There's something rotten about the boom in strange memorabilia
The Marilyn Monroe stocking, item No. 1373, comes with a story.
Of course it comes with a story. Under the headline HONEYMOON
HOSIERY on page 340 of the catalog for the Nov. 18-19 Mastro
Millennium Auction in Oakbrook, Ill., the text reads, "At 3
o'clock in the afternoon on Jan. 14, 1954, Joe DiMaggio and
Marilyn Monroe were married in San Francisco. DiMaggio was the
retired baseball legend and Monroe was America's sex goddess.
Never had two bigger icons come together in marriage...."
According to the catalog, DiMaggio and Monroe spent their
wedding night at the Clifton Hotel in Paso Robles, Calif. After
the newlyweds had checked out, owner Ernie Sharp went into their
room and found Monroe's stocking in the wastebasket. Sharp sent
the stocking to his friend Charlie Pringle. Now, more than 45
years later, the stocking is for sale (minimum bid: $500).
Question: Charlie kept this thing for 45 years? What did he do
with it? Did he frame it and keep it on the dining room wall, or
put it in a secret place with the family photos and heirlooms?
Question: Did he invite friends and neighbors over and say, "Let
me show you Marilyn Monroe's stocking from her wedding night"?
Did friends and neighbors eventually--maybe after the first 30
years--roll their eyes and say, "Oh, no, here it comes again, the
November 22, 1999
Question: Marilyn Monroe's stocking?
One day Ty Cobb's false teeth go up for sale and fetch $7,475.
Another time it's Mickey Mantle's passport (minimum bid: $6,000).
Just last week a guy on eBay was trying to sell pieces of
wreckage from the plane crash in which Yankees catcher Thurman
Munson died in 1979.
Question: Do you point to your trophy case and say, "That's the
wreckage from Thurman Munson's plane, right next to my varsity
letter for cross-country"?
Now Marilyn's nuptial stocking hits the auction block, along
with item No. 386, a Wayne Gretzky high school yearbook (minimum
bid: $100); item No. 752, Bill Veeck's wooden leg ($1,000); item
No. 1,112, a canceled $9.83 check for gas signed by Walter (Big
Train) Johnson ($300); and....
Question: Who are the fools among us who save all this stuff?
Better question: Who are the fools among us who buy it?
Adrian Beltre's youth might set him free
It started as just another September day in Los Angeles. Agent
Scott Boras was lunching in a chichi cafe with his client Adrian
Beltre, the Dodgers' talented young third baseman. "You're 21
years old and you're already so good--" Boras said.
"No, I'm 20," interrupted Beltre, who was finishing up his first
full major league season, in which he would hit .275 with 15
homers and 67 RBIs.
"What do you mean you're 20?"
The wheels began spinning in Boras's brain. Major league rules
prohibit teams from signing foreign players who are under 16. If
Beltre, who is from the Dominican Republic, was right, he'd been
only 15 when the Dodgers signed him in July 1994 for a $23,000
bonus. Boras says he had Beltre bring his birth certificate back
from a recent trip home and that the document shows his client
was born on April 7, 1979, and not on that date a year earlier,
as L.A.'s records state. If the Dodgers signed their third
baseman illegally, Boras knew, Beltre might be granted instant
Kids say the darnedest things. Beltre's comment in the
restaurant led Boras to send the Dodgers an unwelcome present: a
copy of the birth certificate. The team asked the commissioner's
office to investigate whether Beltre's signing by scout Pablo
Peguero had broken the rules, and last week Boras filed a
petition with the commissioner's office, claiming L.A.
deliberately violated Beltre's rights and asking that his
cherub-faced client be declared a free agent.
If commissioner Bud Selig needs a precedent on which to base a
ruling in Beltre's favor, he need look back no further than last
June, when his office found Los Angeles guilty of illegally
signing two Cuban players, Juan Carlos Diaz and Josue Perez.
Both were signed by Peguero, who was put in charge of the team's
famed Dominican academy last month. Selig granted free agency to
Diaz and Perez, barred Los Angeles from re-signing them and
slapped the club with a $200,000 fine.
