• In 1996, comedian Elaine Boosler threw the first pitch at a Cleveland Indians game. Afterward, the Indians front office asked if they could do something for her. Ms. Boosler asked for a baseball signed by often-angry player Albert Belle, and they replied, “Wow, you really are a comedian.” By the way, at the start of the 1992 baseball season, this sign was posted over Albert Belle’s locker: “I’m going to be cool, calm, and collected this season. Yeah, right.”
• A boyfriend once gave All American Girls Professional Baseball League player Faye Dancer a diamond engagement ring. She said, “Why the heck are you giving me a ring?” — then she took the engagement ring to a jeweler, who removed the diamond and transferred it to her baseball ring.
• In 1989, the Detroit Public Schools ran out of money to fund its sports programs. One of the men who came to the rescue was Dave Bing, who had played professionally for the Detroit Pistons. He started to collect money from various sources — charities, Detroit businesses, and sports teams. In addition, the Pistons played a benefit game against a team of NBA All-Stars led by Magic Johnson. The $300,000 made by the benefit game added to the money Mr. Bing had already raised made a grand total of $600,000 — enough to run the Detroit Public Schools’ sports teams! Why did Mr. Bing make such an effort to keep the sports teams going? He said, “Without them, I don’t think some kids would be motivated to attend school.”
• At the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, the British bobsled team of Anthony Nash and Robin Dixon had the lead after the first two runs but broke a bolt in their bobsled just before their third run. Bobsledder Eugenio Monti, who was competing for Italy, showed remarkably good sportsmanship by lending the Brits a bolt from his own bobsled. The loan kept the British team from dropping out of the competition and allowed them to win the gold medal. Mr. Monti had to wait until the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, to win the gold medal.
• As a senior football player in high school, Barry Sanders, who later played professionally, rushed extremely well. In the last game of the season, his rushing helped put his team safely ahead of the other team, and he was taken out of the game to allow another player to compete. However, someone learned that Barry needed only 30 yards to become his league’s leading rusher. Barry declined to go back into the game, reasoning that the game was already won and he should not rack up more yardage against a weaker team simply to win honor for himself.
• Evonne Goolagong was born in a large family without much money in the town of Barellan, Australia. She showed great promise as a tennis player and had the opportunity to study with the great coach Victor Edwards in Sydney, 400 miles away, but her family didn’t have the money to pay for her travel and city clothes. Fortunately, the people of Barellan took up a collection to pay her expenses. In 1971, Evonne won the women’s championship at Wimbledon.
• The world fell in love with Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Not only did she revolutionize gymnastics with high-difficulty and high-risk feats, she exhibited a winning personality to the audience. In the finals of the women’s all-around competition, Olga fell off the uneven bars. As Olga was crying afterward, a woman in the audience jumped over a barrier, ran to her, and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
• Tennis star Billie Jean King needed money early in her career to go to Wimbledon — at the time tennis was regarded as a sport for amateurs, not professionals, and amateurs weren’t allowed to make money. To raise the money for her to go to Wimbledon, the city of Long Beach, California, pitched in. Ms. King rewarded Long Beach with several Wimbledon championships, both in singles and in doubles.
• When Barry Sanders was a junior in high school, his football coach asked if he wanted to play tailback, a position that would allow him to use his great speed. However, Barry declined, preferring to play wingback on offense and defensive back. Why? His brother was the starting tailback, and Barry did not want to compete against him for the position.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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