In his native Sweden, Pelle Lindbergh, the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender, was a hero of the highest order. He was goalie on Sweden's 1980 bronze-medal Olympic team, and last summer, after he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie, thousands of his countrymen turned out to honor him in Stockholm. When Lindbergh, 26, died last week of injuries suffered in a Nov. 10 automobile accident in Somerdale, N.J., Sweden's largest newspaper, Expressen, devoted 14 pages to him. "Not even if the king died would we have more than 14 pages," said Expressen photographer Hasse Persson. "Bjorn [Borg] was admired for being a good and successful tennis player, but Bjorn could also be cold. People loved Pelle for his warmth, the fact that he was always happy. That's why it's a difficult situation. It was easy to become friends with him."
Lindbergh's colleagues in the NHL felt the same way. Flyers captain Dave Poulin said, "I had my own nickname for Pelle. I called him 'P.F.' When somebody asked what it meant, I'd tell them 'Philadelphia Flyers.' In reality, it meant 'personal friend.' " Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky told the Philadelphia Daily News, "Win or lose, he'd lift his mask at the end of the game and he'd have a smile on his face." Gretzky recalled that after he had scored four goals against Lindbergh in the 1983 All-Star Game and had won an automobile as the game's MVP, the goalie shook his hand, winked and said, "You owe me half the car."
Lindbergh's easy manner drew people close. "I've cried at deaths, but it was always because I felt bad for somebody else's loss," said teammate Mark Howe. "This is the first time I wept for me. I had never lost someone from my immediate family before."
November 25, 1985
In eulogizing Lindbergh at the Spectrum last Thursday, Bernie Parent, the great Flyer goalie who was something of a father figure to him, said, "Each goalie stands on a lonely island." For Lindbergh, that was true only on the ice.
The football players at Glenville (Minn.) High with their 68-game losing streak (SI, Nov. 4) can take heart from the Eagles of Dobbs Ferry High in New York. Like Glenville, Dobbs Ferry suffered a horrible streak, losing a state-record 45 consecutive times. Then, in 1974, coach Frank Violante arrived. He added to the streak by losing his first three games, then started winning. The Eagles have now won their division title nine years in a row and are unbeaten in their last 37 games; but for a 7-3 loss in 1981, Dobbs Ferry would be only two wins short of the state record of 55 straight.
Coach Violante, any advice for Glenville? "Yeah," he says. "Keep trying."
AND IF THAT DOESN'T WORK
If Glenville's Trojans want more specific advice than Violante offers, they might look to North Judson-San Pierre High School in Indiana. The Blue Jays out-scored opponents this season 564-37 as they rolled to 11-1. Coach Russ Radtke, whose nine-year record is 86-20, can be seen as either old-fashioned or revolutionary. "A whistle goes off downtown at 6 p.m.," he says. "That's when we quit. When parents hear that, they know their boys are getting ready to head home for supper." Before the boys go, however, they must clean up after themselves because there are no janitors in the locker room. Radtke is a stickler for responsibility. Each week his players are quizzed on the game plan for that Friday night. "If they miss more than two questions out of 50, they don't play." The players even have to earn their Saturday-morning practice time. "We tell them if they lose, they don't get to practice," says Radtke.
THE GOOD WITCH OF THE SOUTH
The best record in the NFL belongs, of course, to the Chicago Bears (page 18). The next best belongs to Princess Ellen Hendrick, the New Orleans priestess who has conjured an 8-0 mark by removing, at the behest of radio stations and fans, the "negative forces" surrounding the Dolphins, Saints, Skins, Bucs, Bengals and, most recently, Bills. Buffalo had lost back-to-back games before Princess Ellen came to its aid two weeks ago. She did the voodoo that she does so well, and that Sunday the Bills achieved their first shutout in three years, 20-0 over Houston. Earlier in the season she vowed that the spooked Redskins would "run like they never have run before." That week George Rogers and John Riggins each gained more than 100 yards—the first time in Skins history two backs went over 100 in a game—and Washington beat St. Louis 27-10.
The Princess says her sorcery is a mix of Catholicism and African Yoruba. She emphasizes that, like Glinda, she's a good witch: She will get rid of bad vibes for a team, but will never hex an opponent. Her game plan includes incantations uttered over team memorabilia and machinations with black and white candles. Her nine-foot Indian python, Macumba, sometimes gets into the act as it coils itself around a team helmet.
