August 28, 2005

Cubs Retire Ryne Sandberg's No. 23 Jersey

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs retired Ryne Sandberg's No. 23 jersey before Sunday's game against Florida, making the Hall of Fame second baseman the fourth Cub to receive the honor.

Nearly a month after his induction in Cooperstown, the 10-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove winner and 1984 MVP was given a standing ovation from the crowd and a framed replica jersey from the organization before watching his former team hang his No. 23 on the right-field foul pole. Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams are the only Cubs to have their numbers retired.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed right now and a little bit sick along with it," Sandberg said before the ceremony. "We'll see how the day goes. I was fortunate enough to be there for Ernie and Billy and Ron. I was on the field for all those ceremonies — not even thinking that I would have a day come like today. Being in their company and joining them means everything to me."

In 16 seasons — 15 with the Cubs — Sandberg batted .285. He ranks third on the Cubs' all-time list in runs scored (1,316), doubles (403) and extra-base hits (761); and fourth in home runs (282), hits (2,385), games (2,151), at-bats (8,379), total bases (3,786), steals (344) and singles (1,624). After being traded from Philadelphia in January 1982, Sandberg flourished. In 1984, he batted a career-high .314, hit 19 homers, stole 32 bases, led the majors in runs scored with 114 and won his second straight gold glove, leading the Cubs to their first playoff appearance since 1945.

"I've been proud to be a lifelong Chicago Cub and still be with the Cubs," Sandberg said. "That's always been important to me and I think it's always been special. It's allowed me to have Chicago as a home; my family considers Chicago a home. There's not too many guys that spend their whole career with one team and I think it's very fortunate and a blessing for me."
Memea's homer completes comeback, lifts Hawaii to Little League title

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Michael Memea rounded third with his right hand held high, barreling toward his jubilant teammates after his home run in the bottom of the seventh capped a stunning comeback to give West Oahu of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, the Little League World Series title.

Memea lined a pitch over the center-field wall with nobody out to finish the 7-6 win Sunday over the defending champions from Willemstad, Curacao. The homer completed the rally from a three-run deficit in the previous inning.

Down 6-3 with runners of second and third and nobody out, Vonn Fe'ao scored from third on a bunt base hit by Ty Tirpak. Zachary Rosete then hit an RBI single to left close the gap to 6-5.

Three batters and one out later, Alaka'i Aglipay hit a bouncer to second that looked like it would be an easy double play, but he beat out the throw to first, allowing Rosete to score the tying run.

Sorick Liberia had broken open a 3-3 game in the fifth with a two-run homer that soared beyond a short hill past the left-field wall. Darren Seferina added a solo shot to give Curacao its three-run lead.

The homers drew loud cheers from the small contingent of Curacao fans holding the country's blue and yellow flag and wearing hats of the same color.

Braves slugger Andruw Jones was hooked to the game on television in Milwaukee after hitting his major league-leading 41st and 42nd home runs during Atlanta's 5-2 win over the Brewers.

Jones is also from Willemstad, and most of Curacao's players at the Little League World Series call him their favorite player.

``It's great to see,'' Jones said in between yelling at the TV and playfully taunting his teammates. ``There's a lot of talent down there.''

The Curacao team from the Pabao Little League was trying to became the first repeat winners in South Williamsport since Long Beach, Calif., won back-to-back titles in 1992-93.

Down a run with two outs in the third, Curacao held a 3-1 lead thanks in part to a confusing play that started with an RBI single to right by Jurickson Profar.

The ball got by outfielder Rosete for an error and on the throw in, Rayshelon Carolina got caught in a rundown but scored after pitcher Quentin Guevara appeared to miss the tag at home.

Profar moved to third amid the confusion, then was singled home by Liberia.

West Oahu's big bats erased any bad memories and the two-run deficit when Kini Enos and Aglipay led off the bottom half of the third with consecutive homers.

West Oahu had a tournament-leading 10 home runs coming into the game but relied on two singles and a wild pitch to score its first run.

Also on Sunday, Ryan Gura lined an RBI single with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and lift Rancho Buena Vista of Vista, Calif. over Chiba City, Japan, 5-4 in the consolation game.

Johnny Dee started the winning rally with a one-out walk. Daniel Gibney blooped a single into left field just out of the reach of Yusuke Taira before Gura hit the game winner.
New Orleans Braces for Powerful Katrina

NEW ORLEANS - Monstrous Hurricane Katrina barreled toward the Big Easy on Sunday with 165-mph wind and a threat of a 28-foot storm surge, forcing a mandatory evacuation, a last-ditch Superdome shelter and prayers for those left to face the doomsday scenario this below-sea-level city has long dreaded.

"Have God on your side, definitely have God on your side," Nancy Noble said as she sat with her puppy and three friends in six lanes of one-way traffic on gridlocked Interstate 10. "It's very frightening."

Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico on a path to make landfall at sunrise Monday in the heart of New Orleans. That would make it the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm ever to slam the city. It eased slightly during the day, with top sustained wind down from 175 mph, but forecasters said fluctuations were likely.

But forecasters warned that Mississippi was also in danger because Katrina was such a big storm — with hurricane-force winds extending up to 105 miles from the center — that even areas far from the landfall could be devastated.

"I'm really scared," New Orleans resident Linda Young said as she filled her gas tank. "I've been through hurricanes, but this one scares me. I think everybody needs to get out."

Showers began falling on southeastern Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by pounding surf as far east as the Florida Panhandle, the first hints of a storm with a potential surge of 18 to 28 feet, even bigger waves and as much as 15 inches of rain.

"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," Mayor C. Ray Nagin said in ordering the mandatory evacuation for his city of 485,000 people, surrounded by suburbs of a million more. "The storm surge will most likely topple our levee system."

Conceding that as many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport, the city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.

Nagin also dispatched police and firefighters to rouse people out with sirens and bullhorns, and even gave them the authority to commandeer vehicles to aid in the evacuation.

"This is very serious, of the highest nature," the mayor said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare scenario a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl of a city that's up to 10 feet below sea level in spots and dependent on a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry. It's built between the half-mile-wide Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Estimates have been made of tens of thousands of deaths from flooding that could overrun the levees and turn New Orleans into a 30-foot-deep toxic lake filled with chemicals and petroleum from refineries, and waste from ruined septic systems.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Katrina's eye was about 150 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was moving toward the northwest at nearly 13 mph and was expected to turn toward the north. A hurricane warning was in effect for the north-central Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line.

Despite the dire predictions, a group of residents in a poor neighborhood of central New Orleans sat on a porch with no car, no way out and, surprisingly, no fear.

"We're not evacuating," said 57-year-old Julie Paul. "None of us have any place to go. We're counting on the Superdome. That's our lifesaver."

The 70,000-seat Superdome, the home of football's Saints, opened at daybreak Sunday, giving first priority to frail, elderly people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks. They were told to bring enough food, water and medicine to last up to five days. By afternoon, people with bags of belongings lined up outside hoping to get in.

In the French Quarter, most bars that stayed open through the threat of past hurricanes were boarded up and the few people on the streets were battening down their businesses and getting out.

Sasha Gayer tried to get an Amtrak train out of town but couldn't. So she walked back to the French Quarter, buying supplies on the way, and then stopped at one of the few bars open on Bourbon Street.

"This is how you know it's a serious hurricane," she said. "You can't find a slice of white bread in the city, but you can still buy beer."

Airport Holiday Inn manager Joyce Tillis spent the morning calling her 140 guests to tell them about the evacuation order. Tillis, who lives inside the flood zone, also called her three daughters to tell them to get out.

"If I'm stuck, I'm stuck," Tillis said. "I'd rather save my second generation if I can."

But the evacuation was slow going. Highways in Louisiana and Mississippi were jammed as people headed away from Katrina's expected landfall. All lanes were limited to northbound traffic on Interstates 55 and 59, and westbound on I-10.

Evacuation orders were also posted all along the Mississippi coast, and the area's casinos, built on barges, were closed.

Alabama officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying coastal areas. Mobile Mayor Michael C. Dow said flooding could be worse than the 9-foot surge that soaked downtown during Hurricane Georges in 1998.

Residents of several barrier islands in the western Florida Panhandle were urged to evacuate as Katrina pushed several inches of water onto coastal roads and near homes.

Tourists stranded by the shutdown of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport and the lack of rental cars packed the lobbies of high-rise hotels, which were exempt from the evacuation order to give people a place for "vertical evacuation."

Tina and Bryan Steven, of Forest Lake, Minn., sat glumly on the sidewalk outside their hotel in the French Quarter.

