At age 37 of an apparent heart attack, former major league righthander Jose Lima, who had an up-and-down, five-team, 13-year career. With the Astros in 1999 he went 21--10, made the All-Star team and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting, yet he was 89--102 lifetime with a 5.26 ERA. Lima (above) was perhaps most celebrated for delighting teammates and fans with his flamboyant personality. On the field he'd often shout into his glove—"I've got my midget in there.... A little me," he explained to SI in 1999—and off the field he loved to make merengue music, recording several CDs, including one entitled El Mambo de Lima. "He could dance, he could sing, but his best gift of all was that he was an extremely happy person," said Astros owner Drayton McLane of Lima, who last pitched in the majors in 2006. "He just lit up our clubhouse with his personality, which was his greatest asset."
As the Republican nominee for November's Oregon gubernatorial election, former NBA center Chris Dudley. A Yale alumnus who spent 16 seasons primarily as a backup for the Cavaliers, Nets, Blazers, Knicks and Suns before retiring in 2003, Dudley defeated businessman Allen Alley and seven other challengers in the May 18 primary for the right to face Democrat John Kitzhaber, Oregon's governor from 1995 to 2003. The 6'11" Dudley's platform is centered around job creation and economic growth, and he's pitching his absence of political experience as a strength. To defeat Kitzhaber, however, Dudley will need a greater percentage of success with Oregon voters than he had at the free throw line: His career 45.8% mark from the charity stripe is the second-worst rate in NBA history among players with more than 500 made free throws.
At age 78 of complications from heart disease, Hall of Fame NFL lineman and weight-training pioneer Stan Jones. Raised near the Pennsylvania headquarters of the York Barbell Company, Jones was one of the first to realize the benefit to football players of the use of York's products. Jones was a behemoth for his day, carrying 265 pounds on his 6'1" frame, and he used his bulk to make seven straight Pro Bowls (1955--61) as an offensive lineman for George Halas's Bears. He switched to defensive tackle in '63, when Chicago won the NFL title, and ended a 13-year career in '66 with the Redskins. Afterward he spent more than two decades as an NFL coach, including 18 seasons with the Broncos, for whom he helped build the Orange Crush defenses.
At age 84 of natural causes, Dorothy Kamenshek, a star in the 1940s and '50s in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and an inspiration for Geena Davis's character in the 1992 film A League of Their Own. Kamenshek, whom Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp once called "the fanciest-fielding first baseman I've ever seen, man or woman," played 10 seasons for the Rockford (Ill.) Peaches, making seven All-Star teams and winning back-to-back batting titles by hitting .316 in '46 and .306 in '47, when she turned down overtures from a Fort Lauderdale minor league men's team that tried to sign her. (She deemed it a publicity stunt.) In 1999 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR WOMEN named Kamenshek the 100th-greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
After 13 NFL seasons that included seven Pro Bowl appearances and five first-team All-Pro selections, stalwart Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas, 36. Thomas's relatively small size—5'11", 230 pounds—caused the Texas Tech product to fall to Miami in the fifth round of the 1996 draft, but he quickly developed into one of the NFL's toughest and best-prepared defensive captains. Thomas (above, right) spent 2008 with the Cowboys and sat out last year after being cut by the Chiefs at the end of training camp. He signed a one-day, one-dollar contract so that he could retire as a Dolphin last Thursday. "You are and always will be one of the most iconic Dolphins ever to play the game here," Miami coach Tony Sparano told Thomas at an emotional farewell press conference, during which Thomas took a moment to dry his eyes with the burp cloth of his infant son, Christian.
To Rockets center Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, a daughter—their first child—last Friday in Houston. The baby weighed seven pounds, nine ounces, but the couple has yet to reveal her name or, more important to Chinese fans, her length or nationality. Ever since August 2007, when the 7'6" Yao, a seven-time NBA All-Star, married the 6'2" Ye, a former center for the Chinese national team, speculation has been rampant about the hoops potential of any offspring. Since the baby was born in the U.S., she will be an American citizen. And although she could also claim Chinese citizenship because of her parents, China does not recognize dual citizenship. For Yao, that was a concern for another day. "I'm very excited about the arrival of our daughter," he said. "This is a very special moment in our lives." Rockets G.M. Daryl Morey was a bit more mischievous, invoking a reference to the futures market. "Congratulations to Yao Ming and Ye Li on the birth of their first child," he wrote on his Twitter account. "Bowie Bonds are already moving swiftly."
THEY SAID IT
Red Sox shortstop, on not being able to make the grab on an eighth-inning blooper by the Phillies' Juan Castro that broke up Daisuke Matsuzaka's bid for a no-hitter last Saturday: "What can I say? I know all the country of Japan is hating me right now. I can just say, 'Sorry. Sorry.'"
Run support (third lowest among major league starters) for Roy Oswalt, prompting the Astros' ace to request a trade.
Shots on goal by the Canadiens in the second period of their 3--0 Game 4 Eastern Conference finals loss to the Flyers, tying a franchise low.
Consecutive games in which Florida International's Garrett Wittels had hit safely after his double against Florida Atlantic last Saturday. That streak is second only to Oklahoma State's Robin Ventura's 58-game run in '87.
Strokes by the Purdue's women golfers at the NCAA tournament last week, one fewer than Southern Cal, giving the Boilermakers their first title.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson's record in playoff series when his team wins Game 1.
Referees for Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals (the entire crew) who are alumni of Cardinal O'Hara High in Springfield, Pa.: Mike Callahan '77, Joe Crawford '69 and Ed Malloy '89.
BRAD MANGIN (LIMA)
CHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS (THOMAS)
TOM DIPACE (SCUTARO)