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Cooperstown comes calling for Santo

Tue., Dec. 6, 2011

Baseball: Ron Santo always kept rooting for the causes dearest to him – for his Chicago Cubs to win the World Series, for doctors to find a cure for diabetes and for him to reach the Hall of Fame.

On Monday, Cooperstown finally came calling.

The barrel-chested third baseman who clicked his heels in victory was elected to the Hall, overwhelmingly chosen by the Veterans Committee nearly a year to the day after he died hoping for this very honor.

Santo was a nine-time All-Star, hit 342 home runs and won five Gold Gloves. He was also a beloved Cubs broadcaster for two decades.

Santo breezed in with 15 votes from the 16-member panel that met at baseball’s winter meetings. It took 75 percent – 12 votes – to get chosen.

Jim Kaat was second with 10 votes, Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso each drew nine and Tony Oliva got eight on the 10-person Golden Era ballot. Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Allie Reynolds and Luis Tiant each received under three votes.

Santo, born in Seattle, died Dec. 3, 2010, from complications of bladder cancer at age 70. He had diabetes, which eventually cost him both legs below the knees, and worked tirelessly to raise millions for diabetes research.

Santo will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 22, along with any players elected by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Jan. 9. Bernie Williams joins Jack Morris, Barry Larkin and others on that ballot.

• Average MLB salary up: The average major league salary increased 2.7 percent this year to nearly $3.1 million, the largest rise since 2008.

The 913 players on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists averaged $3,095,183, the Major League Baseball Players Association said in its annual report, up from $3,014,572 last year when the average topped $3 million for the first time.

The average figures to go up, with the minimum salary rising from $414,000 to $480,000 under the new labor contract.

• Abuse charges surface in Boston: A man who had his “dream job” working in the Red Sox clubhouse as a teenager says that ended abruptly when the clubhouse manager sexually assaulted him.

Charles Crawford is one of two Massachusetts men accusing Donald Fitzpatrick of abusing them in the early 1990s.

The statute of limitations has expired for filing a lawsuit or seeking criminal charges against Fitzpatrick, who died in 2005. Both men are asking for $5 million settlements.

• Dodgers add Hairston, working deal with Harang: The Los Angeles Dodgers are nearing a deal with right- handed pitcher Aaron Harang and have agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr.

• Twins keep Capps: A person familiar with the negotiations tells the Associated Press that closer Matt Capps and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a $4.75 million, one-year contract.

NHL approves radical realignment plan

NHL: NHL officials have approved a radical realignment plan that will give the league four conferences instead of six divisions.

The Board of Governors approved the move at the first day of their meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif. The realignment won’t be implemented until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discusses the new plan with the NHL Players’ Association.

The league needed to make changes to accommodate Atlanta’s move to Winnipeg this past summer.

There will be two conferences with eight teams and two with seven teams instead of the current format of six five-team divisions. Teams will play five or six intraconference games and home-and-home series with nonconference teams.

• Coyotes edge Blackhawks in SO: Radim Vrbata and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the shootout, and Mike Smith stopped Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in the tiebreaker to lead the Phoenix Coyotes to a wild 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks in Chicago.

Williams leads Miami to win over Rutgers

Women’s basketball: Riquna Williams scored a career-high 36 points, including a pair of 3-pointers to start the second overtime, and the ninth-ranked Hurricanes (7-1) rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to beat No. 11 Rutgers 92-81 at Coral Gables, Fla.

Monique Oliver scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for Rutgers (8-1).

Harvard makes debut on AP Top 25 poll

Men’s basketball: Harvard is in the Associated Press’ Top 25 for the first time.

The Crimson are 8-0, with a victory over then-ranked Florida State. They are one of four teams to join the men’s college rankings this week, but Georgetown, Creighton and Illinois have all been regulars compared to No. 25 Harvard.

Kentucky holds the No. 1 spot for a second straight week after defeating North Carolina on Saturday.

Ohio State remained second. Syracuse, which beat Florida last week, moved up to third. North Carolina, Louisville and Baylor are fourth through sixth, each advancing a place.

Gonzaga slipped to No. 23 after a loss to now-No. 24 Illinois, which moved into the rankings.

Penske Racing parts ways with Kurt Busch

Miscellany: Kurt Busch and Penske Racing parted ways after six bumpy seasons, a split that clouds the former champion’s future in NASCAR as he embarks on a personal journey to reclaim his passion for racing.

Both the team and driver said ending the relationship was a “mutual agreement.”

• Summit, Krzyzewski honored by Sports Illustrated: Pat Summitt and Mike Krzyzewski were selected as Sports Illustrated’s sportswoman and sportsman of the year.

The two Hall of Famers are the winningest coaches in women’s and men’s college basketball.

• Surgery causes Klitschko to call off fight: IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko pulled out of his fight against France’s Jean-Marc Mormeck this weekend after two operations in two days to remove a kidney stone.

The fight had been scheduled for Saturday in Duesseldorf. Klitschko’s promoter, Bernd Boente, said that March 3 was a possible new date.

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