The Dodgers appeared to be bracing themselves for the loss of
Beltre last Friday when they traded a minor leaguer for Marlins
third baseman Kevin Orie. General manager Kevin Malone has been
tight-lipped while he awaits results of an investigation
conducted by Selig's lieutenant Sandy Alderson. In a statement
last week Malone said, "The Dodgers respect and strongly endorse
the rules and regulations of Major League Baseball, and we fully
intend to comply with those rules."
Full compliance might be a break from the norm. "In the scouting
world, particularly in international markets, there's a lot of
rule-breaking," Boras says. "Beltre didn't even know about this
rule until I brought it to his attention." He says Beltre
recalls Peguero's mentioning "something about some secret age
thing" but doesn't recall the specifics.
What's at stake here? Beltre earned $220,000 last season and
could count on a raise of $100,000 or so. If he becomes a free
agent, a club that needs a third baseman--the Dodgers, for
instance--might have to boost that raise by a factor of 30.
Norway's Johann Olav Koss, who won four Olympic gold medals in
speed skating and was SI's 1994 Sportsman of the Year, reflects
on the life of Norwegian marathoner Ketil Moe, who died last
More than any medal or trophy I've received, I will always
cherish a gift I got two years ago from Ketil Moe, my friend and
sports role model. It was a piece of paper cut in the shape of
his lungs. On the paper he wrote simply, "It's done." He had
just had a double lung transplant.
Born with cystic fibrosis, which thickens the mucus in the
lungs, Ketil spent most of his 32 years enduring physiotherapy
to help him breathe. Yet in New York in 1983, against his
doctors' objections, he ran a marathon. He finished the '95 New
York City Marathon while I ran beside him carrying his oxygen
bottle. I'll never forget how he constantly joked with me during
that race and encouraged me to keep going.
Ketil kept running after his 1997 lung transplant, and he helped
change the way cystic fibrosis patients are treated. Doctors had
long told them to avoid strenuous exercise but began to change
their approach after seeing how Ketil's running enriched his life.
In 1990 Ketil wrote a letter asking me to help him organize an
outing for both handicapped and nonhandicapped people. It was
what we call in Norwegian a mosjonslop, meaning roughly go as
you can. We would go on to hold seven such events for more than
2,000 people. There was never a clock along the course--these
mosjonslops were measured not by distance or time, but by
spirit. Everyone received the same medal and a hug from Ketil
and me at the finish line.
Just before my most important race at the 1994 Lillehammer
Olympics, the 1,500 meters, Ketil was stricken by one of his
numerous lung infections. He arranged for Odd Martin, a blind
friend of his, to attend the Games in his place and cheer me.
But when the day arrived Ketil had rallied, and he was there
with Odd to inspire me to victory. "Johann, you can do it. We
believe in you," he said. "Do it for the less fortunate in the
world!" I wanted to show him anything was possible, just as he
had shown me.
Last week Ketil died on his way home from the New York City
Marathon. He had run 14 more marathons, lived at least 20 more
years and enriched countless more lives than anyone had ever
told him he could.
I'm in my last semester of medical studies at the University of
Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, preparing for my final exams,
but I am at a loss for answers this week. I wonder how medicine
could ever explain a heart such as Ketil's.
It's done, my friend. Rest in peace.
Gasping for Air
Michael Jordan's surprise appearance at a Bulls practice last
week had Chicago buzzing. But after beating Bulls guard Corey
Benjamin in a game of one-on-one, Jordan insisted he wasn't
coming back, just boosting the spirits of his old team. "Please
don't take it no further," he told a pack of breathless reporters.
Sorry, Mike. Footage of the duel with Benjamin, which Jordan won
11-9, was shown repeatedly on local news and analyzed ad nauseam
on sports talk radio. Fox Sports Chicago turned the eight-minute
game into a half-hour prime-time special complete with a
halftime break and analysis by former Bull Norm Van Lier. "What
you're going to see here is Michael setting him up for the
shot," Van Lier gushed as if he were calling Game 7 of the NBA
Jordan, 36, looked sharp (if easily winded) against Benjamin,
and he'd surely love the league's new scorer-friendly rules. But
not even he could lead the gelded Bulls to a title this year,
and he reiterated last week that he wouldn't play for any team
but Chicago: "I never see myself in another uniform." He did
say, however, that he'd consider working out with the Lakers if
his former coach Phil Jackson extends an invitation.