Ellen had an open date Sunday, but with her perfect record should remain in demand. The Bills in particular seem interested. She says the team could profit by keeping a charm called a gris-gris bag in the locker room. Says coach Hank Bullough, "I'm from the old school, but if someone wants to show me something, yeah. I'll take a look at it."
Hopes for a boycott-free 1988 Summer Olympics dimmed slightly last week when sports ministers from 13 Eastern bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, issued a joint communiqué supporting North Korea's demands for an equal share in hosting the Seoul Games (SCORECARD, Oct. 21). The statement was the first formal show of Soviet bloc unity on the issue. "No one had mentioned [North Korea's proposal] to us in any of our conversations with the Soviet Olympic leadership," said U.S. Olympic Committee president and International Olympic Committee member Robert Helmick, adding, however, that the communiqué was "not surprising" given the history of Eastern bloc actions in international sports.
Both the IOC and Helmick have encouraged the Seoul organizers to consider sharing some Olympic events with North Korea, and Helmick said he would "applaud" the fielding of a joint Korean team in the Games as "a step toward peace and relaxation of [North-South] tensions." But South Korea has resisted such proposals, and Olympic officials privately acknowledge that the political gamesmanship, on both sides, likely has just begun.
Whether to withdraw college investments from South Africa is a hot topic on campuses across the country these days. Hence the politically relevant chant two weeks ago by the Williams College band at a home game against Amherst: "Divest! Divest!...Divest them of the ball!"
Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles has announced that Razorback players will be ineligible for the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in the country. Broyles said he was withdrawing his school's players from consideration because the man for whom the award is named, former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Dick Butkus, appears in television commercials for Lite beer. "I'm not standing in judgment of the person," Broyles said. "My understanding is he's a fine person in every way. But we are faced with a drug and alcohol problem on the university level, and we feel someone must make a statement."
The trouble with Broyles's statement is that he moonlights as a commentator on ABC college football telecasts, which are supported in part by beer ads. Broyles tried to explain that away by saying he has no veto power over the choice of sponsors. But then, Arkansas linebackers have no say about the name of the trophy, either.
THE BRIDESMAID GETS THE RING
One can only grimace at the folly of NASCAR's Winston Cup point system, which purports to determine the year's top stock-car driver. The problem is that the system favors those who most often place in races, not those who actually win. Clearly, this year's No. 1 driver was Bill Elliott, winner of a record 11 super-speedway races and more than $2 million (SI, Sept. 9). Yet Elliott finished second in Winston Cup points behind Darrell Waltrip, who won three races all year but, because of a lot of strong also-ran finishes, was able to take the point title by placing seventh in Sunday's season-ending Western 500 in Riverside, Calif. Elliott, who had gearshift trouble at Riverside, finished 31st.
"I still think it's a bad system," said Waltrip, who also won the points title in 1981 and '82. "I'd be hypocritical if I said I liked it now. I've expressed my feelings for six years now, and nothing has been done about changing it."
NASCAR, are you listening?
IF THEY COULD ONLY PLAY LIKE THEY WEIGH
The Refrigerator's going to have to make room—if that's possible—for a host of other major appliances currently on display in the nation's high schools. At Crenshaw High in Los Angeles a warehouse of William Perry weigh-alikes lined up before last Friday's season-ender, a 19-13 win over Fremont. Moving clockwise from bottom are Anthony Usher (6 feet, 320 pounds), Francis Hines (5'11", 316), Mike Grimble (6'2", 320), Patrick Jackson (6'3", 305) and Larry Netherly (6'3", 350), tackles all. For all its tonnage, Crenshaw was light on wins this season—only two in nine games—but another team 2,000 miles away proved that thinking big can lead to winning big. The twin tackles for Albion (N.Y.) High's jayvees are Jim Smith (6'1", 303) and Kevin O'Shaughnessy (6 feet, 301). They helped their team to an 8-0 record and a 348-44 scoring edge. So dominant was Albion that in its last two games coach Gary Manella called for a stall. After building a large lead in each game, he inserted a Perry-inspired "T-bone backfield" of O'Shaughnessy and Smith to slow things down.
THEY SAID IT
•Tony DeMeo, the football coach at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., after a game played in inclement weather: "It was so muddy, people planted rice at halftime."
•Matt McDonagh, 13, a soccer player for Highland Catholic School in St. Paul, Minn., after his team was eliminated by Presentation in the city's elementary school playoffs: "I knew we were in trouble when we got there and their cheerleaders were bigger than us."