Quick Takes


    The NBA All-Star Game weekend here in Vegas was a financial boom, as if Vegas needed it. It was a perfect venue for the multi-day event. After all, it’s Las Vegas, the world’s largest adult sandbox.


    I saw and talked with the great Oscar Robertson last week at Bellagio. I gave him my card, let him know that he was featured on my website (6-17-04), and that his amazing feat of averaging a triple-double over the entire ’61-’62 NBA season will never be equaled. He is and always has been a first-class gentleman.   


    Retired NBA guard Tim Hardaway is class without the cl. He vocalized that he hates gay people. Great! Just what the world needs is more prejudice. Prejudice is the ugliest word in the dictionary. As a member of a minority group myself (I’m a Jew), I find stated and shown prejudice on the part of any minority group member all the more offensive. Based on what his people have been through, Tim Hardaway, a black man, should know better.


    When Blowhard Barkley is in Vegas, he doesn’t miss an opportunity to make it known to the media that he’s a high-roller at the blackjack tables. He should save some of that money for Weight Watchers.  


    “Meadowlark” Lemon, Marques Haynes, “Goose” Tatum, “Sweetwater” Clifton, and “Curly” Neal are all immediate links to the Harlem Globetrotters. But there are other rather famous celebrities, sports (not just basketball) and otherwise, who played for the Trotters and then went on to achieve greater fame. This group includes Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, John Chaney, Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins and Lou Brock. I knew all these, but I learned that comedian Bill Cosby is in this group as well.


    Barry Bonds is back with SF for the 2007 season. I certainly hope Bonds breaks it very early..........no, not the great Henry Aaron’s record..........his right leg, in several places.  


Story of the Week



    It is widely believed that comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That simply is not true, at least not quite.

numerous plays, musicals, films, books, and television programs have melded humor with the sport of baseball, the quintessential amalgamation of comedy and the American national pastime remains the renowned "Who’s On First?” skit popularized by the legendary comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.


    Drawn from stock burlesque sketches and honed to perfection by Abbott and Costello over many years and thousands of performances, the skit, which plays on the predictable confusion involved in keeping track of a baseball roster stocked with players bearing names such as "Who," "What," and "I Don't Know,” was a staple of the duo's radio appearances from the late 1930s through the 1940s as well as the centerpiece of their 1945 feature film, “The Naughty Nineties.”  

    The enduring popularity of the "Who's on First?" sketch (I own the video and I marvel at its brilliance) created a similarly enduring association between Abbott and Costello and baseball, contributing to the mistaken belief that the comedians have been the only people with no professional connection to the sport to be honored with induction into the National Baseball
Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Erroneous statements to this effect, such as the following, can be found on a variety of web sites:


            In 1956, one year before the release of their last film together, "Dance With Me Henry," and their official (and amicable) split, Bud and Lou were brought together on THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW before a live nationwide viewing audience. The emotion was further heightened when Steve Allen announced the induction of Abbott & Costello and their Gold Record of "Who's On First" into the World-famous, BASEBALL HALL OF FAME in Cooperstown, N.Y. Abbott & Costello are the first non-baseball playing celebrities ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


    As of 2006, the Hall of Fame has so far enshrined 278 members, but Abbott and Costello don't number among them, nor do any other non-baseball personnel. All members are former players, managers, executives, or umpires. (The Hall of Fame honors baseball writers and broadcasters with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and the Ford C. Frick Award, respectively, but these honorees are not officially members of the Hall itself.)

    According to the Hall of Fame's

We often hear baseball fans ask the following trivia question: "Who are the only members of the Hall of Fame that have nothing to do with baseball?" The supposed answer is "Bud Abbott and Lou Costello." Actually, that answer isn't quite correct. Abbott and Costello are not members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, though the comedy duo is featured in our museum.

The confusion probably stems from a May, 1956 announcement that a recording and transcript of the famous routine were going to be put on permanent display in Cooperstown:

A gold recording of the "Who's on First?" routine of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello will be placed on permanent display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., a spokesman for the comedians said today. 

    The belief that Abbott and Costello are in the Hall of Fame as members is understandable, given that the official name of the Cooperstown baseball institution is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and the museum portion (where the "Who's on First?" recording is housed) is far more prominent, occupying about 93% of the exhibit space, than the gallery where the inductees' plaques are displayed.

    Although Abbott and Costello may not be actual members of the Hall of Fame, they're featured more prominently in the museum than some of the figures who are in the Hall. For two men who never set foot on a professional baseball field in any official capacity, that's quite an honor.


Last Week’s Trivia


    The answer is Gil Hodges. As I’ve stated more than once on my website:

Gil Hodges is not in the Hall of Fame. Gil Hodges belongs in the Hall of Fame. It is a travesty of justice that Hodges is not there.

    For more about Gil Hodges, see my article dated 9-4-03.


Trivia Question of the Week


    Name the six NHL expansion teams in 1967, that being the league’s first such expansion venture. Also, which of these teams have ever won the Stanley Cup? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.