At age 37 of an apparent heart attack, former major league righthander Jose Lima, who had an up-and-down, five-team, 13-year career. With the Astros in 1999 he went 21--10, made the All-Star team and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting, yet he was 89--102 lifetime with a 5.26 ERA. Lima (above) was perhaps most celebrated for delighting teammates and fans with his flamboyant personality. On the field he'd often shout into his glove—"I've got my midget in there.... A little me," he explained to SI in 1999—and off the field he loved to make merengue music, recording several CDs, including one entitled El Mambo de Lima. "He could dance, he could sing, but his best gift of all was that he was an extremely happy person," said Astros owner Drayton McLane of Lima, who last pitched in the majors in 2006. "He just lit up our clubhouse with his personality, which was his greatest asset."
As the Republican nominee for November's Oregon gubernatorial election, former NBA center Chris Dudley. A Yale alumnus who spent 16 seasons primarily as a backup for the Cavaliers, Nets, Blazers, Knicks and Suns before retiring in 2003, Dudley defeated businessman Allen Alley and seven other challengers in the May 18 primary for the right to face Democrat John Kitzhaber, Oregon's governor from 1995 to 2003. The 6'11" Dudley's platform is centered around job creation and economic growth, and he's pitching his absence of political experience as a strength. To defeat Kitzhaber, however, Dudley will need a greater percentage of success with Oregon voters than he had at the free throw line: His career 45.8% mark from the charity stripe is the second-worst rate in NBA history among players with more than 500 made free throws.
At age 78 of complications from heart disease, Hall of Fame NFL lineman and weight-training pioneer Stan Jones. Raised near the Pennsylvania headquarters of the York Barbell Company, Jones was one of the first to realize the benefit to football players of the use of York's products. Jones was a behemoth for his day, carrying 265 pounds on his 6'1" frame, and he used his bulk to make seven straight Pro Bowls (1955--61) as an offensive lineman for George Halas's Bears. He switched to defensive tackle in '63, when Chicago won the NFL title, and ended a 13-year career in '66 with the Redskins. Afterward he spent more than two decades as an NFL coach, including 18 seasons with the Broncos, for whom he helped build the Orange Crush defenses.
At age 84 of natural causes, Dorothy Kamenshek, a star in the 1940s and '50s in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and an inspiration for Geena Davis's character in the 1992 film A League of Their Own. Kamenshek, whom Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp once called "the fanciest-fielding first baseman I've ever seen, man or woman," played 10 seasons for the Rockford (Ill.) Peaches, making seven All-Star teams and winning back-to-back batting titles by hitting .316 in '46 and .306 in '47, when she turned down overtures from a Fort Lauderdale minor league men's team that tried to sign her. (She deemed it a publicity stunt.) In 1999 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR WOMEN named Kamenshek the 100th-greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
After 13 NFL seasons that included seven Pro Bowl appearances and five first-team All-Pro selections, stalwart Dolphins middle linebacker Zach Thomas, 36. Thomas's relatively small size—5'11", 230 pounds—caused the Texas Tech product to fall to Miami in the fifth round of the 1996 draft, but he quickly developed into one of the NFL's toughest and best-prepared defensive captains. Thomas (above, right) spent 2008 with the Cowboys and sat out last year after being cut by the Chiefs at the end of training camp. He signed a one-day, one-dollar contract so that he could retire as a Dolphin last Thursday. "You are and always will be one of the most iconic Dolphins ever to play the game here," Miami coach Tony Sparano told Thomas at an emotional farewell press conference, during which Thomas took a moment to dry his eyes with the burp cloth of his infant son, Christian.