No Waiting, Gretzky in Hall of Fame

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Wayne Gretzky, who retired in April after an illustrious 20-year NHL career, was voted into hockey’s Hall of Fame Wednesday.

Gretzky, 38, retired after the New York Rangers--the fourth NHL team for which he played--failed to qualify for the playoffs, and the Hall of Fame selection committee and board of directors waived the three-year induction waiting period for him.

“I used to visit the Hall of Fame [in Toronto], but I never thought I’d be a part of it,” said Gretzky, who grew up in nearby Brantford, Ontario. “If you work hard, great things can happen. Dreams do come true. I’m living proof of that.”


Gretzky is the 10th player to bypass the standard three-year waiting process to enter hockey’s Hall of Fame. The others were Dit Clapper (1947), Maurice Richard (1961), Ted Lindsay (1966), Red Kelly (1969), Terry Sawchuk (1971), Jean Beliveau (1972), Gordie Howe (1972), Bobby Orr (1979) and Mario Lemieux (1997).

Gretzky left the NHL as its career scoring leader with 2,857 points (894 goals and 1,963 assists) in 1,487 regular-season games, and holds 61 league records. He was a 10-time scoring champion, a nine-time most valuable player and played on four Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Edmonton Oilers. He led the Kings to their only Stanley Cup final in 1993.

Other new inductees are Andy van Hellemond, an NHL referee for 25 years, and Scotty Morrison, president of the Hall of Fame from 1986-93.


U.S. women’s volleyball Coach Mick Haley will take over the USC women’s volleyball program after the 2000 Olympics. Lisa Love resigned as USC coach in March after 10 seasons and Jerritt Elliott, an assistant the last four years, will be interim coach. Haley, 55, had a 522-137-1 record in 17 seasons at Texas, winning an AIAW championship in 1981 and an NCAA title in 1988. He took over the national team in 1997.

Nancy Lopez withdrew from this week’s LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Del., and will have surgery to remove torn cartilage from her right knee. Lopez, who wore a knee brace in the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month and missed the cut, is not expected to play on the tour for one month. “I don’t want to be in pain,” Lopez said. “I’d rather go home and retire. The way my knees have been bothering me, it’s kind of a relief knowing something was wrong and we can fix it.”

German star Lothar Matthaeus said he will play for Major League Soccer’s New York/New Jersey MetroStars next season. Matthaeus, 38, helped Germany win the World Cup in 1990 and is a key player on the national team and the country’s premier club, Bayern Munich. He will reportedly receive $1 million a year from the MetroStars.


The Green Bay Packers signed free-agent kick returner Desmond Howard to a multiyear contract. Howard, 29, was the most valuable player of the 1996 Super Bowl, won by the Packers, and signed the following season with the Oakland Raiders.

Ohio State’s football team lost All-American senior guard Rob Murphy, who dropped out of school after failing to get the minimum grade-point average. Murphy was suspended from the team last spring for academic reasons and had to take summer classes to be eligible for the 1998-99 season.

A fire at Belmont Park Tuesday night that killed three thoroughbreds is being investigated as possible arson. Investigators interviewed workers and used trained dogs to sift through charred debris in the barn. The fire started in a vacant area of the barn and spread rapidly. Joseph Saudo, an investigator with the Nassau County fire marshal’s office, said the dogs detected the presence of flammable liquids, but he cautioned that trainers often use alcohol products in treating horses.


The jury in the Reggie Lewis malpractice case in Suffolk (Mass.) County told a judge they had reached verdicts on two consultants in the case, but could not decide if negligence by lead physician Dr. Gilbert Mudge contributed to the death of the late Boston Celtic star. The jury’s decision regarding the consultants was not disclosed. Lewis’ wife, Donna Harris-Lewis, sued Dr. Mudge and consultants Drs. Mark Creager and Peter Friedman, claiming they misdiagnosed and mistreated her husband’s fatal heart condition after he collapsed during a playoff game in April 1993. Lewis died two months later while practicing jump shots. He was 27.

Travis Spivey, a guard on Iowa State’s basketball team, was arrested and charged with third-degree sexual abuse after two teenage girls said he raped them. Spivey, who did not play last season after transferring from Georgia Tech, was also suspended by Coach Larry Eustachy and will be dropped from the team if convicted.

Denver Bronco linebacker John Mobley suffered minor injuries in a traffic accident in Castle Rock, Colo., and faces a charge of driving under the influence.