- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

News item: Max Kellerman’s debut on Fox Sports Net gets a national rating of 0.0.

Comment: “I, Max” ranked just behind the national anthem and just ahead of “Test Pattern.”

• • •

Roy Jones Jr. might have lost his light heavyweight title, but he’s still, pound for pound, the greatest boxer in U.S. Basketball League history.

• • •

Speaking of the fight game, I’m anxiously awaiting the release of “Cinderella Man,” Ron Howard’s movie about heavyweight champ Jim Braddock. Premiere magazine reports that Russell Crowe, who’ll play Braddock, was so into the part that he “quit drinking to train.” Greater love hath no Aussie …

• • •

Braddock was no Maximus (Crowe’s Oscar-winning character in “Gladiator”), that’s for sure. Indeed, when he fought and beat Max Baer for the championship in 1935, he’d lost 20 of his previous 41 bouts. In one of them, he was TKO’d in the sixth round by a light heavy named Lou Scozza — who the year before had dropped a decision to Battling Bozo (real name: Curtis Hambright).

• • •

I got that last piece of information from a Web site I just stumbled across: boxrec.com. What a find! You can look up just about anybody’s fight-by-fight record on it, even Battling Bozo’s.

• • •

For instance, there was a heavyweight in the ‘20s named Dan Daly (aka “Dangerous” Dan Daly and “Mysterious” Dan Daly). He had one bout, according to boxrec.com, and it was against Chicago White Sox first baseman Art “the Great” Shires in December 1929. Shires knocked him out in 21 seconds, but “his opponent … soon after claimed he had taken ‘a dive,’” the Web site says.

• • •

With a couple of clicks, you can also find out the entire boxing card in D.C. on Nov.24, 1979 — the day Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones battled Fernando “Toro” Montes. (Too Tall put him down for the count in the first round.) Another of the bouts — there were four of them here that day — saw Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, in just his third fight, knock out Ricky Patterson in two.

• • •

Thursday’s column on perfect games in baseball prompted this e-mail from my friend Robert: “Phil Wood, when he used to have a sports talk show with Al Koken over at WTOP in the early ‘80s, always talked about a game Dick Bosman of the Senators had.

“It was RFK Stadium around ‘69 or ‘70. I think he was pitching against the Twins. First guy up, I think Cesar Tovar, bunts for a base hit, and after that Bos retires everyone in a row. (He may have only faced the minimum 27 batters. I can’t remember if the Senators turned a double play that inning.)”

Dear Robert: The game you’re talking about took place on Aug.13, 1970. According to the play-by-play provided by the wonderful folks at Retrosheet.org, Tovar led off the first with an infield hit to third base — and that was the only hit Bosman gave up in a 1-0 Washington victory. He did allow one other baserunner, though; in the sixth, he walked opposing pitcher Jim Kaat. (Tovar then grounded into a DP after Kaat’s free pass, so Bosman faced just 28 batters.)

• • •

Four years later, with the Indians, Bosman came oh-so-close to a perfect game against the A’s. The only Oakland batter to get on, Sal Bando in the fourth, reached on a throwing error — by Bosman himself.

• • •

Tovar, by the way, was notorious for spoiling no-hitters, wrecking five in his big league career. Three years earlier, in the very same stadium, he got the lone hit off the Senators’ Barry Moore in a 3-0 Washington win. (That would have been quite the no-hitter for Barry. In going the route, he struck out none.

In 1969, Cesar broke up two no-hit bids by Orioles pitchers in the ninth inning — Dave McNally (after 81/3) and Mike Cuellar (after eight complete). And in ‘75, as a Texas Ranger, he deprived the Yankees’ Catfish Hunter of a no-no with a single in the sixth. (Fortunately, Catfish already had a perfecto to fall back on.)

