In Memoriam:  We look back at the ones the sports world lost in 2014

A slugger in the batter's box and an icon in the broadcast booth, Ralph Kiner spent more than a half-century calling games for the New York Mets, a run that made him not just a familiar face and voice (and master of malapropisms), but a civic treasure in the big city. Ralph Kiner died at age 91 on Feb. 6, a loss that was followed by the deaths of Frank Cashen and Don Zimmer, two other men who had a major impact on New York baseball history. RELATED: SOOT ZIMMER REMEMBERS DON ZIMMER RELATED: GARY THORNE REMEMBERS RALPH KINER RELATED: RON DARLING REMEMBERS FRANK CASHEN RELATED: RON LIPTON REMEMBERS HURRICANE CARTER The sports world said many other goodbyes in 2014. Here are some of the most notable among them: Jan. 5, Eusebio da Silva Fereira: Nicknamed The Black Panther and The Black Pearl or o Rei (The King), Eusebio was born into poverty in Mozambique in 1942, then became a immense pro soccer star in Portugal, an athletic and dazzlingly skilled forward who was widely regarded as one of the premier soccer players of all-time. Jan. 5, Jerry Coleman: The AL Rookie of the Year in 1949 and an All-Star and World Series MVP a year later, he was a Yankee stalwart at second base, but is best known for his service in the Marines, flying combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War. After starting out in the Yankee broadcast booth, he moved west and became a beloved hardball fixture in San Diego, where he called Padres games for more than 40 years. Feb. 14, Jim Fregosi: An All-Star shortstop who spent 50 years in the game as a player, manager and executive, Fregosi is an infamous name in the annals of the Mets, who traded a young pitcher named Nolan Ryan to acquire him from the Angels. Fregosi played two forgettable seasons in Flushing, hitting .232 and .234 before getting shipped off to Texas. March 6, Dr. Frank Jobe: It isn't often that a surgeon revolutionizes a sport, but Jobe did nothing less Continue Reading

50+ fun things for week of July 6-12

16th Annual Lebowski Fest. Executive Inn, Executive Lawn, 911 Phillips Lane Friday, July 7 and Saturday, July 8. Friday, 8 p.m., Movie Party, Jesus and The Preferred Nomenclature presents ‘Logjammin’ – A Tribute to The Big Lebowski Soundtrack (featuring members of The Deloreans and Maximon); followed by a screening off The Big Lebowski. Bring chairs and blankets (on the lawn), $20 advance, $25 day of show. Saturday, 4 p.m., Garden Party, music by by Tony and The Tan Lines, King Kong, Kentucky Prophet, Elvis & Meatloaf; also Lebowski-themed games. Proceeds from the garden party games benefits Wellspring Mental Health Recovery Service; $15 advance, $20 day of show. Saturday, 8 p.m., Bowling Party with costume contest, trivia contest, bowling, Lebowski themed games. Ticket includes general admission (bowling not guaranteed); $25 advance, $30 day of show. Information: Magazine 32nd Annual Best of Louisville Party. Kentucky Center, 501 W. Main St., 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 6. Celebrate the Best of Louisville winners and finalists selected by the magazine’s readers. Music by the Louisville Crashers. Ticket includes food, tastings, cash bar and a complimentary copy of Louisville Magazine’s July Best of Louisville issue. A portion of the proceeds to benefit the Kentucky-Southeast Indiana Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. $50. 502-584-7777.Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social. Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, 7410 Moorman Road, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, July 9. Miniature train rides, pony rides, petting zoo, magic show with Dave Cottrell, ice cream eating contest, food trucks (Celtic Pig and Lexie Lu’s), Ehrler’s Ice Cream, tours of the Farnsley-Moremen House and music by Josh Logan Band. Free.Run for the Roses Basketball Classic. Freedom Hall, East Hall, North Wing and South Wing ABC, Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, Thursday-Saturday, July 6 through July 8. Girls Continue Reading

Yankees’ Derek Jeter carves out a magical moment for his 3,000th career hit at Stadium

