The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes
by David Bruce
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Some samples: 1) The Boston Celtics basketball team scored a couple of notable firsts in opening doors to talented African Americans. In 1950, Walter Brown drafted Chuck Cooper, an African-American forward who played for Duquesne University. Another owner of an NBA team tried to convince Mr. Brown not to become the first team owner to draft an African-American player, but Mr. Brown replied, “I don’t give a damn if he’s striped or polka-dot or plaid—Boston takes Charles Cooper of Duquesne.” In addition, when Red Auerbach quit coaching the Celtics, he handpicked center Bill Russell to be his replacement. Mr. Russell thus became the first African-American head coach or manager in a major team sport in the United States. In appreciation for Mr. Russell’s talents, the Celtics paid him $100,001—$1 more than Philadelphia star Wilt Chamberlain received. 2) When professional baseball teams started to pay for the wives of All-Stars to attend the All-Star game, the single All-Stars complained, and so they were allowed to bring along a parent, sibling, or friend at the team’s expense. In 1984, Damaso Garcia was an All-Star, and he asked his friend Alfredo Griffin, an infielder, to go with him. When they arrived at the All-Star game, they discovered that infielder Alan Trammel had been hurt, and Mr. Griffin, since he was already there, was asked to take his place. Ironically, Mr. Griffin could never become an All-Star on his own merits, but he had an incentive clause in his contract saying he would receive a $25,000 bonus if he became an All-Star. Since he indisputably was on an All-Star team, he received his $25,000. 3) In 1971, an unusual raffle was held—the winner got to send 5,000 dead fish to the polluter of his or her choice. The dead fish came from Escambia Bay, and they died in a giant fish kill caused by pollution. Holding the raffle for the huge bottle of dead fish at the Pensacola (Florida) Interstate Fair was the Bream Fisherman Association.
- David Bruce, November 2011
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