Frisbee designer Ed Headrick left behind one beloved piece
of sporting equipment--and a strange last wish
The gyrating plot of the Coen brothers' circle-obsessed 1994
film, The Hudsucker Proxy, revolves around Norville Barnes, an
idiot savant who invents the most popular ring-shaped toy of the
mid-20th century, the hula hoop. It's intended, he says with a
grin, "you know, for kids." Alas, success goes to this sweet
rube's head, and he becomes self-satisfied, then corrupt, then
suicidal. The movie ends with a happy, Capra-esque twist. Barnes
redeems himself, becomes "rounded" again and announces his new
stupid idea, the Frisbee.
We were reminded of Norville last week when we learned of the
death of Ed Headrick, the Abner Doubleday and Ted Williams of
Frisbees. Doubleday, because it was Headrick who designed the
airworthy Pro Model we so love today. Williams, because the
Splendid Spinner's dying wishes were even kinkier than the
Splendid Splinter's. Headrick requested that his ashes be molded
into a limited edition set of commemorative flying disks, most
of which will be sold to raise cash for a Frisbee museum.
According to his son Daniel, "He said he wanted to end up in a
Frisbee that accidentally lands on someone's roof."
A true flying sorcerer, Headrick was among the first to envision
Frisbee as a sport. What had, in the 1960s, seemed destined to be
a fad toy like the pogo stick became our favorite game of catch.
More Frisbees are supposedly sold each year than footballs,
baseballs and basketballs combined, and the skies of suburban
America are rent with games of Guts, Freestyle, Disk Golf and
Catch & Fetch--a sport in which dogs have a paw up on humans.
August 25, 2002
The ultimate college game is still Ultimate, a free-form affair
that weds the passing of football to the nonstop action of
soccer. "Part of Ultimate's appeal on campuses is its
simplicity--no refs and very few rules," says Wisconsin freshman
Ross Mudrick. "There's a basic faith in the players, who police
themselves and are expected to be honest and accountable." Plus,
as generations of participant scholars can attest, Ultimate is
about the only sport you can play well stoned.
Humankind's fling with the Frisbee dates to ancient Greece, and
spin doctoral candidates trace its origin to the 450 B.C. statue
of Discobolus, the discus thrower. (Look closely: He's
attempting an overhand wrist flip.) The modern-day forerunner
seems to have been the 10-inch tin plate that the Frisbie Baking
Company of Bridgeport, Conn., used in the late 1800s to hold
Mother Frisbie's pies. Yale students would forfeit their
five-cent deposits and toss the empty tins around the quad,
shouting, "Frisbie!" while trying to decapitate their professors.
The first plastic prototype was created in 1948 by California
carpenter Walter Frederick Morrison. In the mid-'50s he sold his
wobbly Pluto Platter to Wham-O, the company that
manufactured--you guessed it--hula hoops. Rechristened the
Frisbee and assigned its own short-lived lingo ("If a
wrimpleplat misses the sprovit, it is blort...."), the disk
remained aerodynamically unsound until 1964, when Wham-O's
Headrick, a former welder, notched grooves in the center. Four
years later he founded the International Frisbee Association,
and a year after that some New Jersey high school students came
up with Ultimate. The first intercollegiate match was played in
'72 between Rutgers and Princeton, the same colleges that 103
years earlier had squared off in college football's first game.
Both times Rutgers won by two points.
During the intervening decades Frisbee-chucking has evolved from
languid pastime (love-ins; Grateful Dead shows) to something as
serious as a slipped disk. Consider Dr. Stancil E. Johnson's
seminal Frisbee: A Practitioner's Manual and Definitive
Treatise; or the Flying Disk Congress, which began 17 years ago
in Sweden; or that there are more than 30 Frisbee-dedicated
publications. Sometimes, it seems, we forget that the Frisbee is
just a toy. You know, for kids. --Franz Lidz
Some call it dorky, but the NFL's new helmet just might prolong
Considering how finicky NFL players are about equipment--many
wear their favorite shoulder pads for years--the arrival of a
new helmet should not be expected to set their hearts aflutter.
