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Minnesota college student wins $30K on 'impossible' hockey shot

A college student who has not touched a hockey stick since her high school gym class made the shot of a lifetime Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

Morgan Ward, 20, a junior at Minnesota State at Mankato, won a promotion at the college when she buried the puck into a slot at the goal line from 115 feet away to win a $30,000 prize, KARE reported.

"There was was honestly no strategy, I just wanted to make it down the ice," Ward told the television station. 

Ward, from St. Clair, Minnesota, received free tickets to the Mavericks’ men’s hockey at the Verizon Center and texted a promotional code for the chance to take the shot, the Star Tribune reported.

“I was there with my boyfriend (Brody Hanson) and he made me text in, it texted me back saying 'congratulations, you gotta go shoot this puck,'" Ward, who is majoring in business management, told KEYC. "I didn't want to be down there as center of attention. So I (told my boyfriend) 'you gotta go do this, I can't do this, I'm gonna go hide in the bathroom.' He's like 'Morgan, there's 30 grand on the line, what do you got to lose?'"

The contest involved shooting a puck from the far blue line into a tiny opening on the goal line, an opening barely bigger than the width of a puck, KARE reported. 

Ward took the shot and saw the puck headed for the opening, but didn't see it go through, the television station reported. 

"The only thing going through my head is like 'Don't fall,' and I just wanted to hit it hard enough that it would make it across the ice and not like halfway down," Ward told KEYC. "And then all of a sudden it's like this is actually really close."

Then the puck went through the slot.

"I still don't believe it. It's unreal," Ward told the television station.

Ward said the plans to put her winnings into a savings account or an investment plan, as she "still lives with her parents and wants to get out of there someday,” KARE reported. 

Mariano Rivera: 10 things to know about baseball’s new Hall of Famer

Mariano Rivera’s election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday was never in doubt. The right-hander was the major leagues’ all-time saves leader with 652 during the regular season and 43 during the playoffs and World Series.

>> Read more trending news 

The only mystery was whether Rivera would become the first player unanimously elected to baseball’s shrine, and that question was solved Tuesday night when he gained 100 percent of the vote.

Call it Mo-nanimous.

Rivera pitched 19 seasons in the major leagues and had an 82-60 record and a 2.21 ERA. He pitched in seven World Series, 16 American League Divisional Series and nine A.L. Championship Series, going 8-1 with an 0.70 ERA.

Here are some things to know about “Mo”:

Highest percentages: Rivera is among an elite class of Hall of Famers in terms of votes received. Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. came the closest to receiving 100 percent of the votes among Hall of Fame voters. Griffey, elected in 1996, received 437 out of 440 votes cast – a 99.32 percentage. Griffey broke the record set in 1992 by pitcher Tom Seaver, who was listed on 425 of 430 ballots – a 98.84 percentage. Rounding out the top five before this year were pitcher Nolan Ryan, with 98.79 percent in 1999 (491 out 497 ballots cast); infielder Cal Ripken Jr., with 98.53 percent in 2007 (537 out 545 ballots); and outfielder Ty Cobb, elected in the inaugural class of 1936, who pulled 98.23 percent of the votes (222 out of 226 cast).

What an investment: The New York Yankees signed Rivera, then 20, as an amateur free agent on Feb. 17, 1990, for $2,000. Born in Panama, Rivera spoke no English and had never been on a plane or away from his home country. In his 2014 book, “The Closer,” Rivera writes that before he signed a professional baseball contract, the longest trip he had ever made was a six-hour drive to the border of Costa Rica. 

Family days: Rivera was born Nov. 29, 1969, in Panama City, Panama. His childhood nickname was Pili, given to him by his sister, Delia, when he was a baby. “Nobody knows why,” Rivera writes in his book. Rivera dropped out of school when he was in the ninth grade at Pedro Pablo Sanchez High School in La Chorrera, Panama. Rivera’s father, Mariano Rivera Sr., was a captain on a commercial fishing boat in Puerto Caimito, on which the younger Mariano worked six days a week, Sports Illustrated reported. Rivera’s father bought him his first glove when he was 12, the magazine reported. He did not start pitching until he was 19. 

