- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2003

Not only did the Supreme Court uphold the ban on smoking in restaurants in bars, I hear it also — and this sounds a bit extreme — ordered “Smokin’” Joe Frazier to change his nickname.

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William Perry dropped out of a frankfurter-eating contest on the Fourth of July in Coney Island after downing a mere four tube steaks. He apparently was dog-tired.

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There’s no truth to the rumor that the baby of sprinters Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery was born with a restrictor plate.

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Quote of the Week: “David Beckham has extraordinary toenails. They are incredibly strong, healthy and, above all, thick. Perhaps those toenails reveal part of the secret of his famous ability to bend the ball.”

—John Carlin, who interviewed the soccer star for Real Madrid TV.

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Honorable mention: Asked on ESPN radio if he expected “a warm reception on the road this year in the Big East,” Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg replied, “There are only so many different ways for someone to tell you that you are bald.”

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On the subject of Hokies hoops, an alum writes, “Wonder if Jeff Lebo [who stayed put at Tennessee-Chattanooga] and Jim Baron [who did likewise at Rhode Island] would have felt differently about the Tech job if they’d known it was going to be in the ACC. Seth Greenberg must be the luckiest coach in America.”

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For the record, Miami and Virginia Tech each are paying the Big East a $1million exit fee, the ACC a $2million entrance fee and the SEC a $250,000 keep-us-in-mind fee.

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Clarification: The Atlantic Sun Conference didn’t exactly “raid” Campbell University from the Big South, as I wrote in Thursday’s column. Stan Cole, assistant athletic director at Campbell, e-mailed to explain that his school opted to leave the Big South after the conference “voted to hold its 1994 men’s and women’s soccer championship games on a Sunday, which would be in direct opposition of a longtime Campbell University standard that avoids Sunday play. This was a very serious event in our athletics history, especially since Campbell won the Big South men’s soccer title in 1984, 1985, 1991 and 1992 (and advanced to the final in 1986, 1989 and 1993).”

So the Camels took their act to the Trans America Athletic Conference, later renamed the Atlantic Sun.

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Memo to the Terps-gathering Wizards: Walt Williams, Tony Massenburg and Terence Morris are all unrestricted free agents.

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The Wizards’ new assistant coach, Phil Hubbard, played on the Michigan team that lost to Indiana in the ‘76 NCAA final. I bring this up because something really funny happened afterward on the Academy Awards telecast, which was held the same night. Elliott Gould came out to present one of the Oscars, and when his partner (George Segal?) tore open the envelope and said, “And the winner is …” Gould cracked, “Indiana 86-68.”

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I don’t know what to make of Tiger Woods’ complaints about “hot” drivers, I really don’t. I mean, the only “hot” driver I’m aware of is Minnie.

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But if “hot” drivers are, indeed, gaining in popularity, I fully expect Nike to come out with a line of golf gloves that double as oven mitts.

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Two sleeves of golf statistics from the “Average Guy” column in the current issue of Men’s Health:

1. Golf balls the average guy will lose in the water, the woods or thin air in his lifetime: 4,735.

2. Distance the average guy can drive the ball: 200 yards.

3. No. 1 golf-course-related injury: hit by a golf ball.

4. The average guy’s favorite movie: “Caddyshack.” Runner-up: “Happy Gilmore.”

5. Number of men who have crashed a golf cart: 1 in 3.

6. Percentage of men who admit they’ve teed off from the women’s tee: 6.

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Speaking of “Caddyshack,” did you hear about the latest journalistic scandal? The sports editor of the Roswell (N.M.) Record, one Gregory M. Jones, wrote a story about a local golf tournament in which he “quoted” an assistant greenskeeper named Carl Spangler. Carl Spackler, of course, is the character Bill Murray plays in the movie.

Jones didn’t stop there, though. He also credited Spangler with developing “an amazing new kind of grass” — just like in “Caddyshack” — and had him uttering Murray’s famous line about how “you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and … get stoned … that night.”

