In Sports from United Press International

Nov. 12, 2001 at 3:01 PM
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Suzuki AL rookie of year

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Japanese sensation Ichiro Suzuki, who ignited the Seattle Mariners offense, was named the winner of the American League Rookie of the Year award Monday, as expected.

The first Japanese position player to earn a spot on a major league roster, Suzuki put together one of the greatest seasons ever by a rookie and is a solid candidate for Most Valuable Player honors.

The last player to win both the AL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors was outfielder Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox in 1975.

A seven-time batting champion in Japan, the 28-year-old Suzuki led the AL in batting average (.350), hits (242), stolen bases (56) and was second in runs scored (127) as he helped the Mariners to the most wins (116) in the history of the game.

The Cleveland Indians' 21-year-old lefthander C.C. Sabathia finished second.

Pujois unanimous NL rookie of year

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The National League Rookie of the Year award went unanimously Monday to Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of the biggest surprises in baseball this year, Pujois forced his way onto the Cardinals with a stellar spring training and never stopped there.

Pujols received 32 first-place votes, two from each NL city, in the balloting of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is the ninth unanimous selection and the first since Scott Rolen of Philadelphia in 1997.

Not much more than an afterthought entering training camp, the 21-year-old Pujols spent most of the 2000 season in Class A but earned a job when the club broke camp by displaying versatility and a potent bat.

And the production and versatility carried over into the season as Pujols batted .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBI while playing games at first and third base, left and right field. The RBI were a NL rookie record while Pujols led the wild card champions in average, homers, runs (112), hits (194) and doubles (47).

In addition to the RBI record, Pujols also set league rookie records for extra-base hits (88) and total bases (360). He is just the fourth rookie in major league history to hit .300 with 30 homers, 100 RBI and 100 runs.

Pujols also is in line to receive Most Valuable Player consideration and already has been awarded the Silver Slugger Award for production at third base.

Houston Astros righthander Roy Oswalt was second and Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins was third in the voting, which took place at the end of the regular season.

McGwire calls it a career

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- For a man who made a lot of noise with his big bat, Mark McGwire left baseball quietly Monday.

The St. Louis Cardinals acknowledged receipt of word from the famed slugger, expressing his desire to retire. McGwire issued a statement late Sunday, saying he did not feel his physical condition would allow him to play his best anymore.

Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow said the team plans no formal announcement.

"All indications point to the fact that what we received from Mark is accurate," Bartow said.

Bartow added that general manager Walt Jocketty is trying to contact McGwire, who is vacationing in Mexico.

"I am walking away from the game that has provided me opportunities, experiences, memories and friendships to fill 10 lifetimes," McGwire said.

McGwire, who has been bothered by a sore right knee for the past two years and back problems, hit just .187 in an injury-plagued season this year but Manager Tony La Russa said recently he thought McGwire had some playing time left.

In 1998, McGwire broke Roger Maris' single-season home-run record, hitting a record 70 roundtrippers in a slugging duel with Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa. That new mark was broken this year by San Francisco's Barry Bonds, who hit 73.

He is fifth among all-time home run hitters with 583.

Ravens, Titans collide

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens tangled with the Tennessee Titans Monday night in perhapsthe NFL's fiercest rivalry.

Baltimore posted a 24-10 victory over the Titans in the divisional playoffs at Adelphia Coliseum last January. The Ravens called that game the toughest on their road to winning Super Bowl XXXV.

But, the first meeting of the 2001 season turned into a knockout for Ray Lewis and the defense of the Ravens last month at Baltimore. Lewis succeeded in bottling up Eddie George and the Ravens surprisingly rushed for 207 yards in a 26-7 victory.

In other pro sports Monday night, there was an NHL matchup between Buffalo and Florida and six NBA games.

Hewitt, Agassi win

SYDNEY, Australia, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Australian Lleyton Hewitt and American Andre Agassi began their bid for the year-end No. 1 ranking in striking fashion Monday.

Hewitt and Agassi posted round-robin victories in the first day of action at the $3.65 million Tennis Masters Cup, the final ATP tournament of the season.

The second-seed and the U.S. Open champion, Hewitt woke up after a sluggish first set to handle No. 7 Sebastien Grosjean of France, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, to move just 28 points behind top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil in the ATP Tour Champions Race 2001 standings.

The third-seeded Agassi needed just 73 minutes to dispatch No. 6 Patrick Rafter of Australia, 6-2, 6-4.

Retired receiver changes mind

DENVER, Nov. 12 (UP) -- Denver wide receiver Eddie Kennison, who suddenly told Coach Mike Shanahan he wanted to retire and then apparently changed his mind, hoped Monday to meet with Shanahan about possibly rejoining the Broncos.

But, the Denver Post quoted the coach as saying Kennison's career as a Bronco is over.

Kennison had moved into the starting lineup after the injury to Ed McCaffrey and his sudden decision to leave stunned players and coaches, including Stranahan who commented, "I've never had a guy retire the night before a game."

The Post said that shortly before Saturday night's team meeting and less than 24 hours before the game with San Diego, Kennison pulled Shanahan aside and told him, according to the Broncos' coach, he wanted to retire, that "his heart was not in it." On Shanahan's instructions, he left the club quarters a short time later.

Kennison was in his sixth year in the NFL and had played previously for St. Louis, New Orleans and Chicago. After replacing McCaffrey, he caught 15 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown.

Five enter hockey hall of fame

TORONTO, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The Hockey Hall of Fame went global Monday with the induction of Jari Kurri, Viacheslav Fetisov, Mike Gartner, Dale Hawerchuk and Craig Patrick.

The members of the Hall's Class of 2001 represent fourcountries, 1,935 NHL goals, eight Stanley Cup championships andthree Olympic gold medals.

Kurri, of Finland, is the highest-scoring European-born player in NHL history with 601 goals and 797 assists in 1,251 games with five teams.

Top BYU receiver sidelined

PROVO, Utah, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Brigham Young receiver Reno Mahe, who leads the Cougars with 62 catches, underwent an emergency appendectomy on Monday and will not play in Saturday's game against Utah.

A 5-10 junior, Mahe has caught four touchdown passes and has 747 receiving yards for the undefeated Cougars (10-0).

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