• Ty Cobb may have been a great baseball player, but he was a mean baseball player—he even sharpened the spikes of his cleats so he could hurt opposing basemen when he slid into them. His Detroit Tigers once played a 7-game series against a team composed of black and Cuban baseball players—and Ty especially hated blacks. Attempting to steal, he raised his spikes high as he slid, all the better to hurt second baseman John Henry Lloyd. However, Mr. Lloyd was prepared for Ty. Underneath his baseball stockings, Mr. Lloyd wore cast-iron shin guards, and he tagged Ty out. Ty tried twice more to steal, but he made an out each time. After the third time he made an out trying to steal, he swore that that was the last time he would play against black players.
• Two African-American athletes were recruited to play basketball at Indiana University—but they each received a letter with this message: “Our quota of Negroes has been filled.” Oh! Bad decision, and not just because of the bad morality. The two athletes were Bob Gibson, an excellent all-around athlete who is now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Oscar Robertson, who is now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
• Ellen Cornish wasn’t allowed to run distance events in high-school track meets because she was a girl. In 1972, she was finally told that she could run in one track meet, but that any points she scored would not be counted. However, at the end of the seventh lap she was pulled off the track and not allowed to finish the race because the officials were afraid that she would win and embarrass the boy competitors.
• In 1923, an unconscious player won a football game. Texas Christian University defeated Terrell Prep 63-0, but for a while it looked as if it would have to forfeit the game because of a lack of players on the field. Texas Christian had only 20 players, and many of them had been injured and were sitting on the bench. Late in the game, only 10 healthy players remained, and a referee informed the Texas Christian coach that unless he could put 11 players on the field, his team would be forced to forfeit the game. One injured player, Ernest Lowry, volunteered to go in the game, but due to his injuries, he fainted when he stood up. Thinking quickly, the coach placed Mr. Lowry’s body on the football field, barely inbounds and far from the action, but still behind the line of scrimmage. The closing seconds ticked away, and Texas Christian won the game.
• At the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, the United States women’s softball team was favored to win the gold medal, but a drought of hits despite excellent pitching led to losses against Japan, China, and Australia. Suddenly, it was possible for the United States team to go home without a medal of any color. Therefore, the team members performed an “exorcism” of their bad luck. They showered in their uniforms with the water going full blast to wash the bad luck away. They flushed the toilets repeatedly to flush away the bad luck. And they passed around a softball. Whoever held the softball had to say something good and uplifting. The “exorcism” worked. The team won all of its remaining games, defeating all of the teams that had previously defeated them, and won the gold medal.
• At times, professional golfers need a few moments to be alone, and getting time to be alone can be difficult. To solve this problem, Peter Jacobsen will sometimes go into a bathroom stall and shut the door. Most media and other people will leave him alone at a time like that; however, in cases where someone is especially persistent in trying to talk to him, Mr. Jacobsen will sometimes make use of a toy that produces the sound of passing gas. He says, “Even sportswriters are bright enough to understand that if a guy’s eaten a bad burrito or some extra-strength chili, he needs to be left alone for a few minutes.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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