- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

I’ve got no problem with those Georgia football players selling their SEC championship rings — as long as they don’t make a Hobbit of it.

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The going rate of a Heisman Trophy (should any of the Bulldogs happen to win one):

O.J. Simpson’s 1967 Heisman: $230,000 (1999).

Larry Kelley’s 1936 Heisman: $328,110 (1999).

Paul Hornung’s 1956 Heisman: $250,000 (2001).

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In case you missed it, the final score in Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference finals was Adam Oates 2, Andrew Brunette 1.

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Now that hurts.

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From Joe Queenan’s latest book, “True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans” (Henry Holt, $23):

“The problem for fans of all stripes is that no matter how good they are at what they do, they will never hit a buzzer-beating jumper or make a game-saving tackle. Sports detractors love to moan about the warped values of a society that pays teachers $25,000 a year but pays men 1,000 times as much to connect with a tiny horsehide spheroid three times out of 10. But lots of people can teach grade school; it takes real talent to hit a tiny spheroid three times out of 10, especially when it is traveling 98 miles an hour and headed straight for your ear. To extend the analogy, anyone can run the Securities and Exchange Commission (Harvey Pitt), anyone can paint a painting (Buddy Ebsen), and anyone can win the Nobel Peace Prize (Yasir Arafat, Jimmy Carter). But try guarding Shaq.”

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A show of hands, please. How many of you knew that the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich went 2-22 in his first season as a college head coach (with Pomona-Pitzer in ‘79-80)?

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I just realized something. It’s almost impossible to utter the words “Pomona-Pitzer” without spraying someone.

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If you had to guess, would you say the nickname of Pomona-Pitzer’s teams is (a) the Fighting Spittoons; (b) the Sage Hens; (c) the Poets; or (d) the Tigers?

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Pomona-Pitzer’s teams are nicknamed the Sage Hens. The Poets (Whittier College) and the Tigers (Occidental) are the nicknames of two other schools in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, to which Pomona-Pitzer belongs.

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Occidental Tigers? Why not the Occidental Tourists?

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Baseball Line Score of the Week (from Friday night’s Rangers-Yankees game):

Texas AB R H BI BB SO AVG.

Blalock 3b 7 0 2 6 0 4 .367

How often do you see a guy get six RBI without scoring a run? (On two hits, no less.) The Blalock in question, Hank, had two three-run doubles but was stranded both times.

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I’d be interested to know what the record is for most RBI in a game without scoring a run. But then, I’m weird like that.

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I’ll bet it isn’t a whole lot more than six.

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Forty-four years ago yesterday, famed fireballer Steve Dalkowski threw a no-hitter for Aberdeen of the Class C Northern League, striking out 21 in a 6-0 victory. Trivia question: Who was the manager of the Aberdeen team? (Answer below.)

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News of Dave DeBusschere’s death reminded me that he, too, probably belonged on ESPN’s list of the 100 Greatest North American Athletes of the 20th Century. Not only did he make the NBA’s 50th anniversary team, he also pitched in the major leagues at 21. I’ve always wondered how things would have turned out for him if he’d stuck with baseball.

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According to baseball-reference.com, the pitcher whose career was most similar to DeBusschere’s — at the time Dave decided to concentrate on basketball — was Rick Rhoden. Rhoden wound up winning 151 games for the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Astros.

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You know DeBusschere was a heck of an athlete because two cities are claiming him — his native Detroit (where he went to college and played for the Pistons) and New York (where he won championships with the Knicks).

Jerry Green in the Detroit News: “DeBusschere was, and still is, Detroit personified. He was a blue-collar athlete in a shot-and-a-beer town.”

Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News: “As cool as Clyde was, as much of a showman as the Pearl was and as brave as Capt. Willis Reed was, Debusschere was the one who played with an in-your-face New York style, and then popped a can of beer afterward.”

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Little-known fact: DeBusschere pitched against another NBAer, the Celtics’ Gene Conley, in an April 27, 1963, game at Fenway Park. Conley went four-plus innings for the Red Sox, while DeBusschere relieved in the fourth and got two outs for the White Sox. The Red Sox won 9-5. (Much thanks to BaseballLibrary.com for this nugget.)

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DeBusschere on his baseball career: “My greatest achievements involved other players. I was pitching for the White Sox against Cleveland the day Early Wynn got his 300th victory. And at the beginning of the 1963 season, the White Sox had to choose between two pitchers. They kept me and traded Denny McLain.”

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There’s only one problem with this quote: Wynn won his 300th game against the Kansas City A’s, not the White Sox. (As for McLain, the White Sox didn’t trade him, they waived him — even worse.)

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DeBusschere, by the way, wore the same number in baseball that he did in basketball — 22.

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Answer to trivia question: Earl Weaver managed Aberdeen in the Northern League in 1959. Besides Dalkowski, the club had future Senator Chuck Hinton (who led the loop in hitting with a .358 average) and future White Sox whiffmeister Dave Nicholson (who tied for the league lead with 35 homers).

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The three straight shutouts posted by Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere against Minnesota in the NHL playoffs got me thinking: Who are the Shutout Kings of the postseason — in all sports? My findings:

• Christy Mathewson, pitcher, New York Giants, 1905 World Series: Whitewashed the Philadelphia A’s (and the feared Socks Sebold) three times in three starts, allowing just 14 hits and issuing a single walk.

• Turk Broda, goalie, Toronto Maple Leafs, 1939: Blanked the New York Americans 4-0 and 2-0 to lead the Leafs to a best-of-3 series sweep. (Also laid a goose egg on the Red Wings a record-tying three times in a 1950 series.)

• Southern Cal football team, 1940-45: Shut out three straight Rose Bowl opponents (Tennessee 14-0 in 1940, Washington 29-0 in ‘44 and Tennessee again 25-0 in ‘45).

• Chicago Bears, 1985: Held the Giants (20-0) and Rams (24-0) scoreless en route to the Super Bowl (where they pounded the Patriots, 46-10).

• Los Angeles Lakers, 2001: Swept the Trail Blazers (3-0), Kings (4-0) and Spurs (4-0) in the Western Conference playoffs (before polishing off the 76ers in five games for the title).

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And finally …

You can understand Vijay Singh’s objection to Annika Sorenstam playing in the Colonial — and depriving a deserving male of a spot. I mean, where would the Byron Nelson have been this week without Mike Kullberg, who missed the cut at 12 over?

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Mike Kullberg — now there’s a guy who brings out the crowds. Surely you’ve heard of Kullberg’s Army.


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