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Morning Briefing

The Real Exercise Came After Latest of Zimmer's Falls

March 19, 1986

Don Zimmer, whose playing career was marked by one concussion after another, went down for the count again at the Chicago Cubs' camp in Mesa, Ariz.

Zimmer, a coach for the Cubs, fell off an exercise machine in the clubhouse and was knocked unconscious.

Manager Jim Frey told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "When Zim came to, the doctor asked him who the president was before Ronald Reagan. Zim said, 'I didn't know that before I hit my head, Doc.'

"Then they told him his eyes looked blurry. Zim said, 'Doc, my eyes were blurry when I played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That's why I hit .230.' "

After George Karl had been fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a reporter asked injured player Edgar Jones for his reaction, expecting a few thousand words from the NBA's most voluble player. Alas, nobody had told Jones.

"No! Really?" Jones said. "If I'm not playing, I don't tend to pay much attention to the newspapers and television."

Trivia Time: What was significant about the only home run ever hit by pitcher Joe Niekro of the New York Yankees? (Answer below.)

Once a jock always a jock: Although he is making his mark as a legislator, Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) says: "My staffers joke that if I ever go to Russia and meet with Gorbachev, the news stories will start off with 'Bill Bradley, former New York Knick . . . ' "

Anyone notice that Southwest Missouri State, the school that beat Marquette in the second round of the NIT, is from the same conference as Cleveland State? It belongs to the Assn. of Mid-Continent Universities, otherwise known as the AMCU-8.

What would be the odds of the AMCU-8 sweeping the NCAA and NIT titles?

Add Cleveland State: One wonders what kind of team they'd have if Jim Les hadn't transferred to Bradley, where he became the MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference, and if Manute Bol had stuck around.

Bol was there two years ago, but he didn't play. He then transferred to the University of Bridgeport.

"He would have been a sophomore for this team," Cleveland State publicist Merle Levin told the Denver Post. "But when he got here he could not read, write or speak English and there would have been an age problem. We didn't really know how old he was. In Africa, you can be as old as you want to be."

Add Bol: He wasn't allowed to practice with the team at Cleveland State, so he played in pickup games. A sometime participant was Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Pluto wrote: "Manute would stand under the basket, and I would throw him the ball. I completely shattered all pickup game records for assists."

Now-it-can-be-told dept.: In a story on baseball in the Dominican Republic, Glenn Macknow of the Knight Ridder News Service wrote:

"What the fans like is hustle. A guy might hit .220, but if he runs hard, Dominican fans will cheer him. They still talk about Roger Maris. Back in 1959, Maris came south as a young phenom who hit home runs but disliked running out ground balls. When fans booed his lack of effort, Maris responded with a one-finger salute. He was quickly escorted out of the country."

Trivia Answer: He hit it off brother Phil Niekro in 1976 when he was pitching for Houston and Phil for Atlanta. The homer helped the Astros beat the Braves, 4-3. Quotebook

Sonny Jurgensen, on his fast-living days as an NFL quarterback: "All I know is Richard Burton outlived James Fixx."

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