Michael against Kobe one-on-one? Cue the calliope and summon the
ringmaster--the media circus might be headed west.
Sting like a Beautician
Laila Ali saw Christy Martin belting a hapless opponent on TV a
couple of years ago and said, "I can do that." But can the
youngest of Muhammad Ali's seven daughters really box? In her
two pro bouts the 21-year-old Laila has thumped opponents who
barely qualify as tomato cans. Call them ketchup bottles: In
October she beat April Fowler, a Michigan City, Ind., waitress,
in 30 seconds, and on Nov. 10 knocked out Shadina Pennybaker, a
bus driver and accounting student from Homewood, N.Y. "It's
tough to find competition in women's boxing," says Mike Acri,
True, only five fighters are ranked in Ali's super middleweight
(168-pound limit) division of the International Female Boxing
Association (IFBA), and she is not among them. Of the five
fighters ranked in the same division of the International
Women's Boxing Federation (IWBF), Ali ranks fifth. According to
IWBF president Frankie Globuschutz, her handlers don't want her
to fight anyone who might fight back. "That's O.K., but
eventually she'll have to put up or shut up," says Globuschutz.
He thinks the bout that puts women's boxing on the map will be a
showdown between top-ranked junior welterweights Martin and
Kathy (Wildcat) Collins. "Laila has a long way to go before she
reaches their level," says Globuschutz, who has contacted Ali
about her eventually fighting for the vacant IWBF super
Ali, who sold her Los Angeles nail salon to turn pro, comes to
the women's game in a time of growth. Martin claims to have
earned about $150,000 in the ring last year, and the blonde,
blue-eyed Collins says she has made $35,000 in purses and more
than $70,000 in endorsements so far in 1999. Even the fledgling
Ali, who was whisked to Germany last week for a round of
interviews with European reporters, has earned around $25,000 in
her two bouts. "We just want her to keep developing, one fight
at a time," says Acri. In other words the colorful and cocky
Ali, who has signed an endorsement deal with Bum Equipment, can
make a living as long as she keeps knocking over ketchup bottles.
JACK SCOTT CELEBRATED
Last month, sports figures from across the country came to
Berkeley to honor the experiment they had been part of, the
Oberlin Experiment, and the man behind it, Jack Scott. The
co-founder of Northeastern University's Institute for the Study
of Sport and Society, Scott shook up the sports world with his
1971 book The Athletic Revolution and with his insistence that
college sports be open to all athletes--black, white, male,
female. As Oberlin's athletic director from 1972 to '74, he put
his principles into practice, hiring Cass Jackson, Pat Penn and
Tommie Smith, the first black head coaches in football,
basketball and track, respectively, at a predominantly white
college. In 1974 Jackson led Oberlin to its last winning season
Now, with Scott, 57, battling throat cancer, it was time to pay
tribute to him and to those he had touched. At the Oct. 30
dinner there was Smith, the 1968 Olympic 200-meter champion,
whom Scott hired after he found Smith washing cars in San Jose.
Former Oberlin president Robert Fuller called Smith's famed
black-gloved gesture on the victory stand in Mexico City
"perhaps the most memorable piece of performance art this
century." NFL veteran Bernie Casey wondered how many others
would have matched Smith's courage. "Could you have done it?"
Casey asked. "Others had the opportunity but were paralyzed by
fear." NFL alum George Sauer, an assistant under Jackson at
Oberlin, read a tribute from Art Shell, the NFL's first black
head coach: "Cass Jackson was the pioneer who opened the door
for all of us."
