Writer Saved by a Case of Mistaken Identity

Jack Gallagher, longtime Houston Post sports columnist who died last month, had an acerbic style that proved to be entertaining but also had its risks.

Steve Perkins, a former Post compatriot, recalled a time when the father of a local high school football star, upset over what had been written about his son, stormed into the sports department threatening to punch Gallagher in the nose. Gallagher wasn’t there, so the father left, but he promised to return the next day.

The sports editor of the Houston Post was Wilbur Evans, who wrote a daily notes column. For his column the next day, Evans inserted a note about Gallagher accompanied by a picture. The picture was of Primo Carnera, the hulking Italian heavyweight fighter, but the caption said: “Jack Gallagher, sometimes mistaken for Primo Carnera.”

The father didn’t return.


Now-it-can-be-told dept.: Jim Jenkins of the Sacramento Bee, writing about the Lite beer commercial Alexis Arguello did with Billy Martin, said: “Martin, it develops, kept some late hours and had trouble remembering his lines.”

“But,” Arguello told Jenkins with a wink, “I found out he was nobody to argue with. We got to be friends. He likes boxing. He told me he doesn’t take crap off anybody. I believe him.”

Trivia Time: Former Laker teammates Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West played on college teams that had what in common? (Answer below.)

Boo, hiss: Proving that nothing’s impossible, they started a basketball Hall of Fame at Marshall High School last week and left out the most famous player. Five people were named, and not among them was Bob Kloppenburg.


Kloppenburg, who went to USC and has since worked as a college head coach and an NBA assistant coach, was the City Player of the Year in 1945-46. He won the scoring title with a 25.6-point average, and his achievements commanded considerable space in the local press. He was, as they used to say, hot stuff.

As a caller said Saturday, “I don’t know how good he was, but Bobby Kloppenburg is the only Marshall player I ever heard of. I couldn’t name you another one.”

Buddy Ryan, new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, told the Philadelphia Inquirer he has a slogan for his “46" defense.

“It’s even written in Okie so everyone can understand it,” he said.


The slogan: “Take the sumbitch away from ‘em inna hurry.”

Said Celtic Danny Ainge to Peter May of the Hartford Courant after teammate Larry Bird scored 47 points, including last-second shots in both regulation and overtime as Boston won, 120-119, at Portland Friday night: “I’ve never seen him better than he is now. He was awesome. On the last shot, I saw him go up and I said to myself, ‘No, no,’ but he made it. I couldn’t believe it. And I think he even got fouled on the play.”

“Three times,” Bird said. “I got fouled three times before I finally hit the shot.”

Said Portland Coach Jack Ramsay: “Bird is maybe the greatest clutch player that ever played the game.”


Trivia Answer: Kansas (Chamberlain), Seattle (Baylor) and West Virginia (West) were runners-up in the NCAA tournament three years running, starting in 1956-57.


Dodger Vice President Al Campanis, on the signing of Fernando Valenzuela at Little Joe’s restaurant Saturday: “This is truly an international event. We signed an outstanding Mexican pitcher at an Italian restaurant in the middle of Chinatown.”