Theme song: When Rivera entered a game at Yankee Stadium, the public address announcer would play Metallica’s 1991 song “Enter Sandman” as his theme song. In a video interview Friday with MLB.com, Rivera told his former teammate and manager, Joe Girardi, that he would have never chosen that song from the heavy metal group as his introduction.

“If that was me, I would have never picked that song,” Rivera said. “It would’ve been Christian music. It would have been something that put people to sleep.”

In “The Closer,” Rivera writes that he would have preferred “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but “I don’t think that would’ve flown.” Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” was used for a while, but then Mike Luzzi, a Yankee Stadium operations worker, came up with the Metallica song and began playing it during the 1999 season.

"We needed something cooler, more ominous," Luzzi told MLB.com in 2011. "Our job was to try and get the building rocking. The gist of it worked, beginning to put the other club to sleep.”

By the way, Rivera has never been to a Metallica concert.

Good teacher: Rivera’s first pitching coach in the minor leagues, with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 1990, was Hoyt WilhelmSports Illustrated reported.

In 1985, Wilhelm was the first relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame and was the first official all-time saves leader with 228

Under Wilhelm’s tutelage, Rivera had a 5-1 record and 0.17 ERA for the GCL Yankees, allowing one earned run in 52 innings of work. He struck out 58 batters and walked seven.

Shaky debut: Rivera made his major-league debut on May 23, 1995, starting against the Angels in Anaheim, California, according to Retrosheet. Rivera opened the game by striking out the first two batters he faced, Tony Phillips and Jim Edmonds. It went downhill from there, as Rivera allowed eight hits and earned five runs in 3 1/3 innings before being replaced by Bob Macdonald in the fourth inning. The Angels won the game 10-0.

Out of the bullpen: Rivera made his first career relief appearance on Aug. 1, 1995, at Yankee Stadium, according to Retrosheet. He entered the game in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers, with New York leading 3-2. The first batter he faced was catcher Mike Matheny, who grounded the ball back to Rivera for an easy out. It got more difficult, as Rivera lost the lead and allowed three hits and three runs. However, Rivera earned the victory after the Yankees scored three runs to regain the lead in the seventh inning, winning 7-5.

First save: For a guy who is the all-time saves leader, Rivera did not earn his first save until May 17, 1996, against the Angels, according to Retrosheet. That was because the Yankees had John Wetteland as their closer, and the right-hander had 31 saves in 1995 and 43 in 1996 as the team’s top reliever. Against the Angels, Rivera pitched the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 8-5 victory, allowing one hit and striking out one batter. He got Garret Anderson to ground into a game-ending double play to nail down the save.

The last 42: Rivera was the last major-leaguer to wear No. 42, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Major League Baseball retired the number on April 15, 1997, to honor the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Commissioner Bud Selig ruled that any players wearing the number at the time of the announcement could continue to wear it. Rivera wore the number until he retired after the 2013 season.

That cutter: Rivera’s cut fastball was his bread-and-butter pitch. Batters knew what was coming but could rarely do anything with it.

“He had other pitches, too, but the cutter was his bread and butter,” Jason Giambi told Fox Sports in 2011. “He was throwing saw blades up there, chewing up bats.”

"I don't use the same bat that I've been playing good with because chances are real high" it's going to get broken, Carl Crawford told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "So, I just take an old, cheap bat that I don't really care about (to the plate).”

"Hitters know what's coming and still they can't put a good (swing) on the ball,” Rivera told the Times in 2013. “Thank God for that."

Mike Mussina: 5 things to know about baseball’s new Hall of Famer

The Moose is finally loose in Cooperstown.

>> Read more trending news 

Mike Mussina had a career record of 270-153 during his 18-year career. He only won 20 games once, and that came in 2008, his final season. Mussina was a five-time All-Star selection and placed in the top five in voting for the American League Cy Young Award six times, finishing as high as second place in 1999. The only time he did not win at least 11 games in a season was 1991, his rookie season.

Here are some things to know about Mussina.

Famous birthplace: Mussina was born Dec. 8, 1968, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the Little League World Series. In 1968 -- known as the Year of the Pitcher in the majors -- Osaka, Japan, defeated Richmond, Virginia, 1-0 in the title game. All three of Richmond’s hits were collected by cleanup hitter Jim Pankovitz, who would play six years in the major leagues.