"We're choosing the best of two evils," said Bryan Steven. "It's either be stuck in the hotel or stuck on the road. ... We'll make it through it."

His wife, wearing a Bourbon Street T-shirt with a lewd message, interjected: "I just don't want to die in this shirt."

Only three Category 5 hurricanes — the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale — have hit the United States since record-keeping began. The last was 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which at 165 mph leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage.

New Orleans has not taken a major direct hit from a hurricane since Betsy in 1965, when an 8- to 10-foot storm surge submerged parts of the city in seven feet of water. Betsy, a Category 3 storm, was blamed for 74 deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

National Hurricane Center deputy director Ed Rappaport warned that Katrina, already responsible for nine deaths in South Florida as a mere Category 1, could be far worse for New Orleans.

"It would be the strongest we've had in recorded history there," Rappaport said. "We're hoping of course there'll be a slight tapering off at least of the winds, but we can't plan on that. ... We're in for some trouble here no matter what."

August 24, 2005

'Mockingbird' Actor Brock Peters Dies

LOS ANGELES - Brock Peters may be best remembered for his heartbreaking performance in "To Kill a Mockingbird," but his distinctive bass voice also played a vital role in his career.

Peters, who sang background vocals on Harry Belafonte's hits "Banana Boat (Day-O)" and "Mama Look At Bubu," died Tuesday at his home after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Peters was diagnosed with the disease in January and had been receiving chemotherapy treatment, according to Marilyn Darby, his longtime companion. His condition became worse in recent weeks and he died peacefully in bed, surrounded by family, she said.

Peters was born George Fisher on July 2, 1927, in New York. His long film career began in the 1950s with the landmark productions of "Carmen Jones" in 1954 and "Porgy and Bess" in 1959.

In recent years, he played Admiral Cartwright in two of the "Star Trek" feature films and also appeared in numerous TV shows. Peters was often used for animated characters, including Jomo in 2002's "The Wild Thornberrys Movie."

But he was perhaps best known for portraying accused rapist Tom Robinson, defended by Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch in the 1962 film "To Kill a Mockingbird."

"He was such a dear friend and one of the most lovely human beings I knew in my life," said Mary Badham, who played Jean Louise "Scout" Finch in the film.

Peters paid tribute to Peck after he died in 2003.

"In art there is compassion, in compassion there is humanity, with humanity there is generosity and love," Peters said. "Gregory Peck gave us these attributes in full measure."

Peters recounted how shortly before he was to start filming, he was awakened early on a Sunday morning by a phone call from Peck to welcome him to the production. He was so surprised, he recalled, that he dropped the telephone.

"I worked over the years in many, many productions, but no one ever again called me to welcome me aboard, except perhaps the director and the producer, but not my fellow actor-to-be."

In May, Peters was on hand as Harper Lee, the reclusive author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library.

In "Carmen Jones," Peters worked with Dorothy Dandridge and Belafonte. Otto Preminger's production of "Porgy" starred Sidney Poitier and Dandridge, and featured Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll as well as Peters.

Among Peters' other films were "Soylent Green," "The L-Shaped Room" and "The Pawnbroker."

His accolades include a National Film Society Award, a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and a Tony Award nomination for his performance on Broadway in "Lost in the Stars."

In a 1985 story by The Associated Press on blacks in the movies, Peters said there had been a string of recent hits involving blacks, but "I have been here a long time, and I have seen this cycle happen before. I'll wait awhile and see if this flurry of activity leads to anything permanent."

Peters was a widower and has one daughter, Lise Jo Peters.

August 23, 2005

Fever F Catchings named WNBA Player of Week
For the third time this season, Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings has been named WNBA Player of the Week.

Catchings earned her latest weekly honor - the eighth of her career - on Monday after combining for 41 points and 24 rebounds in wins over Washington and Charlotte.

A leading Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Catchings is the only player in the league ranked in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
Catchings has helped the Fever win a club-record 19 games and reach seven games above .500 for the first time in team history.

Indiana 69, Connecticut 63
Tamika Catchings scored 18 points and grabbed a key defensive rebound in the closing seconds to lead a rally that gave the Indiana Fever a 69-63 victory Tuesday night over the Connecticut Sun.

The Fever (20-12), who gained homecourt advantage in the first round of the WNBA playoffs, erased a seven-point deficit late in the game. It was the first win at the Mohegan Sun arena for the Fever in their last four visits.

Connecticut (24-8) has already locked homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Sun have only lost three of 17 home games.

Jurgita Streimikyte hit consecutive jumpers to pull the Fever even at 59 with 2:59 left. Indiana went ahead on two free throws by Tully Bevilaqua on its next possession. Deanna Jackson put Indiana up for good with a layup on an assist by Catchings for a 63-61 lead with 44 seconds left.

Lindsay Whalen then missed an open layup for the Sun and Catchings came down with the rebound. Indiana hit six of seven free throws down the stretch to ice it, including one off a Sun technical that got Connecticut coach Mike Thibault ejected with 31 seconds remaining.

Kelly Miller finished with 15 points for Indiana, and Streimikyte and Natalie Williams scored 10 apiece.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin led Connecticut with 16 points. Nykesha Sales added 14.

The Fever didn't miss much early. Indiana hit its first seven shots, and Williams had three of those baskets. Her 12-footer with 13:56 left gave the Fever their first lead at 16-15.

But the Sun got a lift from reserve forward Ajsha Jones, who hit consecutive shots in a 9-2 surge that gave Connecticut a 37-32 halftime lead.

August 19, 2005

Monaco, O'Hurley: "Dancing" Rematch!

Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley will return to the Dancing with the Stars ballroom for a so-called "dance-off" on Sept. 20, ABC announced Thursday. The results, based solely on viewer voting, will be announced in a Sept. 22 telecast.

Monaco, the daytime soap star, took the first round against O'Hurley, the former Seinfeld player, back on July 6 when she and professional dance partner Alec Mazo were named champs of the six-week made-for-TV contest.

Coming in the wake of early shaky efforts, Monaco's win was greeted with suspicion by O'Hurley die-hards who thought the show's elder statesman had samba-d circles around the competition with the help of partner Charlotte Jorgensen. One conspiracy theory had ABC plotting to put Monaco on top in the name of corporate synergy--the actress' day job is on the network's General Hospital.

At the Television Critics Association press tour last month, ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson told reporters the network was considering a Monaco-O'Hurley rematch. To the exec, a show returning the two rivals to the dance floor was a "great idea," not an admission that funny business had marred the initial results.

"The voting was not fixed whatsoever," McPherson said.

The newly sure-footed Monaco, meanwhile, refused to be tripped up by talk that she didn't earn her victory, and welcomed a rematch.

"Bring it on," the actress said at the ABC press conference last month. "You want a dance-off, come on up here. I'll give you a dance-off."

And so the dance-off: The Monaco and O'Hurley teams will compete in Latin, ballroom and freestyle. The 90-minute special will be filled out with "dance demonstrations" by: Ashly Delgrosso, Joey McIntyre's former partner; Jonathan Roberts,
Rachel Hunter's ringer; Edyta Sliwinska, survivor of Evander Holyfield's moves; and, Louis van Amstel, Trista Sutter's harsh taskmaster.

The results show, airing two nights later, will be kept to a relatively spare 30 minutes.

No decision has been made as to whether a separate results show will be part of Dancing with the Stars' second season. And, no, no decision has been made as to when Dancing with the Stars' second season will launch.

In its inaugural run, summer's biggest TV hit aired once a week, for six consecutive weeks, starting June 1. One dance team was eliminated at the end of each episode, except the first episode, on account of no team got eliminated until a lousy performance was at least one week old. (The logistics and math made a bit, but not a lot, more sense as the series played out.)

While Dancing's trio of judges will be on hand for next month's dance-off, they'll only serve as sideline observers, a la the Simon-Paula-Randy troika on American Idol. The Monaco-O'Hurley winner be determined by audience-generated online and phone voting.

Results will be final. Presumably until the next dance-off.

August 17, 2005

Starkey remembers Sue Gunter

Sue Gunter was laid to rest in her hometown of Walnut Grove, Miss. on Tuesday, Aug. 9 next to her parents.

The legendary coach passed away on Thursday Aug. 4 at her Baton Rouge home. She was 66 years old.

Gunter, a 40-year coaching veteran, won over 700 games in storied career, but her battle with lung disease came to an end a year and a half after leaving the bench. In the days since Gunter’s passing, those who knew her best have spent time reflecting on the many memories of the hall of fame coach.