But when the first major redesign of NFL headgear in 25 years is
said to dramatically reduce the risk of concussions, players
like Steelers safety Lee Flowers keep an open mind. "I can't say
yet if it's protected me more, but I'm willing to see," says
Flowers, one of more than 100 NFLers who've been wearing
Riddell's Revolution helmet this preseason. "Besides, it's
cooler, and it gives me better peripheral vision."
The Revolution is the outgrowth of five years of head-trauma
research funded by the NFL, whose panel of experts concluded
that about 70% of concussions are caused by hits to the side of
the head. The sides of the new helmet extend farther down toward
the chin, creating a firm shell along the jawline. The helmet
protrudes slightly in the back to support the base of the neck
and provides thicker padding throughout. It also has larger
ventilation holes and a wider face mask than the current model.
"I'm a believer," said Seahawks linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski
after an Aug. 10 game against the Colts. "It feels like there
are pillows in there."
Several college and high school teams have also begun using the
helmets, as have many CFL players, including Winnipeg Blue
Bombers quarterback Khari Jones, the league's reigning MVP. The
main resistance in the NFL stems from the helmet's unusual look
("dorky," says Seattle linebacker Chad Brown) and natural
skepticism. When the NFL initially introduced the helmet,
offering it to Rams and Patriots players before Super Bowl XXXVI
last February, only St. Louis fullback James Hogdins wore it in
the game. This preseason several players, including Bengals
quarterback Jon Kitna, tried, then ditched the Revolution,
saying the longer jaw shield rubbed against their shoulder pads.
Whether the helmet provides increased protection remains to be
judged over time. Says Flowers, "You look at Troy Aikman and
Steve Young [both of whom retired after several concussions],
and you wonder if this type of technology would have prolonged
their careers." --Jeffri Chadiha
Virginia Tech football players sidelined last week by a flulike
illness, forcing the Hokies to cancel the team's final set of
Time George W. Bush needed to finish a three-mile course, as
clocked by Runner's World; that puts Bush, 56, in the top 3% of
Americans of any age.
Time diver Jerry Hall, 37, spent submerged during an open-water
scuba dive at South Holston Lake in Bristol, Tenn., breaking the
world record by more than 11 hours.
Games won this season by Diamondbacks ace Curt Schilling.
Batters Schilling has walked.
Career rushing yards by Randall Cunningham, tops alltime for a
quarterback; Cunningham, 39, will retire this week after 16 NFL
FIFA World Ranking of the U.S. men's soccer team, which had
never before cracked the top 10.
Amount earned by the estate of Dale Earnhardt last year, fourth
on Forbes's list of moneymaking dead celebrities, behind Elvis
Presley, Charles Schulz and John Lennon.
WORD FOR WORD
An L.A. Kings fan's irate e-mail leads to a refreshing turn of
We often hear fans grouse about being dissed by their teams.
Then came this letter from Stephen Striegel, 36, who works in TV
production in L.A.
Dear Scorecard: I recently wrote a scathing e-mail to the Kings,
canceling my two season tickets and complaining about several
issues, including the team's failure to sign free agents. The
next day I received three phone messages from the director of
season-ticket sales. When I called back, I was invited to be the
Kings' guest at an intrasquad prospects game at the team's
training facility. I thought they were kidding.
Before the game, I and 20 other fans were escorted into a plush
meeting room and greeted by G.M. Dave Taylor, coach Andy Murray
and team president Tim Leiweke. They gave us free beer and food
and talked with us for 45 minutes about their short- and
long-term plans. I asked tough questions, and they answered
them. They even discussed specific on-ice strategy. Before they
left, each of the three told me personally that season-ticket
holders were the most important part of being able to execute
their plans and asked me to have faith that they'd do what it
took to build a Stanley Cup winner. Maybe it sounds like lip
service, but I was blown away that these guys would take the
time to talk to 20 fans. They showed a commitment to fans that
you just don't see in pro sports. And you know what? The next
day I renewed my tickets.
