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Why Athletes in Twilight Years Are Doing So Well

May 11, 1986|TONY KORNHEISER | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — No doubt you've wondered how this is happening, how so many geezer athletes have done so well recently. I wondered too. Then someone sent me a transcript of a telephone conversation that explains it all. And now I know how. Here are two hints: 1) There's something in the water; 2) Don Ameche. Read on.

Hello. Antarean Salvage Company of St. Petersburg, Florida; Walter speaking. That's us. We put more slip in your hip, more glide in your stride, more pep in your step, more ounce in your bounce.

Creaky old bones got you down?

Tired and winded, wearing a frown?

We'll make you feel young, we'll make you feel cool.

C'mon over here, take a dip in our pool.

We do aquatic therapy. We have special imported waters. Swim in them and we guarantee you'll feel younger. References? Our client list is confidential. Might I put you on hold for a moment, Mr. Herzog? I have some other calls waiting.

Jack, how's business? A whole new line of clothing, and MacGregor wants to market the putter? That's masterful. Yes, 7 tonight is fine. Will you be flying in on Arnie's Lear? You two can share the pool, but tell him to be careful; last time he was here he got so excited he spilled Pennzoil into the water. Gotta go, Jack, someone's on the other line.

Shoe! Of course I saw it. That cut-in move you made at the turn--that was vintage stuff. What do you mean you can't believe it? Why, because you're 54? Shoe, I told you this pool was a Fountain of Youth. Actually it's better, because it rolls back the years but not the experiences, so you're able to retain the knowledge you've acquired through the years, and use it when you need to. Like when you were pinned against the rail and dead last early on, you didn't panic or rush things; you knew you had time to get back in the race. Congratulations, and congratulate Mr. Whittingham, too; 54 and 73, that's some exacta. We'll see both of you before the Preakness.

You still there, Mr. Herzog? What can I do for you? Let me get this straight: You say you can't beat the Mets unless you get some help. What kind of help? Sure I remember The Big Red Machine--the Cincinnati teams of the early and middle 1970s. Matter of fact, I see one of their members on a regular basis. His initials are PR, and that's not Grecian Formula in his hair, it's chlorine. You want to do what? Whitey, let me put you on hold again. I need to think about this.

"Walter, call on line three."

Cleveland being good to you, Phil? Sure, an hour tomorrow. You're bringing Tom, picking him up in Chicago. Okay. You or Tom, or maybe Nolan, really ought to talk to Lefty. This pool will help him a lot more than that Zen routine.

"Line two."

Bobby! Heaven knows, Mr. Allison, what did you do, put our pool water in your gas tank?

"Line one."

Kareem. This evening is fine. Doc, too?

"Line four."

Reggie. Thursday at 6. Just be careful, You're supposed to use the power to hit homers, not fans.

"Line two again."

It'll be a pleasure, Mr. Horowitz.

"Line five."

I don't see why not, Gordie. I could freeze the pool and you could skate on it. Maurice and Bobby? Certainly. I know a team that could really use you guys. Call 202 area code and ask for David or Bryan.

"Line three."

Good, Gale, and you? Yes, Jim is still welcome here. But no cleats. And if Franco shows up, you have to make sure they don't fight again.

"Line two."

I wondered where you'd gone, Mr. DiMaggio. I found the coffee filters and put them in your locker. See you next week.

"Line one."

No question about it, Sugar Ray, if you want to fight Hagler, some laps in the pool will help get you in condition. But you'd better act quick. That Leonard kid is coming out of retirement to fight Hagler, too.

"Line four."

No, Gloria, Jimmy hasn't called yet. Yes, Gloria, I think he should, too.

"Line five."

It's interesting you should propose this. Indeed we do have a ramp, and yours wouldn't be the first horse to use it. How do you think they decided John Henry was ready to race again? By all means ship Secretariat down.

"Line two."

Sorry Mr. Bogues, it makes you young, not tall.

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