No group of people knew Gunter than her coaching staff at LSU. Pokey Chatman, who succeeded Gunter as head coach, and assistant coaches Bob Starkey and Carla Berry spent a large portion of their lives with Gunter both on the court and off. After years of working together, it seemed appropriate for Chatman, Berry and Starkey to be in charge of paying the final respects to their fallen mentor.

With no family locally, her parents deceased and no children, Chatman and her assistant coaches made most of the arrangements for Gunter’s final services. Starkey said it was somewhat surreal acting as the only family Gunter had so to speak.

“It was both difficult and at the same time an honor, if that makes any sense at all,” Starkey said. “For coach Gunter, we were very meticulous with the details. She deserved to have the best sendoff possible.”

Starkey said due to Gunter’s lengthy illness, the veteran coach had a hand in her own arrangements.

“Because of her condition, a great deal of things had already been done, lots of things put in place,” Starkey said. “We had already met with the minister and arranged the church. We had started working on the memorial program because unfortunately we knew the time was drawing near for her. Coach Gunter actually had a say in some of things. She picked out some hymns that she wanted sung. It was different.”

While many feared the worst when Gunter fell ill in January of 2004 and most knew the inevitable, Starkey said when Gunter finally passed it was still a shock. In the hours following her passing, Starkey said the staff was flooded with an outpouring of emotion.

“It was almost like an onslaught from various angles,” Starkey said. “We had former players from LSU and Stephen F. Austin coming forward. We even had a couple of players from Middle Tennessee State – coaches from around the country, high school and college everywhere. Our season ticket holders, the LSU family, lots of people calling in. Some just wanted to call and talk asking if there was anything we could do.”

When the time came for the formality of visitations and funerals, Starkey said the attendance was staggering. With the likes of basketball greats such as Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt, Billie Moore and Ann Meyers present, basketball dignitaries turned out in droves as well as former players and coaches plus adoring fans.

“I can recall back to coach Gunter’s retirement dinner and Skip (Bertman) made a comment that night,” Starkey said. “He said ‘only greatness can bring greatness together like this.’ I think because of who she was is why we had such a response.”

A Sunday visitation was held in downtown Baton Rouge and a funeral service was held Monday afternoon at First United Methodist. Tuesday, Gunter’s body was transported to Walnut Grove for burial.

Starkey and the staff made the trip as well.

“I know driving back from Mississippi, I was in the car with Pokey and (administrative assistant) Joe Carvilhido and we shared a lot of goods stories about coach Gunter,” Starkey said. “I think we saw a lot of that over the past week with the former players and coaches coming in. I think all of those stories were kind of therapeutic.”

Starkey said the stories and memories as well as the tears flowed during that long car ride back from Gunter’s hometown.

“We talked about coach Gunter a lot,” Starkey said. “She has touched our lives in many different ways. But the most unique thing about Mississippi was that was her family and her friends growing up. It was interesting to meet some of those people for the first time. Her high school coach was there. Her junior college coach was there. Some of her childhood friends were there telling stories about coach Gunter as a child, some stories we had never heard before. We found out about coach Gunter the child, teenager and college student. It was comforting to see so much love from that part of her life.”

Starkey added some plans are underway for a memorial to be built for Gunter, but the details a full-blown tribute have not been finalized as of yet.

“We haven’t had much time to give that adequate thought yet,” he said. “I have been asked will we wear the black patch on the arm. We have actually been working on a tribute monument that will go in our locker room complex. It is large and it is beautiful and is pretty much for the players’ eyes only.

With a new freshman class already on campus in preparation for the upcoming season, Starkey said the staff will make a point of passing on stories and traditions to help newcomers to the program understand what Gunter meant to the LSU program as well as the women’s game as a whole. Starkey added he feels there is no better person to carry Gunter’s torch than Chatman.

“I think her greatest legacy will come through Pokey Chatman,” Starkey said. “I am close enough to both of them to see a lot of Sue in Pokey. There are some things that Pokey brings from other parts of her life that makes her special. But I think the way we conduct this program, with integrity and class with that competitive fire is absolutely the best legacy we can leave in coach Gunter’s honor and I think that is the on she would want.”
'Thin Man' movies released on DVD

I can't imagine a better life than the one lived on "Hart to Hart," a television series from 1979.

I mean, who wouldn't want to be Jonathan Hart (played by Robert Wagner)? You've got a dish of a wife played by Stefanie Powers, and you’ve got a gruff, stogie-chomping manservant played by Lionel Stander. In your free time, between fabulous parties and ski trips to the French Alps, you solve murders.

The only couple that ever had it better than Mr. and Mrs. Hart was Nick and Nora Charles in the "Thin Man" movies.

Nick and Nora, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, were the prototypes for the Harts -- and they also would have drunk them under the table.

Powell and Loy made six "Thin Man" movies from 1934-1947, and now they're all together in a DVD box set full of gin-and-vermouth benders and rakish, screwball one-liners.

In the 1934 original, "The Thin Man," we learn that Powell’s character used to be a private detective. He gave it up to live the good life with his rich and sassy wife.

But when he bumps into a woman at the bar, she convinces him to look for her missing father -- an eccentric scientist/inventor.

Detective work follows, but it takes a back seat to Nick and Nora’s lightning-quick repartee. Even with their characters’ dueling hangovers, Powell and Loy still outpace the screwball banter of duos like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They might be the best on-screen couple in Hollywood history.

While the 1934 original is the clear standout of the collection, the others have their charms. "After the Thin Man" (1936) stars a young Jimmy Stewart as a nice guy who isn't is as nice as he seems.

August 15, 2005

Hart to Hart - When This Show Came to DVD, It Was Murder! (Season 1 Announcement)

When people think of Sidney Sheldon, they think mainly of his thrilling novels (his 18th novel is due to hit the market next month). What surprises people is the number of film scripts and television epsiodes he's written...more than 200 of the latter. He also was the creator of two of the most popular sitcoms of all time: The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie. Those were from the '60s. In 1979, Sheldon turned his talents toward creating a TV show that was as full of thrills as his novels were. The result was a show originally called "Double Twist", but which came to broadcast as Hart to Hart.

Starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, it was a show in the murder mystery genre that had the very wealthy husband-and-wife team looking for clues and killers among the well-to-do. But that summary, while on-target, doesn't begin to describe the charm brought to the show by the wonderful relationship that Wagner and Powers had with each other. He was a self-made millionaire, with the strength and determination to see anything through. She was a former journalist, with a nose for finding clues. Always on hand to help was Lionel Stander as Max, their friend and servant with the gruff voice but could be trusted to be there in a pinch. First season guest stars include Dee Wallace, Markie Post, Rene Auberjonois, Tommy Lasorda, Noble Willingham, Juliet Mills, and John Hillerman.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring out Hart to Hart - The Complete 1st Season on October 25th, on a 6-DVD set that runs 1139 minutes. List price is $49.95 SRP. Extras have not been announced by the studio yet, but Video Business reports that the set "contains all 23 episodes of the debut season, plus commentary and a featurette with cast and crew interviews." Here's the box art for you:

Indiana 62, Phoenix 56

PHOENIX -- The Indiana Fever finally came through with a late-game rally, and got their franchise-record 17th win.

Natalie Williams had a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds, helping the Fever beat the Phoenix Mercury 62-56 Sunday night.

Indiana (17-12) fell short in a one-point loss to Washington on Aug. 7, and came close in the final minute at Los Angeles on Saturday night before losing 69-59.

Against the Mercury, the Fever ran off nine straight points after falling behind by four and got the lead for good with 3:30 remaining to win its franchise-best sixth road game of the season.

``We lost games right in the last few minutes,'' Williams said. ``But it was really a focus for us tonight to maintain and run our offense and stay poised down the stretch.''

Tamika Catchings added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Fever, who won for the second time in three games and maintained a one-game lead over third-place New York in the Eastern Conference.

``I think we all were really disappointed that we lost to L.A. since we were in a position to win,'' Catchings said. ``Tonight, we were in the same situation, and everybody pushed to not let this one get away.''

Anna DeForge scored a game-high 18 for the Mercury (13-14), who lost for just the third time in 13 games. Three Phoenix starters fouled out in the final 4:37, including leading-scorer Diana Taurasi with 2:20 left.

``I don't think I have ever been involved with a team where three starters have fouled out,'' Mercury coach Carrie Graf said. ``It's going to be hard to win a contest when you are in this type of situation.''

Phoenix was whistled for 27 fouls, and Indiana 19. The Fever took advantage, making 21 of 22 free throws.

