Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Twins host Big Fish Tournament

The American Legion Twins baseball team will host the Bill Miller Big Fish Tournament today, Wednesday and Thursday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai.

Play begins today at 11 a.m. when a team from Gresham, Ore., faces off with a squad from South Kingston, R.I. Gresham plays Dimond at 2 p.m., and the host Twins will play South Kingston at 5 p.m. On Wednesday, South Kingston plays Dimond at noon, Dimond plays the Twins at 3 p.m. and Gresham faces the Twins at 6 p.m. Teams will be seeded by record after the first two days of competition, with the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds meeting at noon Thursday and the top two teams playing at 3 p.m.

All games will be seven innings and will have a 2 hour, 20 minute time limit.

Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward dies at 83

INDIANAPOLIS Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward died Monday at a hospice in Anaheim, Calif., Indianapolis Motor Speedway said. At 83, Ward was the oldest living winner of the race. He won in 1959 and 1962, during a six-year span in which he finished no worse than fourth.

Ward was second to A.J. Foyt in 1964, failed to qualify in 1965 and drove for the 15th and final time in 1966, finishing 15th. The next night, at the Victory Banquet, Ward announced his retirement at 45.

''I felt like it was time,'' he later recalled. ''Some drivers go past their time.''

Ward was born Jan. 10, 1921, in Beloit, Kan., and moved with his family to Los Angeles as a child. When he was 14, he built a Ford hot rod with parts from his father's junkyard business and began drag racing.

Ward, a fighter and bomber pilot in World War II, returned to Southern California after the war and began racing midgets. He passed his rookie test at Indianapolis in 1951 and finished 27th.

He considered quitting racing four years later, however, when his front axle snapped, triggering a crash that killed his close friend and two-time defending Indy 500 champion Bill Vukovich.

''I don't know that I could really explain to you how badly I felt,'' Ward said. ''To me, it was an absolute disaster.''

Vukovich's family convinced him to continue racing.

During his career, Ward won 26 champ-car races and two U.S. Auto Club titles. His final victory was April 24, 1966, in Trenton, N.J.

''I was pretty famous in my own territory, but when I came to Indianapolis, and the first time I ran here, I wasn't known as a driver from California. I was an Indy driver,'' he said in a 1999 interview with the speedway. ''Indy makes the race driver. You become famous when you come here. I don't care where else you race in the world.''

With Ward's death, the oldest living Indy winner is Jim Rathmann, 75, who won the race in 1960.

Surviving are Ward's wife, Sherrie; sons Rodger Jr., David and Rick, and daughter Robin.

The speedway said services were pending.

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