Last Saturday into Fenway Park's rightfield bullpen by Red Sox leftfielder Daniel Nava, a fastball with the bases loaded, making Nava the second player (after Cleveland's Kevin Kouzmanoff in 2006) to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the majors. Boston was trailing 2--1 in the bottom of the second when the 27-year-old lit up Phillies righty Joe Blanton. By touching 'em all, Nava (above) also became the fourth big leaguer to hit a grand slam in his first at bat. Now a 5'10" 200-pounder, Nava had entered St. Francis High in Mountain View, Calif., at 4'8" and 70 pounds. He went undrafted out of Santa Clara, despite leading the West Coast Conference in hitting and on-base percentage as a senior, and began his pro career with the Golden League's Chico Outlaws, to whom the Red Sox paid $1 to obtain his rights. "I've never really been a guy who hits home runs," Nava confessed after the 10--2 Boston win. "My natural reaction is just to get [things] going."
After a combined 30 seasons in the NFL, 37-year-old wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Muhsin Muhammad. Both drafted in the second round—Bruce out of Memphis in '94 and Muhammad out of Michigan State in '96—the pair walk away high on the NFL's alltime receiving yardage list. Bruce has 15,208 yards, more than any player not named Rice; Muhammad is 20th with 11,438. Regarded as hotheads early in their careers (once, when he felt he wasn't getting the ball enough, Muhammad taped the name D. COY over his nameplate), the receivers evolved into two of the league's more respected mentors—Bruce alongside Torry Holt in St. Louis and Muhammad with Steve Smith in Carolina. Bruce spent 14 of his 16 seasons with the Rams, for whom he holds every major receiving record; he also scored the winning touchdown, a 73-yarder from Kurt Warner with less than two minutes left, in the club's 23--16 victory over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Muhammad, who holds or shares every major receiving record in Carolina, scored two Super Bowl TDs, albeit in losing efforts: one for the Panthers against the Patriots (SB XXXVIII) and another for the Bears against the Colts (SB XLI).
June 20, 2010
By the University of Oregon, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, after his second run-in with the law over the past six months, a noncriminal citation for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license. In 2009, his junior season, Masoli led the Ducks to a 10--3 record, a dethroning of seven-year Pac-10 champion USC, a ranking that reached No. 7 and the school's first Rose Bowl appearance in 15 years. (The Ducks bowed to Ohio State 26--17.) Masoli likely would have entered '10 as a Heisman frontrunner—that is, until an incident in January for which he was charged with and pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary after a fellow student accused him of stealing a pair of laptops from a campus fraternity house. In March, Masoli was suspended for all of '10 for that incident (one of at least four entanglements involving Ducks this off-season) but had been allowed to practice with the team before his latest infraction. "We had a plan in place for Jeremiah," coach Chip Kelly told The Oregonian upon dismissing Masoli, two days after the latest incident. "And he failed."
At 4:55 of the first round of an MMA fight against former middleweight champion Rich Franklin, former light heavyweight champ and 2009 UFC Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Liddell (above, right). The Iceman, as the 40-year-old Liddell (21--8) had come to be known over 12 years as one of UFC's main attractions, has fallen on hard times of late, having lost five of his last six fights (four by knockout). Last Saturday in Vancouver he was looking to bounce back and was up on Franklin for much of the first round, even breaking Franklin's left arm with a vicious kick. But having pinned his opponent against the cage, Liddell overcommitted late in the round on an overhand right, leaving himself open to a right hook that sent the Iceman onto his back for several minutes. Afterward, Franklin said, "I don't want to be the guy that put [Liddell] out of the sport," but UFC president Dana White would have none of it, guaranteeing that he would not permit Liddell to fight again.
At age 73, former CBS and TBS executive Robert J. Wussler, whose vision of sports as entertainment helped shape today's TV landscape. A CBS mailroom hire in 1957, Wussler worked his way to the top at that network, including a brief stint as president in '76 at age 39. Among his signature moves was employing a former Miss America, Phyllis George, on The NFL Today during that show's expansion, and airing comedy segments featuring Jackie Gleason and Jonathan Winters in the telecast of Super Bowl X. During Wussler's tenure, in '78, the FCC ruled that the network had blurred the line between sports and showbiz by misleading the public in promos for a series of "winner take all" tennis matches when, in fact, all contestants were paid lavishly. Wussler resigned that year but resurfaced in '80 at TBS, where for the next decade he led the flourishing upstart and helped kick-start the Goodwill Games in '86.
THEY SAID IT
Rookie Seahawks receiver, after receiving a warning for trespassing while trying to steal maple bar pastries from a Bellevue, Wash., bakery at 3 a.m.:
Consecutive Stanley Cup Finals series losses for the Flyers.
Age of Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane when he scored in overtime of Game 6 of the finals, making him the youngest to notch an extra-time Stanley Cup winner. The previous youngest: Bobby Orr, who was 22 in 1970.
Career extra-inning grand slams by Carlos Lee, an MLB record, after the Astros' leftfielder went yard in the 10th inning to give Houston a 6--2 win over the Rockies on June 9.
Goals by the U.S. in its last five World Cup games, dating back to the 2002 quarterfinals, both scored by midfielder Clint Dempsey.
Age of two-time Canadian Mini Max division champion Lance Stroll, who last week became the youngest person ever recruited to the Ferrari Driving Academy.
Consecutive strikes rolled by Harrisburg, Pa., bowler Tommy Gollick, whose record-breaking night—seven better than the mark set in 1986—included three straight perfect games.