``Obviously, Diana Taurasi going out of the game was a big factor,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. ``Took a couple of nice charges on her and got her out of the game. That certainly helps when you take probably their best player off their game, their point guard and their decision-maker.''

Williams hit a 15-footer with 3:30 left to give Indiana a 51-50 lead, then grabbed a key offensive rebound with 1:30 left that led to Kelly Schumacher's free throws 16 seconds later.

Kelly Miller hit a 3-pointer and four free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

Maria Stepanova followed a miss to get the Mercury within 58-56 with eight seconds remaining, but Miller and Deanna Jackson hit their free throws for the final margin.

Phoenix is a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff berth in the West.

Indiana, the worst shooting team in the WNBA, overcame a 32-percent effort from the field. The Fever led 30-29 at halftime.

August 11, 2005

Former LSU coach laid to rest in Walnut Grove

Gunter remembered as authentic person as well as women's basketball legend

CARTHAGE — Mississippi State women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning knew exactly why it began to rain during the funeral procession of longtime colleague Sue Gunter.

"I'm sure Sue was laughing while we were driving out here," said Fanning. "She was up there saying, 'I am putting y'all through the weather.' When I think of Sue Gunter, I think of that laugh and her humor. She could always make you laugh and was just a friend to everyone and a tremendous encourager."

Fanning was one of about 200 people paying their final respects to Gunter, a Walnut Grove native and former LSU coach who died Thursday at 66 after battling emphysema.

Gunter was also honored Monday in a Baton Rouge memorial service attended by around 500 people.

As accomplished as Gunter was as a coach — a Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, and recently voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame — it was her presence off the floor that was talked about the most Tuesday.

"She was a wonderful player that made me look good a lot of times when I didn't deserve to," said Ed Logan, Gunter's high school coach. "But the most important thing wasn't her basketball ability. She was a wonderful person. She was nice, respectful, a good student, and a hard worker. I started to call her a bad loser, but she never did hardly lose."

As a player, Gunter's high school team went undefeated two straight years and her winning ways didn't stop there. Her 708-308 career coaching record ranks third all-time among women's basketball coaches, trailing only Pat Summitt of Tennessee and Jody Conradt of Texas.

LSU coach Pokey Chatman said plenty about the coach she replaced in 2004.

"She's been everything," said Chatman about Gunter's role in her life. "She has been a part of my maturation process. Sue is embedded in my fabric and I can take so much from her than just basketball.

"The beauty of Sue was that she was consistently Sue and was such a relationship builder," Chatman said. "She was a master at that because she was real. I hope I am half as good as she was."

Former LSU player Temeka Johnson described Gunter — who had no children of her own — as a motherly figure.

"The basketball stuff was a given, but she broadened my horizons to a lot of things and helped raise me to be the young woman that I am today," said Johnson, now playing with the WNBA's Washington Mystics. "She was a fighter, she was loving, and she was caring."

Several of Gunter's high school teammates were also in attendance, including Jackye Britt, who now lives in Grenada.

"We always kept up with her," Britt said. "She was a fine person and a basketball person all the way. I'd imagine she's the most famous person to ever come out of Walnut Grove."

Gunter returned to Walnut Grove Tuesday, where she was buried beside her parents at the Mount Zion Cemetery.

Jill Upton, a lifelong friend and former teammate of Gunter's, fought through tears moments after the graveside service.

"You were very unfortunate if you didn't know Sue," said Upton. "She was born to lead with a special gift. The ripple effect that she has had will definitely live on. I'll be buried about 20 feet from her. I told her that when I get there, we'll both get up at midnight and play a one-on-one game of basketball."

Moments later, the rain had slowed to a slight drizzle. A soft clap of thunder was heard in the Leake County sky: One final applause for a Mississippi legend.

August 10, 2005

Film, Stage Star Barbara Bel Geddes Dies

LOS ANGELES - Barbara Bel Geddes, the winsome actress who rose to stage and movie stardom but reached her greatest fame as Miss Ellie Ewing in the long-running TV series "Dallas," has died. She was 82.

The San Francisco Chronicle said Bel Geddes, a longtime smoker, died Monday of lung cancer at her home in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home in Mount Desert, Maine, confirmed the death Wednesday, but owner Bill Fernald said the family asked that no further information be given out.

Bel Geddes was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the 1948 drama "I Remember Mama" and was the original Maggie the Cat on Broadway in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

But she was best known as the matriarch of the rambunctious Ewing oil family on "Dallas," which hurtled to the top of the ratings despite negative reviews. Bel Geddes won an Emmy in 1980 as best lead actress in a drama series and remains the only nighttime soap star to be so honored.

"She was the rock of 'Dallas,'"Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing, told The Associated Press. "She was just a really nice woman and a wonderful actress. She was kind of the glue that held the whole thing together."

Bel Geddes called "Dallas "real fun," but it was also marked by tragedy. In 1981, Jim Davis, who played Miss Ellie's husband, Jock Ewing, died.

"It was like losing her own husband again," said "Dallas" producer Leonard Katzman. "It was a terribly difficult and emotional time for Barbara."

In March 1984, Bel Geddes was stricken with a major heart attack. Miss Ellie was played by Donna Reed for six months, then Bel Geddes returned to "Dallas," remaining until 1990, a year before CBS canceled the show.

Hagman said he had encouraged Bel Geddes to give up the smoking habit, but it was doctors who got her to quit after the heart attack, he said. He recalled the makeup room on the "Dallas" set as being so filled with her cigarette smoke that he would ask to be made up in his dressing room.

Of the lung cancer deaths of Peter Jennings and Bel Geddes, Hagman said: "I hope it's a wake-up call to a lot of people."

"Dallas" came late in her career. She had retired to take care of her husband, Windsor Lewis, after he fell ill with cancer in 1966. He died in 1972.

Her earnings depleted by his long illness, she found work scarce for a middle-aged actress and said she was "flat broke" in 1978 when she accepted the role as Miss Ellie.

In 1945, Bel Geddes made a splash on Broadway at 23 with her first important role in "Deep Are the Roots," winning the New York Drama Critics Award as best actress.

She announced to a reporter: "My ambition is to be a good screen actress. I think it would be much more exciting to work for Frank Capra, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock or Elia Kazan than to stay on Broadway."

Hollywood was quick to notice. In 1946 she signed a contract with RKO that granted her unusual request to be committed to only one picture a year. In her first movie she costarred with Henry Fonda in "The Long Night," a disappointing remake of a French film.

Her second film was a hit playing a budding writer in George Stevens' "I Remember Mama," the touching story of an immigrant family in San Francisco starring Irene Dunne as Mama. With her delicate features and patrician manner, Bel Geddes became a popular leading lady in films.

"I went out to California awfully young," she remarked. "I remember Lillian Hellman and Elia Kazan telling me, 'Don't go, learn your craft.' But I loved films." After four movies, Howard Hughes, who had bought control of RKO in 1948, dropped her contract because "she wasn't sexy enough."

Bel Geddes was devastated. But it turned out to be a good happenstance. She had time to return to the stage, and she scored a triumph in 1955 as Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Yet her biggest Broadway success was "Mary, Mary," a frothy marital comedy by Jean Kerr, which opened in 1961 and ran for more than 1,500 performances.

In her film career, Bel Geddes was able to work with great filmmakers such as Kazan ("Panic in the Streets") and Alfred Hitchcock ("Vertigo"). She also costarred with Danny Kaye in "The Five Pennies" and with Jeanne Moreau in "Five Branded Women."

"By Love Possessed" in 1961 was her last film for 10 years. She made her final films in 1971 — "Summertree" and "The Todd Killings."

Among Bel Geddes' other major theater credits were roles in Terence Rattigan's "The Sleeping Prince" (1956); Robert Anderson's "Silent Night, Holy Night" (1959), which co-starred Henry Fonda; and Edward Albee's "Everything in the Garden" (1967). She was born in New York City on Oct. 31, 1922, the daughter of renowned industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes.

"I didn't see much of my father," she said, "but I absolutely adored him." After her education in private schools, he found her a job at a summer theater and used his connections with stage people to help her get work.

Early in her stage career Bel Geddes married Carl Schreuer, an electrical engineer, and they had a daughter, Susan. The marriage ended after seven years in 1951, and that year she married director Lewis. They had a daughter, Betsy.