Former NFL quarterback Turk Schonert, who died Friday two days after his 62nd birthday, played infield for the Garden Grove, California, squad that reached the LLWS.

Golden Glove: Mussina was not only effective as a pitcher, he also was a nimble fielder. He won seven Gold Gloves during his career -- four with the Baltimore Orioles from 1996 to 1999, and three with the New York Yankees (2001, 2003 and 2008). That ties him for fifth all-time; fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux won the award a record 18 times.

Tough numbers: Since Nolan Ryan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, only three starting pitchers with less than 300 career victories have been enshrined in Cooperstown -- Bert Blyleven (287 wins), Pedro Martinez (219) and John Smoltz (213), MLB.com reported. Mussina is now the fourth.

Great control: Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote in 1994 that “What's most impressive is that from 60 feet, 6 inches, Mussina can dot the i in his autograph with any one of six pitches. He has three fastballs (a cutter, a sinker and a riser), two curveballs (a slow curve and the knuckle curve) and an astonishingly deceptive changeup that is his best pitch.”

Great mind: Mussina’s senior thesis at Stanford University was “The Economics of Signing out of High School as Opposed to College,” Sports Illustrated reported. He wrote it in one night and received a B+. With the Orioles, he was the team’s player representative during the 1990s.

"He buys books I'd never be interested in," catcher Chris Hoiles told Sports Illustrated. "If I went to a bookstore.”

2019 Baseball Hall of Fame: Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina elected

Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in major league baseball history, locked down a spot in the Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote Tuesday, leading a class that also includes the late pitcher Roy Halladay, former designated hitter Edgar Martinez and former pitcher Mike Mussina.

>> Read more trending news 

Rivera became the first player to be unanimously elected since Hall of Fame balloting began in 1936. Ken Griffey Jr. held the previous record, falling three votes shy of a unanimous election in 2016.

The Hall of Fame election is conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. A candidate must appear on 75 percent of all ballots turned in to gain induction. 

A total of 425 ballots were cast, with 319 needed for election.

Players will be inducted July 21 in Cooperstown, New York, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.

Halladay and Martinez each received 85.4 percent of the vote, while Mussina drew 76.4 percent of the vote.

Rivera, 49, who compiled 652 saves during the regular season and 42 more in the postseason, was elected in his first year of eligibility. He had an 82-60 record and a 2.21 ERA during a 19-year career that ended in 2013. In the postseason, Rivera was nearly untouchable with a 0.70 ERA.

Halladay, who was killed in an airplane crash off the west coast of Florida in November 2017, won 203 games during his 16-season career. This was also his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

In 2010, he became the second pitcher in major league history to throw a postseason no-hitter, blanking the Cincinnati Reds to join Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Martinez, 56, becomes the first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame who was primarily a designated hitter. Martinez, who played his entire 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners, was elected in his 10th and final year of eligibility.

Mussina, 50, was elected in his sixth year of eligibility. He won 270 games during an 18-year career he split between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.

Mussina won 11 or more games in every season except his rookie year, 1991.

Roy Halladay: 5 things to know about baseball's new Hall of Famer

At first glance, the election of Roy Halladay to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday seems like a sentimental choice. His life was cut short at 40 when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida on Nov. 17, 2017.

>> Read more trending news 

An autopsy showed Halladay had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when the plane crashed.

>> Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

Sentiment goes out the window when reviewing Halladay’s career. His numbers justified election: 205 career victories, a postseason no-hitter, three 20-victory seasons and 67 complete games in an era where the relief pitcher has taken over closing out ballgames.

Here are some things to know about Halladay.

Two leagues, two awards: Halladay became the third of six major league pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues, according to MLB.com. winning the American League version in 2003 with the Toronto Blue Jays and the National League seven years later with the Philadelphia Phillies. The others are Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Max Scherzer.

Postseason magic: Halladay appeared in only five postseason games and had a 3-2 record. However, his playoff debut on Oct. 6, 2010, was memorable and historic, as Halladay threw the second no-hit game in postseason history. Halladay blanked the Reds 4-0, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Jay Bruce with two outs in the fifth inning.

