Mary Hart, wife of Jim Hart, quarterback of the St. Louis Cardinals, had thought for years about what kind of birthday present she might give him when he turned the awful age of 30. A week ago she spent $125 and hired a plane with a banner to fly over Busch Stadium, where Jim and teammates were watching a baseball game. The banner said, HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY JIM HART. Mrs. Hart, who is 28 herself, admitted, "I just wanted to rub it in. I'm not being very nice about it. I guess by Tuesday I'll be in divorce court." Mary followed up by presenting Jim with a birthday cake decorated with black roses and the inscription, IN SYMPATHY. Her sister gave Jim a gift-wrapped bottle of Geritol. "The days have passed," said Mary, "when someone like the Avon Lady will come to the door and ask Jim if his mother's home."

Hockey players Phil Esposito and Wayne Cashman will never make it as spies. As cloak-and-dagger types, they're strictly from Icegate. Two years ago they were in Russia for the Team Canada hockey series, and they've never made much noise about their caper in international intrigue there. One can understand why. The episode began when the Boston Bruin duo suspected that their room was bugged. They traced the electronic listening device to a small box concealed under a rug. "We pried the top off," Esposito reports. "Wayne then loosened a couple of things inside, trying to dismantle the thing. Then we heard a tremendous crash." That was how they detected that they had cut the support for the chandelier hanging in the room below.

Duane Bobick, the U.S. Olympic heavyweight who was expected to do well in professional boxing, has indeed won 21 consecutive matches. To celebrate his latest victory, over Lou Bailey in Norfolk, Va., Bobick dramatically stepped to the edge of the ring immediately after the bout and asked a pretty red-haired girl to climb in. She did, and Bobick made his own announcement of another ring match. This, he explained, was his wife Barbara, whom he had married secretly four days earlier. Loud applause. Clearly a knockout.

An unscheduled hurdles race saved the life of an accident victim in Mission Viejo, Calif. As Steve Markusic (of Tustin High School) and Victor Tomosovik and Wilbert Gregory (of Mission Viejo) were lining up for the 120-yard high hurdles in a dual meet, they saw a car careen off a nearby freeway, roll over six times and hit the athletic-field fence. The three hurdlers took off in unison, bounded over the fence and pulled Donald O. Knutson, 23, from the flaming wreckage.

Howard Cosell told Annapolis midshipmen that he was considering running against Senator James Buckley of New York in 1976 because "there are not 10 people in the United States better qualified to run for the Senate than Howard Cosell." The best reaction to that now-infamous remark was Buckley's. Reached for his comment on Humble Howard's plans, Buckley said, "I'd like to see the other nine people on his list."

During the Family Circle tennis tournament for women at the Sea Pines Tennis Club in South Carolina, someone was inspired to dress Chris Evert in an 1874 tennis costume. The idea was to dramatize the ceremony honoring Mary Ewing Outerbridge, who brought tennis to the U.S. 100 years ago. It certainly succeeded in that. "I'd hate to play Rosie or Billie Jean in this gear," said Chris as her mother fussed with her bustle.

It's not sex that saps physical strength but the running after it, according to research by Manfred Steinbach, professor of sports medicine at the University of Mainz in West Germany and a 1960 Olympic long jumper. "The 19th-century theory that hard sport and a cold shower quenched shameful sexual urges certainly doesn't seem to apply in the 1970s," says Steinbach, who made a survey of 800 sportsmen and women at the Olympic Games in Munich. "And coaches who think they can improve their protégés' sporting achievements by banishing them from the boudoir are wasting their time. If an athlete does feel substandard, it is not sex that has sapped his strength. It is the attendant frivolities such as drinking, dancing and dashing around until the early hours of the morning."

Jimmie McCullough of Atlantic City, N.J. hasn't missed attending a World Series game for 48 years. You might say he is a baseball fan. Accordingly, when he became the grandfather of twins on the very day that Henry Aaron hit his 715th home run, Grandpa was overjoyed. He told his son, Jimmie Jr., that if he named the boys Henry and Aaron, he'd give each of them a $715 bank account and add $10 for every subsequent homer. But there is a limit to how deep baseball runs in the McCullough family. Jimmie Jr. named the infants William and George.

For years Bruce Gossett, the 49er field-goal kicker, has been getting it from all sides about the eventual demise of the straight-on placekicker, he being one of that vanishing breed. Now Gossett has just been hired as color commentator for radio broadcasts of the games of the San Jose Earthquakes in the North American Soccer League. Asked how he obtained that job, Gossett replied, "I guess I've seen enough soccer-style kickers in the last 11 years."

TWO PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)