Keep your eye on the Memphis Grizzlies. What? What did he say? I said---keep your eye on Memphis. The greatest architect in NBA history was and is Jerry West. West didn’t agree to take the top post in Memphis just to eat the best barbecue and listen to the best blues music going, although Memphis is precisely the place to do both. He did it to make the Grizzlies a big-time winner in time. And he talked ancient Hubie Brown, at 69, into becoming the oldest head coach or field manager in any of the major pro sports leagues; Hubie will be the floor professor and teacher to the Grizzlies’ kiddies in their developmental years. In Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek, Memphis had two of the NBA’s top three rookie point scorers last season, and the kids are at it again this year. And if Memphis plays its cards right, and doesn’t win too often this year, they have a shot at the superstar 17-year-old Akron high-schooler, LeBron James, in the next draft. Don’t ever bet against Jerry West.
Story of the Week
A friend of mine and Sports Junkie follower here in Las Vegas, Raye Puckett, asked me to write an article about her favorite sports figure. I promised her I would.
Born in Minneapolis in 1918, Patty Berg is remembered as one of the leading lady golfers during the ‘50s and ‘60s. She won 15 major tournaments, and was a founder-member of the LPGA in 1948.
Berg took up golf when she was 13. In 1934, at age 16, she won the Minneapolis City Championship. That was the first of 29 victories during an illustrious amateur career. She won her first major in 1937. She played in the Curtis Cup in 1936 and 1938. In the latter year, still an amateur, she was nominated Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press; that took place again in 1943 and 1955.
She turned pro in 1940. When war broke out in 1941, she joined the navy and served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps until 1945. After the war, she helped set up the LPGA in 1948, and became its first president.
The ‘50s were the prime of her pro career. Among her many victories during the decade were three Western Opens and two Titleholders. She topped the money list between 1954 and 1957. In all, Patty won 57 pro tournaments on the LPGA tour.
Berg never stopped playing golf, and continued to enjoy the game into her seventies. She set up and taught golf clinics all over the world. In later life, she contracted several illnesses including cancer. However, with proper treatment, she managed to overcome and recover, thus earning the 1975 Ben Hogan Award.
The LPGA honored her by establishing the Patty Berg Award in 1978. It is given to the lady golfer who has made the greatest contribution to women’s golf during the year. She was a giant in her field.
Last Week’s Trivia
1970 was the year of Heisman QB candidates. Three college QB stars fought for the honor, and all three went on to distinguish themselves in the NFL. Who were they? Stanford’s Jim Plunkett, Notre Dame’s Joe Theismann and Mississippi’s Archie Manning staged one of the most memorable Heisman campaigns in history. It was Plunkett who broke the NCAA passing record with 7,544 yards, and won the award.
Trivia Question of the Week
The Houston Astrodome opened on April 9, 1965. It was the site of the first indoor major league baseball game. Who was the first batter in the game, who had the first hit in the game, and who hit the first home run ever hit indoors in a game between two major league teams? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.