It was the first -- and only -- no-hitter in postseason history since Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Common bond: In addition to joining Larsen in postseason lore, Halladay matched Larsen’s perfect game effort with a gem of his own, also during the 2010 season. On May 27, 2010, in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, Halladay was perfect against the Florida Marlins, striking out 11 batters in a 1-0 victory.

Near no-hitter: Halladay came within one out of pitching a no-hitter in his second major league start. On Sept. 27, 1998 at Toronto’s SkyDome, Halladay did not allow a hit until Detroit Tigers pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson homered, according to Retrosheet. Halladay lost the no-hitter but locked up his first career victory, a 2-1 win against the Tigers, when he retired Frank Catalanotto on a line drive to shortstop.

Never beat them: The only team Halladay never defeated during his 16-year career was the team he finished his career with, the Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, he never started against the Phillies, even when he was with Toronto and the Blue Jays faced Philadelphia in interleague play, according to Bleacher Report.

Biggest save: Although not known for pitching in relief, Halladay helped pull off a big save in the Amazon rainforest.

Halladay and his friends were on a fishing trip when they encountered a man who had been attacked by an anaconda. Original reports exaggerated Halladay’s role in the rescue, and he set the record straight in a February 2012 interview with The Washington Times.

“I was not wrestling snakes. I was nowhere near snakes,” Halladay told the newspaper. “We were just driving back. We had been fishing all day and we were on the boat driving back and we happened to see a guy sitting on the shore line without clothes. We couldn’t talk to him. The guides had to talk to him. They were speaking Portuguese. He had been attacked by a snake and escaped, but it had ripped the engine off the boat and left all his stuff out in the middle of the river. So we picked up his stuff and drove him back to his tribe, I guess you would call it.”

Edgar Martinez: 5 things to know about baseball's new Hall of Famer

Edgar Martinez played his entire career with the Seattle Mariners and was always a dangerous hitter, but he had to wait until his final year of eligibility to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

>> Read more trending news 

Martinez’s numbers were good enough for enshrinement into Cooperstown. During his 18-year career in the major leagues. Martinez batted .312 with 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 homers, 1,261 RBI and 1,219 runs scored.

Here are some fun facts about “Gar”:

Top DH: Martínez is the first player to gain election to the Hall of Fame primarily as a designated hitter. He was a DH in 1,403 of the 2,055 games he competed in (68 percent) and was named the Outstanding Designated Hitter of the Year five times. The DH award was renamed in his honor when Martínez retired after the 2004 season.

Retired number: Martinez became the second player in Seattle Mariners history to have his number retired. Martinez’s No. 11 was retired in 2017, a year after Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24 was honored, ESPN reported. It also made Martinez the eighth player of Puerto Rican descent to have his number retired by a major league team. He joined Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh), José Cruz (Houston), Roberto Alomar (Toronto), Iván Rodríguez (Texas), Jorge Posada (New York Yankees), Bernie Williams (Yankees) and Reggie Jackson (Yankees and Oakland).

Statistical numbers: Once he became a full-time designated hitter in 1995, Martinez began to pile up big numbers at the plate. From 1995 until his retirement, Martinez averaged a .316 batting average, 156 hits, 36 doubles, 25 home runs and 99 RBI.

Inspiration: In Ian C. Friedman’s 2007 book, “Latino Athletes (A to Z of Latino Americans),” Martinez said his love for baseball began after he watched Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente excel during the 1971 World Series. 

“After that series, I went outside my house and I started playing in the back yard,” Martinez said. “I was hooked on baseball after that.” 

The Double: It’s true that a street outside the southern edge of Safeco Field is named “Edgar Martinez Drive.” But Seattle fans do not need a street to remember Martinez. “The Double” will suffice.

In Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series, the New York Yankees had taken a 5-4 lead against the Mariners in the top of the 11th inning. Trailing in what was the deciding game of series, Seattle put runners on first and third when Joey Cora bunted for a hit and Ken Griffey Jr. singled. Martinez then laced a one-strike pitch for a double down the left-field line, scoring both runners and sending the Mariners to the American League Championship Series.

Fans and critics alike have acknowledged that the Mariners’ victory in this game saved baseball in Seattle.

