Sports briefs 2/24/04

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


  • Former major league umpire Al Clark pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with selling baseballs he falsely claimed had been used in memorable games. The 56-year-old Clark, formerly of Trenton and now of Williamsburg, Va., had claimed some of the balls were used during games in which Cal Ripken tied and broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record. Clark faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    After signing hometown stars Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens during the offseason, Houston has agreed to a five-year personal services contract with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, a baseball official told The Associated Press. Ryan's deal is to be announced at a news conference today. Ryan began negotiating with the Astros after his personal services deal with the Texas Rangers expired earlier this month. His duties under the new deal with owner Drayton McLane Jr. are expected to include a baseball advisory role. Ryan played with the Astros from 1979 through the 1988 season


  • The Detroit Pistons were fined $200,000 by the NBA for using Rasheed Wallace and Mike James before the league finalized the deal that brought them to the team. The league said it was the first time a player acquired in a trade played for his new team before the NBA officially approved the move. Wallace and James came to Detroit in a three-team trade with Atlanta and Boston on Thursday, and both played in the first half of the Pistons' 88-87 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. They were pulled at halftime when it was discovered that paperwork for two other players in the deal -- Lindsey Hunter and Chris Mills -- had yet to be completed.

    LeBron James has another big endorsement deal. The Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie star signed a four-year, $5 million contract with Bubblicious bubble gum, increasing his sponsorship deals to nearly $135 million.


  • Matt Witt of Eastern Kentucky was named Ohio Valley Conference player of the week. Witt, a sophomore guard, averaged 24 points and 6.5 assists in wins over Southeast Missouri and Eastern Illinois. Walker Russell of Jacksonville State was named newcomer of the week. Lauren Dailey of Eastern Illinois was named the women's OVC player of the week. Dailey, a senior guard, averaged 17 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists last week against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky. Chandra Brown, a junior center for Southeast Missouri, was selected newcomer of the week. Brown averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds in two victories.


  • The Indianapolis Colts designated Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning their franchise player Monday, a move that will pay him $18.4 million this year unless he agrees to a long-term deal. Team president Bill Polian said the team had filed the paperwork with the league office, thereby preventing the NFL's co-MVP from the hitting the free-agent market March 3. The date is also the deadline for teams to be under the league's $80.5 million salary cap. Polian said he will continue to talk with Manning's agent, Tom Condon, this week and that he hopes to work out a deal before March 1. Tuesday is the deadline for designating franchise players.


  • Wizards midfielder Preki Radosavljevic will be sidelined for at least three to four months after breaking his left leg and dislocating his ankle in a preseason game. Radosavljevic, Major League Soccer's MVP and scoring champion last season, landed awkwardly on his leg early in the Wizards' 4-0 loss Saturday to the Columbus Crew in Tampa, Fla.

    -- From wire reports

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