- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

It would be presumptuous to assume golf was Ralph Bogart’s whole life — after all, he ran an insurance business in Bethesda with longtime links partner Bobby Brownell and helped raise a family. But there weren’t many things in his life more important than the sport he loved.

Dick Slay, a retired golf writer for the old Washington Star and copy editor for The Washington Times, recalled Brownell’s reaction after Bogart married Una Bohrer Bogart in 1945: “She didn’t know what she was getting herself into.”

You might call Bogart, who died of congestive heart failure Feb.22 at age 84, more than a little bit obsessed. “Ralph liked to play a tournament every week, and he’d go to any length to find one,” Brownell once told Slay.

Bogart didn’t hide his love affair with the game. When he proposed to Una, he told her the truth: “I have a bad habit.”

According to Slay, Una was baffled. “He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink — what could it be?” she wondered.

“I play golf.”

Said Una a half-century later: “I didn’t know anybody could be so addicted to a game.”

Many others are, too, but few enjoy as much success as Bogart, who won 10 Maryland State Amateur titles and qualified for 31 U.S. Golf Association Championship tournaments in addition to dozens of other accomplishments at the sport’s competitive and executive levels. Small wonder that he is a member of the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame.

Ralph even got sick on the golf course — and not because of a lousy shot, either. He was officiating on the second hole of the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., when he felt ill and required a replacement. The next day he suffered cardiac arrest, and a triple bypass followed a year later.

During Bogart’s long golf career, opponents never had to wonder whether he was cheating. Brownell remembered him this way: “As far as I know, he’s never told a lie. He’s the most honest person I’ve ever known.”

That’s a fitting epitaph for one of the best amateur golfers this area has produced.

LeBron’s on the bubble

In case you were worried about LeBron James’ continued financial solvency, you’ll be glad to know the Cleveland Cavaliers’ super rook has snapped up a four-year, $5million endorsement contract with Bubblicious bubble gum, increasing his sponsorship deals to nearly $135million.

The 19-year-old chomps away during games, you see, and occasionally blows a bubble or two — making him a natural fit for London-based Cadbury Schweppes PLC, which has inflicted Bubblicious on the Western world.

According to James’ agent, Aaron Goodwin, Bubblicious will have a James-inspired flavor — and you can make your own guess what that means.

We can only hope that LeBron, with everything else he has on his plate, hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew.

Jolie carries a torch

News item: Angelina Jolie — yummy lips and all — will trade her leather “Lara Croft” outfit for a track suit to be one of the final torchbearers at the Summer Olympics in Athens.

Comment: What, J.Lo wasn’t available?

Flip-flop for Osborne

Funny how politics can change somebody’s perspective, right? After five years of watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers from a private skybox, former coach and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne wants to sit with the common folk.

“We’re just thinking it’s time to buy some tickets and go out and live like everyone else,” Osborne told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The decision is not a reflection on anything that’s happened in the football program.”

The Republican congressman is running for re-election this fall, of course, but we’re sure that had nothing to do with his change of heart.

Paying homage

District native Ronald Horton became the latest former area basketball star to have his jersey (No.24) retired when Delaware State University made him its first player so honored.

Horton, retired chief of the Financial Report Branch of the U.S. Census Bureau, played for Delaware State from 1964 to 1968 and holds the school record for rebounds with 1,384. His career average of 21.6 a game ranks in the top 10 of all Division II players with at least 900. An injury ended his playing career after he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls of the NBA and Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA in 1968.

A bad bet for Pete

News item: Pete Rose fails to win election to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Comment: Well, there’s always Mexico.

Albert, oh Albert

What’s so hard about raising funds for a ballpark in the District or Northern Virginia? Somebody should just call Albert Pujols.

The St. Louis Cardinals first baseman says he wants to build a stadium in his native Dominican Republic, preferably in the capital of Santo Domingo. “I have some people helping me find the land,” Pujols said. “I want to donate a stadium to the young people of my country. With a baseball stadium, I’ll be returning the great support that I’ve received from Dominicans in my short career.”

Pujols can afford to be generous. Recently, he signed a seven-year, $110million contract, making him just the ninth ballplayer to surpass $100million. And how do you suppose Cardinals icon Stan “the Man” Musial — top annual salary: $125,000 — feels about that?

Eminently quotable

Detroit Tigers infielder and 2003 survivor Dmitri Young, reporting to spring training after making a recent appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show: “I’m so excited to be back, to see [new catcher] Pudge Rodriguez out there throwing. … Right now, I’m like, ‘Yes, yes’ — and now Oprah Winfrey — wow!”

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