- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Of natural causes at age 83, Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, who with the Whiz Kids of the 1950s, lifted the Phillies out of decadeslong doldrums, and who later aided in the creation of the players' union. Roberts (above) learned the game by batting with a cricket stick belonging to his father, a British immigrant, and was signed by the Phils in '48. Two years later the righty sealed the team's first pennant since '15 with a season-ending, complete-game win over the Dodgers, his third appearance in five days. Over 19 seasons (the last five with the Orioles, Astros and Cubs), Roberts established himself as a masterly fastballer—even to a fault. He had six consecutive 20-win seasons and 45 shutouts, but he also served up a record 505 HRs. "I had a high fastball," he explained. "And I either overpowered [hitters] or they overpowered me."
To an anonymous one-year-old leukemia patient, peripheral blood stem cells drawn from the left arm of Matt Szczur, a 20-year-old junior wideout and catcher at Villanova. On May 4 Szczur, who in football was named an All-America as well as MVP in the Wildcats' 23--21 FCS Championship Game victory over Montana, and who leads the school's baseball team in batting average (.435) and slugging (.634), made the life-saving donation to a girl whose name he won't learn for at least a year. "I feel like I am going to let the team down a little bit," Szczur told The Philadelphia Inquirer of the nine games he is expected to miss while medication rebuilds his blood cells, "but nobody even looks at it like that because I had a chance to save a life."
From the Players Championship on Sunday with what he believed to be a bulging disk in his neck, Tiger Woods, marking the third early exit from a Tour event in his career. Woods began the final round 10 shots out of the lead and was two over par on the day upon reaching the par-4 7th hole. After his tee shot went right, Woods conferred with an official; following his next swing, which sent his ball just short of the green, he shook hands with partner Jason Bohn and exited on a golf cart. "He just said, 'I'm done,' " recounted Bohn. "You could tell that he was in pain." Afterward Woods described a tingling sensation that ran down his right side, all the way to his fingers, and said that he planned to have an MRI. "I've been playing through it; I can't play through it anymore," Woods said of the injury (which he insists is unrelated to a November 2009 car accident that left him with what he then described as "a pretty sore neck"). South Africa's Tim Clark won the tournament, his first on Tour, with a 16-under-par 272.
And charged with the rape of a 16-year-old runaway girl, former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. The 51-year-old Hall of Famer was apprehended in the early morning of May 6 in Suffern, N.Y., near where he owns a home, and stands charged with third-degree rape (maximum sentence: four years) as well as patronizing a prostitute (one year) for allegedly having paid a pimp $300 to have sex with a minor at a Holiday Inn. The alleged victim stated to police that she was instructed by her pimp to tell Taylor (above) that she was 19. Taylor, who admitted to having paid for what he called "sex acts" but denied through his attorney having had intercourse, was released on $75,000 bond. He will return to court on June 10.
By the Raiders, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall selection at the 2007 NFL draft. An All-SEC selection at LSU, Russell never showed the same efficiency (or drive) in the NFL as he had in Baton Rouge. On the field he accumulated a pathetic 65.2 passer rating—less than half of his college figure—over three seasons, while losing the ball at an extraordinary rate: 48 turnovers in 31 appearances. Off the field the 6' 6" Russell was fined for his ballooning weight (reportedly nearing 300 pounds) and often criticized for his work ethic. By releasing Russell, who has collected $39.4 million (or $2.2 million for each of his 18 TDs), the Raiders save $6.45 million. Russell, in turn, becomes the second No. 1 pick to last only three years with the team that drafted him. (The other: defensive lineman Steve Emtman in Indianapolis, from 1992 to '94.)