Tales of Success Head List of 49ers’ Tillman

To defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers needed only one drive, engineered by quarterback Joe Montana . . . and special teams back Spencer Tillman.

Tillman correctly called the coin toss to begin the overtime period. The 49ers elected to receive, and 6 minutes 12 seconds later, it was over.

Tillman told Jim Jenkins of the Sacramento Bee that the 49ers’ players and coaches were planning strategy, so he assigned himself the role of calling the toss.

Said Tillman: “No one said anything to me. I just shot out there right quick when the officials asked for a representative and I just called it.”


Add coin toss: In four seasons at the University of Oklahoma, two with the Houston Oilers and nearly two with the 49ers, Tillman has lost one coin flip--to begin Super Bowl XXIV against Denver last January.

Said Tillman: “That was the only thing that went wrong that day.”

Last add coin toss: Said Tillman: “At Oklahoma they had set captains, so I got to call the coin toss all the time. In the NFL, of course, they change captains from game to game, so you don’t get to do it as often, but still I’ve only had that one miss.”

What’s his secret?


“I always call tails. If somebody wants to call something other than tails when I’m around, we’ll usually talk about it.”

Trivia time: Who was the first Mexican boxer to win a world title?

Offensive rebound: The Duke University cheering section is notorious for welcoming visitors to Cameron Indoor Stadium with jeers and insults.

But this year’s University of North Carolina basketball media guide fires a return salvo: “Duke . . . where Lefty Driesell was taught English and where Richard Nixon studied law.”


Corrective surgery: Kentucky State Sen. Fred Bradley will remember 1990 as the year he won the 1,500-meter run and finished third in the 800 at the Bluegrass State Games, while running on a broken kneecap.

Bradley, 59, told Dave Koerner of the Louisville Courier-Journal that the injury occurred when he was kicked by a horse at his thoroughbred farm.

Said Bradley: “It was a New York horse, too. And I was riding another horse when it happened. The horse that kicked me came right at the horse I was on. He became a gelding less than 24 hours later, and I made 10 other horses watch.”

Say it ain’t sold: The rare autograph of Shoeless Joe Jackson, a functional illiterate, was purchased for $23,100 at an auction in New York City Thursday.


Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press reported that Herman Darvick, who staged the auction, originally estimated that Jackson’s shaky signature, on a piece torn from a legal paper, would sell for between $1,500 and $2,000.

Trivia answer: Battling Shaw (born Jose Perez Flores) of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, who beat Johnny Jadick by decision Feb. 20, 1933, in New Orleans for the junior welterweight champion.

Quotebook: Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, on the mismatches, among them Mike Tyson-Alex Stewart, staged by promoter Don King at Atlantic City Saturday: “King would match an Airedale against Molly Ringwald if he thought he could sell six tickets.”