Wimbledon doubles champ Corina Morariu comes back after a battle
In May 2001 the Detroit-born Corina Morariu learned she had
leukemia. Three weeks ago she returned to the WTA tour. On
Monday, as she prepared for the U.S. Open, Morariu, 24, spoke to
SI. Last week I received a wild card to play singles at the
Open. I could draw Venus Williams or Jennifer Capriati--it
doesn't matter. I'm approaching this the way I approached my
first singles match back, at the JP Morgan Chase Tournament
earlier this month. It was so incredible to be back I couldn't
be devastated even when I lost in the first round. This is a
long process and a long journey.
There were symptoms months before I was even diagnosed in May
2001. I felt lethargic, and I had difficulty concentrating. But
I was in great shape and had been ranked Number 1 in doubles. So
I told myself I was just tired from working out. Soon, though, I
was getting nosebleeds five, six times a night and waking up
with bruises all over. When my doctor told me I had leukemia, I
finally went to the hospital. I was so sick I couldn't get out
of bed to go to the bathroom, and they started chemotherapy
When I left the hospital a month later, the cancer was in
remission. But because of infections I had to go back for three
more stays. When I finally stepped back onto the court in
January, I'd tire after five minutes. By April I could practice
two hours a day, but it wasn't until June that I was putting in
close to the work I once did.
At the Open I'll play doubles with Kimberly Po-Messerli. Tennis
is now a new battle. I'm unranked, and I'm just getting back
into it. I take chemo pills each day. There are frustrating
moments out there, but I have the perspective of knowing where I
was this time last year. There are worse things in life than
losing tennis matches.
Because of a degenerative arthritic condition in his left knee,
Terrell Davis, 29, the Broncos' All-Pro running back. The 196th
selection in the 1995 draft, Davis rushed for 6,413 yards in his
first four seasons, the second most in NFL history, scoring 56
TDs and leading Denver to Super Bowl wins in '98 and '99. The
next season Davis tore the ACL in his right knee and was never
the same, playing just 13 games since then.
From the NHL for six months, for violating the league's
substance-abuse policy for the third time, Predators defenseman
Jere Karalahti. In a Jan. 21 SI story Karalahti, who in 1996 was
arrested on heroin charges in Finland, said, "I can't say I'd
never go back to the drugs."
From international play for one year by the Romanian Soccer
Federation, second division team Tractorul, for posing as
Romania's national team in two matches against Egypt. The club,
which split the games, was also fined $1,500.
Of unspecified causes, John Roseboro, 69, the Dodgers
catcher who was clubbed over the head with a bat by Giants
pitcher Juan Marichal in a 1965 clash. In 14 seasons Roseboro
hit .249, won two Gold Gloves and was on four All-Star teams.
Recently he had suffered from prostate cancer, heart trouble and
a series of strokes.
--Of cardiopulmonary complications, Kyle Rote, 73, a Pro Bowl
receiver with the Giants in the '50s and the first president of
the NFL Players Association. Rote, who went first in the 1951 NFL
draft after starring at SMU, played 11 years with New York, made
300 catches for 4,797 yards and was so well-liked that 14 of his
teammates named sons after him.
--Of heart failure, Sunday Silence, 16, winner of the 1989
Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Best known for his Triple Crown
rivalry with Easy Goer, whom he narrowly beat twice before
finishing second to him in the Belmont, Sunday Silence retired
in '90 with nine wins in 14 starts. At the time of his death he
was the top sire in Japan, where he stood at stud on the island
Why you should know his name With the recent death of Enos
Slaughter, Gutteridge, 90, is the last surviving alum of the
Gashouse Gang, as the scrappy St. Louis Cardinals were known in
the mid-to-late 1930s.
Where he fits in the lore of Dizzy, Ducky, Pepper and the Lip
The nicknameless native of Pittsburg, Kans., broke in with the
Gashousers in 1936, two seasons after they had won the World
Series, and soon replaced Pepper Martin at third. The 5'11",
165-pound Gutteridge played with the Cards through 1940 and
embodied their hustling style in his 12-year career, hitting
.256 with 39 homers and 95 steals. He went on to manage the
White Sox in '69 and '70 and scouted for nearly 40 years.
