• The most dominant basketball player who ever lived is probably Bill Russell, who led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championships. But even he was not that good when he started out. As a third-string center on the JV team at McClymonds High School in Oakland, CA, he suited up for only half of the games. According to Mr. Russell, “We had 15 uniforms and 16 players, so another guy and I split [the use of] the 15th uniform.”
• Kristi Yamaguchi won the gold medal in women’s ice skating at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games. She had started ice skating as a little girl for a very good reason. She was born with a clubfoot—her foot turned inward too much—and her parents felt that skating would help to straighten her legs. The skating, in combination with corrective shoes and a brace she wore at night, worked. She did not need surgery to fix the clubfoot.
• Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in men’s figure skating, was adopted. When as an infant he became a member of Dorothy and Ernie Hamilton’s family, Susan, their daughter, asked why he was so wrinkled and if they could get a different baby. Soon she learned to love her new brother, and she even had him visit her school so she could use him for her show-and-tell presentation.
• Gymnast Mary Lou Retton has very muscular legs. Of course, that is due to heredity and training, but her family joked that Mary Lou got the muscles in her legs from constantly being sent on errands by her older siblings and parents when she was young. Because she was the youngest of five children, she was constantly hearing, “Run upstairs and do that” or “Go and get me this.”
• When he was six years old, Ken Griffey, Jr., watched his father play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. After his father struck out in a game, young Ken called out in support, “That pitcher’s got nothing.” However, after his father struck out a second time, young Ken got a laugh by calling out, “Dad, you got nothing.” (Even his father, who often batted over .300 in a season, laughed.)
• Ekaterina Gordeeva, the winner of two Olympic gold medals in pairs skating with Sergei Grinkov, started skating when she was only four years old. Despite being so young, she took skating seriously, and early in the morning, when it was time to get ready to be driven to practice, she would wake her parents and tell them, “I can’t miss it. It’s my job.”
• When figure skater Sonja Henie was five years old, she won a skating race and was awarded a small silver paper cutter. Thereafter, the paper cutter became a good-luck charm for her, and she kept it always. Ms. Henie died in 1969, but the small silver paper cutter can still be seen in a museum dedicated to her in her native Oslo, Norway.
• Amy Grossman was half of a figure skating pairs team with Robert Davenport. She has a twin sister named Karen, and the easiest way to tell them apart is by looking at a slight birthmark Amy has on her cheek. When they were youngsters, Karen sometimes drew a fake birthmark on her cheek, and they pretended to be each other.
• As a young figure skater, Dorothy Hamill was pleasantly surprised to discover that in competitions, she was called a lady, even though she was only 10 years old. Many other young girls have also been pleasantly surprised to discover that in figure-skating competitions, all females are called ladies.
• Some children have positive mental attitudes. A boy once took a baseball and a ball into his backyard. He threw the baseball into the air, swung the bat, and missed. He tried to hit the baseball a second time, and then a third, but he missed each time—so he marveled, “Gosh, what a pitcher!”
• Sometimes, people make fun of male figure skaters because they see figure skating as a female sport. This never bothered figure skater Ron Kravette because he enjoyed being the only boy in the midst of many girls. (Besides, he had a beautiful ice dance partner: Amy Webster.)
• Muriel Grossfeld competed in women’s gymnastics for the United States at the Melbourne, Rome, and Tokyo Olympic Games. As a child, she demonstrated her balancing ability by reading entire comic books while standing on her head.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Buy