David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Alcohol, Animals, Audiences

Alcohol

• At a caddie tournament at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland, first prize was a turkey and second prize was a bottle of whiskey. Andrew “Andra’” Kirkaldy and his brother, Hugh Kirkaldy, were ahead of the pack at the last hole. To win the tournament, Hugh needed a five, but instead he deliberately took seven, saying, “Andra’ can have the turkey — the bottle of whiskey is more in my line!”

Animals

• Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston once lived in a house in a very bad part of Toronto. On the street outside his house, prostitutes freely worked their trade. One day, Mr. Cranston’s pet dog, Minkus, an English setter, turned up missing. Mr. Cranston was frantic, and as he searched the neighborhood, he enlisted the help of every prostitute and every street person he could find. He remembers one Danish prostitute telling a john who tried to buy her wares, “I can’t. I’m looking for a dog,” as she teetered down an alley on stiletto heels. Eventually, the dog, which had been stolen, was found, and Mr. Cranston had a cocktail party for all the prostitutes and street people who had helped him in the search. At the party, all the guests — men and women — were on their best behavior, saying, “Can I pass this?” and “Can I wash that?” Even though the house was filled with works of art — Mr. Cranston was an artist and an art collector — nothing was stolen.

• In 1971, Bill Pickett became the first African American to be inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, which is located at the Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Pickett invented the rodeo event known as bulldogging, in which a cowboy grabs a steer by the horns, twists them, and forces the steer to fall to the ground. Mr. Pickett’s style of bulldogging was different from that used today. He used to grab the steer by the horns, bite into its upper lip, then throw himself to the ground. Invariably, the steer would follow. He came up with this idea by watching dogs handle longhorn cattle, which often hid in brush where a cowboy could not lasso them. The dogs would bite into the steer’s upper lip and hold the steer until the cowboy arrived. Today, biting into a steer’s upper lip is banned as being cruel to the steer.

• Back in the 1970s, a race tracker was envious of jockey Mary Bacon’s car, a Toronado, so he asked her, “You got some man supporting you to be able to afford a car like that?” Ms. Bacon worked hard riding horses to be able to afford that car, so she replied, “Yeah. He’s got four legs and he’s standing in barn 43. Name’s John the Hiker. All you got to do is hit him on the *ss and he runs. You hit a two-legger in the *ss and he just stands there.”

Audiences

• As a competitor, the most extraordinary moment of figure skating that Toller Cranston ever saw involved a very ill Bob McAvoy and his pairs partner, Mary Petrie. Mr. McAvoy’s dream was to go to the World Championships, and he had the opportunity to do just that in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, in 1970. Unfortunately, he became very ill on the plane trip to Yugoslavia and went straight to a hospital as soon as he arrived. Nevertheless, he forced himself to compete on the ice. The first half of the performance went well, but then Mr. McAvoy’s illness caught up with him, making him weak, and he dropped his partner on the ice as he himself fell. The two lay on the ice for a few seconds as their music continued playing, then they got up, bruised and bleeding from their fall. Mr. McAvoy made a gesture to his partner that asked, “Would you like to continue?” Ms. Petrie did, and at this point the audience came alive, cheering them on with such enthusiasm that they skated the performance of a lifetime, followed by an enormous ovation from the crowd. Their scores reflected their fall, but Mr. Cranston says, “It was a moment when skating took a back seat to integrity, sportsmanship, and the belief that nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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