August 09, 2005

Book Recommendation

When Blanche Met Brando : The Scandalous Story of "A Streetcar Named Desire"
by Sam Staggs

This is a fantastic book; I devoured it in one sitting. It details everything you'd ever want to know about Tennessee Williams' famous play, and the resulting movie, as well as subsequent appearances on stage and TV. The intriguing anecdotes regarding Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kazan, and others connected with "Streetcar" will keep you engrossed for hours. I've read Mr. Staggs' previous books and enjoyed them very much. I must say, though, that he really outdoes himself with When Blanche Met Brando. He delivers the definitive word on "Streetcar" in all its incarnations. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Broadway and Hollywood history!

August 08, 2005

Public visitation, funeral today for Sue Gunter

Friends, family and fans will remember LSU legend Sue Gunter at her funeral and visitation Monday afternoon. There has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy from people who were touched by Gunter's life and legacy.

Several hundred mourners turned out Sunday to pay their final respects to the late coach. Many who attended the services worked with Gunter or coached against her during her 22-year career as head coach of the LSU Lady Tigers Basketball Team.

Some young athletes even donned their basketball jerseys for the visitation. Although she never coached them, they said Gunter was a legend for the advances she made for women's athletics and an inspiration to young players across the country.

William Variste told how he appreciated Gunter's kindness.

"The love that she showed when I brought my daughter and friends down to the camp and attended games," Variste said, "it's what we look for in this day and time."

Visitation will continue Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church on North Boulevard. The funeral service will follow at 3 p.m.

Both the visitation and the funeral service are open to the public. Gunter will be buried next to her parents Tuesday in Walnut Grove, Miss.
LSU Coaching Legend Sue Gunter Dies at 66

BATON ROUGE -- Sue Gunter, a pioneer in women's collegiate athletics and one of the most beloved and accomplished coaches in LSU sports history, has died at the age of 66.

Gunter died on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at her home in Baton Rouge.

Born May 22, 1939, in Leake County, Miss., Gunter was a native of Walnut Grove, Miss., and had been a resident of Baton Rouge since 1982. She is preceded in death by her parents, Lovette Golden Gunter and Ivadean Barham Gunter. She is survived by two aunts, cousins, longtime friend and caretaker Doris Rogers and numerous friends and admirers.

A visitation will be held on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. at Rabenhorst Funeral Home on Government St. in Baton Rouge. There will be a second visitation on Monday from 1-3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church on North Blvd. in Baton Rouge. Services will then be at the church at 3 p.m. on Monday. Both visitations and the service are open to the public.

Gunter's body will then be moved to Walnut Grove, Miss., where a second service will be held on Tuesday. She will then be laid to rest next to her parents at Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Friends and family of Gunter have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sue Gunter Fund or the Alzheimer Services of the Capital Area. Arrangements for the Sue Gunter Fund can be made by contacting the LSU Women's Basketball office at 225-578-6643 or PO Box 25095, Baton Rouge, LA 70894. The Alzheimer Services of he Capital Area can be contacted by calling (225) 334-7494 or 3772 North Blvd., Suite B, Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

The head coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, Gunter was already one of the most respected figures in all of women's athletics when she arrived at LSU in 1982. Her participation in women's basketball as a player and coach helped open doors for women in collegiate competition, and she was instrumental in the growth of women's sports in America.

In 22 years as the head coach at LSU, she established a venerable program, one that reached a new level in her final years on the LSU sideline. She was forced to step aside for health reasons during the 2003-04 season, but not before she had built a team that would go to back to back Final Fours in 2004 and 2005.

Gunter lived to see the fruits of her labor, evidenced in the Lady Tigers' climb among the elite in their sport, and also in the form of sell-out crowds at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for games of national significance.

While Gunter has long been respected for her contributions to women's sports, she is revered throughout collegiate athletics for her impact on the sport of basketball regardless of gender. Already a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, she will be inducted posthumously into the prestigious Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

Gunter completed her career as the third winningest women's basketball coach in history with an overall record of 708-308, which included coaching stints at Middle Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin and LSU. Gunter's LSU record was 442-221, making her the winningest coach in school history.

Under the direction of Gunter, the Lady Tigers played in 14 NCAA Tournaments, one National Women's Invitational Tournament and two WNIT events. Gunter led LSU to one Final Four and to the Elite Eight in 1986, 2000 and 2003, while leading the Lady Tigers to a championship at the National Women's Invitational Tournament in 1985. In addition, Gunter directed LSU to 14 seasons of 20 or more wins, including one 30-win season.

Gunter completed her career among the leaders in several NCAA coaching categories: seasons coached (No. 1 - 40); games coached (No. 3 - 1,016); wins (No. 3 - 708); and 20-win seasons (No. 4 - 22).

Prior to her arrival in Baton Rouge, Gunter had a very successful coaching stint at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas. While at SFA, Gunter built that program into a national powerhouse as she led the LadyJacks to a 266-87 mark in 12 years as head coach. In addition, she led Stephen F. Austin to four top 10 national rankings, which included No. 5 final rankings in 1979 and 1980. While at Stephen F. Austin, Gunter coached four sports - women's basketball, softball, tennis and track. Her basketball teams went to five Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) playoffs, won four state titles and earned a regional crown.

After 16 seasons at SFA, she relinquished the reigns and moved into the position of Director of Women's Athletics where she served two years before returning to the coaching ranks at LSU.

Gunter began her coaching career at Middle Tennessee State where she led the Blue Raiders to undefeated seasons in both of her years there.

Gunter's impressive coaching credentials don't end with her contributions to the college game as she has also played a big part in the success of the United States in women's basketball on the international level.

In 1980, Gunter was selected as the head women's basketball coach for the United States Olympic Team. Gunter guided her team to the title at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament prior to the Olympics. However, Gunter and her team were denied a chance at a gold medal due to the United States' boycott of the Olympic Games, which were held in Moscow, that year.

Gunter has tasted success at the Olympics, however, as she was an assistant coach on the 1976 U. S. Team which captured the silver medal in Montreal. She has also served as head coach for the U.S. National Team three times, as she led those squads in 1976, 1978 and 1980.

Gunter received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in 1962 from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn. She followed that with post-graduate work at Texas Women's University.

A fine player in her own right, Gunter played AAU basketball for Nashville Business College from 1958-62 earning AAU All-America honors. She was also a member of the 1960-62 United States teams that competed against the Soviet Union.

Gunter was also active in many community service areas throughout Baton Rouge. She recently played an active role in the Baton Rouge Area Lupas Foundation and served as the honorary chairperson for the Walk for Alzheimer's in Baton Rouge. Gunter was also a finalist for the 1997 YWCA Women of Achievement Award, which recognizes the top women in the Baton Rouge community for contributions to their field.

Sue Gunter File

Years at LSU: 22
Overall Record: 708-308 (40 years)
LSU Record: 442-221 (22 years)
Hometown: Walnut Grove, Miss.
Born: May 22, 1939
Alma Mater (Year): Peabody College (1962); Masters - Peabody College (1962)

Playing Career:

Played guard for Nashville Business College (AAU) from 1958-62, earning All-America honors in 1960
Member of U.S. National Team, which competed against the Soviet Union from 1960-62.

Collegiate Coaching Experience:

Head coach Middle Tennessee State 1963-64
Head coach Stephen F. Austin 1965-80
Head coach LSU 1983-2004.

International Coaching Experience:

Head Coach 1976 U.S. National Team
Assistant Coach 1976 U.S. Olympic Team (silver medal)
Head Coach 1978 U.S. National Team
Head Coach 1980 U.S. National Team
Head Coach 1980 U.S Olympic Team.

Coaching Achievements:

Silver medal in 1976 Olympics
Won Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 1980
Converse Region IV Coach of the Year in 1983
Basketball News National Coach of the Year in 1983
Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1983
Women's NIT Champions in 1985, SEC Tournament Champions in 1991
Recipient of Carol Eckman Award in 1994
SEC Coach of the Year in 1997 and 1999
Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1997
WBCA District III Coach of the Year in 1999
Inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000
Two-time Louisiana Coach of the Year (2002 and 2003)
WBCA Regional Coach of the Year in 2003
Won her 400th game as LSU's head coach in 2002-03
Earned her 700th career victory in 2003-04
Third winningest head coach in NCAA history with 708 career victories
Ex-LSU coach Gunter had passion for hoops

BATON ROUGE — Sue Gunter was a gym rat before that was a basketball term.

If there was a gymnasium or a basketball goal of any type around Walnut Grove, Miss., the former LSU women's coach and childhood friend Carla Lowry found it.

"In rural Mississippi, there wasn't a lot to do, so we'd go play basketball," Lowry said when Gunter was introduced as one of the next inductees to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last April in a news conference at the men's Final Four in St. Louis.

"We were gym rats before we knew what that meant," Lowry said.