• • •

Ten pitchers who were an out away from a perfect game:

1. Hooks Wiltse, Giants, July 4, 1908 — The Phillies’ George McQuillan was hit by a pitch.

2. Tommy Bridges, Tigers, Aug. 5, 1932 — The Senators’ Dave Harris singled.

3. Billy Pierce, White Sox, June 27, 1958 — The Senators’ Ed Fitz Gerald doubled.

4. Milt Pappas, Cubs, Sept. 2, 1972 — The Padres’ Larry Stahl walked.

5. Milt Wilcox, Tigers, May 15, 1983 — The White Sox’s Jerry Hairston singled.

6. Ron Robinson, Reds, May 2, 1988 — The Expos’ Wallace Johnson singled.

7. Dave Stieb, Blue Jays, Aug. 4, 1989 — The Yankees’ Roberto Kelly doubled.

8. Brian Holman, Mariners, April 20, 1990 — The A’s Ken Phelps homered.

9. Mike Mussina, Yankees, Sept. 2, 2001 — The Red Sox’s Carl Everett singled to left-center on a 1-2 pitch. (The horror!)

10. Danny Almonte, James Monroe High School (Bronx, N.Y.), April 2003 — Issued a walk against Adlai Stevenson High.

• • •

One of the greatest perfect games of all time, I’m convinced, was pitched by Red Sox farmhand Tomo Ohka for Pawtucket in 2000. Ohka threw just 77 pitches against Charlotte, struck out eight, and didn’t go to three balls on a single hitter. In fact, he only went to two balls twice. Can you imagine?

• • •

Great column last Thursday by Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News on the death of the starting pitcher. Reminiscing about Phillies rubber arm Robin Roberts, Conlin wrote, “Everybody assumed Roberts, 24, would open the [1950] World Series against the New York Yankees on two days’ rest, which would have been his fourth start in an eight-day span. But the skipper figured he would have a much better chance to stretch his thin rotation by ‘resting’ Robby an extra day. [Eddie] Sawyer shocked the baseball world by starting [Jim] Konstanty. The bespectacled reliever from Oneonta, N.Y., featured a palm ball as his out pitch. Whenever he needed a tuneup, the man who taught him the pitch, an undertaker from back home, would drive down for a bullpen session. Then he would go back to embalming.”

• • •

I always assumed Bob Boone and sons Bret and Aaron got their athletic ability from family patriarch Ray Boone, a star in the ‘50s with the Tigers. Not so, Ray told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. “I credit my wife [Patsy],” he said. “She’s the athlete in the family. She was and her twin sisters were champion synchronized swimmers. Her sister was a golf pro. And her brother was an All-American football player at Navy.”

All Ray did, on the other hand, was belt 151 career homers and lead the American League in 1955 with 116 RBI.

• • •

The brother who was an All-American football player at Navy, incidentally, was George Brown, a guard for the Midshipmen in the ‘40s under Billick Whelchel. Brown, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, made All-American in 1943, when the Mids went 8-1 and were ranked fourth in the country.

• • •

In case you missed it, Ernie Els took a strong stand the other day against Those Blasted Belly Putters. “[They] should be banned,” he told Reuters. “I think nerves and skill in putting is part of the game, and you should take a tablet if you can’t handle it. It’s become such an easy way to putt. You push the putter into your body, and then you can make a perfect stroke. I’ve seen Vijay [Singh], who’s a very good friend of mine, using it when we’ve practiced together, and it just doesn’t seem right.”

• • •

If they’re not going to outlaw belly putters, then they should at least outlaw bellies — if you ask me.

• • •

NCAA president Myles Brand on the ACC expansion (and other conference shufflings): “Most of the realignments had to do more with academic affiliations than they did with [athletics]. No question about it. And I know that for a fact. … The press thought that this was a money grab. Even when you include the [ACC] playoff football game, Miami is not going to make money in the short term, the next five years, on this. Probably lost money.

“No one wants to lose money on this, that’s true, but the driving force for those presidents and those schools are the academic affiliations. It’s not seen that way from the outside, nor am I suggesting that’s the way the conference commissioners see it when they’re hired to, obviously, increase the revenue.” (As quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

I think I speak for all of us when I say: Huh???

• • •

Too bad Ron Wilson’s San Jose Sharks didn’t make the Stanley Cup Finals. But at least Chris Simon, now throwing his weight around for Calgary, will be providing a Former Capitals Presence.

• • •

And finally …

Probably the best thing about Freddy Adu getting his high school diploma Friday is that he won’t need a hall pass now to play professional soccer.

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