David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Media, Money


• Jack Murphy, a sportswriter for the San Diego Union, was assigned to cover the Rose Bowl, but he decided to first do some skiing in the mountains above Lake Arrowhead. He had a grand time and waited until the last minute before heading to the Rose Bowl. Fortunately, he was able to drive fast and — despite a snowstorm — make it to the Rose Bowl in time to cover it. However, he startled many football fans who stood in the warm sun and stared at Mr. Murphy’s car, which was covered with snow and ice.

• The New York Times hired its first woman sports editor in the late 1970s, and women’s sports began to get considerably more coverage than when the Times had a male sports editor. On June 1, 1980, this headline appeared in the Times: “Massachusetts Woman Takes Weight-Lifting Title.” The article reported that Leslie Sewall had won the 114-pound national AAU title. Unfortunately, the headline had gotten one thing wrong — Leslie Sewall is a man.

• Olga Korbut astonished the world at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich with her revolutionary and high-risk gymnastics feats. As she performed a back somersault and recatch on the uneven bars, news commentator George Madux could say only, “Oh! My! Wow!” When he was asked if Olga’s feat had ever been accomplished before, he replied, “Not by any human.”

• Ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean received over 100 perfect 6’s in their career, but their first perfect 6 came in the 1979 British championships and was given to them by an octogenarian named Molly Phillips, who was rumored to give perfect 6’s so that her face would appear on TV.

• In a column he wrote for Catholic New York, Cardinal John O’Connor criticized the playing of professional baseball games on Sunday. The New York Post covered the controversy in an article headlined “Sermon on the Mound.”

• Chess world champion Gary Kasparov has an interesting way of dealing with reporters he doesn’t want to talk to — he ignores them. Eventually, the reporters go away.


• Some members of Charlie Barnet’s jazz band decided to go swimming in San Francisco on a very hot day, so they plugged the cracks under the doors of their hotel room, turned on the water full force in the bathtub and let the water overflow. Eventually, they had a foot and a half or two feet of water on the floor, and they had a grand time “swimming” until the water leaked through the floor into the hotel room below. The hotel management, of course, was upset and brought in Mr. Barnet to see the damage. Mr. Barnet was also upset, and after calling his band members a few unprintable names, said, “The least you could have done was invite me.”

• Years ago, sportscasters Chris Schenkel, Bud Wilkerson, and O.J. Simpson were on TV commenting on the Hula Bowl, which is played in Hawaii. At a pause in the game, a TV camera showed a young lady, and Mr. Schenkel asked, “Bud, isn’t that the young lady who gave us a lei before the game?”


• When professional baseball teams started to pay for the wives of All-Stars to attend the All-Star game, the single All-Stars complained, and so they were allowed to bring along a parent, sibling, or friend at the team’s expense. In 1984, Damaso Garcia was an All-Star, and he asked his friend Alfredo Griffin, an infielder, to go with him. When they arrived at the All-Star game, they discovered that infielder Alan Trammel had been hurt, and Mr. Griffin, since he was already there, was asked to take his place. Ironically, Mr. Griffin could never become an All-Star on his own merits, but he had an incentive clause in his contract saying he would receive a $25,000 bonus if he became an All-Star. Since he indisputably was on an All-Star team, he received his $25,000.

• Willie Johnson, a caddie of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland, got his nickname of “Trap Door” because of how he used to make extra income. Claiming that one leg was shorter than the other, he had a special boot made with a hollow sole and a metal door. Inside the sole he used to trap the “lost” golf balls of the people he caddied for. His special boot could hold up to six “lost” balls, which he would resell for extra income.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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