Gunter, who died Thursday morning after an 18-month bout with emphysema, is in the Naismith and Women's basketball halls of fame as well as the Louisiana and Mississippi halls for her coaching.

"Probably Sue's greatest legacy was her ability to form relationships with her players and coaches," said Lowry, who also became a coach. "That builds tremendous loyalty in her players."

"You'll be shocked at the number of girls who played for her who will be there (at the funeral)," former LSU men's basketball coach Dale Brown said. "And they won't just be there to wear a nice dress. Sue was special to everyone she coached. They've lost a lovely lady."

Gunter was 442-221 as LSU's women's coach from 1982 through 2004. Brown was right down the hall of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for many of those years as men's coach from 1972 through 1997.

"We worked 15 years together, and there was never one ounce of conflict," Brown said Thursday.

"The legacy she left is the relationships she had with people," said LSU basketball coach John Brady, who spoke on Gunter's behalf last month when she was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches. "It's been a privilege for me to work with her.

"LSU, our state, the coaching profession, and our fans will miss a wonderful lady, coach and person in Sue Gunter. I am grateful to have known her and to have worked with her."

Gunter finished as the third-winningest women's coach in history in 2004 with a 708-308 record.

"Sue was definitely one of the pioneers of women's collegiate basketball," said Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt, who leads all of college basketball — men and women — in wins with 882. "She was one of my mentors. I learned so much from Sue about the X's and O's of the game of basketball. But more importantly, she taught me about the delicate balance of coaching and teaching the game and the value of great player-coach relationships."

Summitt played for Gunter on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.

"She made playing basketball fun due to her ability to connect with her players," Summitt said. "Personally, I am going to miss her tremendously, and I know the game is going to miss her."

Women's coaches throughout the country spoke of Gunter after her death.

"Personally, I feel like I lost my best friend," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "Basketball lost one of its heroes. She is legendary."

Said former Auburn coach Joe Ciampi: "Sue was one of the keystones of women's basketball. She was a role model for all players and coaches to use. She had the ability to be a great competitor on the court as well as have great compassion for her players and fellow coaches."

Gunter coached at Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin before LSU.

"A lot of the things you see today in the game of women's basketball are due to a large price earlier paid by people such as Sue Gunter," Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said.

"Sue's passing is a great loss for our sport and a personal loss of a close friend," Texas coach Jody Conradt said.

"Just sadness, that was my first thought," said national champion Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, a former Louisiana Tech assistant from Hammond.

"When you look at Sue's record and all the accomplishments throughout her career, it's easy to say that we have lost a great coach," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "But in reality, we have lost a better person."

Gunter's funeral services

BATON ROUGE — Funeral arrangements have been set for the late Hall of Fame coach Sue Gunter, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 66.

A visitation will be held today from 4-6 p.m. at Rabenhorst Funeral Home on Government Street in Baton Rouge. There will be a second visitation on Monday from 1-3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church on North Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

Services will then be at the church at 3 p.m. on Monday. Both visitations and the service are open to the public.

Gunter’s body will then be moved to Walnut Grove, Miss., where a second service will be held on Tuesday. She will then be laid to rest next to her parents at Mount Zion Cemetery.

Friends and family of Gunter have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Sue Gunter Fund or the Alzheimer Services of the Capital Area.

Arrangements for the Sue Gunter Fund can be made by contacting the LSU Women’s Basketball office at (225) 578-6643 or P.O. Box 25095, Baton Rouge, LA 70894. The Alzheimer Services of the Capital Area can be contacted by calling (225) 334-7494 or 3772 North Blvd., Suite B, Baton Rouge, La. 70806.

August 07, 2005

NEW YORK - ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has died of lung cancer, the network announced Sunday.
Marino's philanthropy gives autism research, care major boost

WESTON, Fla. -- Dan Marino is building something in South Florida that may rival the success he experienced on football fields. To people in the field of autism treatment and research, Marino deserves to be inducted into their version of Canton as well.

"If there were a philanthropy Hall of Fame, he'd be right up there, too," says Mary Partin, CEO of the Dan Marino Foundation.

The Dan Marino Center at Miami Children's Hospital and its work with special needs children, particularly autism, is a legacy that continues to grow. Dan and Claire Marino got the $3 million center off the ground in 1998 with a $1 million donation.

It is the centerpiece of the quarterback's foundation, which he started with Claire in 1992 and which has funded more than $5 million to support treatment, outreach programs, services and research for children with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities.

Marino started his foundation work after his second son Michael, 17, was diagnosed as slightly autistic. With early treatment, his son overcame many developmental problems other autistic children without such help do not. The Marinos wanted to help those children who weren't getting it.

"When people come up and say, 'You know, my kid has been over at your center and seen some of the doctors there and they made a difference and the place is great,' it makes you feel like a million bucks," Marino says.

The Marino Center treated about 20,000 patients last year with 50,000 visits, all youngsters up to 22 years of age. They receive care from neurologists, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists and other specialists and the services include behavorial, rehabilitative and occupational therapy. The idea, Partin notes, was to have one place where people could come for all of their services. The center was cited in the June issue of South Florida Parenting magazine as the best services for special needs in Broward County.

"This," says Albert Rego, the center's administrative director, "wouldn't be here without him, simply stated."

The Marinos have a vision for more. As fellow Dolphins Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti is doing with spinal cord research at the Miami Project, Marino would like to spawn massive research into autism. His foundation is developing the Marino Autism Research Initiative. It will fund researchers, improved clinical service and clinical education at both the University of Miami and at Vanderbilt University.

The aim is for the initiative eventually to become an institute, which will require millions of dollars.

"The focus for us," Partin says, "is now research, research, research."

Another recent innovation started by the foundation and geared toward education is, a web site conceived by Marino and dedicated to autism and other neurological disorders. It is used as a resource for patients, their families, clinicians and educators. The plan is to ultimately turn the web site into a cable television channel.

The Marinos contribute $350,000 annually to their Foundation and raise much more. His annual golf tournament, held in February, netted $593,000 this year.

"The Marinos, if they never did another thing, they've already done everything they need to do," Partin says.

Don Strock, Marino's backup in his early Dolphins years, isn't surprised his close friend has devoted so much time and money to a cause helping children.

"The most emotional you'd see him was when the Make-A-Wish Foundation would bring children to practices, some dying of cancer or having other life-threatening situations. You could see the emotion in him -- not so much at the time, but afterwards. He'd get misty-eyed, and you know he gave it a lot of thought."

As Rego finishes a tour of the Dan Marino Center, he reflects on Marino's contribution to society away from football.

"I think Dan has performed at a higher level off the field than he did on the field, and that's a lot to be said. I get chills because it's going to go on for decades. For me, Danny means a whole lot more than passing touchdowns."
Final chapter is Marino’s to write

Sheets of legal paper lay scattered on the conference table around Dan Marino, each one covered in his handwriting and marked by words crossed out, sentences with black lines through them and arrows moving full paragraphs up, down and sometimes back up again.

A black leather satchel sat on the chair beside him with more papers and more writings, including a folder of notes his father sent him through the years and his retirement speech from 2000.

Three different printed-out versions of his Hall of Fame speech-in-progress sat in front of him. He held a page from the latest version, reading it silently, mulling something.

"What sounds better here, `these Dolphins teammates' or `those Dolphins teammates?'" Marino asked his business manager, Ralph Stringer, who was reading along.

This was Tuesday, and he sat in this office at the Dan Marino Foundation in Weston for five hours prepping for today's induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Coffee cups from the morning were on the table. So were white Styrofoam boxes from a delivered lunch.

He took a pen and crossed out `these' and wrote `those.' He silently re-read the sentence. He went back and crossed out `those' and wrote `these.'

"This is the toughest thing I've ever done," he said.

That's what they all say as the day nears, of course, every Hall of Famer whose final game involves putting their sweat into words. How can you do it? How do you thank everyone, reflect on everything, visit every place that meant something to you and somehow make it sound as natural as breathing?

"I want to get the words down, get them how I say them, and then practice and practice until it's just like I'm talking," he said the other day.

So it was summer training camp again. That's how he makes it sound. Work hard. Work harder. Work harder still. That always was Marino's mantra. But there's this difference: Marino loved practice in football. Loved it.

That's what Don Shula noticed, even after 13 years together, Marino still on the practice field late. Even the summer two-a-days didn't bother him, not the way they did other players. All he wanted to do was be out there throwing a football, working with teammates, getting everything perfect.

That's how he looks at today's speech. He wants it to be just right. For weeks, it's worn on him, as he said Saturday in Canton, laughing in a news conference as he called it "more pressure than you want."

