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Names In The Game

May 21, 1996

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Dave Stevens, a former college football player born without legs, played second base for the independent league St. Paul Saints in an exhibition game.

Stevens, getting a chance to fulfill a dream by trying out for the Northern League team, went in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of the Saints’ 9-6 loss Monday night to the Duluth-Superior Dukes. No balls were hit his way, and he didn’t bat in the bottom of the inning.

``It was a dream come true,″ said Stevens, a producer for ESPN. ``I played in the same game as Darryl Strawberry. It was great.″

Strawberry is attempting a comeback with the Saints. He trotted past Stevens to right field in the ninth, offering good-natured jabs.

``He was giving me grief the whole time,″ Stevens said. ``Things like, `C’mon, rook.′ He was great.″

Stevens’ disability is a result of thalidomide, a drug once widely used to treat pregnant women. He was born without legs 30 years ago, and plays without the artificial legs he uses in his daily life.

He participated in baseball, football and wrestling in high school outside Phoenix, and football and wrestling at Augsburg (Minn.) College.

``Dave is a man of a lot of courage,″ Strawberry said. ``It takes a lot to do what he’s doing.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton greeted the NCAA champion basketball teams at the White House with advice he applies to his re-election campaign.

``Just because you’re ahead and favored doesn’t mean you’re going to win,″ Clinton joked Monday. ``I hope everyone around here remembers that.″

The president, who described himself a basketball ``fanatic,″ praised the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Lady Vols as symbols ``of what’s best about our country when things are going well.″

``America likes `March Madness’ and college basketball because ... it has both rules and creativity,″ he said. ``We thank you for your winning ways.″

Kentucky and Tennessee won their titles one day apart, making the Southeastern Conference the first to sweep both titles. Tennessee defeated Georgia 83-65 and Kentucky beat Syracuse 76-67.

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COLTS NECK, N.J. (AP) _ Niatross, a 19-year-old stallion selected harness racing’s Horse of the Year in 1979 and 1980, will leave Walnridge Farm for a summer and fall tour.

``Niatross is in perfect health and he has perfect gentleman’s manners,″ said David Meirs III, whose family owns and runs Walnridge Farm. ``He has many fans who would love to see him.″

The seven-track tour, scheduled to begin July 6 in Goshen, N.Y., will benefit the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.

`It’s fitting that Niatross’ tour will help give ex-racehorses new careers off the track,″ Meirs said. ``Niatross had the world at his feet when he retired _ not every horse does.″

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Let the bidding begin for the right to name the new stadium where the Carolina Panthers will play.

Richardson Sports, which owns the team and the $160 million venue currently named Carolinas Stadium, is looking for at least $2 million a year for no less than 10 years.

``We would prefer some local or regional company operating at a high level in the Carolinas,″ said Mark Richardson, director of business operations for Richardson Sports.

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) _ Stockton area youths are getting 1,205 soccer balls, courtesy of an international heroin-smuggling ring.

The balls were among 1,300 seized as evidence five years ago. Investigators determined that 95 balls, which weighed more than the rest, were used to smuggle powdered heroin into the country from Pakistan.

The rest of the balls were held as evidence. But one defendant pleaded guilty in the case, and the other disavowed ownership of the balls, so the courts released them from evidence.

Stockton police Lt. Mark Lujan said the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will parcel out the balls to those who can use them. ``That’s going to supply somebody for a long time,″ Lujan said.

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