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Knick Girls Just Won’t Play at the Garden

This is an issue about atmosphere and class, writes Harvey Araton of the New York Times. The Garden, Araton states, is the New York basketball fan’s Wimbledon.

The Garden is none other than Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks regularly break the hearts of their boisterous faithful. Here, where fans are abuzz about inflated ticket prices and the fate of center Patrick Ewing, another controversy has cropped up faster than a New York minute.

The Knick brass is planning to introduce a cheerleading squad a la the Laker Girls.

Season-ticket holder Michelle Musler of Samford, Conn., was so incensed that she wrote Knick President David Checketts:

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“This is a basketball issue. This is New York City. We know the game. We love the game. We go to the Garden to see THE GAME.

“DANCING GIRLS?????

“Tell me it isn’t true. Not here, no way, no time, never, never, never.

“Put them in the Paramount with Barry Manilow.”

Add dancers: Araton wholeheartedly agrees. “It works for the Lakers in Los Angeles, in a surreal setting inside the Forum, where Jack Nicholson high-fives Byron Scott after a thunderous dunk and Dyan Cannon jumps out of her seat to give James Worthy a kiss. It bombs in New Jersey at the Meadowlands, where sis-boom-bah gals with Campbell’s Soup blurbs tacked to their backs scamper off to the company jingle, ‘M’m! M’m! Good!’ ”

Add two, dancers: In a final plea, Araton writes: “Dancing, cheering or cooing, they don’t fit the Garden court any more than Mark Jackson belongs onstage doing his airplane number during intermission of ‘Grand Hotel.’ ”

Trivia time: Whom did Babe Ruth replace in the New York Yankees outfield in 1920?

Theory of relative: Eric Hilgenberg, a 6-foot, 203-pound freshman walk-on player at the University of Iowa, is part of Hawkeye genealogy. He is the sixth Hilgenberg to play for Iowa, writes Jim Ecker of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette. Their bloodlines span four decades.

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The others: Wally, Eric’s father, an All-Big Ten guard in 1963; Jerry, Wally’s older brother, an All-American center in 1953, and more recently, Jim, Jay and Joel, Eric’s first cousins.

Mounds of trouble: L.A. fans could sympathize with Boston Red Sox Manager Joe Morgan and the team’s fans after a 7-5 loss in 10 innings to the New York Yankees on Sept. 22. After all, they know all too well the liabilities of Matt Young and Dan Petry, who once pitched for the Dodgers and Angels, respectively.

Young, a left-handed reliever who has not won a game since May, threw his first warm-up pitch in the 10th inning all the way to the backstop. Then, after getting an out, he walked two batters and hit a third, whereupon Morgan removed him.

The game was lost when Bernie Williams drove in two runners with a double off Petry, once a Detroit Tiger star.

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“If (Young’s) going to help us, that’s when it would have been--just one inning,” a dejected Morgan told New York reporters.

Young was evasive but defended himself: “I’m a little rusty, but I feel good. Joe had confidence to bring me in, and I’d like to get the ball in another situation like that to prove to him that I can do it.”

Morgan replied: “Not too soon, I’m afraid.”

Any more questions?: Temple Coach Jerry Berndt asked his new punter, Dave Klukow, a former circus performer, if he could imagine what it would be like playing in front of 85,000 screaming fans. Klukow, Temple’s 35-year-old, third-string punter, replied: “Coach, I don’t think that will bother me. After performing on a high wire in front of 20,000 people and knowing that if you fall, you’re going to die . . . I think I can stand the pressure.”

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Trivia answer: Right fielder Sammy Vick. According to the Yankee Encyclopedia, it is a popular myth that Papa Bear, George Halas, is the correct answer. Halas played six games in the Yankee outfield in 1919.

Quotebook: Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys: “The worst feeling in the world is to drop back with that ball in your hand--and not know what do with it.”


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