"Here I am in New York," said Elvin Hayes, "and some guy I never saw before is on his feet waving my old school jersey. We were playing the Knicks and I looked up during the game and there is this guy in the stands holding up my old University of Houston jersey. You know, No. 44." The guy came down to the floor after the game and asked Hayes to sign the garment in question. Unfortunately, Hayes did not ask for the fan's autograph in return—he would have had the name of the first thief at work in the Basketball Hall of Fame, the man who stole the shirt right off the back of the mannequin of Elvin Hayes.
On New Year's Day Sandy Koufax and Anne Heath Widmark were married quietly in a civil ceremony at the home of the bride, whose father is Actor Richard Widmark. A man of some reserve, Koufax was not available for comment after the announcement of his engagement nor after the wedding, but why he chose Miss Widmark is no mystery. Having evaded the pursuit of young women for years, last June Sandy was forced to introduce himself to Anne at Malibu Beach—she had no idea who he was.
Tom Haverstock, tackle on Michigan's 1965 Rose Bowl team, boarded Allegheny Airlines flight 736 on Christmas Eve en route home to Harrisburg, Pa. for the holidays. Three miles short of the runway of the Brad-ford-McKean Airport in northwestern Pennsylvania, the plane went down and 20 of the 47 passengers died. "When the plane came to a halt I was strapped upside down in my seat," Haverstock said later. "I unhooked the seat belt and fell down. When I got up I pulled out a lady behind me, right through a hole in the plane." Haverstock then led a group which pulled 17 more survivors from the wreckage and kept them warm by successfully kindling fires, though the snow was two feet deep and the weather so cold one passenger froze to death before he could be helped from the plane. Haverstock was later taken to a Kane, Pa. hospital—not a festive place to spend Christmas Eve, but he was grateful to be there.
Connie Dinkier, owner of the Palm Bay Club, took Actor Hugh O'Brian, Sonny Werblin, Eddie Arcaro and Tiny Tim to the Orange Bowl game where, he says, some 15,000 people mobbed Tim. But Tim's mind was elsewhere. "I'm very worried about the Maple Leafs," he said. "They're in fourth place and I'm afraid they're going to be in trouble this year. I still don't believe they have that Clutch Kennedy who always comes through." As to the Orange Bowl game, Tim was more vague. "Just so wonderful and colorful," he did say, "but I don't know too much about football. Mr. Ken Avery of the Giants was telling me how rough it can be—he makes it sound as if it's sometimes rougher than being on stage!"
January 13, 1969
East and West, in the persons of Miss Arunee Leeaphorn and Mr. Rod Gilbert, have met and now propose to remain together until death do them part. Miss Leeaphorn came from Bangkok, Thailand, to study at Columbia University in Manhattan, and about two years ago a photograph of Ranger Hockey Star Gilbert on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED took her fancy. Arunee investigated, discovered a Rangers Fan Club, attended a meeting, met Rod and took his fancy. "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley" perhaps, but the schemes o' the ladies gang aft exactly as planned.
Another football player who put in some cold and imperiled moments during the holidays was Dave Szymakowski, a rookie flanker for the Saints. Szymakowski was visiting a friend, Kenneth Noonan, and the two young men were taking pictures of the sea off Magnolia, Mass. "I wanted to show him the sights," Noonan said. One of the sights he failed to point out in time was an oncoming 30-foot wave. Noonan scrambled to safety, but Szymakowski was swept out to sea, where he struggled desperately for half an hour before the Coast Guard picked him up. "All I could think of was that I was going to die," he said later, and indeed he would have, the Coast Guard observed, had he not been in such excellent physical condition.
Looking through his closet the other day, Doug Sanders, of all people, found he didn't have a thing to wear. Sanders is at present engaged in writing a five-part series of articles for one of the women's magazines on proper golfing apparel for both men and women, but on this occasion he was going deer hunting in central Texas. "For the first time in my memory," he confided, "I went downtown and bought some slacks off the rack, some $8 jeans." What a comedown! On Sanders' last hunt he wore mohair slacks, an alpaca sweater and alligator loafers.
Dr. Denton Cooley of Houston, who has performed 16 heart transplants, was voted Man of the Year in Texas by an overwhelming majority, but he is still not quite famous enough. While accepting the award, Dr. Cooley—an avid sports fan—recalled the Texas-Houston game last season, when a woman sitting nearby fainted. Dr. Cooley went to her aid and found her in no serious difficulty, but when the woman came to she said, "Young man, can you get me a doctor?" Cooley said that he was a doctor and gave her his name. She didn't believe him. "Her husband went right on watching the football game," Cooley said, "and I missed the entire third quarter." Muttering a few Hippocratic oaths, no doubt.