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Punching, Not Punctuation, Was His Bag

OK, collectibles collectors. Checkbooks and credit cards ready? Let the bidding frenzy begin.

On Feb. 1, Leland’s of New York will hold a one-day telephone auction. Operators are standing by to take your calls on 135 items, ranging from a Joe DiMaggio jersey (reserve fee: $12,900) to “Mickey Mantle’s 537th home run ball,” hit at Yankee Stadium on Old Timers’ Day in 1973 (reserve fee: $200).

Or maybe what you need is item No. 117, “Rocky Marciano Letter Re: Kid Galvan (sic), Summer 1949. Four pages, in darkest pencil, on William Sloane House Y.M.C.A. stationery.”

The auction catalogue includes an excerpt from the letter, which Marciano darkest-penciled to his future wife, Barbara Cousins: “Charlie (Goldman, his trainer) was real pleased with my initial workout he said I look like a heavy now . . . Charlies neglecting Kid Gavilan. he’s going with me I had three raw eggs this morn were they good.”

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Trivia time: Who won the men’s and women’s singles titles in the 1986 Australian Open?

Go with the flow: The Erie County (N.Y.) Water Authority is learning to respond well in pressure situations.

Two weeks ago, on the day of the Buffalo Bills’ playoff game against Miami, the Authority’s sewer system, which serves 551,000 residents in the suburbs of Buffalo, had several water main breaks when thousands of fans flushed their toilets simultaneously during commercial breaks and after the game.

Supervisor George Markle told the Associated Press that on Sunday, when the Bills face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV, operators tuned to the telecast will anticipate commercial breaks and open and close valves in hopes of cushioning the blows.

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Add Buffalo mania: Eleven super markets in the Buffalo area will be closed Sunday. Ralph Kushner, who co-owns six of them, said: “We didn’t close for the blizzard of ’77. We didn’t close for the ice storm of ’81. It really is a momentous occasion for the blue-collar sports fans.”

Self-analysis: Frank Layden, president and former coach of the Utah Jazz, recently traveled to Boston to work as a network radio analyst on a Celtic-Phoenix Sun broadcast. The night before, he saw the Washington Capitals beat the Bruins at the Boston Garden.

Layden, whose teams were 0-8 against the Celtics in Boston, said: “It took me 20 years to see the home team lose in this building. I’m at the Bruins’ game, sitting up in the press box, and the fans are saying to me, ‘What do you think of all those green flags (Celtic championship banners)?’

“I said, ‘What do I think of them? I helped put them up there.’ ”

Tool of intelligence: The Chicago White Sox recently signed pitcher Charlie Hough, 43, reuniting the former Dodger knuckleballer with White Sox Manager Jeff Torborg, who was a reserve catcher with the Dodgers when Hough was called up from the minor leagues in 1970.

Torborg told the Chicago Sun-Times about an episode in the Wrigley Field bullpen, shortly after Hough joined the Dodgers in Chicago:

“I had a lot of pride in my catching, and I wasn’t wearing a mask. The bullpen coach said that I’d better put a mask on, so I did. On the very next pitch, the knuckleball came up there and smashed me right in the mask.”

Eric the read: Canadian junior hockey sensation Eric Lindros, 18, has been getting his share of media attention lately, including a note from Boston Globe reporter Francis Rosa: “Eric Lindros is the first junior player to be included in an NHL-licensed card set.”

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And if that isn’t recommendation enough, Winnipeg Sun columnist Pat Doyle went another direction, discussing the next NHL draft: “I’ll take Eric Lindros or some kid from Moose Jaw with no teeth and a bent nose, because when you’re talking professional hockey, the best Canadians are better than the best Soviets.”

Trivia answer: No one. The 1986 tournament was moved from December to January 1987. Since then, it has been held in January.

Quotebook: Randy Cross, CBS-TV commentator and former San Francisco 49er: “The NFL, like life, is full of idiots.”


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