David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Fame, Fans, Fathers

Fame

• In the late 1970s, gymnast Leslie Russo was a top contender to represent the United States at the Moscow Olympic Games—which the U.S. ended up boycotting. As such, she was a teenage celebrity and kids from school would sometimes ask her for her autograph. She often replied, “You know me. You don’t need my autograph.” At other times, her schoolmates would ask, “Hey, Les. You going anyplace international this month?” Such fame did have its disadvantages, since some boys at school were too awed to ask her out on dates. She once said, “I’d like to meet somebody who treats me as an average person. Somebody’s who’s nice—and cute.”

• When she was a young tennis player, Monica Seles liked celebrities. At her very first Wimbledon, she glimpsed Princess Diana in the stands. This awed her so much that she couldn’t concentrate on tennis and she was quickly defeated.

Fans

• While playing for the Washington Mystics, professional women’s basketball player Chamique “Meek” Holdsclaw wore the number—23—of her favorite male professional basketball player: Michael Jordan. However, she did not choose that number because of Mr. Jordan—23 is the number of her favorite psalm. Actually, fans treat her much the same way that they treat Mr. Jordan. After she had won an award, a woman fan jumped on the stage, shook her hand, and said, “I think you are the best player ever!” Asked if that kind of thing happened often to her, Ms. Holdsclaw replied, “Yeah, kind of. But it’s OK.” And when Ms. Holdsclaw’s college team—the Tennessee Lady Vols—met Mr. Jordan, he did not need to be introduced to her—he already knew who she was, and he asked her, “What’s up, Meek?”

• At the 1974 World Championships in Munich, West Germany, Dorothy Hamill was on the ice warming up when the results of another figure skater were announced. The audience members thought that the scores were low, and they booed, making Ms. Hamill cry and skate over to her coach for reassurance because she thought that the boos were meant for her. The audience members realized what had happened and gave her a wondrous ovation when she went back out on the ice, and Ms. Hamill responded by winning a World Championship in ladies figure skating.

• After gymnast Mary Lou Retton won several medals, including the gold medal in the All-Around, at the 1984 Olympic Games, fans descended on the home of her parents in Fairmont, West Virginia, in search of souvenirs. They tore chunks of sod out of her parents’ front lawn and took them home, and someone stole her parents’ mailbox. When fan letters arrived for Mary Lou later, they had to be taken to the front door because her family no longer had a mailbox.

• Dick Stuart never won a Golden Glove award, but he did receive an ovation from the fans when he caught a bat that slipped from a batter’s hands and bounced to first base. Afterward, he was asked if that was the greatest ovation he had ever received. He replied, “Heck, no. One night in Pittsburgh 30,000 fans gave me a standing ovation when I caught a hot-dog wrapper on the fly.”

• At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Wilma Rudolph became an international celebrity after winning three gold medals in track and field. Returning home, she was besieged by fans. One overeager souvenir hunter even pulled off Ms. Rudolph’s shoes and ran away with them.

Fathers

• Andra Douglas’ father enjoyed hunting, and he belonged to a hunt club whose members frequently brought their sons along during hunts. When she was eight or nine years old, Andra begged to be taken along. At first, her father explained that girls weren’t allowed at the club, but then he said, “What’s the harm?” He got her outfitted in hunting gear—including a gun—and took her along on a hunt, which she enjoyed. They hunted together for weeks, but finally some of the other men in the hunt club called a meeting about her and told her father that she wasn’t allowed to hunt any more because she was a little girl. Her father stood up for her rights and said that if he couldn’t bring his daughter to hunts then he would quit the hunt club. Her father’s friend, Howard, backed him up. If the little girl couldn’t hunt, then he also would quit the hunt club. A bunch of other friends said the same thing, and early the next morning, Andra and her father were out in the woods of the hunt club, hunting. (By the way, Andra grew up to play quarterback in the Women’s Professional Football League.)

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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Music Recommendation: The Space Agency — “Purple Power”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Purple Power”

Album: This is a one-sided single.

Artist: The Space Agency

Artist Location: Hove, England, UK

Info:

Kahuna Cole, a fan, wrote, “There’s enough juice in this track to make me want to lace up my Van Doren skateboard shoes and take my Hobie Super Surfer skateboard out for a spin through the neighborhood!”

Price: £1 (GBP) for track

Genre: Surf. Instrumental.

Links:

“Purple Power”

https://thespaceagency.bandcamp.com/track/purple-power

The Space Agency on Bandcamp

https://thespaceagency.bandcamp.com

The Space Agency on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqhbvBaW9kVmLgcU9Xlm65g