* The Angels shed their penny-pinching reputation and sign Mo Vaughn, the Red Sox slugger, to a six-year, $80-million contract. He is the highest-paid player for almost three weeks until the Dodgers sign pitcher Kevin Brown for $105 million over seven years.
* The last helicopter departs from the Marine base at Tustin, leaving the base virtually abandoned, a victim of federal budget cutbacks. The city plans to preserve one of the base's immense, landmark blimp hangars, but demolish the other and use the land for homes and businesses.
* Republican Rep. Jay C. Kim of Diamond Bar closes his offices in Yorba Linda, Ontario and Washington a month before his term ends, thus concluding a string of firsts in Congressional history. In 1992, he was the first Korean American elected to Congress. In 1998, he was the first congressman to wear an electronic surveillance device after pleading guilty to accepting illegal campaign donations.
* Sheriff Brad Gates, retiring after 24 years in office, appears before the Board of Supervisors to complain that his successor wants him to retire too soon. Sheriff-elect Michael S. Carona who defeated the Gates-backed candidate, went to county supervisors asking they change some departmental expenditures and hiring policies.
* The Discovery Science Center, a collection of playful, hands-on science demonstrations, opens beside the Santa Ana Freeway in Santa Ana. Aimed at turning on children's interest in science, it was bankrolled by $24 million in corporate, governmental and private contributions.
* The federal Food and Drug Administration confirms it has launched a criminal investigation of a former UC Irvine cancer researcher who reportedly sent an unauthorized, experimental cancer treatment to a Florida hospital to treat an 8-year-old girl. The researcher, John C. Hiserodt, had left the university after the investigation began.
* A metal cleat on the tall ship Columbia, one of Disneyland's oldest attractions, snaps loose as the ship is docking and strikes two tourists, killing one of them and leaving the other in critical condition. A park employee was also injured.
* To round out a weird weather year, overnight temperatures plunge into the 20s in the Saddleback Valley on nights when New York City reports lows in the high 50s.