Saturday, February 10, 2007

Martin, Ginn reach deal on development drivers

Martin, Ginn reach deal on development drivers

By Team ReleaseFebruary 9, 200704:27 PM EST

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Ginn Racing has contracted Mark Martin Performance to oversee the company's driver development program, which includes Ricky Carmichael, Matt Martin (Mark's son) and Matt Bowers. All three are Florida residents -- Carmichael (27, Tallahassee), Martin (15, Daytona Beach) and Bowers (15, Mount Dora).
Martin will work with the development drivers while they compete in the Late Model and Super Model divisions at Florida racetracks. Once the drivers graduate from Martin's tutelage, they will join Ginn Racing's North Carolina-based development program that will include the ARCA Re/Max Series and the Craftsman Truck Series.
"I don't believe you can ask for anyone better than Mark to oversee the development program and mentor the young drivers," said Jay Frye, Ginn Racing's CEO and general manager. "Having Mark in this capacity will only enhance our development program and the future of Ginn Racing."
Martin, who drives the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Ginn Racing, said, "I love to compete and I love to teach. And I have the best of both worlds with Ginn Racing. I look forward to this role and know that it's going to be a lot of fun instructing a group of young drivers who share a passion for racing."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Former Braves star Burdette dies

Former Braves star Burdette dies

Right-hander threw three complete games in 1957 World Series
By Mark Bowman /

02/06/2007 8:54 PM ET

Former Braves 1957 World Series hero Lou Burdette passed away Tuesday morning at his home in Winter Garden, Fla., after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 80.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lou's family, friends and many admirers," Braves Executive Vice President and General Manager John Schuerholz said in a statement. "Lou was a true gentleman and one of the greatest pitchers in Braves' history. We will miss him."

The man born as Selva Lewis Burdette in Nitro, W. Va., put together a solid, 18-year Major League career, the majority of which was played in a Braves uniform.

In 2001, Burdette, who also served as the Atlanta pitching coach in 1972 and 1973, was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame. When he came to Atlanta to celebrate the honor, he was reunited with former Milwaukee Braves teammates Warren Spahn and Hank Aaron, who had previously been inducted.

Even with a career characterized by consistency, Burdette is likely most remembered for a four-day span during the 1957 World Series. After earning a win in Game 2 of the Series against the Yankees, Burdette came out in Game 5 and threw a complete-game shutout.

With Spahn too sick to take the mound in Game 7, Burdette filled in on two days' rest and proceeded to throw a Series-clinching, complete-game shutout, giving the Braves their only championship while in Milwaukee. Burdette took home the World Series MVP trophy along with his championship ring.

His impressive run made him the first pitcher in 37 years to earn three complete-game victories in a World Series. The previous pitcher to toss two shutouts in the same Fall Classic was Christy Mathewson, who accomplished the feat in 1905.

"I've always admired him," Burdette's former Milwaukee Braves teammate Gene Conley said. "I've told people that him not being in the Hall of Fame doesn't mean he's not better than some of the other pitchers that are in there."

Conley played with Burdette in Milwaukee from 1954-58. The two former Braves pitchers remained friends over the past few years while living in the same area of central Florida.

"He was tough," Conley said. "I'm sorry to hear of this. This is going to bother me for a while."

Burdette was nicknamed "Fidgety Lou" for his pre-pitch gyrations and seemingly nervous habits on the mound. But whatever the reason for his unusual antics on the field, Burdette finished his 18-year career with some very impressive numbers.

The right-hander amassed 203 career wins, 179 of which came in a Braves uniform. Burdette made his Major League debut in 1950, but it wasn't until 1954 that he was thrust into the starting rotation for an entire season.

Burdette posted double-digit wins in all but one season from 1953-64. During one period in that span, Burdette had six straight seasons with 17 or more wins. He led the National League in 1959, when he won a career-high 21 games.

"Lou had ice water in his veins," said Conley, who was a teammate of Burdette's from 1952-58. "Nothing bothered him, on or off the mound. He was a chatterbox out there ... He would talk to himself, to the batter, the umpire, and sometimes even to the ball."

