For the Record

Sept. 26, 2005
Sept. 26, 2005

Table of Contents
Sept. 26, 2005

SI Players: Life On And Off the Field
Pro Football
College Football
Inside: The Week in Sports
Inside College Football
Inside The NFL

For the Record


This is an article from the Sept. 26, 2005 issue Original Layout

At age 70, Donn Clendenon, the MVP of the 1969 World Series. A power-hitting first baseman, Clendenon (above), who suffered from leukemia for 20 years, broke into the majors with the Pirates in 1961 and, after a brief stint with the Expos, was traded to the Mets during the '69 season. "When we got him, we became a different team," said Bud Harrelson, the Mets' shortstop. Clendenon hit 12 home runs in 72 games with the Miracle Mets, then bashed three more and batted .357 in New York's five-game World Series victory over the Orioles. He retired in 1972 and earned a law degree but struggled with cocaine addiction. In 1987 he moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., where he practiced law and was an addiction counselor.


Of complications from diabetes at age 61, Charlie Williams, the first black umpire to work home plate in the World Series. Williams, who attended umpire school in California while working as a factory machine operator, broke into the National League in 1982. In his 18-year career he worked two All-Star games and two National League Championship Series, and he was behind the plate for Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, the longest in Series history. (The Blue Jays beat the Phillies 15-14 in four hours and 14 minutes.) Williams later called it "the game from hell."


The left ring finger of Australian rules footballer Brett Blackwell. Since breaking it three years ago, Blackwell, 24, who plays for the Glenelg Tigers in South Australia, has had trouble catching the ball and has had chronic pain in the finger. Doctors suggested fusing the bones together, but Blackwell decided amputation was the only way to guarantee pain-free playing. "It's a bit drastic," he said. "If that's going to help me succeed at this level, then it's something you've just got to do."


By golfer David Toms, a corrective procedure for a heart condition, so he can play for the U.S. in the Presidents Cup in Gainesville, Va., this week. Toms collapsed on the 10th fairway while playing in the 84 Lumber Classic last Thursday and was rushed to a hospital. He was found to have a rapid heartbeat, a condition that's treatable with medication but can be cured by a procedure called radio-frequency ablation. Said Toms, who was back on the driving range at the 84 Lumber on Sunday, "My plan is to have it done as soon as possible."


With severe bleeding in the brain after his lightweight title bout against Jesus Chavez in Las Vegas last Saturday, veteran fighter Leavander Johnson (above). The 35-year-old, making his first title defense after winning the IBF belt in June, took a tremendous beating from Chavez; the challenger landed more than 400 punches, many of them clean shots to the head. After the fight was stopped in the 11th round, Johnson, who never went down during the bout, collapsed in his dressing room; he was rushed to the hospital and, after a CAT scan showed a mammoth blood clot that was shifting his brain, Johnson underwent emergency brain surgery. On Monday he was in a drug-induced coma and was listed in critical condition.


By the Rams, director of football administration Samir Suleiman, for leaving a threatening voice mail for a sportswriter. In a story about front office infighting last month, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote that "the head coach should be backed, not backstabbed, by associates." Suleiman later left a message for Miklasz: "Tell your source that I'm not a backstabber, I'm a f------ throat slasher, and he'll know the difference before it's all said and done." Said Rams president John Shaw, who didn't specify how Suleiman would be disciplined, "It's shocking that he would leave a message like that."


Of heart failure at age 60, former NFL kicker Toni Fritsch. In 1971 Fritsch, a former member of the Austrian national soccer team, was playing in Vienna, where the Cowboys were scouting for a soccer player to transform into a placekicker. Despite his never having seen a football game, Fritsch signed with Dallas and was an instant success. He kicked a game-winning field goal in his debut in '71 and was a Pro Bowler with the Oilers in 1980. He still holds an NFL record for kicking field goals in 13 consecutive playoff games.


By the Dodgers for baseball's Roberto Clemente Award and the players' union's man of the year honor, Milton Bradley (below). The outfielder, who had season-ending knee surgery this month, does charity work in Los Angeles, but his track record makes him an odd choice for humanitarian awards. According to the Los Angeles Times, police have responded to three domestic violence calls from his wife this summer. Last year he was suspended and underwent anger-management counseling after he threw a bottle into the stands during a game. And during the off-season he spent three days in an Ohio jail for obstructing police during a traffic stop.


By the Massachusetts Racing Commission, harness driver Todd Kolbe, 34, after he bet against himself at Plainridge Racecourse. Before driving overwhelming favorite All the Options on Aug. 30, Kolbe went to a betting window and wagered $18 on several horses in the race, none of them his. It is illegal for drivers to bet on horses other than their own; perhaps not surprisingly, All the Options finished fifth. Last week Kolbe was banned for 90 days and fined $250. "I don't think [Kolbe] altered the outcome of the race," Gary Piontkowski, the track's chief executive officer, told The Boston Globe. "I just think he was dumb."


By the Montreal Canadiens, unemployed former Expos mascot Youppi! The orange fur ball, who entertained fans at Olympic Stadium for 25 years before the Expos moved to Washington, D.C., this season, will be the Canadiens' first official mascot. Demand for Youppi! was high during his year off; several organizations, including the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, considered hiring him. Said Canadiens G.M. Bob Gainey at an introductory press conference, "That's why we saved [salary cap] room, for a situation exactly like this."

Go Figure

7 million

High school students who played a sport during the 2004-05 academic year, a record number of participants.


Percent jump in high school bowlers, making bowling the fastest-growing sport among boys; lacrosse was the fastest-growing girls' sport, with an 11% increase.


Games Stanford has lost to non-Division I-A teams in its 114-year football history; Division I-AA Cal-Davis beat the Cardinal 20-17 in Stanford last Saturday.


Consecutive pass completions, a Division III record, by Washington & Jefferson quarterback Chris Edwards, in the Presidents' 45-21 win over Allegheny.

PHOTOFocus On Sports/Getty Images (Clendenon)PHOTOEric Jamison/AP (JOHNSON)PHOTOLucy Nicholson/Reuters (Bradley)PHOTOIan Barrett/AP (Youppi!)