NOW YOU KNOW
Sportscaster Keith Olbermann, who does a program called My Side on UPI's radio network, is fascinated by the number of times athletes fall back on the verbal crutch "you know." Several months ago, when he heard Mark Aguirre of DePaul and the U.S. Olympic basketball team come up with a record nine "you knows" in only 18 seconds, Olbermann wondered if anyone could ever surpass Aguirre's average of .500 "you knows" per second. Accordingly, he set up The Official You Know Sanctioning Board and began playing taped interviews of possible challengers to Aguirre on his program. There is now a new champion, Mike Easier of the Pirates, who let drop an incredible 16 "you knows" in just 29 seconds, good for a .551 mark.
Easler's mouth outdid George Brett's bat when he answered the question, "The Braves have beaten you two straight, Mike...you guys in a slump?" Said Easier, "I think, you know (1), the guys are, you know (2), we're playing hard, you know (3), we're playing, you know (4), we're going out there giving everything we've got—I know I am, and I know the other guys are, you know (5). It's just sometimes, you know (6), you get guys that's hot like Matthews, he's swinging the bat real good this series, you know (7), and these guys been throwing good ball games. You get a guy like Niekro, I mean, you know (8), they can pitch, you know (9), and these guys come against us, you know(10), they just love to knock off a pennant contender like us, you know (11), and, you know (12), they're just loosey-goosey, you know (13), they just go out there and just, you know (14), just try to just bury us, you know (15), but the thing is, we're playing our type of baseball, you know (16), and the breaks been going their way."
THE GAME OF THE NAME
Tom (Hollywood) Henderson, the former Cowboys linebacker currently with the 49ers, missed some 25 days of practice during the exhibition season because of assorted minor injuries. His teammates now have a new nickname for him: Holiday Henderson.
September 14, 1980
HURDLING TOWARD A SHOWDOWN
With 54 straight finals victories and the nine fastest times in history to his credit, Edwin Moses has dominated the 400-meter hurdles as few, if any, trackmen have any event. But Moses soon may be getting a challenge from Renaldo Nehemiah, the preeminent 110-meter hurdler. Nehemiah has run the four fastest times ever in the 110, including the world record of 13 flat, and he says his only remaining objective is to smash the 13-second barrier. In the meantime, he expects to take up the 400. "I'm a hurdler and there is another hurdle event out there—the 400," Nehemiah says. "I don't know how Moses feels, but there's no one giving him much of a challenge and there's no one giving me much of a challenge. I think it would be interesting for both of us if we got together."
The 110 is a sprint over 42-inch hurdles, while the 400 is a grueling test of stamina over 36-inch hurdles. Nevertheless, some athletes have done well at both (Mike Shine, the silver medalist behind Moses in the 400 in the 1976 Olympics, was a finalist in the U.S. Trials in the 110 the same year), and Nehemiah is an uncommonly versatile athlete. A onetime high school quarterback, he is skilled at tennis and basketball and he astonished his Maryland track teammates by bowling a 235 game the first time he tried that sport. At the 1979 Penn Relays he ran an anchor leg in the 4 x 200 and the 4 x 400 relays in 19.4 and 44.3 respectively, both extraordinary times. His former college coach, Frank Costello, said last year, "The first time he steps on the track he'll run 48 in the intermediates." Moses' world record is 47.13.
Informed of Nehemiah's plans, Moses told SI's John Papanek, "Tell him to come on in. Doesn't make a bit of difference to me. There are a lot of people challenging him in his event. He's just one step ahead most of the time and he does lose races. By the time I finish competing, it will be the year 2000 before anybody beats my time."
STARS IN HIS EYES
More than 8,000 memorabiliaphiles jammed the grand ballroom of the Marriott Hotel near the Los Angeles International Airport over the Labor Day weekend for the First Annual National Sports Collectors Convention. Promoted by three avid collectors—Gavin Riley, Mike Berkus and Steve Brunner—the convention attracted some 150 exhibitors who paid $50 each for a six-foot-by-30-inch table on which to display their wares. Old Yankee yearbooks sold for upwards of $30, double the price of any other team's; a 1952 Illustrated Football Annual went for $20; and a 1952 Topps bubble-gum card of Mickey Mantle fetched $675 at auction the first day. Dealer Fred Lynch, who sells uniforms of players of note, was asking $500 for a Carl Yastrzemski shirt, $100 for a Lakers' jersey that had been worn by Cazzie Russell and $250 for an entire Golden State uniform, including warmup jacket, that once belonged to Rick Barry.
One dealer, Wes Parker, the former Dodger first baseman, would've been able to sell his own uniform had he chosen to do so. Now a broadcaster, Parker said that he had made back the $50 table-rental fee in the first hour, selling baseball cards. As a boy in affluent Brentwood, where he lived up the street from Gary Cooper and Cesar Romero, Parker collected baseball cards and Donald Duck and Little Lulu comic books. He also followed the old Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League with a passion. In high school he lost interest in collecting, but the spark returned. Parker said, "the minute I quit baseball with the Dodgers. I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and ran into one of those secondhand bookshops selling baseball cards and comic books. That's when I realized the old cards and books I had were now very valuable. My mom went up and pulled them all out of the attic."