The book on him His new autobiography, Don Gutteridge: In Words
and Pictures, tells how he learned the headfirst slide from
Martin and visited Sing Sing prison's electric chair with
teammate Lon Warneke. "You go behind those bars," Gutteridge
says. "It gives you second thoughts."
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
Aug. 23-Aug. 29
FRIDAY 8/23 > ESPN CLASSIC 8 PM > Sports Century: Venus and
"They are to tennis what hip-hop is to music," says one
sportswriter in this solid bio of the Sisters Slam. The archival
footage of Venus and Serena rallying as little girls is fun to
watch, but we could have done without the platitudes of
commentator Star Jones, who gushes, "They've become superstars!"
No kidding, Star.
SATURDAY 8/24 > ABC 2:30 PM > Texas Tech at Ohio State
Goodbye, Columbus? It could be if Tech's pass-happy quarterback
Kliff Kingsbury can thread the Buckeyes' strong pass defense.
SATURDAY 8/24 > ESPN 5 PM > Travers Stakes
If War Emblem skips the race to run in Del Mar's Pacific Classic
the next day--as expected--Medaglia d'Oro will get the short
odds at Saratoga's Midsummer Derby.
SUNDAY 8/25 > ABC 6:30 PM > Little League World Series
So much for America's pastime. The U.S. is 1-7 in the title game
MONDAY 8/26 > USA NETWORK 11 AM > U.S. Open Early Rounds
(coverage all week)
Fading stars (Pete Sampras, Monica Seles), future greats (Karina
Habsudova, Mario Ancic) and one-name divas (Anna, Venus, Serena,
Andre) converge on Flushing Meadow for the toughest two weeks in
THURSDAY 8/29 > TNT 9 PM > FIBA World Championships: U.S. versus
No Shaq. No Kobe. No Garnett. No Iverson. We'll still take the
U.S. by 25.
SUNDAY 8/25 > ESPN 11 PM
The 25,000th SportsCenter No, that's not just one day's airings.
After much fanfare the show that produced Chris Berman's
nicknames and the acerbic banter of Dan Patrick and Keith
Olbermann celebrates 23 years of highlights, lowlights and hard
--No More Mohr
--Two things come to mind in the aftermath of CBS Sports
reporter Jill Arrington's cheesecake pose in the laddie magazine
FHM. First, the ongoing debate that she somehow hurt her
journalistic credibility with the shoot is amusing because it
presupposes that Arrington was an exemplary journalist in the
first place. You don't need Woodward and Bernstein to unearth
the reasons that the lightweight Arrington has a prominent
network gig. Second, the fact that many pundits are troubled by
Arrington's photo shoot--and have even chastised CBS Sports for
allowing it--smacks of a double standard. Where's the outrage
when male broadcasters blur the line between journalism and
entertainment? Last year, for example, no one complained when
Fox Sports Net's Kevin Frazier (now with ESPN) and Van Earl
Wright appeared regularly (playing themselves) on the ill-fated
NBC sitcom Inside Schwartz. As for an Arrington-esque photo
shoot, that problem just doesn't arise with male sportscasters,
most of whom we wouldn't want to see posing seductively.
--Jay Mohr issued the understatement of the season when he
called his now-canceled Mohr Sports a "train wreck." The show
has appeared in six time slots during a 20-week run (five taped
episodes have yet to air), and its mix of fawning interviews and
uneven comedy bits was such a full-blown disaster it could have
been produced by Dino De Laurentiis.
--The Tennis Channel probably won't be hiring Jennifer Capriati
as a spokesperson. Asked whether she'll watch the 24-hour,
all-tennis network, which is expected to debut in December,
Capriati replied, "Maybe. If I was really bored." --R.D.
"Tennis is now a new battle.... I take chemotherapy pills each
day." --BIG RETURN, page 24