Following an 18-year soccer career that included three FIFA World Player of the Year awards and two Ballon d'Ors, striker Ronaldo, who was in the final year of his contract with Corinthians in his native Brazil. After that team was eliminated earlier this month from Latin America's Copa Libertadores club tournament, fans attacked the Corinthians' bus, throwing stones and calling for the release of the visibly out-of-shape Ronaldo, which led the 34-year-old to hang up his cleats on Monday, adding, "It feels like it's my first death." (He also revealed that hypothyroidism had made it difficult for him to stay in shape.) The most prolific scorer in World Cup history, with 15 goals over three tournaments, Ronaldo paced Brazil to a title in 2002 (above), scoring in all but one of his team's seven games. (Four years earlier, he had suffered convulsions the night before the final and proved ineffective in a loss to France.) Ronaldo scored three times in his last Cup final, in 2006, and he had hoped for a swan song in '10, but his fitness and a coaching change kept him off the roster.
At age 83 after a long battle with ALS, former Texas A&M and Mississippi State football coach Emory Bellard, who developed the wishbone offense while an assistant at Texas in 1968. Under Longhorns coach Darrell Royal, Bellard was charged with devising a scheme that would take advantage of the team's running back depth. He developed a variation of the two-option veer, lining up a third rushing option behind the quarterback and creating an inverted-Y formation—or a wishbone. After tying their first game using the new scheme, and losing their second, the Longhorns won their next 30, capturing the '69 national championship and a share of the '70 title (with Nebraska). Bellard's offense was widely copied, and wishbone teams claimed seven national titles from '69 through '79. In '72, Bellard took over the Aggies' program, making three bowl appearances in seven seasons; he then coached Mississippi State until retiring in '85.
By Cal, three of the five varsity sports the school was planning to cut or downgrade due to budget concerns. After announcing the cuts in September in response to criticism that too much of its shrinking budget was being allocated to athletics, the school faced backlash from alumni and fans, along with concerns that the cuts would throw Cal out of Title IX compliance. Following a fund-raising campaign that generated $12--13 million in private donations, the university announced last Friday that the women's lacrosse, women's gymnastics and men's rugby teams had been saved. The baseball and men's gymnastics programs, which had combined for six national titles between them, will still be dropped.
At age 82, longtime major league manager Chuck Tanner, who led the We Are Family Pittsburgh Pirates to a World Series title in 1979. A journeyman outfielder from western Pennsylvania who played for four teams in the '50s and early '60s, Tanner batted just .261 and hit 21 home runs. But his legacy came from the bench, where he was known for his infectious optimism, and from where he encouraged aggressive baseball that squeezed the most out of his teams. After managing the White Sox for five-plus seasons and the A's for one, he was part of a rare player-manager trade in '76 that sent Pittsburgh catcher Manny Sanguillen to Oakland and Tanner back home. Nearly three years later, the Pirates were mired in a 3--1 World Series hole against the Orioles when, on the morning of Game 5, Tanner (above) learned that his mother had passed away. He remained with his team, reportedly telling players before the game, "My mother was a great Pirates fan. She knows we're in trouble, so she went upstairs to get some help." Pittsburgh won the final three games to capture the team's fifth Series title.
By the British Horseracing Authority, the deaths by suspected electrocution of two horses at Newbury Racecourse in southern England on Saturday. The incident occurred before the day's first race when, according to witnesses, the horses Fenix Two and Marching Song reared up and collapsed during the prerace parade, each horse dying within a minute. Two other horses nearby were said to have wobbled at the same moment, though neither suffered visible injuries. Afterward, attending trainers said that they had received shocks off of the downed bodies. Those claims, combined with the wet ground and the horses' metal shoes, lead officials to suspect that an underground cable, later removed for inspection, was responsible for the deaths. No riders were aboard either horse during the incident.