Parker added, "I was fortunate. The key to saving your cards from when you were a kid is your mom. Talk to any of these guys buying. They tell me, 'I had all those cards you're selling, but my mother threw them away.' "
Parker attended the convention not only to sell duplicate cards from his own collection but also to spread the word that he collects anything pertaining to the Hollywood Stars, a team that was disbanded when the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958. To advertise his interest, he wore a Stars road jersey that he got from the Dodger equipment man, Nobe Kawano, who once held the same job with the Stars. The shirt, in fact, is the only Hollywood item in Parker's collection, and he is so eager to acquire more material that he plans to run a want ad in the Los Angeles Times. "Somebody out there must have some mementos of the old Hollywood Stars," Parker said. "Playing for the Stars was my dream. I'd have given up my entire major league career to have worn a Stars uniform."
Did Soviet athletes do well in the Olympics because they took a drug extracted from a thorny, creeping plant? "Undoubtedly," says Dr. Stephen Fulder, a gerontologist, writing in the respected British weekly New Scientist, which bills his story on its cover as "The mystery herb that won the Olympics."
The drug, reports Fulder, both in New Scientist and his new book The Root of Being, comes from a shrub related to ginseng and known scientifically as Eleutherococcus senticosus. "Despite its extensive use in the Soviet Union for 20 years, authorities in the West know almost nothing about it," Fulder writes, even though it is now sold in U.S. health-food stores, drugstores and supermarkets as Eleutherococcus or "Siberian ginseng." And what does the drug do? According to Fulder, the Soviets believe it increases stamina and improves performance. The Soviets ran across Eleutherococcus while testing Far Eastern plants for medicinal properties. They gave it to mice that were then forced to swim to the point of exhaustion. The drug reportedly prolonged swimming time by up to 44%. Next, Fulder writes. Professor Israel Brekhman, director of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biologically Active Substances in Vladivostok, gave the drug to a large group of runners before a 10-km. race. Those who took it supposedly performed better than those given a placebo. This prompted Professor A.V. Korobkov to experiment with 1,500 athletes at the Lesgraft Institute of Physical Culture and Sports in Moscow; according to Fulder's article, Korobkov found that the drug "could increase endurance as well as reflexes and concentration, particularly in the longer events. It was especially useful at increasing the amount of training that the athlete could tolerate without harm."
Fulder's article and book are bound to arouse interest, but one U.S. researcher who has worked with Eleutherococcus, Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, a psychopharmacologist with the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA Medical Center, says, "One should be very cautious about coming to strong conclusions about its effectiveness. Much of the preclinical and clinical research in the Soviet Union is based on poorly controlled studies with nonstandardized preparations." Siegel says that persons in this country who have taken the drug extract and whom he has examined say they feel stimulated. They also report feeling an increase in both energy and psychomotor efficiency. However, Siegel points out, everyone who took it showed an increase in blood pressure and nervousness, and those who took Eleutherococcus in large doses over a period of time also suffered from hypertension, skin eruptions, edema, nervousness, sleeplessness and morning diarrhea.
NOT QUITE CRICKET
Readers of The Times of London were doubtless surprised last week by the story on the "floodlit baseball international" played in Hull between Great Britain and France. Beneath a subhead that read, "One corner of an English field that is forever foreign," Keith Macklin reported, "The weather played a vile trick.... It poured with rain all day and the crowd was reduced from an expected 5,000 to 1,500. Nor was this the only blow for baseball in Britain. France won 13-1 after going seven up in the first two innings."
The British were handicapped from the start because their star pitcher, Peter Darnell, an office worker, was unable to play because of a broken leg. "He was hurt in a league game a week before when he slid too desperately and too hard into a base," Macklin noted. To make matters worse, "Great Britain were guilty of several fielding errors in the early stages of the match; when they tightened up their game it was too late. Some consolation was gained on Sunday when a Humberside team took on the French at Burton Constable, an attractive village site, and narrowed the margin to 5-3.
"If all this causes a raising of the eyebrows, further incredulity may be occasioned by the fact that in August 1937, a crowd of more than 11,000 watched a national baseball cup final at Craven Park rugby ground, Hull, between Hull and Romford Wasps and showed such unbounded enthusiasm at Hull's 5-1 victory that they broke down the barriers and invaded the pitch."
Before World War II, professional baseball was played in Hull, Romford, London and the Midlands, Macklin reported, but only the amateur game is played now. The chief force behind it is Don Smallwood, general secretary of the British Amateur Baseball and Softball Federation. Many Britons regard baseball with "caustic cynicism" because of its similarity to the children's game of rounders, but Smallwood argues that "it's a fast, tough, exciting and very masculine form of rounders. The ball is hard, and the outside stitching can cause some nasty cuts."
THEY SAID IT
•Karl Kremser, onetime Miami Dolphin placekicker, on why he quit coaching soccer at Davidson College: "I thought that the school had a commitment to soccer, but that wasn't the case.... Its emphasis was on academics."
•Donnie Duncan, Iowa State football coach, speaking about Running Back Michael Wade, a high school quarter-mile champion: "I guess Wade is the man we'll turn to when it's third-and-a-quarter mile to go."