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

Fathers

• When he was growing up, Hank Aaron both had trouble in school and wanted to be a baseball player. At one point, he was suspended from school but did not tell his parents. Instead, he pretended that he was still going to school. He would enter the school at the front entrance but immediately exit through the rear door. Then he would go to a pool hall and do such things as listen to the radio so he could hear the games that Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers. One day, his father found out what he was doing and walked into the pool hall and took Hank out for an important talk. His father explained that each morning he gave Hank two quarters so that Hank could get a good lunch and concentrate on getting his education. Meanwhile, his father left home each day with only one quarter in his pocket for his lunch. That is how important Hank’s education was for Hank’s father—Hank’s education was more important than his father’s stomach. After the talk, Hank agreed to start attending a new school, and yes, he did graduate from the school.

• Professional boxer Muhammad Ali is a good father. When they were very little, his daughters Laila and Hana would get up early and make him a cup of “coffee.” They did this by pouring various edible liquids they found in the kitchen into a cup and taking it to him to drink. Being the good father he is, Mr. Ali drank every drop, kissed them, and praised them for the goodness of their “coffee.”

• After Ekaterina Gordeeva won the gold medal in pairs skating (with Sergei Grinkov) at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, her Russian father did what he always did when Ekaterina won an important award. He filled a glass goblet with champagne, put the gold medal in the goblet, and let family and friends take a sip to celebrate her victory.

• When Monica Seles was a little girl growing up in Yugoslavia and learning to play tennis, her father, a cartoonist, gave her lessons. He sometimes drew the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry, a cat and mouse, on a tennis ball for her to play with. The cartoon characters reminded her that she must play competitive tennis as if she were a cat hunting a mouse.

• The Zamboni, which maintains the ice at skating rinks, may be the most favorite sports machine—it definitely has its fans. Just like the top skating stars of the National Hockey League, the Zamboni has had a trading card devoted to it.

Fights

• Major-league umpire Jocko Conlan saw a bad fight on the diamond in San Francisco—no one was hurt because everyone was fighting so badly. Daryl Spencer slid into Don Hoak at third base, they had words and started fighting, then the other players started fighting. Mr. Conlan looked around, and what he saw was pitiful. Players weren’t throwing punches; instead, it looked like they were hugging each other. He told the managers, “You know the rules in this league. Anybody who gets in a fight on the field has to leave the ball game. But if you can get these fellows back to the dugouts immediately, I won’t throw anybody out.” They did, and the game continued. After the game, reporters wanted to know why Mr. Conan hadn’t thrown any players out of the game. He replied, “If it was a good fight, I would have thrown a dozen of them out. But it was a lousy fight. I didn’t see one punch thrown. Why throw them out for not fighting?”

• On June 22, 1938, heavyweight champion Joe Louis fought a rematch against Max Schmeling, who had defeated him in 1936. One of Joe’s trainers asked before the fight how he felt. Mr. Louis replied, “I’m afraid.” The trainer asked, “Afraid?” “Yeah,” Mr. Louis said, “I’m afraid I might kill Schmeling tonight.” Mr. Lewis didn’t kill Mr. Schmeling, but he did knock him out two minutes and four seconds into the first round.

• After jockey Julie Krone won a race by 10 lengths, competing jockey Miguel Rujano whipped her across the face. With her ear bleeding, Ms. Krone told the bystanders, “Excuse me, I have to go hit somebody,” then she punched her attacker’s nose. Ms. Krone’s assertiveness paid off when she became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, in 1993.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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