'It seemed like a good baseball game. It was always in doubt up until the end.'- John Henry, the new owner of the Boston Red Sox, on the often-contentious 16-month sale process.

Red sox finally sold

Former Florida Marlins owner John Henry and his partners completed their record $660 million purchase of the Boston Red Sox Wednesday, ending seven decades of ownership by the Yawkey family and its trust.

The closing of the deal, which probably will lead to the ouster of Sox general manager Dan Duquette, marked the end of an era that saw a downtrodden team grow into one of the premier franchises in sports even though it has not won the World Series since 1918. The price was more than double the previous record for a baseball franchise - the $323 million paid by Larry Dolan for the Cleveland Indians in 2000.

"These guys, I think, are going to be hands on," said former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans, now the hitting coach. "They're going to be in there after the game and before the game, which will be good."

Astros rename park

When the Houston Astros open the 2002 regular season at home on April 2, Enron Corp. won't be invited to the party. Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. announced Wednesday that the team has agreed to give Enron $2.1 million to sever its embarrassing connection to the bankrupt energy giant. The ballpark will enter its third season as "Astros Field," and McLane said he hopes to find another buyer for naming rights within 60 days.

"We will be very selective," McLane said, noting that at least seven companies have approached the Astros about naming rights.

A Celebration for Sarah

Sarah Hughes, the surprising 16-year-old Olympic figure skating champion, will get a rousing welcome home from neighbors, classmates, and friends Sunday with a parade through town and rally at her high school in Great Neck, N.Y.

New York Gov. George Pataki, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), and US Rep. Gary Ackerman (D) have been invited to attend. "The fact that [Sarah] won a gold medal makes it a big media event, but for us it's about honoring Sarah," said Richard Arenella, superintendent of the Great Neck parks department.

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