David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Signs, Training, Umpires

Signs

• In a race to Bermuda, Sherman Hoyt was sailing a tiny yacht when he met the huge ocean liner Monarch of Bermuda, which was making a few minor repairs. Mr. Hoyt immediately ran up some signal flags that asked, “Can I be of any assistance?”

Training

• Sports can toughen a girl—or woman. When Kristine Denise Ferrer first began to study Thailand’s national sport, Muay Thai kickboxing, in Los Angeles, she didn’t do so well. When her coach hit her, she saw stars, then she recovered enough to think, “Wait a minute, I’m a girl—you’re not supposed to do that to me.” Her legs also became very bruised from all of her workouts—she wore sweatpants to hide the bruises from other people, such as her mother. Her hard work paid off; she trained her abdominal muscles until her coach was able to drop a 20-pound medicine ball on her stomach multiple times, and she trained against other Muay Thai kickboxers, including guys. They punched and kicked her, and she punched and kicked them—and she welcomed the training as an important part of her workout.

• Chicago Bear Walter Payton developed his running ability in part through a training program that he and his brother devised that included running up and down the sandy banks of the Pearl River—when the sun was hottest. This training program forced him to adjust to the shifting sand beneath his feet and developed his balance and ability to cut. Of course, it also built up his endurance—other athletes who tried the same training program sometimes had to be carried away—after they finished vomiting.

 • At the 1896 Olympic Games in Greece, American discus thrower Robert Garrett was an underdog—he hadn’t even trained with the proper equipment. In fact, he had someone make a discus for him using as a model a drawing of an ancient athlete throwing a discus. But when he handled his first real discus at the Olympic Games, he discovered that it was lighter than the discus he had been using. His training with a heavier discus paid off—he won first place.

• Triathlete Heather Hedrick often trains on cold, windy Illinois roads during the winter. When she first started training seriously, the guys she trained with saw her shivering, so they told her, “Heather, the wind is your friend. The wind will make you strong.” After a while, whenever she trained on a cold, windy Illinois road, she would tell herself, “The wind is my friend. The wind will make me strong.”

• In the late 1980s, after going 10 years without competitive boxing, George Foreman made a comeback. To get into shape, Mr. Foreman lost over 50 pounds. In addition, he attached a heavy punching bag to the back of his truck and every day he ran behind the truck for 10 miles, punching the bag the entire distance. The difficult training paid off. In 1994, he regained the world heavyweight title.

• In modern times, an Okinawan schoolteacher named Gichin Funakoshi revived the art of karate. During typhoons, he used to climb to the top of his roof, assume the horseback stance, and attempt to keep his footing during the wind and the rain. Often, he was blown off the roof, so he used to carry a mat with him so he could land on it. All night, he would fight the typhoon.

• As a professional beach volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece works hard. At Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, her trainer, T.R. Goodman, designed a two-hour workout for her that made her vomit the first time she tried it. Nevertheless, she stuck with the training program he had designed.

Umpires

• John Tener, the President of the National League, was great friends with umpire Charlie Rigler. One day, Mr. Rigler got into a ferocious argument with a player for the New York Giants—an argument so ferocious he punched the player. Giants manager John McGraw wanted Mr. Tener to fire Mr. Rigler. At the meeting of National League president and umpire, Mr. Tener asked Mr. Rigler why he had thrown the punch. Mr. Rigler explained, “I want you to know that I kept my temper when he called me an ugly, stupid this-and-that, and I controlled myself when he said I was a blind, no-good so-and-so and every other name you can think of. That was all right. I’m an umpire. I can take that. But when he said, ‘you’re just as bad as that blankety-blank Tener that you work for,’ I couldn’t hold back any longer. I let him have it.” After hearing this explanation, Mr. Tener shouted, “YOU SHOULD HAVE KILLED HIM!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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