Fans of the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team were led to expect that flame-throwing future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson would be on the mound for a game last week against the Tucson (Ariz.) Sidewinders. And, right on cue, Johnson was. You see, the Arizona Diamondbacks superstar had been sent down to the minors to work himself back into shape after an injury. Alas, instead of Tucson, the parent club assigned him to another affiliate, in El Paso, Texas. So, rather than have a game without Randy Johnson, the Sounds did the next best thing and invited everyone in Tennessee with that name to heave a ceremonial first pitch. Five people accepted.
In Udon Thani, Thailand, bridegroom Sowat Chantaphongm's honeymoon will have to wait a while. The 20-something had just taken his vows when police burst into his Buddhist wedding ceremony and hauled him off to jail. For getting married? No, for his alleged role in stealing a purse five years ago.
"Another bad year for corporate giants," observes the introduction to Fortune's latest ranking of the world's biggest companies. However, it also notes some optimistic signs: The 192 US firms on the list lost a combined $461 billion in revenues in 2002, but that partly reflects a needed cleanup of accounting practices. And while the 88 Japanese entries lost $2.3 billion, that was only a fraction of their $33.6 billion pounding in 2001. The top 10 on Fortune's Global 500, where they're based, and their respective rank on last year's list (in parentheses):
1. Wal-Mart Stores, US (1)
2. General Motors, US (3)
3. Exxon Mobil, US (2)
4. Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Netherlands/Britain (8)
5. BP, Britain (4)
6. Ford, US (5)
7. DaimlerChrysler, Germany (7)
8. Toyota, Japan (10)
9. General Electric, US (9)
10. Mitsubishi, Japan (12)