- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 17, 2005

How’s this for a unique resume? Duggar Baucom, the new men’s basketball coach at Virginia Military Institute (by way of Tusculum College), spent nine years as a Charlotte police officer and a North Carolina state trooper before going back to college and getting his degree.

“He has that structure and that discipline,” VMI athletic director Donny White told the Roanoke Times. “It’s very obvious with the way he coaches that he’ll fit in very well here.”

If Baucom wins with the Keydets, who haven’t known a lot of hoops success, they’ll dub him “the Sultan of SWAT.”

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You’ve heard of the Sooner Schooner? Well, get ready for the VMI Paddy Wagon.

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Does this mean the players’ media guide pictures will be shot in profile?

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A headline that’s dying to be written: Baucom cops first Big South title.

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There probably isn’t a coach in college basketball who’s better at putting together a lineup.

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My friend Robert passes along this classic quote from South Carolina basketball coach Dave Odom on his interest in the Virginia job (it appeared in the Charlottesville Daily Progress):

“I am not a candidate nor have I been a candidate. … [But] I’m not going to sit here and tell you that 10 days from now or another year from now or two weeks from now, something could change. Something could change here, and something could change up there. I’m not into hurt. I don’t want to hurt the people here, because I love the University of South Carolina. I love the people in Columbia and the people in the state, and I love the Gamecocks and I love our team. But I also love the people back in Charlottesville. … For me to say I have no interest in the University of Virginia hurts [them], and I’m not going to do that.”

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I’d Like to Buy a Vowel: A jersey worn by Reds pitcher Adam Harang on Tuesday had “Cncinnati” stripped across the front.

This makes Dave Miley the early front-runner for Manager of the Year honors. I mean, not only has he sold his players on the idea that “there is no ‘I’ in team,” he even has them believing there are just two ‘i’s‘ in “Cincinnati.”

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Elsewhere in baseball, the Devil Rays’ Alex Sanchez finished serving his 10-day drug suspension. And here’s the really good news: Even though he missed eight games, Sanchez is still on pace to equal last season’s career high of two homers.

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You have to admire Bud Selig. He’s pulling out all the stops in his War on Steroids. Why, just the other day, he had lunch with the Michelin Man — and offered him full immunity if he’d name names.

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Player of the Week (Deadball Division): Charlie Buffinton.

Buffinton’s name, you may have noticed, popped up in the stories about John Smoltz’s 15-strikeout performance against the Mets last Sunday. Turns out he holds the Braves franchise record for most K’s in a nine-inning game: 17 vs. Cleveland in 1884, when the club was known as the Boston Braves.

Which got me wondering: What rules did pitchers operate under in 1884? My findings:

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The 1884 season was the first in which they were permitted to throw overhand (which accounts, no doubt, for the batters’ difficulty making contact).

• They pitched from a box measuring six feet by six feet and were allowed to move around in it as they threw, much like softball pitchers today.

• A base on balls was issued after the sixth ball, not the fourth.

• The batter could call for a high or low pitch (just to balance the scales a little).

Buffinton, who supposedly developed one of the first Wicked Curves, racked up 417 strikeouts that season. Alas, hardly anyone remembers because Providence’s Old Hoss Radbourn had 441 the same year (and Dupee Shaw, splitting time between Detroit of the National League and Boston of the Union League, had 451).

The following season, according to BaseballLibrary.com, Buffinton invented “a baseball ‘roller skate’ that gives pitchers greater impetus and swing in their delivery while still allowing them to keep both feet on the ground.” Now that would have been something to see — baseball as roller derby.

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This History Channel moment was brought to you by the Sunday Column.

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Did you read about that running back from Louisville, Eric Shelton, getting confused with another Eric Shelton by the NFL’s security people — an Eric Shelton with a criminal past? Fortunately, the league caught its mistake. (Not that it would have been unusual for a team to draft a player and then discover during training camp that he was Somebody Totally Different. That happens, oh, about 100 times a year.)

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Reports that old friend Heath Shuler might run for Congress in North Carolina are surprising, to say the least. I would have thought, after watching him play quarterback for the Redskins, that he’d just overthrow the government.

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Speaking of the Redskins, four years from now, believe it or not, they’ll be playing in the oldest stadium in the NFC East — that is, assuming the Giants’ (2008) and Cowboys’ (‘09) new palaces are completed on schedule.

(Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia was unveiled in 2003, and FedEx Field, the granddaddy of them all, opened in 1997.)

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Which reminds me: The best thing about the Redskins’ 2005(-06) schedule is that the Eagles might have the home-field advantage locked up by Jan.1, when the teams meet in Philly, and opt to rest some of their stars. That, after all, is what Andy Reid did in the last two games last season.

Hey, every little bit helps, especially for a club that hasn’t made the playoffs in this millennium.

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Tomorrow’s Boston Marathon will be the first in ages without the legendary Johnny Kelley, who ran in 61 of them, winning two, before his death last year at 97. Ambrose Burfoot, another famed distance man (and longtime executive editor of Runner’s World), relayed a funny story about Kelley in the Boston Globe on Friday:

“I’ve never met a man of steadier habits than Johnny. His co-biographer, Richard Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum of New England, recently shared a telling story. A producer from ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ called Johnny in 1992, asking him to appear on the show. Johnny and his wife conferred and then turned down the offer. They had seen Letterman a few times and had no interest in disrupting their early-to-bed habit. They declined so fast that the producer never had a chance to explain that the show tapes at 5:30 p.m.”

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Now that the laughter has died down about Billy Casper’s 106 in the first round of the Masters, let me just point out — courtesy of the Globe’s Jim McCabe — that “between 1964 and 1970, Casper won 27 times on the PGA Tour, four more than Nicklaus and more than Player and Palmer combined.”

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So I’m watching the LPGA on the Golf Channel, and I’m thinking: Too bad Lee Ann Walker-Cooper can’t be a Walker Cupper.

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Aghast at having to cough up $130 for Junior’s fancy-schmancy travel-team basketball uniform? Consider this item from Psychology Today:

“dress[ing] like a pro [can] … cause an opponent’s resolve to waver, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Sports and Exercise.

“[A]thletes felt more confident of beating opponents who wore generic sportswear, like sweatshirts, than opponents who wore sport-specific clothing, like brand-name polo shirts and spiffy shorts.”

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And finally …

News item: The New England Journal of Medicine reports that drinking too much water can be dangerous, even deadly, for athletes.

Comment: Jocks across America, always mindful about their health, are now ordering their whiskey straight up.

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