Political leaders, Hall of Fame ballplayers and dozens of ordinary Chicagoans bade a poignant but uplifting farewell Saturday to Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs shortstop whose otherworldly athleticism, unflagging optimism and inexhaustible goodwill made him an ambassador for his team and his city.

Banks, who was 83 but would have turned 84 Saturday, died of a heart attack Jan. 23. His death has inspired a flood of reminiscence from those who watched him patrol the Wrigley Field diamond in the 1950s and '60s or simply knew him for his signature kindness.

It was that graciousness that brought Gary Shepherdson to the service from Calgary, Alberta. He never met Banks or watched him play but recalled his father telling him in 1973 about Banks' great games and ability to overcome adversity.

"I thought right then as a kid that this team needed fans, and I was going to be one," he said. "That's why I'm here. After all those personal and professional stories my dad told me, I needed to come say goodbye."

Pallbearers including home run king Hank Aaron, former Cubs Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley and Banks' twin sons, Jerry and Joey.


Sold out: The banquet for Brett Favre's induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. About 1,600 people are expected to attend the July 18 event, when Favre's No. 4 will be retired.

Reached: A one-year, $3.2 million deal between the Los Angeles Angels and pitcher Garrett Richards. That's according to the Associated Press and a person with knowledge of the contract.

Turned spectator: Cristiano Ronaldo, who watched from the stands as Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 4-1. Ronaldo was serving the first of a two-game ban for kicking a player.


Laird leads Phoenix Open by three shots

For all his birdies Saturday, two big pars kept Martin Laird in control at the Phoenix Open.

Laird made 10-footers for par on the 16th and 18th holes and had a 3-under 68, giving him a three-shot lead going into the final round over a new pair of the next generation.

Hideki Matsuyama, the 22-year-old from Japan who already has seven worldwide victories, roared into contention with birdies on his last four holes for an 8-under 63, the low round of the tournament. Brooks Koepka, a 24-year-old who traveled the world to get back home to America, finally found some fairways and used his power to shoot 64. They were tied for second with Zach Johnson, who had a 67.

Laird, a 32-year-old Scot who has lived in Scottsdale the last 14 years, was at 13-under 200.

17-year-old reaches No. 1 world ranking for women

Though 17-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko blew a late lead in the LPGA Tour's season-opening Coates Golf Classic in Ocala, Fla., she became the youngest player of either gender to reach No. 1 in the world ranking. Ko, four strokes ahead on the front nine, finished a shot behind Na Yeon Choi.

McIlroy lengthens his lead at Dubai

Rory McIlroy shot a 6-under 66 to extend his lead to four strokes with a round left in the Dubai Desert Classic. The top-ranked McIlroy, a stroke ahead after the second round, had a 20-under 196 total on Emirates Golf Club's Majlis Course. Denmark's Morten Orum Madsen was second after a 66, and England's Lee Westwood was third at 14 under after a 69.


2002The last time before Saturday that one country took all three women's medals at the European Figure Skating Championships. Russia, as it did 13 years ago, turned the trick with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva winning gold.