Burdette's catcher during the 1957 World Series was Del Crandall, who joined his former batterymate in the Braves Hall of Fame in 2003. Crandall took time to call the Burdette family Tuesday afternoon to offer his condolences.

"I think Lew Burdette had the ability that not a whole lot of people have in the fact that he had fun while pitching and could still be very serious at the same time," Crandall said. "He was just able to refocus so quickly and you don't find too many guys like that."

Crandall will always have fond memories of Game 7 of the 1957 World Series. He homered to account for the final run in the 5-0 win over the Yankees. But more importantly, he had he chance to be behind the plate for each of the three masterful games Burdette pitched in that Series.

"It was just unreal," Crandall said of the 1957 World Series. "They just didn't have too many good swings at him. His control was outstanding. He and [Sandy] Koufax were guys who pitched with confidence. I think that had an effect on opponents who could sense that confidence."

The two-time All-Star used the impeccable control he had with his slider and sinker to post a 3.66 career ERA. Burdette led the league in strikeouts for three consecutive years at one point and finished his career with 158 complete games.

"I'd move the ball in and out. I always tried to keep it down," Burdette said in an interview with Sports Collectors Digest in 1998. "I was always being accused of throwing at the hitters. Early Wynn always said that he was the meanest pitcher in the American League, and I was the meanest in the National League."

After being traded by Milwaukee to St. Louis in 1963, Burdette continued an impressive career that concluded with the Angels in 1969. And while Burdette's retirement softened the spitball debate, the questions circling just how his name should be spelled remained.

Most remember Burdette for the pitch that he claims he never threw. Myriad coaches and players argued that Burdette benefited from an illegal spitball, though no one could ever prove that Burdette was indeed wetting up the ball.

Burdette responded to the allegations by actually using them to his advantage.

"I wouldn't know how to throw a spitter even if I wanted to," Burdette once said to answer his critics. "But if the hitters have that in their minds that I'm throwing one, then all it does is give them something else to think about."

Lew or Lou? That has been the question that even the man himself never gave a finite answer for. His name appeared both ways in publications, though more frequently the choice was Lew.

But the indifference Burdette showed with the spelling of his name was simply another reflection of the way the man lived his life. He ignored the questions and the criticisms. The one thing he knew for sure was that he was a pitcher -- and a good one at that.

He just left the talking to everyone else.

Burdette's family said Tuesday that "Lou" was the spelling of choice and would be placed that way on his gravesite.

Burdette is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, and their three children. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 24 in Orlando. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that any contributions be sent to the "Lou Burdette Foundation," which will support the care-giving needs of loved ones suffering from life threatening diseases.

Those wishing to make a donation can send it to: The Lou Burdette Foundation, Community Foundation of South Lake County, PO Box 121543, Clermont, FL 34712-1543.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Jenifer Langosch contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Singer-Actress Barbara McNair Dies at 72

Singer-Actress Barbara McNair Dies at 72

By JACOB ADELMAN, Associated Press Writer

6 hours ago

LOS ANGELES - Barbara McNair, the pioneering black singer-actress who hosted her own TV variety show and starred with Sidney Poitier in the early 1970s, has died. She was 72. McNair died Sunday in Los Angeles after a battle with throat cancer, her sister, Jacqueline Gaither, said.

"She was very family oriented," Gaither said. "She was more than just a star or a famous personality. She was a person of her own."

Gaining fame in the 1960s as a nightclub singer, McNair graduated to film and television as opportunities were opening up for black women late in the decade. She made her Hollywood acting debut in 1968 in the film, "If He Hollers, Let Him Go."

She later starred with Elvis Presley in his 1969 film "Change of Habit" and as Poitier's wife in the 1970 film "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!"

She found movie acting "a more rewarding kind of work than singing," she told The Washington Post in 1969. "When I'm working in a club, I must go from one song to another rapidly and I don't have much time to express myself emotionally. In a movie, you can concentrate on one scene at a time."

She hosted television's "The Barbara McNair Show," a syndicated musical and comedy program, from 1969 to 1972.

As a singer, one of her biggest hits was "You Could Never Love Him." She started out as a jazz singer but later branched out, adding show tunes and the Beatles' "Yesterday" to her repertoire.