On May 17, a quarter of the way into perhaps the most mentally grinding season of his career, Derek Jeter was hitting .253, an average that included five extra base hits, and a steady drumbeat of criticism. He had just gone 2-for-13 in a Yankee Stadium sweep by the Red Sox.Joe Girardi needed to move him down in the order, that he was hurting the team, that he was aging by the day and that the Yankees never should've signed him to the new contract in the offseason. When Jeter strained a calf muscle and went on the disabled list on June 13, his pursuit of 3,000 hits - the narrative that had dominated the entire Yankee season - stood six hits short. The Yankees went 14-4 with Eduardo Nunez playing shortstop in his absence, and suddenly the chorus became that much louder, centered on an almost heretical notion: could it be that the Yanks are a better club without their captain? Jeter came off the DL on July 4, intent on starting fresh and powered by what he believes is the greatest gift for any ballplayer. "I have a very short memory," Jeter said. He went hitless in his first game back, then knocked two hits, and one each in the next two games, to get to 2,998.David Price, one of the best young lefthanders in baseball. In the bottom of the third, Jeter came up for a second time. Girardi noticed that the Yankee dugout was suddenly standing room only; even the runway to the clubhouse was clogged with workers, support personnel, everybody. The players were all on the railing. The Rays were on the railing, too. "You knew something special was about to happen," the manager said. Price kept throwing heat, and Jeter took him to another full count. By the time Jeter hit first base, Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was tipping his hat, and the Stadium was louder than you have ever heard it, and the Yankees were moving en masse toward home plate, and soon the whole bullpen was running toward the plate, too. "I'd rather not be the answer to that trivia question Continue Reading

Derek Jeter had a long journey from skinny prospect to Yankee captain with 3,000 career hits

Nineteen years ago on the west coast of Florida, an 18-year-old kid with the body of a corn stalk and no clue about the adventure that was ahead of him began his career as a professional baseball player. He was a shortstop from Kalamazoo, Mich., a small city east of Lake Michigan situated between Paw Paw and Climax, a place known mostly for being a stop on the Underground Railroad and being featured in the title of a Glenn Miller song ("I've Got a Girl in Kalamazoo"), and producing a big-league ballplayer every hundred years or so. The No. 1 draft pick of the New York Yankees, Derek Sanderson Jeter was almost 6-3 and maybe 160 pounds, a player who came with a big reputation and the skinniest legs and ankles Gary Denbo had ever seen. Denbo was Derek Jeter's first professional manager, with the Gulf Coast League Yankees. He vividly recalls Jeter's high leg kick at the plate ("He lifted his front leg almost to his waist," Denbo said), and his inauspicious debut. Jeter hit .508 in his senior year at Kalamazoo Central - and struck out only once. In his rookie ball opener, the Yankees played a doubleheader in Sarasota against the White Sox. Jeter went 0-for-7 and struck out five times. He would wind up hitting .202 for the season, or 147 points behind the Gulf Coast League batting champion, Johnny Damon. The Yankees don't worry about statistics in rookie ball; the whole point is just getting acclimated to playing in the pros. Denbo saw Jeter's insatiable work ethic - Jeter and teammate Ricky Ledee were the two kids who took more BP than anybody else - but admits that he had no real read on Jeter's ultimate potential. "I can't say that I saw the great player, the Hall of Fame player, that he turned out to be," Denbo says. "I don't think many of us could. All I saw was a kid who loved to play baseball and worked very hard at it." A few years later, in big-league camp, then-Yankee coach and former All-Star second baseman Willie Randolph was struck by how Continue Reading

@ISSUE: Test your Fourth of July IQ

Think you know it all? Prove it by acing this Fourth of July trivia test about all things related to Independence Day — historical facts, fireworks, flags and hot dogs. See how many of the 15 questions you can get right. You may find it’s a humbling experience — or further justification for your mastery of trivia. Check here for the answers 1. How many people signed the Declaration of Independence?a. 27b. 43c. 56d. 74 2. Three states have a complete ban on all consumer fireworks. Which of the states below does not?a. New Yorkb. New Jerseyc. Delawared. Massachusetts. WHERE TO WATCH THE FIREWORKS 3. Which one of the famous people below was not born on the Fourth of July?a. George Steinbrennerb. Bruce Springsteenc. Rube Goldbergd. Malia Obama 4. What percentage of the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags was for flags made in China?a. 35 percentb. 49 percentc. 74, percentd. 97 percent 5. What is the record for most hot dogs consumed by a contestant in Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest?a. 27b. 41c. 69d. 81 FREE: HEAD OUTDOORS TO SEE THESE MOVIES 6. Where was the center of fireworks manufacturing in the 1400s?a. Xian, Chinab. Florence, Italyc. Mexico Cityd. Constantinople 7. What chemical compounds produce the whites and golds in fireworks displays?a. barium saltsb. strontium saltsc. sodium saltsd. aluminum, magnesium 8. How many years after the Declaration of Independence was signed did the Revolutionary War officially end?a. 1b. 2c. 4d. 7 2016 JERSEY SHORE SUMMER GUIDE 9. Which two U.S. presidents died on July 4 in the same year?a. Thomas Jefferson and John Adamsb. Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnsonc. William Howard Taft and Warren G. Hardingd. Ulysses S. Grant and Martin Van Buren 10. When did the Fourth of July become a federal holiday?a. 1777b. 1870c. 1912d. 1938 11. What was the dollar value of the U.S. exports of fireworks in 2014?a. $4.5 millionb. $11.9 millionc. $89 milliond. Continue Reading