Trump tweets late Hall of Fame support for Curt Schilling

President Donald Trump made a late push for former major league pitcher Curt Schilling to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, tweeting Sunday night that the right-hander had a “Great record, especially when under pressure and when it mattered most.”

>> Read more trending news 

The endorsement came three weeks too late, however, as ballots for the Hall of Fame were due Dec. 31, Sports Illustrated reported. 

The results of the votes will be announced Tuesday, and the new members will be inducted July 21 in Cooperstown, New York.

Schilling, 52, is an outspoken conservative and Trump supporter. He appeared in four World Series, winning with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. He also appeared in the 1993 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies.Schilling had a 162-111 record during his 20-year major league career, but was 11-2 during the postseason and won four of five World Series decisions. He is considered an outside shot to earn election to Cooperstown this year, according to Baseball Hall of Fame Vote Tracker. 

Schilling has appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot every year since 2013 but has only received a high of 52.3 percent support, Sports Illustrated reported.

Louisiana eye care center offers free vision exams for NFL refs

After the New Orleans Saints’ controversial loss in Sunday’s NFC Championship game, a Louisiana eye care business offered free vision care for NFL officials before next season, WWL reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Saints fans were seeing red after a disputed non-call for pass interference late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Tommylee Lewis before Drew Brees’ pass arrived inside the 5-yard line, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal with 1:41 left in regulation. Los Angeles tied the game moments later and then won in overtime, 26-23.

>> On Boston25News.com: Patriots win AFC Championship in OT

Sunday night, Louisiana Family Eyecare posted its offer for free eye exams for referees on its Facebook page.

“After having time to consider things we will GLADLY provide no cost eye exams to all NFL officials prior to next season to prevent the atrocity that occurred tonight," the Covington, Louisiana, business posted. “We would hate for someone else to feel our pain."

A Texas vision center in College Station made a similar offer, WWL reported.

"In light of the atrocious lack of calls during the New Orleans Saints game, we would like to extend free eye exams and glasses to any NFL referee in need. You know who you are," CrystalVisionCenter tweeted.

Here is the controversial play.

Teen in cancer remission practices with Nashville Predators 

A Michigan teen battling cancer realized a dream Friday when he practiced in goal with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, fending off shots while meeting his favorite player, The Tennessean reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Jacob Piros is visiting Nashville to participate in the Make-A-WIsh Foundation’s program. The 17-year-old played in goal during the Predators’ practice Friday and then had lunch with his favorite player, goalie Pekka Rinne, the newspaper reported.

Piros’ cancer is in remission, and he was given special treatment while he visited the Music City. The high school goalie was introduced before the Predators’ game Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, led the team onto the ice and stood with Rinne during the playing of the national anthem, The Tennessean reported.

Friday morning, Piros worked in net as Predators players Roman Josi, Anthony Bitetto, Ryan Ellis, Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Hartman, Matt Irwin and RInne took shots at the teen. Piros stopped most the shots fired his way, the newspaper reported.

"I can't score on you," Rinne said after Piros made a save.

Rinne told The Tennessean that Piros’ handling of his cancer through the years was “awesome.”

"It’s a humbling feeling. It’s pretty surreal," Rinne said. "Last night I was upset about the game, but all of a sudden you realize how selfish it is. It’s just a hockey game. There’s a lot of other things going on in life.

"Great guy. He’s funny. Good sense of humor,” Rinne said. “It’s a great experience for me, too."

Piros was given five hockey sticks by Rinne, and he will attend Nashville’s game Saturday against the Florida Panthers with his parents, The Tennessean reported.

"It was fantastic," Piros’ mother, Ronda Klein, told the newspaper. "He was in his glory. He was like, 'Wow, dream come true.'"

MRI comes back clean for Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly received good news this week, as his recent MRI results after cancer surgery came back clean, WROC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Kelly, who led the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls during his 11-year NFL career, underwent surgery last fall after he had surgery for oral cancer.

In an Instagram post, Kelly’s wife, Jill Kelly, said "We finally got back the results from Jim’s recent MRI ... CLEAN! Thank GOD! It took a bit longer than usual because of all the reconstruction Jim has had inside his mouth. They wanted to be certain that all was good ..."

Kelly threw for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns during his NFL career from 1986 to 1996. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

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