In Brief | Nation and World


1865 baseball card fetches $92,000 in Maine auction

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A rare 148-year-old baseball card discovered at a rural Maine yard sale has been auctioned for $92,000.

Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford held an auction Wednesday night that included a card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club.

Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at Saco River Auction, said the card drew plenty of interest. Bidding started at $10,000 and quickly rose to the final $92,000, which included an 18-percent premium.

The name of the buyer, who was at the auction house, was not released.

The card isn’t the same as a modern-day baseball card, which became common in the 1880s. Rather, it’s an original photograph from 1865 mounted on a card, showing nine players and a manager.

The Library of Congress said last month it was aware of only two copies of the photo. The other is in the institution’s collection.

In its book “Baseball Americana,” the Library of Congress calls the item the first dated baseball card, handed out to supporters and opposing teams in a gesture of bravado from the brash Brooklynites, who were dominant and won their league championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.

A Maine man who doesn’t want to be publicly identified found the card inside an old photo album he bought while antique picking in the small town of Baileyville on the Canadian border. The man bought the photo album, old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple of oak chairs together in a single purchase for less than $100, Thibodeau said.

Rockies stalwart Helton arrested on DUI charge

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies and star first baseman Todd Helton are facing the harsh reality on the eve of his farewell season that the longtime face of the franchise now has a police mug shot.

The five-time All-Star was arrested about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Denver suburb of Thornton and charged with drunken driving and careless driving.

In a statement released by the Rockies, Helton said he’s embarrassed and apologized to his family, the team and the community.

“I hold myself to a high standard and take my responsibility as a public figure very seriously,” he said, adding, “I humbly ask your forgiveness.”

Helton was arrested after someone called police to report a drunken driver, police said. They say Helton’s blood-alcohol content was over the legal limit but they haven’t released the number.

Helton is a career .320 hitter. The 39-year-old played only 69 games last year before undergoing hip surgery in August. Afterward, the smooth-fielding first baseman known as much for his glove work as for his big bat considered retiring but decided last month to return for the final season of his contract.

Stern says group interested in Kings has filed for relocation

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday night that the group that has reached agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings has formally filed to relocate the franchise to Seattle.

Stern spoke in Minneapolis before the Timberwolves hosted San Antonio. He called the Seattle group, led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, “very strong,” and said the appropriate committees have been convened to look over the proposed sale of the Kings and the prospective move to Seattle.

“We have had submitted a signed agreement to have the team sold to a very strong group from Seattle,” Stern said.

The deadline for teams to file for relocation is March 1. It’s been expected that the Hansen/Ballmer group would file to move the team, but Stern’s comments were the first time that decision has been verified. The filing for relocation is ultimately a procedural step, but a big one in the efforts to bring professional basketball back to Seattle.

Hansen’s group reached agreement with the Maloof family last month to buy 65 percent of the franchise, which is valued at $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The deal will cost the Hansen group a little more than $340 million.

Nadal beats Delbonis in first singles match in seven months

VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal has taken a few early steps in a comeback he hopes will give him a solid chance of winning his eighth French Open title.

After being away from singles tennis for more than seven months while getting therapy on an injured left knee, Nadal defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the VTR Open.

On Tuesday, he advanced in doubles with partner Juan Monaco.

Nadal was pushed and won only one point on clay in the first two games against Delbonis.

“For me, Roland Garros (French Open) is light years away,” he said. “All I see is doubles tomorrow and my singles again here on Friday.”

After falling behind 2-0, Nadal broke back in the fourth game to tie it at 2-2, racing to chase down several shots in a long rally and showing no fear of an injury to his knee. He was in control after that, wrapping up the set in 47 minutes.

Nadal breezed through the second set, cheered on by a sellout crowd of 4,500. The temporary stadium for the tournament has been increased by 1,200 seats for fans to see one of the sport’s biggest stars, playing for the first time in Chile.

USADA extends deadline for Armstrong to talk

AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong on Wednesday was given more time to think about whether he wants to cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Separately, he learned that he’s about to be sued.

USADA, the agency that investigated the cyclist’s performance-enhancing drug use and banned him for life from sports, has given him an extra two weeks to decide if he’ll speak with investigators under oath. The agency has said cooperating in its cleanup effort is the only path to Armstrong getting his ban reduced. The agency extended its original Wednesday deadline to Feb. 20.

Earlier in the day, SCA Promotions in Dallas said it will sue Armstrong on Thursday to recover more than $12 million it paid him in bonuses for winning the Tour de France seven times.

SCA Promotions tried to withhold the bonuses in 2005 amid doping allegations against the cyclist. The company wants its money back, plus fees and interest, now that Armstrong has admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs and has been stripped of those victories.

Raiders to tarp off part of upper deck at Coliseum

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders are tarping off about 10,000 seats at the Coliseum to reduce capacity to approximately 53,250 next season.

Raiders CEO Amy Trask announced Wednesday that tarps will be put over the third deck on the East side of the stadium to make it easier to sell games out and to create a better game-day environment.

About 4,850 fans will be relocated with the price of their season tickets cut from $260 to $250. Other season-ticket holders on the West side will see the price of their season tickets drop by as much as $360.

The Raiders’ average attendance last season was 54,217 when they needed to sell only 85 percent of the seats to avoid local blackouts. This season, they will need a sellout to have games televised locally.

Mike Leake gets $3.06 million deal from Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds have agreed to a $3.06 million, one-year deal with right-hander Mike Leake, avoiding salary arbitration with their fifth starter.

The deal on Wednesday leaves three Reds still facing arbitration: starters Mat Latos and Homer Bailey and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Leake made $507,500 last season, when he went 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 30 starts, a career high. He asked for $3.5 million in arbitration, and the club offered $2.65 million. He will compete with left-hander Aroldis Chapman for a spot in the rotation. He would make an additional $25,000 if he pitches 180 or more innings.

Nieminen beats Davydenko at Open Sud de France

MONTPELLIER, France — Jarkko Nieminen of Finland beat fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 7-6 (8) in the second round of the Open Sud de France on Wednesday, defeating the Russian for the first time in 10 years and reaching his second quarterfinal of the season.

Davydenko had won their previous four matches, with Nieminen’s last win coming on clay at the Rome Masters in 2003. He broke Davydenko’s serve three times in the match.

In other first-round matches, sixth-seeded Julien Benneteau of France led 6-3, 4-2 when Romania’s Adrian Ungur retired with a thigh injury. Benneteau plays Victor Hanescu in the second round. Seventh-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia beat Lucas Pouille of France 6-4, 7-5 and will play Jan Hajek.

Qualifier Arnau Brugues-Davi of Spain beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Baghdatis, Haase into second round in Zagreb

ZAGREB, Croatia — Sixth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis rallied to beat Tobias Kamke in the opening round of Zagreb Indoors on Wednesday 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4.

Kamke converted his second set point in the tiebreaker to take the lead, but could not keep up the pressure. Baghdatis won all 29 points on his first serve in the second and third sets.

“I did not expect him to play so good, I was a bit surprised,” said Baghdatis, who was the 2007 champion here. “He was very aggressive … I needed time to adjust.”

Robin Haase also came back from one set down to defeat wild card Antonio Veic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Flavio Cipolla made it to the second round after Lukas Lacko — who reached the final in Zagreb last year — retired at 1-1 in the first set because of a back injury.

From wire sources