After seven years in the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo, who led the University of Connecticut to its first NCAA championship. A center, Lobo, 29, became a role model for thousands of jump-shooting girls, who wore her jersey and twisted their hair into her trademark French braids. After starring on the '95 UConn team, which went 35-0, Lobo played for the New York Liberty, Houston Comets and Connecticut Sun. Hampered by knee injuries that caused her to miss two seasons, she averaged 6.7 points as a pro. Personable and telegenic, Lobo became an ambassador for the women's game; she jogged with Bill Clinton and wrote a book about her mother's battle with breast cancer. Along the way, she easily eclipsed her husband, SI's Steve Rushin, who came to regard himself as a " WNBA groupie." Says Lobo: "I feel like I just got back from an eight-year postcollege road trip. It's time to figure out what to do with my life." Her immediate plans? "To sleep in, come up with a column idea for my husband and finish Philip Roth's Operation Shylock."
After 16 major league seasons, Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace, 39. In typically offbeat style, Grace announced his decision by saying he would "no longer ugly up a clubhouse." Sporting a swing that was anything but ugly, Grace led all big leaguers in hits in the 1990s (1,754) and was spectacular defensively, but he'll be best remembered for his postseason play. In 1989 he hit .647 in the NLCS for the Cubs, and in 2001 his single sparked Arizona's ninth-inning rally to beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. He played little this year, though. "My job now is to be an extra coach," Grace said this summer. "Even though some days I know I have a better chance of getting hit by a meteorite than playing, I'm still the first one here and the last one to leave." Grace, who hit .303 for his career, has an offer to remain with Arizona, most likely as a broadcaster or a coach.
By the Richmond city council, a proposal to rename a street for Arthur Ashe, who grew up in the city. Seven years ago the city was split along racial lines over whether to honor Ashe with a statue on Monument Avenue, where figures of Confederate heroes stand. When the Ashe statue was finally dedicated, protesters in gray battle uniforms flew Confederate flags. The latest measure would have renamed a 2�-mile road known as the Boulevard, which passes Byrd Park, where Ashe, who died in 1993, was barred from playing as a 12-year-old due to segregation laws. " Richmond had a unique opportunity to change the perception of race relations," said city councilman Walter Kenney, who introduced the proposal. "I think this was a bridge for that."
It's back! SI's Kieschometer takes a year-end reading of Brooks Kieschnick's quest to forge a career as an outfielder and pitcher.
Kieschnick finished with seven homers in 70 at bats and batted .300. That was a point higher than batters hit against him as he went 1-1 with a 5.26 ERA in 53 innings. In three games in left he made one error and didn't exactly impress. Said manager Ned Yost, "I told Kiesch if he drops another ball, I'm calling timeout and I'm going to pull his pants down and spank his bare butt."