"You look like you've been in a wreck," Stringer said in this office Tuesday, smiling.

Then Marino's Blackberry rang, a soft bell chime. It was his 15-year-old son, Joey. "Hey, buddy," he said, then listened for a few seconds. "Mom or I will pick you up," he said.

From rookie phenom to NFL superstar to father of six, part of the romance of Marino is he became part of South Florida. You don't see that much in sports anymore. Maybe it's free agency. Maybe it's the big money. No one is shortsighted enough, for instance, to think Shaquille O'Neal belongs just to South Florida.

Marino does. He arrived when our area was lifting off with the Miami Vice image and provided the perfect sports flair to accompany that. After his first start, against Buffalo in 1983, Shula could look ahead despite the loss to tell reporters: "The thrill is back."

Twenty-two years later, Marino sat in an office with a pen, saying, "It's hard to put what football meant to me into words."

He has looked at videos of other Hall speeches. His wife, Claire, has read his speech. Stringer has gone over it. His father dropped off a note for him, just to see if it might help, something about growing up in Pittsburgh. He has worked on the speech at his home, at his foundation office, in New York between meetings with the CBS football crew.

"It's all I've thought about for a while," he says.

It's easier just to remember the thrill Shula felt that first game -- what every fan saw for years. The arm. The swagger. The full glare of passion on his face, right to the final season in 1999, when Jimmy Johnson took away Marino's right to call audibles and Marino dared do it anyhow in the fourth quarter while trailing at Indianapolis.

Marino told Oronde Gadsden in the huddle to ignore the called play and go deep. Gadsden had two voices in his head now. Jimmy. And Danny. He ran deep for a long completion that set up one of two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the comeback win.

There's a picture of him from that day on the wall behind him at his foundation. It's in a wall-sized collage of photos and headlines from his career that a fan made. There's the rookie Marino. There's the comeback from the Achilles injury. There's a picture of everything but him holding a Super Bowl trophy.

He had another dream he never got to besides the ring, though.

"To throw the ball every play in a game," he said, smiling, leaning back in a chair, understanding the fantasy of it all.

He takes up the pen. Time to work again. He has talked with John Elway, who entered the Hall of Fame last year and said he kept tinkering with his speech right up to the moment he gave it.

"That's how I'll be, I know," Marino says.

He's written and rewritten NFL records. But they felt more natural to him than writing this final Sunday's script.
Marino timeline

1961: On Sept. 15, Daniel Constantine Marino, Jr., is born in Pittsburgh to Daniel and Veronica Marino. He grows up in a blue-collar neighborhood, with his parents and two younger sisters, Cindi and Debbie.

1979: By his senior year, he is selected to the Parade High School All-American team, recruited by numerous major universities and is drafted to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

1983: Marino throws 20 touchdowns, wins league Rookie of the Year honors and leads the Dolphins to the playoffs. He also becomes the first rookie quarterback to start in the Pro Bowl.

1984: Marino throws for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, both NFL records, and leads the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and the Super Bowl, in which they lose 38-16 to the San Francisco 49ers.

1985: Marino marries Claire on Jan. 30. The Dolphins go 12-4, with Marino throwing for 30 touchdowns.

1986: The first of Dan and Claire's six children, Daniel Charles, is born in September. Marino throws for 4,746 yards and 44 touchdowns.

1988: Son Michael Joseph is born in May. Dan teams with golf pro Dan Pohl to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National ProAm Championship.

1989: Son Joseph Donald is born in July.

1992: Daughter Alexandra Claire is born. The Dan Marino Foundation is created.

1994: Marino is a Pro Bowler again, one year after tearing his Achilles tendon. Marino plays himself in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and serves as the Dolphins' United Way representative.

1995: Michael Marino is diagnosed as autistic, news that launches Dan and Claire's ongoing efforts to build awareness about the condition and raise funds for research.

1998: In recognition for his on-field performance and off-field community and charity activities, Dan wins the NFL Man of the Year Award.

1999: Niki Lin is adopted. On the field, in his final season, Marino becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 60,000 career yards.

2000: Marino's jersey number, 13, is retired on Sept. 17. The Dolphins also install a life-size bronze statue of Marino at Pro Player Stadium and rename Stadium Street, Dan Marino Boulevard.

2001: Lia is adopted. Marino becomes a host of HBO's Inside the NFL.

2003: Joins the on-air staff of CBS' The NFL Today as a studio analyst.

2005: On Feb. 5, Dan is elected on the first ballot to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Dan Marino - HOF Induction

Marino and Young Enter Football Hall

CANTON, Ohio - The eyes that stared down defenses betrayed Dan Marino on Sunday. They were wet with tears as he took his place among the legends of football.

Marino, the NFL's most prolific passer, joined Steve Young, Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman in the Hall of Fame.

Marino suspected he might break down and cry during his emotionally charged acceptance speech. He did so even before then, after his oldest son Daniel's introduction.

None of that on-field stoicism for the
Miami Dolphins great, at least not on this sun-splashed day in front of thousands of fans in No. 13 jerseys, and amid chants of "D-A-N-N-Y."

"I'll remember this day for the rest of my life," Marino said.

Then he capped it by throwing — what else? — a perfect spiral into the audience to his former receiving partner, Mark Clayton.

"Go deep, Mark," Marino said as he licked the fingers on his right hand, a trademark of his 17-year career.

Paying tribute to his Western Pennsylvania roots, Marino noted that John Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Jim Kelly all came from the region. All are Hall of Famers.

"When I was younger, there's no doubt I thought about being Joe Namath," Marino said, adding that joining them in the Hall "definitely makes an impact on you."

Young suggested it was the first time only quarterbacks entered the Hall in one class, and he was partly right. Pollard was a running back who sometimes played QB.

"I'm proud to be part of this with Dan and the Pollard and Friedman families," Young said. "We are quarterbacks and that's what is neat about this position."

While Marino and Young had diverse styles, they both spent years at the top of their profession. Marino set NFL marks of 4,967 completions, 8,358 passes, 61,361 yards (nearly 35 miles) and 420 touchdowns. His record of 48 TD passes in the 1984 season, when he was MVP, was broken by Peyton Manning last year.

He also owned 21 NFL marks when he retired, including most seasons with 3,000 yards or more passing (13); most yards passing in one season (5,084 in '84, the only year he won a conference championship); and most games with 300 yards or more passing (63).

"I know individually you get the honor of being inducted in the Hall of Fame," Marino said, "but you see coach (Don) Shula up onstage and teammates and family and friends — my mom and dad and wife and kids — this day is for them."

The only achievement Marino didn't reach that Young did was winning a title. Young, the 1992 and '94 league MVP after taking over for Montana in San Francisco, and the career passing efficiency leader, guided the 49ers to the '94 championship. He also is the first left-handed QB in the Hall.

"I can taste the pride I felt to be able to put on a 49ers jersey and represent the great city of San Francisco," Young said. "In San Francisco, I found football in its newly enlightened form. I found heaven on Earth for football."

Pollard, like Friedman, was a pro football pioneer and the first black NFL head coach. After a sensational college career at Brown, where he became the first black to play in the Rose Bowl, the running back led the Akron Pros to the 1920 championship. They went undefeated.

He later organized the Chicago Brown Bombers, an independent team of black players that barnstormed the country from 1927-33.

Pollard is among the most important minority figures in football history, a man who seemed to open the door for black athletes in his sport, only to see it slammed shut from 1934 until 1946.

His grandson, Stephen Towns, and other family members, have campaigned for decades to get him elected to the Hall.

"Fritz Pollard was a 5-foot-9, 165-pound running back who had the speed of Tony Dorsett, the elusiveness of Barry Sanders and the tenacity of Walter Payton," Towns said in his acceptance speech. "My grandfather and Jim Thorpe were the highest-paid players of their times. Jim Thorpe became the first commissioner of pro football and was inducted into the first class of the Hall of Fame in 1963. My grandfather became a footnote.

"After today, everyone will know the gifts you have given to football. Rest in peace, Grandpa."

Friedman, who died in 1982, probably was the first great pro passer, and his 20 TD throws in 1929 were considered phenomenal because the ball he threw barely resembled the modern football. The record stood for 14 years.

He played for four teams from 1927-34 and was a strong draw at the box office, even helping the New York Giants become a solvent operation in those early NFL days.

"If Uncle Benny was here today, he would tell you it was all about family, friends, teammates and teamwork," said his nephew, David Friedman. "Proud yet unpretentious, that was the essence of my uncle.