Gary Myers peers into his crystal ball to reveal a few truths as NFL camps open

Tom Brady is back for sure. Michael Vick is likely back. And if Brett Favre doesn't change his mind this week, he'll be back, too. And, by the way, enjoy the next two seasons, because the owners and players are creating a war chest with the increasing possibility the owners will lock the players out in 2011. Anyway, with the Jets and Giants and the rest of the league opening training camp within the next week, here's 10 predictions to get you to September. 1. Vick will sign with the Redskins. Dan Snyder will liven up the dog days of summer and give the Skins offense a little more bark by signing Vick, who missed the last two seasons after being sentenced to 23-months behind bars for dogfighting. Vick met Wednesday in New Jersey with Roger Goodell and the commish is expected to let the QB sign now, participate in training camp, and then decide by the end of the summer whether to suspend him two, four or six games. The issue is what team is willing to subject itself to the inevitable protests in the community if it signs him? Everybody says the favorite is the Raiders and Al Davis, the renegade enabler. But Vick will be better off signing with a team that does not have that frat-house image. Look how Randy Moss' image changed once he showed up in New England. The Redskins make sense. They are clearly not happy with Jason Campbell. They tried to trade for Jay Cutler and to move up in the draft for Sanchez. Whoever signs Vick will transition him back into the NFL by using him as a Wildcat quarterback. If he's the same player he was before he got in the government's doghouse, he could start for the Redskins next year. The Redskins are on such a pedestal in the nation's capital that Snyder can probably get away with this. One team that can't sign Vick: The Browns. Putting Vick within bone throwing distance of the Dawg Pound could be dangerous. No team will pursue Vick until Goodell's decision, which is expected this week. 2. Favre may need to live Continue Reading

Bonds ties Aaron with No. 755

Photo Gallery: Chasing AaronPhoto Gallery: Bonds through the yearsBonds Video PackageJoin the discussionSAN DIEGO - They are all tied up. Barry Bonds connected on a 2-1 fastball off Padres righthander Clay Hensley at 7:29 p.m. (PDT), took a half-dozen or so steps down the first base line, clapped his hands and jogged into the record books with home run No. 755 last night. Bonds got a mixed reaction as he finally took his place alongside Hank Aaron on top of the home run list. He stood and watched his opposite drive to left-center, and started trotting after the historic homer as Padres fans greeted the moment with a mixture of cheers and boos. Some fans held signs depicting an asterisk in reference to the controversial slugger's link to baseball's steroid scandal. One woman greeted him with a thumbs down from behind home plate. Hensley became the 445th pitcher to surrender a homer to Bonds and now becomes the answer to a trivia question for future generations. After taking batting practice four hours before first pitch and launching 19 balls over the walls of Petco Park in the quiet of the afternoon, Bonds looked determined to break a week-long slump at the plate. Leading off the second inning to boos, Bonds watched a fastball and then got ahead 2-1 before hammering a shot that went an estimated 382 feet, banging off the facing of the second-tier seats. At home plate, he embraced his son Nikolai in a bear hug before high-fiving all of his Giants teammates. He then went and kissed his wife Liz through the netting near the visiting dugout. With his hands in his pockets, Bud Selig rose to his feet for the feat. MLB's public relations people said Selig would not attend the postgame press conference, but would issue a statement. As the game drew to a close, the commissioner's comments arrived in the press box, an odd statement perhaps befitting of the controversy that surrounds Bonds. "Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Continue Reading