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Good thing they caught this clown when they did (and summarily fired him). Next year he might have had Spangler, “a Cinderella story outta nowhere,” winning the Masters on the final hole — by holing a 2-iron from 455 yards.

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It could have been worse, I suppose. He could have had the Dalai Lama competing in the tournament.

So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

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Meanwhile, at the New York Sun last week, theater columnist Ward Morehouse III — sounds like one of the club members in “Caddyshack” — confused playwright Marc Spitz with swimming great Mark Spitz. The newspaper even ran a picture of the ‘72 Olympics hero with the “Broadway After Dark” column. Amazingly, Morehouse didn’t catch his mistake when Marc Spitz e-mailed him the following: “I’m 33 now, and I’m not as interested in proving I’m some kind of punk playwright.” He merely changed the quote to read: “I’m 53 now, and I’m not as interested in proving I’m some kind of punk playwright.”

The playwright, whose play “Gravity Always Wins” opens this week, took it in the proper spirit. “I don’t care if I win an Obie now,” he joked to the New York Post, “because I’ve got my gold medals. They can never take that away from me.”

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Mark Spitz never wrote a play but, in Morehouse’s defense, he did appear in an episode of “Emergency!”

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Remember the column I did awhile back on the 1925 Pottsville Maroons and their “lost” NFL championship? Well, a guy who played on the 1924 Pottsville team, Joe Marhefka, died last week at 101.

I went to visit Joe one afternoon about a decade ago, at his home in Easton, Pa. He talked about playing at Lafayette for the legendary Doc Sutherland, going to the first Dempsey-Tunney fight in 1926 with Philadelphia Quakers teammate Century Milstead (so named because he was born in 1900) and a host of other things.

On Sutherland: “He was originally a policeman in Sewickley [Pa.], and Pop Warner spotted this big Scotsman and thought he’d make a good football player. So Warner sent him to a prep school for two years — Kiskiminetus, ever heard of Kiski? — and then he became a football All-American at Pittsburgh.

“Yes, it’s true, Sutherland had his players drink water out of paper cups. He’d gone to dental school, you see, but there was more to it than that. The paper cup, the Dixie Cup, was invented right here in Easton.”

On Lafayette’s first off-campus training camp in 1921: “We stayed at a hotel just up the river in Delaware, N.J., that got its electricity from a generator; every night at 9 o’clock it was turned off. We rowed across the river in boats and practiced in Pennsylvania on a field that was basically a cow pasture. When we came back two weeks later, boy, were we in good shape.”

On Dempsey-Tunney: “Jack dressed in our dressing room [that is, the one used by the Philly Quakers of the original American Football League]. We were all given tickets for the fight. I sat with Century. He made a good bodyguard, big fella like that. [Marhefka was a mere 5-foot-6, 150 pounds.] Our seats weren’t that close to the ring. They called ‘em ringside seats, but we were pretty well up in the stands. And it rained like the devil, so we got drenched. I remember somebody in front of us was swearing quite a bit, and Century picked him up, slammed him down on his chair and said, ‘There are ladies around here. Stop that kind of talk.’ That’s how strong he was.”

On Quakers coach Bob Folwell: “He lived in Mullica Hill, N.J., and had an orchard down there. He’d bring a basket of apples to practice for the football team to eat. Beautiful apples. Those big fellas loved those apples.”

Rest in peace, Joe Marhefka.

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And finally …

News item: FIFA, soccer’s governing body, threatens to give yellow cards to any player who pulls off his jersey and bares his chest — or, in the case of a woman, her sports bra (see Brandi Chastain, 1999 women’s final).

Comment: I’m not sure if this means anything to FIFA, but according to an online poll during the 2001 Miss America broadcast, 51 percent of the viewers said they wouldn’t watch the pageant if the swimsuit competition were eliminated.

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