Henderson leads off Hall of Fame ballot

Career steals leader Rickey Henderson heads 10 first-time candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, joining holdovers Mark McGwire and Jim Rice — eligible for the final time.

Other newcomers are Jay Bell, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and former UNLV star Matt Williams.

Just 23 players are on the ballot, the smallest group ever. Holdovers include Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson. Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

A 10-time All-Star who played from 1979 to 2003, Henderson has the career records for steals (1,406) and runs (2,295), and his 2,190 walks are second to Barry Bonds’ 2,558.

Henderson played for nine teams, winning the 1990 American Leage Most Valuable Player award with Oakland.


Armstrong confirms he will ride in ’09 Tour

Lance Armstrong will ride in the 2009 Tour de France, marking the first time he will compete in that race and the Giro d’Italia in the same year.

“I’m committed to riding for the best guy,” Armstrong said Monday, acknowledging the taxing schedule could leave him riding in a supporting role in France.

The Giro runs May 9 to 31, and the Tour begins July 4.

With such a quick turnaround between two grueling races, the seven-time Tour champion acknowledged his body might not perform at the same level it did when he won his last Tour, in 2005.

“If you’ve been away for three or four years, it would be silly for anybody to think I could pick up where I left off,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where Astana is training.


WNBA’s first dynasty, Comets, disbanding

The WNBA franchise that won the league’s first four championships is disbanding, the league’s president said.

Donna Orender told Houston television station KRIV that the league-owned Houston Comets would be shut down because new owners couldn’t be found.

The Comets won the WNBA’s first four titles, from 1997 to 2000.

Also: A Frankfort, Ky., judge rejected a proposed sale of the minority interest in reigning Horse of the Year Curlin.

Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden made his ruling during a hearing intended to sort out a complicated ownership dispute over the richest North American racehorse in history.

Primary owner Jess Jackson had offered $4 million to buy out the 20 percent minority interest from two disbarred attorneys. But Angela Ford, who represents fen-phen clients in their $42 million civil case against the attorneys, told the judge she didn’t think $4 million was a fair price.

Scott Speed will race full time next season in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series, a move anticipated since Red Bull Racing released AJ Allmendinger to make room for the former Formula One driver.

Hubert “Pit” Martin, an NHL All-Star in the 1960s and ’70s, died after his snowmobile plunged into an icy lake, Quebec provincial police said. He was 64.

Constable Marie-Josee Ouellet said Martin, a four-time All-Star, was driving the vehicle on Lake Kanasuta in northwestern Quebec on Sunday when the ice cracked and he plunged into the freezing water.

UNLV women’s basketball player Shamela Hampton, who averaged 27.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games last weekend, was named Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Week.

Hampton shared the honor with New Mexico guard Amy Beggin.

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