Scott Williamson, not even on the Cincinnati Reds' roster when spring training began, was elected National League rookie of the year yesterday.

Williamson, 12-7 with a 2.41 earned run average and 19 saves, received 17 first-place votes, 9 seconds and 6 thirds for 118 points from a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"I achieved a lot of goals this year that I thought would be way down the road," Williamson said.

Florida outfielder Preston Wilson was a distant second, getting 9 first-place votes, 11 seconds and 10 thirds for 88 points. Pittsburgh second baseman Warren Morris finished third, getting 6 firsts, 10 seconds and 9 thirds for 69 points.

"I think my mom is the happiest right now," Williamson said from Houston during a telephone conference call.

Six other Cincinnati players have won the award: Frank Robinson (1956), Pete Rose (1963), Tommy Helms (1966), Johnny Bench (1968) and Chris Sabo (1988) won outright, and pitcher Pat Zachry was co-winner in 1976, tying San Diego's Butch Metzger.

Williamson, a starter in his first two pro seasons, was impressive in relief during spring games and survived one cut after another. The 23-year-old right-hander throws a fastball in the upper nineties and a nasty split-finger fastball. . . .

The proposed $120 million sale of the Minnesota Twins is off for now after voters in St. Paul rejected public funding for a new ballpark, a spokesman for the ownership group said.

An agreement could be resuscitated, but it likely would be at a different price and could involve changes to the group, said spokesman Bill Robertson.

Minneapolis, the current home of the baseball franchise, also is reconsidering a decision to build a new stadium.

"You never say never about anything, but the voters spoke last week," Robertson said. "The idea of these people owning this team in St. Paul is effectively dead."


Ali-Endorsed Bill Passed

In a bill endorsed by Muhammad Ali, the House passed legislation that would make it illegal for a boxing sanctioning body to take a bribe and limit the kinds of contracts promoters can require of fighters.

"We're going to chase hangers-on and self-promoters out of the game," said Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), the bill's House sponsor. "We want to make sure fights are fair--there's nothing more American than a fair fight."

Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) boasted of the bill's seal of approval from Ring Magazine, which wrote it would "get rid of the bandits and parasites in this sport."

Oxley said there was a possibility the Muhammad Ali Boxing Act, endorsed by the great heavyweight, could be on President Clinton's desk by week's end.


Nebiolo Mourned

Dozens of mourners filed past Primo Nebiolo's casket in the shadow of a fresco portraying Roman emperors and Benito Mussolini at the Italian National Olympic Committee headquarters in Rome.

Members of Italy's sports and political worlds paid their last respects to the man who ruled the International Amateur Athletic Federation for 18 years.

Nebiolo died in Rome Sunday at 76 after a heart attack.

"Thanks to him, athletics reasserted itself as the premier Olympic sport, not just in terms of prestige but in terms of a sound economic basis," said Gianni Gola, president of the Italian Athletics Federation. "He had great ambition and great resilience."

Senegal lawyer Lamine Diack was installed temporarily as head of the IAAF.

Under the IAAF constitution, Vice President Diack is now in charge, but no provision has been made to elect a new president. Nebiolo was reelected by acclamation for another four-year term at the IAAF congress in Seville, Spain, in August.

Diack, 66, was the French long jump champion from 1957 to 1960 and is a member of the Senegal National Olympic Committee. . . .

Six-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Leon Stukelj of Slovenia died of a heart attack, four days shy of his 101st birthday.

Stukelj won Olympic golds in the horizontal bar and all-around competition in Paris in 1924. He won another gold in the rings in Amsterdam in 1928. He also won two bronze medals in Amsterdam, in the all-around and team exercises, and a silver in the rings in Berlin in 1936.


Garcia Honored

Spanish teenager Sergio Garcia was named European golf's rookie of the year after winning twice, finishing runner-up at the PGA Championship and becoming the youngest Ryder Cup player in his first season as a professional.

Garcia, 19, was selected for the Sir Henry Cotton rookie of the year award by a panel representing the PGA European Tour, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the Association of Golf Writers.