Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy New Year from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation



All-Fans Team, '75

    OK, 1975, take a hike! And take the rest of those bums — January through December — with you!'   
   You gave us one of the great World Series — and not much else.
   This time of the year is usually given over to the "All" teams. The All-Pro. The All-American. All-State. All-Coast. Salutes to athletes.
   But I would like to pause today to salute my own "All" team — the All-Fan squad. Two-way players. Iron men. Not a designated hitter or a placekick holder in the lot. These guys came to play, as they say.
   1 — Dimworth Witty. Dim Witty was the first guy in line for the Indianapolis 500. He lined up on 16th Street on Jan. 4. He had to quit his job back in 1938 to take up his career of being first in line to attend the 500 every year. Dim Witty has never won any lap money, but he got burned through the fence in the 1973 crash, got hit by a flying wheel in 1959, and suffered an acute case of food poisoning at an infield barbecue in 1967. Three wives have divorced him, but he has logged 1,978 yellow lights, has seen 18 drivers killed, and can recite Tony Hulman's "Gentlemen, start your engines!" from memory, which he does at New Year's parties. His house is covered with decals of STP which Andy Granatelli personally gave him.
   2 — J. Erk. Mr. Erk, J., holds the inclemency record for the NFL, National League baseball, horse racing. He has sat through every blizzard the Minnesota Vikings ever played in. He got three days off the job last year to see the sixth and seventh games of the World Series in Boston, went to the ball park early on the morning of the sixth game and all he has to show for it all is a raincheck.
     3 — Cyclops Harrigan. Cyclops sat in front of his television set from August to February watching football. His eyes have merged, and he has begun to talk exactly like Howard Cosell. He can recognize a "Gap 3" defense on sight, but he's forgotten what his wife looks like. He has drunk 7,412 cases of beer, eaten three tons of bologna sandwiches, smoked 1,000 cartons of cigarettes. He has sat through 175 half-time shows, he knows the Ford commercials by heart, and he has stared into a TV so much that his eyes hurt in sunlight.
     4 — Egbert W. Oaf. Egbert drives to Fresno or further to escape the TV blackout of Ram games. He rents a motel room to watch the game. His gas bill for the round-trip comes to $725 for the year, his motel bill $400, and he's had 11 flat tires and two head-on collisions. With hospitalization, repairs, food, tires, gas, oil, and depreciation, Egbert could have bought out the 50-yard line seats for every game. But, of course, he's saving on binoculars and parking.
   5 — Chauncey D. Cluck. Chauncey bets football cards which his bookie delivers to him in his solid-gold Rolls. Chauncey's behind in his rent, his car's repossessed, his phone's shut off, but he still thinks the San Diego Chargers are a good bet if you get the points.
   6 — Loyal A. Alum. Alum regularly carries State's varsity football team on his salary rolls, furnishes them with a company car, and keeps an open charge account at several stores for them and their girl friends or wives. Or both. For this, he gets to wear the school beanie at all home games, and they let him buy good seats. Loyal cries when they play the school alma mater. So does his comptroller. Loyal wouldn't give his brother-in-law a job sweeping out, but he'll give a 9.7 halfback with an IQ of 11 a job with a title in it and a rug on the floor.
   7 — Stopwatch Sullivan. Old Stopwatch knows the fractions, non-winning times, and order of finish of every track-and-field event that ever took place. He can tell you how many steps the Rev. Bob Richards took in winning the pole vault at Helsinki in 1952, or who finished fourth in the 20,000-kilometer walk in Melbourne. He goes to football games only to time the wide receivers for 50 yards, thinks most baseball players should be arrested for impersonating an athlete, and that a great talent was wasted when Jackie Robinson gave up long-jumping for the Dodgers. He would rather watch the Boston Marathon than the Super Bowl, and can tell you what factor the curvature of the earth had on Bob Beamon's 29-foot long jump at Mexico. His idea of Heaven is the javelin finals, and he can tell you who won the women's 800-meters at Amsterdam in 1928 or how many misses Valeriy Brumel had at the lower heights at Rome in 1960.
   For all of these, we wish Happy 1976, and hope they get their fondest wishes in the new year — a seat in the rain, behind the pole, long lines to stand in, scalpers to support, plenty of "days" for them to ship in and give their favorite $10,000-a-year athletes new boats and cars and a year's supply of gas and new television sets.
   They'll go to every team banquet, buy up every bobblehead doll and bubblegum card in sight, buy every product advertised on "NFL Today" and, in general, do what they like best: support major league professional athletics in the style to which it has grown — thanks to the fans — accustomed. Happy New Year, guys! Bring money!

*Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation | P.O. Box 995 | La Quinta | CA | 92247

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