Wednesday Sports in Brief

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Don Larsen, the journeyman pitcher who reached the heights of baseball glory in 1956 for the New York Yankees when he threw a perfect game and the only no-hitter in World Series history, died Wednesday night. He was 90.

Larsen’s agent, Andrew Levy, said the former pitcher died of esophageal cancer in Hayden, Idaho. Levy said Larsen’s son, Scott, confirmed the death.

Larsen was the unlikeliest of characters to attain what so many Hall of Famers couldn’t pull off in the fall classic. He was 81-91 lifetime, never won more than 11 games in a season and finished an unsightly 3-21 with Baltimore in 1954, the year before he was dealt to the Yankees as part of an 18-player trade.

In the 1956 World Series, won in seven games by the Yankees, he was knocked out in the second inning of Game 2 by the Brooklyn Dodgers and didn’t think he would have another opportunity to pitch. But when he reached Yankee Stadium on the morning of Oct. 8, he found a baseball in his shoe, the signal from manager Casey Stengel that he would start Game 5.

The Dodgers and Yankees split the first four games. The lanky right-hander struck out seven, needed just 97 pitches to tame the Dodgers and only once went to three balls on a batter.

In winning 2-0, the Yankees themselves only managed five hits against the Dodgers’ Sal Maglie, but scored on a Mickey Mantle home run and an RBI single by Hank Bauer.

Larsen, named MVP of the 1956 series, survived two close calls.

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) — David Stern, who spent 30 years as the NBA’s longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global power, has died on New Year’s Day. He was 77.

The league says Stern died Wednesday with his family by his side. He suffered a brain hemorrhage Dec. 12 and underwent emergency surgery.

Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. By the time he left his position in 2014, a league that had struggled for a foothold had grown into a more than $5 billion a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the world’s most popular sport after soccer.

Stern had a hand in nearly every initiative to do that, including drug testing, the salary cap and implementation of a dress code.

The trained lawyer helped the league become televised in more than 200 countries and territories, and in more than 40 languages.

NFL

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Redskins hired Ron Rivera as their coach on Wednesday in owner Dan Snyder’s latest step to try to turn around the wayward franchise.

Washington announced the move two days after Snyder fired president Bruce Allen following a decade of futility. The former Carolina Panthers coach quickly emerged as the Redskins’ top candidate and inherits a team that went 3-13 this season and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015.

The 57-year-old of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent is the first minority to be named full-time coach in Redskins franchise history. Rivera is the seventh coach hired by Snyder in his two decades of ownership that have included just five playoff appearances.

Rivera spent the past nine seasons coaching the Panthers, taking them to the Super Bowl in 2015.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said on Twitter that he will announce Jan. 6 whether he will enter the NFL draft or return to college for another season.

Tagovailoa is recovering from season-ending hip surgery and has not played since being injured at Mississippi State on Nov. 16. He had surgery two days later.

Tagovailoa is a junior and considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the country. He seemed a likely top-five NFL draft pick before the injury. The severity of the injury makes his value more uncertain, though doctors who have treated him have said a full recovery is expected.

Tagovailoa was on the sideline for Alabama’s 35-16 victory on Wednesday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, using one crutch to help him get around. A few hours after the game he posted on his verified Twitter account: “I’ll be making my decision on the 6th.. God bless and Roll Tide.”

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) — Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is set to undergo ankle surgery that could keep him out for a month.

Pogba has been seeking external medical advice and operation was likely to be needed to resolve the right ankle injury, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said.

Pogba missed Saturday’s win at Burnley and Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Arsenal, having only just managed to feature in two games after almost three months out.

HORSE RACING

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — A horse broke down in the last race at Santa Anita on Wednesday, the track’s first racing death of the winter-spring meet after a spate of deaths last year.

Golden Birthday took a bad step in the stretch and jockey Victor Espinoza fell off while trying to pull up the 4-year-old gelding trained by Jim Cassidy. Espinoza wasn’t hurt.

Veterinarians recommended that Golden Birthday be euthanized, although it wasn’t immediately clear what his injury was. He was competing in a 1 1/8-mile turf race worth $57,000.

The winter-spring meet began on Dec. 28, two days later than usual after the track postponed opening day due to concern over rain in the forecast. On Dec. 26, Truest Reward sustained a broken left front leg on the training track and was euthanized.

Santa Anita instituted major reforms last year in an attempt to stem the number of fatalities. A total of 37 horses died at the Arcadia track last year.

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