"His example of excellence will survive for as long as there is a Hall of Fame."
Connecticut 74, Indiana 65

Connecticut coach Mike Thibault had a simple message for his team after the Sun committed 14 first-half turnovers.

``I told them don't toss it (the ball) to the other team, toss it to the guys in the blue jerseys,'' Thibault said.

They listened.

Connecticut turned the ball over only three times after the break, shot 16-for-30 from the field and rallied to beat the Fever 74-65 Saturday night in a matchup of the Eastern Conference's top two teams.

Nykesha Sales matched her season-high with 26 points and Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the first-place Sun.

Connecticut (20-6) held the Fever (15-10) scoreless for 4:43 after trailing 29-19 with 3:37 left in the first half.

``The second half we rebounded better, took care of the ball better. Taj and Nykesha came up with huge plays down the stretch,'' Thibault said.

The victory gave the Sun a 4 1/2 -game lead over the Fever.

Tamika Catchings led Indiana with 17 points and 13 rebounds, reaching 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists and 300 steals faster than any player in WNBA history. She had reached each milestone except for rebounds before the game.

The final milestone for the Indiana All-Star came in her 125th game. The quickest to reach all four milestones previously was Sheryl Swoopes, who accomplished the feat in her 191st game.

Catchings now has 2,207 points, 1,002 rebounds, 454 assists and 307 steals.

Catchings, who went into the game leading the league with 69 steals, had four before the break as the Fever tied a team record for steals in a half with 13.

Connecticut scored the final eight points of the first half to trail 29-27 before the break.

Lindsay Whalen had four points during the closing run on two free throws and a disputed layup.

Whalen was credited the basket as she and Catchings had contact under the basket, and the Indiana star was called for blocking with 4.1 seconds left. Catchings drew a technical for protesting the call, but Katie Douglas missed the free throw. Whalen then completed the three-point play by making her free throw.

``We started to remember the last game we played here and realized the same thing was happening,'' Sales said. ``We got ourselves under control, started making crisper passes. ... We were more deliberate and purposeful.''

Indiana coach Brian Winters said his team had no answer for Sales, who was 10-of-16 from the field. ``I am disgusted and so are all the players.''

``With Sales we lost sight of her,'' Catchings said. ``They run her off effective screens, and we were so worried about helping in the post, we lost sight of her and gave her some open looks.''

Connecticut scored the first five points of the second half and the score was tied twice before McWilliams-Franklin grabbed an offensive rebound and put the Sun ahead to stay with a layup.

After the Sun scored eight consecutive points, Indiana cut the margin to 52-51 with 7:40 remaining. Sales then hit a 3-pointer and a 19-foot jumper and Indiana never drew closer than three again.

A season-high 9,370 fans attended the game at Conseco Fieldhouse.

August 05, 2005

Former LSU women's basketball coach dies

Sue Gunter, a Hall of Fame coach and pioneer in women's college basketball, died Thursday. She was 66. LSU said Gunter, who had suffered from emphysema, died at her home in Baton Rouge.

She coached for 40 years, 22 at LSU where she took teams to 13 NCAA tournaments and laid the foundation for trips to the NCAA Final Four the past two years. She was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in March and will now be inducted posthumously on Sept. 9 in Springfield, Mass.

"I learned so much from Sue about the X's and O's of the game of basketball," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in women's college basketball.

Summitt played on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team on which Gunter served as an assistant, and she was an assistant to Gunter on the 1980 U.S. team.

"She made playing basketball fun due to her ability to connect with her players," Summitt said. "Personally, I am going to miss her tremendously and I know the game is going to miss her,"

Gunter had missed only one game in her career - for her mother's funeral - before suffering a severe emphysema attack on her way to a game in Jan. 2004.

"I'd had some trouble over the years. They'd done a lot of tests, checked my heart," Gunter said in a 2004 interview with the Associated Press. "They hadn't identified it, but it wasn't as sudden as everyone thought."

The condition forced Gunter, a smoker for more than 30 years before kicking the habit in 1994, to the sidelines for the rest of the 2004 season.

Tethered to an oxygen tank, she continued to attend practices and film sessions for the rest of the season, but was unable to be at games. Her longtime protege, Pokey Chatman, filled in for her and took the team to the Final Four, then was named her successor when Gunter retired at the end of the season.

"It's obviously been a difficult day for me," Chatman, who had played for Gunter and joined her staff in 1991, said Thursday. "Not only have I lost a great friend and mentor, but the game of basketball has lost one of its true pioneers. She not only made a huge difference in my life, but in the life of everyone associated with women's basketball."

After retirement Gunter limited her activities because of the illness. She watched all the LSU games on television, however, including their Final Four run in 2005 when she was hospitalized with pneumonia.

"Sue was one of the keystones of women's basketball," former Auburn coach Joe Ciampi said. "She was a role model for all players and coaches to use. She had the ability to be a great competitor on the court as well as have great compassion for her players and fellow coaches."

Gunter saw women's basketball go from half-court to a full-court high speed game that had begun to rival the men's game in popularity.

"A lot of the things you see today in the game of women's basketball are due to a large price earlier paid by people such as Sue Gunter," Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said.

Gunter was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June, 2000.

"We've lost one of the giants in this business," former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore said. "I have always felt like Sue was one of the top three or four coaches in the women's game."

Gunter had 21 seasons with at least 20 victories and 708 wins overall. She was not credited for two years at Middle Tennessee, when her teams were 44-0, or her first four years at Stephen F. Austin, because official records were never turned over to the NCAA.

Even with the six missing years, Gunter was No. 3 in wins and games coached and fourth in 20-win seasons.

Gunter played on the 1960-62 U.S. teams that competed against the Soviet Union.

"I loved her," said ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Ann Meyers. "There was always a lot of respect, not just as a coach, but in life. She was an unbelievable friend and sister. I will always cherish what we had. And she was a hell of a coach."

August 02, 2005

Brain-Dead Woman in Va. Gives Birth

RICHMOND, Va. - A brain-dead pregnant woman who has been kept on life support for nearly three months to give her fetus more time to develop gave birth to a baby girl Tuesday, the woman's brother-in-law said.

There were no complications during delivery and the baby "is doing well," Justin Torres wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. The baby, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, weighs one pound 13 ounces and is 13 1/2 inches long, he said. The infant was delivered via caesarean section, the hospital said.

Susan Torres, a 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, lost consciousness from a stroke May 7 after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain. Her husband, Jason Torres, said doctors told him his wife's brain functions had stopped.

Jason Torres quit his job to be by his wife's side, and last month her fetus passed the 24th week of development — the earliest point at which doctors felt the baby would have a reasonable chance to survive, the brother-in-law said.

A Web site to help raise money for the family's mounting medical bills had received about $400,000 in donations from around the world as of two weeks ago, Justin Torres said. The family said it must pay tens of thousands of dollars each week that insurance does not cover.

Torres was about seven months' pregnant when the child was delivered. Doctors had hoped to hold off on delivering the child until 32 weeks' gestation. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks.

The infant is being monitored in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, about 100 miles north of Richmond.

"The entire staff and administration of Virginia Hospital Center, especially the physicians and nurses caring for Susan Torres and Baby Girl Torres, are delighted with the successful delivery," the hospital said in a statement.

A spokeswoman declined to release any additional information, including Susan Torres' condition and whether or not her life support was still in place.

A telephone message left for the brother-in-law was not immediately returned.

Since 1979, there have been at least a dozen similar cases published in English medical literature, said Dr. Winston Campbell, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, which conducted research on the topic.

August 01, 2005

Foul-mouthed British parrot banished by embarrassed keepers

LONDON - A foul-mouthed parrot previously owned by a lorry driver has been banished from public areas in a British animal sanctuary after repeatedly embarrassing his keepers, they said.

Barney, a five-year-old Macaw, is now kept indoors at Warwickshire Animal Sanctuary in Nuneaton, central England, when outsiders visit after abusing dignitaries with swearword-littered insults.

"He's told a lady mayoress to f..(expletive) off and he told a lady vicar: 'And you can f... off as well'," sanctuary worker Stacey Clark said.

Nor did the forces of law and order escape, she added.

"Two policemen came to have a look at the centre. He told them: 'And you can f... off you two wankers'."

Clark said sanctuary workers believed Barney either picked up the phrases from television or was taught them by his previous owner, a lorry driver who emigrated to Spain.

"He does say 'Hello, big boy' and 'Thank you' when you give him a biscuit," she added.

"But it's mainly naughty words and always to the wrong people. We're trying to teach him not to swear. Macaws are very intelligent birds."