above), an 18-year-old Muslim, is the first player from India to crack the WTA top 50. (She advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open.) She is a celebrity in her homeland, where approximately 130 million of the country's 1 billion people are Muslim. Several websites are devoted to her, and she has been profiled in newspapers and magazines. "The dress she wears on the tennis court not only doesn't cover large parts of her body but leaves nothing to the imagination," Maulana Hasheeb-ul-Hasan Siddiqui, the cleric who issued the edict, told the Hindustan Times. "She will undoubtedly be a corrupting influence on these young women, which we want to prevent." Mirza dismissed the fatwa, telling the Times, "I have no comment to offer."
For his boorish behavior on the Colorado State sideline during the Rams' loss at Colorado on Sept. 3, Broncos backup quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, 25. The former Colorado State quarterback showed up wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an obscenity and heckled Colorado fans behind the Rams' bench, at one point making an obscene gesture at them. After a lecture from Denver coach Mike Shanahan, Van Pelt apologized. "I get too passionate about it," he said. "I might just have to stay away from it because I can get in too much trouble."
By the Denver coroner's office, that 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion's death last month was caused by a heart attack. An autopsy revealed that Herrion, 23, who collapsed after a preseason game against the Broncos at Invesco Field, had a significant arterial blockage. The coroner also found scar tissue suggesting that blood flow to his heart had previously been restricted. (Herrion was likely unaware of that episode, and the signs of his heart disease would have been nearly undetectable in an otherwise healthy person.) The coroner also said Herrion's toxicology report showed no presence of drugs and that his weight (he was 6'3" and weighed 335 pounds) didn't contribute to his heart trouble.
From a distressed boat in the Bering Sea, former Dolphins running back Larry Csonka (below). On Sept. 7 the NFL Hall of Famer, 58, and five others were hunting reindeer on Umnak Island, a remote isle in the Aleutians, for an episode of North to Alaska, Csonka's outdoors show on OLN. During their trip back to a village on Umnak, gale force winds, rain and nine-foot waves pushed their 28-foot vessel out to sea. The Coast Guard was called early Thursday morning, and 10 hours later a rescue helicopter arrived--after a 600-mile flight from the town of Kodiak, the closest Coast Guard base--to lift the group to safety. "It was moment to moment," Csonka, who owns a home in Anchorage, told the Anchorage Daily News. "It was 10 or 12 hours ... [of] seasickness and not being able to drink water because it was so rough, and hanging on to each other." The film equipment was left behind in the boat, which was abandoned.
From the baseball lexicon, the word Expos. The Vermont Expos of the New York--Penn League kept the nickname for one last campaign as a tribute to the team that played in Montreal, 100 miles to the north, from 1969 through 2004. Next season the team will be renamed--contenders for a new nickname include the Green Mountain Boys and the Maplebombers--and the word Expos will no longer grace a pro baseball jersey. In a performance worthy of their name, the Vermont Expos spent every day of their final season in last place.
Total points in Earlham's 69-62 win over Manchester last Saturday, a Division III single-game record.
Field goals by Oregon junior kicker Paul Martinez in the Ducks' first two games this year--two more than Oregon (2-0) converted all of last season.
Mariners lefthander Jamie Moyer's career record when he has a lead of four runs or more.
Major league franchises--the Devil Rays and the Rockies--that have never had a 20-game winner; Dontrelle Willis became the Marlins' first last week.