Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" ---- 07-01-06

Calling all football fans: Need a pigskin fix in the middle of July? Then check out the 10th annual Hall of Fame Football Classic--which will be held Friday, July 14th, at 7:30 PM at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven (CT). Talented graduated high school seniors from Fairfield County will square off against their counterparts from New Haven County; New Haven County leads the series 6-3 after winning 19-3 last year during a driving rainstorm. Tickets are $7.00 each (available at the gate) and proceeds go toward raising funds for deserving high school scholar-athletes..........TRIVIA QUESTION: In Montreal Expos history (1969-2004), what player holds the team record for most home runs in a season by a left-handed batter? Answer to follow........
Channel surfing last weekend, I came across the U.S. Paintball Championships (I kid you not, folks) on ESPN. Sorry, not my cup of tea. If I want to see the human body being splattered with paint, I'd rather refer to my copy of SI's 2006 Swimsuit Issue and gaze at the feature of supermodel Heidi Klum wearing JUST PAINT..........If I'm starting a baseball team from scratch, Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox probably wouldn't be my first pick--but he surely wouldn't be my LAST, either..........This week in sports history, July 2, 1977: 21-year-old Swede Bjorn Borg wins his second straight Wimbledon title--outlasting American Jimmy Connors in five sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. In a match that lasted 3 hours 14 minutes, Connors made a remarkable comeback from a 0-4, 30-40 fifth-set deficit--before losing his concentration after double-faulting, which allowed the talented Borg to close out the victory..........47-year-old (maybe older) Mets infielder/pinch hitter Julio Franco recently told the New York Post that his favorite movie is "The Ten Commandments." Ah, very commendable, Julio, but I bet there is even one more cardinal rule that you follow religiously: Thou shalt not RETIRE...........Did you know that, in 1936, outfielder Woody Jensen of the Pittsburgh Pirates collected 197 hits--but only hit for an average of .283? Jensen's 696 at-bats that season set a record for a 154-game schedule. The man was NOT a selective hitter; he walked only 16 times during that '36 campaign and only 69 times in a nine-year career..........Can you imagine if former Lewis & Clark College basketball player Gwen Forrest hooked up with PGA golfer Scott Gump? If they ever walked down the aisle, fans of Tom Hanks' flicks would surely delight in her married name of Gwen Forrest Gump..........Answer to trivia question: HENRY RODRIGUEZ--who belted 36 homers in 1996 for Felipe Alou's second-place club..........Former Chicago Bears WR Willie Gault made headlines recently--setting a new world record in the masters division (ages 45-49) by running the 100 meters in 10.72 seconds. Question: Are there any other "40-something" individuals out there like yours truly--whose joints are now aching just from READING this?..........How 'bout the line last week on Cardinals pitcher Jason Marquis--who threw five innings vs. the White Sox, gave up FOURTEEN hits, and a staggering THIRTEEN runs (all earned)? I can only think of three reasons why Marquis was allowed to take such a pounding: 1) St. Louis' bullpen was overworked, 2) the bullpen gate was LOCKED, or 3) Marquis didn't pick up the tab the last time he and manager Tony LaRussa went out for dinner..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former big-league pitcher Frank Tanana--who blows out 53 candles on July 3rd. A Detroit native, Tanana enjoyed a long career--pitching 21 seasons between 1973 and 1993 for the Angels, Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Mets, and Yankees; he had a lifetime record of 240-236. A three-time All-Star, Frank led the AL in strikeouts in 1975 (269) and ERA in 1977 (2.54). A smoke-throwing lefty when he came up, arm problems caused Tanana to become a very crafty hurler in his later years. Best wishes, Frank..........Finally, condolences go out to the families of former Milwaukee Brewers scout Bill Moffitt and Seton Hall soccer player Mary Jennings--both of whom died recently. Moffitt, 88, also happened to be the father of tennis legend Billie Jean King and ex-major league pitcher Randy Moffitt; he was a modest gentleman and never interfered with his talented children's athletic endeavors. Jennings, only 21 years old, died at her home in Piscataway, NJ; she played in two games in 2004 and 14 in 2005 before being diagnosed in early May with cancer. May these two individuals rest in peace.

Bob Lazzari

Reprinted by permission of the Valley Times.


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