Shop talk says Bombers ain’t dead

Think of this: When A-Rod gets paid his $30 million for playing baseball for ONE year, he'll have earned more than the combined lifetime salaries of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby, Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner and Willie Mays. I have one word to say to Tony La Russa - Pujols.Now, I take you to my barber shop in Bronxville, where we can talk sports while gettting clipped."We're now in the second half of the season," says Tommy the head cutter, "and like every year, it's when the whole damn thing starts all over again."Tommy is the only guy I know who has this belief that the second part of the season is when it all counts. He figures the way the game is played today, with wild cards and such, a "lousy team" in the first half can go on to win the whole thing.An official geezer getting his trim pipes up with this chestnut: "There's that old axiom which says that the teams in first place on July 4 will win their pennants."This is Topic A with some cockeyed Yankee optimist fans today. Tommy says: "What do you mean the Yankees haven't got a chance? What about the Boston Braves of 1914?"Yes, those wonderous Miracle Braves. That year, on July 19, the Braves were seven games under .500 and trailing the first place Giants by 15-1/2 games. The word Miracle was hatched when the Braves overtook the Giants for the pennant and went on to sweep the Philadelphia Athletics in four games in the World Series.Admirable? Of course. One of the most enlightening things in life is to see someone who seemingly is hopelessly beaten get off the floor and whip his tormentor.A guy getting his unwanted curls chopped remembered that I picked the Cardinals to repeat as World Series champions this year. "Your champs turned out to be chumps, this year," he said. "What happened?"All I could come back with was: "That's baseball, kid. That's baseball."It's good this came up, because we used it Continue Reading


On Tuesday, the day after he called Brian Cashman a liar and engaged in a contentious interview with him, WFAN's Chris (Mad Dog) Russo said everything was cool because the Yankees GM could take the heat. Russo went on to say others in the Yankees organization, such as club prez Randy Levine, could not and were probably still "mad" about his over-the-top interview with Cashman. Russo said Cashman was lying when he explained he would have nixed the Bobby Abreu deal if Cory Lidle was not included. In an interview, Levine told me he did not hear Russo's one-on-one with Cashman, but was made aware of its details. Levine said he was not "mad" at the Dog, but did take issue with him. "I understand what he tries to do. But before he goes on one of his tirades he needs to get his facts straight and not put misleading information out there," Levine said. "He needs to be a little more temperate when it comes to people like Cash who have strong credibility. " The heat generated by this Russo-Cashman flap once again brought a bigger issue to a boil. The WFAN diss-down was also simulcast on the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network. So, you had Russo saying the Yankees GM was purposely jiving fans, and media, on a network owned by the Yankees. While this was hot stuff, it was nothing new. Russo's act usually includes a daily dose of Yankees bashing. Doggie is an equal opportunity guy. He beats up on the Mets, too. And WFAN is the Mets' flagship radio station. The same week he took down Cashman, Russo wigged out, saying Duaner Sanchez displayed "poor judgment" by getting into a cab at 2 a. m. to get something to eat. To hear Russo, one would think Sanchez rolled down the cab window, stuck his head out into the Miami morning, and told that other driver: "Please, kind sir, smash into our cab so I can break my shoulder and be out for the rest of the season. " It is not a reach to suggest Mets brass was unhappy with Dog's rap, but Fred Wilpon & Co. have a Continue Reading

Jet’s decision shows how great one stays ahead of game

Curtis Martin put up great numbers during his 11-year career that will get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but he doesn't want to become just another statistic, joining far too many players who can't enjoy normal lives after their bodies force them to quit. That's why Martin retired yesterday, even if he couldn't quite get those words out of his mouth to make it official. It was hard enough for him to finally let go and admit that his right knee will not let him play for the Jets this year. He goes out as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, but also as the most unassuming and underappreciated superstar of this generation. His No. 4 ranking will be a good trivia question. If he's not one of the top five best running backs of all time - Jim Brown, Payton, Smith, Sanders and Tony Dorsett hold that distinction on our list - he's in the top 10. Bill Parcells this week called Martin's style "not flamboyant," but says "you can count on one hand," running backs who accomplished what Martin did. "He is not a person who has put himself in the limelight," said former Cowboys vice president Gil Brandt. "He's been kind of off the radar screen. People quite honestly don't know enough about him or a lot about him. But he must have stamina. To run as much as he does and block, too, he's got to have the heart of Secretariat. He's been a nondescript kind of guy, except that he answers the bell all the time." Martin didn't have Sanders' speed and quickness, Smith's shiftiness or Payton's power and explosiveness. When Martin led the NFL in rushing for the only time in his career in 2004 with 1,697 yards, he became the only back to rush for 1,500 yards without a run longer than 25 yards. But at 31 years old, he also became the oldest rushing champion. His 14,101 yards are a tribute to his longevity and reliability. He wasn't emotionally ready to announce his career is over, although Continue Reading