Those were 19-inch arms you saw encircling Roger Maris' sons last week after Mark McGwire hit his low-flying, time-freezing, fist-pumping 62nd homer of the season. Nineteen inches around.
To get a sense of the size of the arms that broke the best-known record in sports, we took to the streets with a tape measure. (Sammy Sosa doesn't hit 'em nearly as far as McGwire--though the slugger has hit just as many out of the park, tying McGwire on Sunday with 62 home runs.)
Who knew what equals McGwire's biceps?
* The head of a 2-year-old.
* One of those Pizza Hut "personal pan" pizzas.
A $30, 59-ounce tub of Dewar's White Label measures in at 18 inches even. And Scarlett O'Hara's corseted waist measures 20 inches in "Gone With the Wind"--a shocking comparison, she wails, with her virginal 18 1/2-inch days. "I've grown as big as Aunt Pitty!" she cries.
On the streets, few men can boast McGwire's size. If it's any consolation, a certain reporter's arm measures barely 10 inches: the circumference of a "grande"-size coffee cup.
Nineteen is, indeed, a mighty measure, not only because of size but--if you are a fan of numerology--because of its significance.
Nineteen is one more than the number of players on a baseball diamond (and one more than the number of holes on a golf course).
It was in 1919 that the famous Black Sox scandal occurred--perhaps the darkest day in baseball history.
And test this subtle miracle: McGwire hit No. 61 on his father's 61st birthday (tying a record originally set in 1961). Now turn that number upside down.
After that hit, McGwire had 19 games left in the season to break Maris' record--which he obligingly did. But note that before he cracked the 62nd homer, his record for the most home runs in two seasons was . . .
Sports fans aren't the only ones who find meaning in numbers or, for that matter, in 19. At the Million Man March in 1995, Louis Farrakhan spoke of the number of sun rays in the United States seal, and of the height in feet of the Lincoln and Jefferson monuments--all 19, he said.
"That number 19, when you have a 9, you have a womb that is pregnant," he said, "and when you have a 1 standing by the 9, it means that there's some secret to be unfolded."
Which goes to show that numerology is perhaps most convincing when it's your numerology.
You can't argue with a tape measure, though. Here's a last point of comparison:
Ever seen a photo of a young, oily Arnold Schwarzenegger from his body-building days? At his peak, his arms measured 22 inches around.
And he was Mr. Universe.