At age 70 of complications from bladder cancer, Ron Santo, who endeared himself to Chicagoans first for 14 seasons as the Cubs' third baseman and then as the team's announcer for two decades on TV and radio. A five-time Gold Glover who averaged 29 homers from 1963 through '70, Santo (above) played in nine All-Star games but not a single playoff contest. The latter, unfortunately, was to be his hard-luck legacy. In 1969, a season in which the Cubs surrendered a nine-game NL East lead to the Mets, Santo was famously photographed in an on-deck circle, a black cat at his feet; and in retirement he sat through 20 Hall of Fame elections without hearing his name. For all of that, North Siders felt a bond. Santo helped raise more than $60 million for research into juvenile diabetes, from which he suffered since his youth. Later in life he lost both legs and underwent a quadruple bypass before battling cancer. Therapy, he would always say, was going to the ballpark.
For throwing snowballs at fans and allegedly shoving a police officer during his team's 28--10 home loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday, the Cincinnati Bearcats mascot. Amidst heavy snowfall at Nippert Stadium, the Bearcats' mascot, portrayed by 22-year-old UC senior M. Robert Garfield III, was perched atop a concrete pillar along the stadium's outer wall, playfully exchanging snowballs with fans below when, according to police, one officer asked Garfield to stop. Instead, the mascot is said to have shoved the policeman. Garfield was subsequently pinned to the ground by two officers (video can be seen on YouTube), cuffed, cited with disorderly conduct and led out of the stadium. The mascot, which in January was named the 2009 Capital One national mascot of the year, was inhabited in the second half by another student.
At age 82 of prostate cancer, Gil McDougald, who won five World Series as an infielder for the New York Yankees. In his 1951 AL Rookie of the Year season, McDougald smashed a World Series grand slam—a rookie first—off the Giants to help the Yankees take the Series in six games. Over nine more seasons in pinstripes McDougald (.276) would become known more for his fielding prowess. He was five times named an All-Star: three times at second base, twice at shortstop and once at third. In the '56 Series against the Dodgers he helped preserve Don Larsen's perfect game with a signature McDougald play, throwing out Jackie Robinson, whose liner had deflected off another infielder. Unknown to many, McDougald eventually lost his hearing after a '55 incident in which he was struck in the ear by a teammate's batting practice line drive. Later in life McDougald's hearing was restored with a cochlear implant, after which he worked to raise awareness of such procedures.
At ages 61 and 68, respectively, of complications from cancer, Hall of Fame sportswriters Jim Kelley and Phil Jasner, both of whom worked for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED during their careers. Kelley, a hockey enthusiast, wrote for The Buffalo News for 32 years before moving on to the Internet. He wrote for, among others, SI.com and Sportsnet.ca, where he filed his last column hours before he died on Nov. 30. He was a media honoree of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and was to be inducted into the Sabres' Hall of Fame on Jan. 1. Jasner, who spent the past 38 years with Philadelphia's Daily News, most of it covering the 76ers, was a Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and was welcomed into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame just last month. (SI employed Jasner as a stringer in the 1990s.) Perhaps as telling of Jasner as those honors was a tribute from famously prickly former Sixer Allen Iverson, who on Friday tweeted, "The world has truly lost a great man, who will surely be missed."
By Serbia, the 2010 Davis Cup. The Central European nation, led by world No. 3 Novak Djokovic (above, middle) topped France 3--2 in Belgrade last weekend to become only the second unseeded nation to win the trophy in its 111-year history. Trailing 2--1 entering Sunday, Djokovic and countryman Viktor Troicki (above, far right) took the day's two matches, without dropping a set, to pull off the victory, Serbia's first win in four Davis Cup entries. Afterward, Serbian Tennis Federation president and 1986 U.S. Open doubles champ Slobodan Zivojinovic joined members of the team in fulfilling a promise they had made at the beginning of the competition by shaving one another's heads at centercourt. Said Djokovic, who has won one Grand Slam event (2008 Australian Open) in three finals appearances, "This is the best moment of my career and probably of my nation."
At age 81, Elaine Kaufman, whose eponymous 46-year-old restaurant on New York City's Upper East Side served both A-list athletes and their journalist counterparts—SI editors, writers and photographers among them. (In 2004 Kaufman weighed in on an SI cover choice from across the bar.) A typical night at Elaine's, where Kaufman kept her televisions tuned to that day's games, might have seen authors Gay Talese, George Plimpton or Norman Mailer; heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis; or such New York sporting luminaries as Yogi Berra, Keith Hernandez, Joe Torre and the late George Steinbrenner, to whom Kaufman counted herself extremely close. She often wore Yankees championship jewelry given to her by the Boss over the years.
Consecutive 300 games bowled on Nov. 28 by 23-year-old Matt Latarski of Medina, Ohio, only the 17th recorded 900 series.
Years in a row that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been named NASCAR's Most Popular Driver. He won the 2010 award last Thursday after a second straight winless season, in which he finished 21st in the standings.
Consecutive road wins to start 2010--11 for Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, tying the NHL record set by Chicago's Glenn Hall in 1965--66.
Combined age of Evander Holyfield (48) and Brian Nielsen (45), who last week agreed to a boxing match in Copenhagen on March 5.
Amount, roughly, that Nevada cost itself—and every other WAC team—by beating rival Boise State on Nov. 26. Had Boise played in a BCS bowl, the nine WAC teams would have split a pot that was expected to exceed $10 million.
Damages sought by the Sacramento Kings from the makers of a "burst resistant" exercise ball that popped in October 2009, breaking the wrist of forward Francisco Garcia, who was lying on the ball.
THEY SAID IT
Tennessee basketball coach, on the negative press he has gotten since being suspended eight SEC games for recruiting violations:
"What I was hoping for was that some other dumbass would get on the front page and take me off the hook. I miss Lane Kiffin."
DIAMOND IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES (SANTO)
MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS (DAVIS CUP)
JASON PARKHURST/US PRESSWIRE (PEARL)