At last Scott stood up. "The Oberlin experiment wasn't just
about lofty humanistic ideals," he said. "Cass Jackson's winning
season demonstrated that athletic excellence can be achieved
while following those ideals." --Lynda Huey
He's having a howling good time. Last year the Timberwolves'
towering I-beam was the 11th-best scorer in the NBA and the
ninth-best rebounder. A week into the new season Kevin Garnett
had a double-double in every game and was second-second in
scoring (29.0) and rebounding (13.8). Garnett's growing up (he
turns 23.5 this week), and that puts the T-wolves on the
league's A list.
Fouls by Hawks rookie Cal Bowdler during a loss to the Trail
Blazers in which the official scorer lost count.
Feet added to Mount Everest's official height after satellites
showed the summit to be 29,035 feet high.
Seasons of LSU football before the Tigers lost eight straight
games--their current losing streak.
Offensive and defensive rank, respectively, of the 7-2 Seahawks
among the NFL's 31 teams.
Duration of Jimmy Johnson's press conference after the Dolphins'
loss--1:07 shorter than the national anthem.
--Larry Holmes, by more than 100 revelers at his 50th-birthday
party at Holmes's restaurant in Easton, Pa. "There was an open
bar as we waited for Larry," said one guest, "but after he found
out they were giving drinks away, he said, 'That's enough. Start
--Wade Boggs, 41, who will be a scout and radio-TV announcer for
the Devil Rays. Boggs batted .328 with 3,010 hits, ate countless
pregame chicken dinners and had a notorious fling with Margo
Adams in his 18 big league seasons.
--Golfer Nick Faldo, 42, and fiancee Valerie Bercher, 26
(right). Faldo, who won three Masters and three British Opens
but is now sub-mediocre with the driver and the putter, left
first wife Melanie for second wife Gill in 1983, dropped Gill
for college golfer Brenna Cepelak in '95 and dumped Cepelak last
year. "Thanks to Valerie's love and support, I am happier than
ever," he said. "This one's going to last."
--Venus and Serena Williams, who taped 10 Hollywood Squares
segments that will air from Nov. 22 to Dec. 3. The sisters
answered questions about sports mascots and Brat Pack actresses,
but when the topic was history, Venus said, "I failed that
The Light Stuff
Gone are the days when the most fun you could have with helium
was to inhale it and talk like Alvin the Chipmunk. Now you can
ride a 21-foot balloon inflated with helium. Push off the ground
and you'll rise up to 100 feet and go as far as 400 yards
horizontally before touching down. It's pricey: $11,900 for the
Parabounce through Hammacher Schlemmer or at www.parabounce.com.
Celebs Katie Couric and Coolio have gotten high on the hobby,
which can morph into perilbouncing--without friends to hold long
tethers attached to the balloon, you could bounce too close to
WORD FOR WORD
Give Him the Damn Microphone
Q: With guys like Ray Lucas and Keyshawn Johnson, do you think
[the Jets] will target you Monday night?
Patriots cornerback Ty Law: I don't know if I have a big target
on my chest or something, but if they do, so be it. I'm looking
to go out there and make some plays, especially on Monday Night
Football. If they target me, shame on them.
Q: The reason we say this is because Keyshawn had such a huge
game against you, with eight catches for 200 yards in the opener.
Law: Oh, yeah? Well, if he had those catches on me, I'd like to
see him and let him try it again....
Q: Also, he thinks [Miami corner] Sam Madison is better than you.
Law: Oh, yeah? Well, to each his own. I think [Patriots
receiver] Terry Glenn is better than a lot of receivers, too. So
everyone has their own opinion. I'm not trying to get into a
shouting match with Keyshawn. I know he's a great receiver, and
we'll see what happens Monday night. I don't have anything
negative to say, man.
Q: Hey, Ty, this is Keyshawn. I just wanted to mess with you a
Law: You started getting me fired up.
--An exchange between Law and Johnson, who disguised his voice
and pretended to be a reporter during his buddy Law's conference
call with New York reporters last week. Johnson had six catches
in the Jets' 24-17 victory.
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Two Las Vegas casinos now offer drive-through sports betting.
Do you point to your trophy case and say, "That's the wreckage
from Munson's plane, next to my varsity letter"?
They Said It
Wife of Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, on Ed's latest
concussion: "When he didn't remember our anniversary, I knew he