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Pools a Tradition in Major Clubhouses

Strange that baseball should crack down on gambling at a time of year when clubhouses across the country are alive with betting pools.

Gambling on the outcome of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball tournament has long been a custom of spring training.

“To me, the NCAA pool is synonymous with spring training,” Texas Manager Bobby Valentine said. “Even 20 years ago, it was a big thing.”

This spring is no different, and Georgetown is the most popular choice among major leaguers.

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“G-town all the way,” said Cincinnati’s Eric Davis.

In Philadelphia, Mike Schmidt and Chris James paid $150 for the second pick in the Phillies’ pool and took No. 1 Arizona.

“We also got North Carolina as a backup,” said Schmidt, who won Philadelphia’s pool several years ago by taking Louisville. “I’d love to see North Carolina and Duke play again. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Trivia: Who was the first professional athlete to star in a commercial motion picture?

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Turning the tables: Tom Brunansky and Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals secretly arranged a modeling session for teammate Joe Magrane at Busch Stadium last summer.

Magrane was led to believe he was modeling for a spread in Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine, and he showed up for the photo session wearing a winter suit, despite the 100-degree heat.

Later, when the pitcher received a telegram telling him the spread had been canceled because he had a losing record, Magrane realized he had been tricked.

But he got the last laugh.

Copies of the latest issue of GQ were distributed recently in the Cardinals’ clubhouse at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Inside were the usual pictures of men’s fashions.

The model? None other than Magrane.

Turns out that GQ had heard of last summer’s prank and decided to photograph Magrane for real.

Exit, stage left: The Washington Post’s Tony Kornheiser suggests that Pete Rozelle is leaving pro football at the right time.

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“Perhaps he is getting out when the getting is good,” Kornheiser wrote. “His old friend, Tex Schramm, has been reduced to a shoeshine guy by one of those new, flashy owners who thinks the sun doesn’t come up in the morning unless he’s standing at the window.”

A heavier shade of blue: Saturday’s Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in England has already set a record of sorts.

In the Cambridge boat for the 135th clash between the universities will be 19-year-old law student Tony Backhouse, who will be the heaviest crew member in race history.

At 6 feet 8 inches and 235 pounds, does Backhouse really qualify as a Light Blue, Cambridge’s nickname?

Horns of a dilemma: When Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ken Yaremchuk tried to play matador with his coat in the direction of an oncoming car recently, he was arrested for public drunkenness.

The incident was so widely publicized that Gord Stellick, the team’s general manager, commented: “The media reacted like he’d been part of a chain-saw massacre when, in fact, what we were talking about was another average night at the press club.”

Trivia answer: Ty Cobb, who had a role in the 1916 film, “Somewhere in Georgia.”

Quotebook: Ed Garvey, former head of the NFL Players Assn., on Rozelle: “Rozelle’s been good for the legal profession--lawyers have made millions.”

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