Of stomach cancer, at age 72, longtime ace Mike Cuellar, a Cuban lefty who in 1969 became the first Latin American to win the AL Cy Young Award. Discovered by the Reds in '57, while he was playing for the Cuban military team, Cuellar (above) didn't make his major league mark until he brought his complex screwball to Baltimore in '69. In '70 he won the World Series--clinching Game 5 against the Reds; a year later he joined Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Pat Dobson in just the second rotation to boast four 20-game winners. "To watch [Cuellar] pitch was amazing," former teammate Dick Hall told The Baltimore Sun. "It seemed like every time hitters took a pitch, it was right at the knees for a strike, and if they swung, it wasn't."
To the high school attended by Pete Maravich, eight love letters that the Pistol wrote to his teenage sweetheart, Vada Palma, 45 years ago. Palma, now 61 and a retired educator, presented the missives—all on lined notebook paper—to Broughton High in Raleigh, where she was a junior and he a senior (averaging 32.5 points for the Caps) when they dated in 1964--65. The letters (which, along with a trove of pictures, will be displayed at the school) show the soft side of Maravich, who died of a heart defect in '88, at age 40. In one note the normally uncanny free throw shooter confesses to having missed three foul shots "because of you." In another he invokes the healing power of love: "I had more bruises and cuts than a cut up piece of lamb. But when I began thinking of you, the pain ceased (tee hee)."
April 12, 2010
At age 40, in an apparent suicide, former pro wrestling mainstay Christopher Klucsaritis, who was believed to have been the first openly gay competitor in his sport. Performing under the nicknames Positively Kanyon, Chris (Champagne) Kanyon and Mortis, Klucsaritis won tag team belts in the 1990s in the WWE and the now-defunct WCW before a torn ACL scuttled his career. He attempted a comeback in 2004, pitching his homosexuality as a character angle, to no avail. In recent years Klucsaritis spoke candidly about his sexual orientation as well as his bipolar disorder, and friends reported that he openly discussed killing himself. Last Saturday, Klucsaritis was found dead at his Queens, N.Y., apartment, reportedly from an overdose of pills.
By the Eagles to the NFC East rival Redskins, quarterback Donovan McNabb (right). On Sunday evening, in a move seemingly timed to get the departure buried beneath headlines concerning the Phillies' season opener, first-year Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman secured Washington's second-round pick (37th) in this year's draft and a third- or fourth-rounder in 2011 in exchange for the passer who struggled to win the hearts of Eagles faithful from the get-go. Booed at the '99 draft after he was picked second overall, McNabb, now 33, took his team to 16 postseason games but never won the big one. His Eagles reached five NFC Championship Games and won once; in that season's Super Bowl (XXXIX), McNabb wheezed to the finish as New England won 24--21. McNabb is expected to usurp Jason Campbell as the Redskins' starter; the Eagles will hand the job to fourth-year veteran Kevin Kolb.
By former Red Sox outfielder Bernie Carbo, that he was high on an array of substances when he pinch-hit his epic three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, the shot that set up Carlton Fisk's legendary arm-waving walk-off blast in the 12th. Carbo was on the bench at Fenway Park during that game when manager Darrell Johnson waved the lefthanded-swinging outfielder—who last week told The Boston Globe that he had smoked two joints, drunk three or four beers and swallowed amphetamines and a pain pill that day—to the on-deck circle. With two strikes on him Carbo smashed a fastball into the centerfield bleachers to tie the game 6--6. According to Carbo, who played for six teams in 11 years, his condition that day was the norm: "I don't think I ever missed a day of being high. I played the outfield sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from the sky."
By NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen, a proposed three-week, 96-team NCAA men's basketball tournament. While confirming that the plan hinged on approval by the D-I men's basketball committee and its board of directors (as well as an opt-out of the NCAA's current deal with CBS), Shaheen last Thursday painted a picture of an expanded tourney that would start and end roughly on the same days as the current 65-team version. In the proposal the top 32 teams would get opening-round byes. The other 64 teams would match up on the opening Thursday and Friday; the winners would play the bye teams on Saturday and Sunday; and Round 3 would occur Tuesday and Wednesday. More games, Shaheen argued, would generate more revenue for the NCAA as well as cut down on travel time for most teams.
Assists this season by Celtics guard Rajon Rondo after his 10 dishes against Houston last Friday, surpassing Bob Cousy's team-record 715, set in 1959--60.
Average salary of the Yankees' starting players, highest for a first team of any pro franchise in the world, according to a study by English website sportingintelligence.com.
Passes completed, in 55 attempts, by former Texas QB Colt McCoy during his Pro Day workout on March 31.
Decades in which U.S. women's soccer midfielder Kristine Lilly has started an international game after she helped Team USA defeat Mexico 1--0 in a friendly on March 31.
Years between penalty-free games in the NHL. Before the Devils and the Blackhawks avoided the whistle last Friday, the last such game was Bruins--Maple Leafs on March 28, 2001.
Calories in the 15-scoop Fanatic Freeze ice cream sundae—served inside a regulation-sized helmet—being spooned out (for $25) by the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens this season.
THEY SAID IT
The Nets center, 22, on why he missed the 60 Minutes segment on the team's new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov: "I watched The Simpsons."