On Broadway, McNair replaced Diahann Carroll in Richard Rodgers' "No Strings" in 1963, and 10 years later co-starred with Hal Linden in a revival of "The Pajama Game."

Gaither said her sister seemed headed for a career in show business from the time she was a girl in Racine, Wis.

"She sang from the time she was five years old in churches and then at school," Gaither told the Racine Journal Times. "We always encouraged her."

McNair went to the University of California, Los Angeles, before moving to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming an entertainer.

An engagement in 1957 at the Village Vanguard earned her notices that would lead to her Broadway debut in the short-lived 1958 musical "The Body Beautiful."

Reviewing a nightclub appearance in late 1965, a New York Times writer commented that the "strikingly beautiful" McNair "does not have to depend on looks alone. She is a highly knowledgeable performer who projects an aura of beauty, a warm personality and an appealing sense of fun."

As she gained notice in Hollywood in the late 1960s, she told the Post that a steamy 1968 photo spread she did for Playboy "helped my career immensely."

Also around that time, she joined a Bob Hope tour to entertain servicemen in Vietnam, saying she was thrilled to later meet men who had seen her there. "I don't believe in war for any reason," she told the Post. "I went over there to see what war was like and to comfort the men and I was appalled."

Her career was hampered in 1972, when she was accused of drug possession along with her then-husband, Rick Manzie, after she signed for a package delivered to her dressing room. She was later cleared; Manzie was shot to death in 1976.

"You can spend all this time building something and it can be destroyed in a minute," she told the Post in 1979.

But she still made TV appearances into the 1980s on such shows as "The Jeffersons" and "The Redd Foxx Show." Her sister said she sang professionally until the middle of last year, when the spreading cancer hurt her ability to perform.

Along with Gaither, McNair is survived by her fourth husband, Charles Blecka.

"She had a great resume," Blecka said. "She could have ended up conceited, but nothing ended up that way. She had a special quality that was infectious, that everybody loved."

(Rewrites throughout to correct that 'Body Beautiful' was a musical sted play, add detail on Broadway career, later TV work, quote from husband, minor recasting.)

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Astronaut charged with kidnap attempt

Astronaut charged with kidnap attempt

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer
32 minutes ago

An astronaut drove 900 miles and donned a disguise to confront a woman she believed was her rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot, police said. She was arrested Monday and charged with attempted kidnapping and other counts.

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew last July on a shuttle mission to the international space station, was also charged with attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. She was denied bail.

Police said Nowak drove from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport to confront Colleen Shipman.

Nowak believed Shipman was romantically involved with Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December, police said.

Nowak told police that her relationship with Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to an arrest affidavit. Police officers recovered a love letter to Oefelein in her car.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said that, as of Monday, Nowak's status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged.

"What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate," he said.

Hartsfield said he couldn't recall the last time an astronaut was arrested and said there were no rules against fraternizing among astronauts.

When she found out that Shipman was flying to Orlando from Houston, Nowak decided to confront her, according to the arrest affidavit. Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate, authorities said.

Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, Nowak boarded an airport bus that Shipman took to her car in an airport parking lot. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit.

Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman's car, the affidavit said.

Shipman drove to the parking lot booth, and the police were called.

During a check of the parking lot, an officer followed Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.

Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter "that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein," an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Police said Nowak told them that she only wanted to scare Shipman into talking to her about her relationship with Oefelein and didn't want to harm her physically.

"If you were just going to talk to someone, I don't know that you would need a wig, a trench coat, an air cartridge BB gun and pepper spray," said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. "It's just really a very sad case. ... Now she ends up finding herself on the other side of the law with some very serious charges."

If convicted of attempted kidnapping, Nowak could face a maximum of life in prison.

It was not immediately known whether Nowak had an attorney.

Oefelein and Shipman did not immediately return phone messages Monday night.

According to NASA's official biography, Nowak is married with three children. During her 13-day mission in July she operated the robotic arm during three spacewalks.

Oefelein is unmarried. He piloted the space shuttle Discovery in December. He has two children, according to a NASA biography.

Nowak and Oefelein were both first-time fliers during their shuttle missions last year. They trained together but never flew together.


Associated Press writers Kelli Kennedy and Jessica Gresko in Miami contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.