Marty Brennaman is firmly established as the Cincinnati Reds' announcer, but when he took the job in 1974, all he heard about was the man he replaced, Al Michaels, one of the most popular play-by-play men in the team's history.
"I got to thinking, 'What have I gotten myself into?' " Brennaman told the Pittsburgh Press. "It was the only time in my career that I was feeling like maybe I made a mistake, that I might not be good enough, that maybe I couldn't cut it."
So, when he made it without incident through the Reds' exhibition opener at Bradenton, Fla., Brennaman said, "I felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders."
The next day, as the Reds prepared to play their first spring game at their home base of Al Lopez Field in Tampa, Brennaman opened his broadcast with: "Hello, everyone, and welcome to Al Michaels Field."
What's for dessert? Offensive tackle Derrell Marshall, a transfer from Bakersfield College, is listed at 6 feet 4 inches and 290 pounds in the USC media guide, but when he reported to camp last week, his weight couldn't be determined because the scale quits at 317 pounds.
Marshall, whose cousin is Goose Tatum, formerly of the Harlem Globetrotters, goes by the nickname Turk.
"When I was 5 years old," he said, "I ate a whole turkey."
Speaking of nicknames and big eaters, an offensive tackle at Florida's Deerfield Beach High School, Robert Russ, wears size-15 shoes, has a 50-inch waist, stands 6-8 and weighs 385.
Teammates call Russ the Glacier.
Sometimes, playing for a losing team has its benefits.
Johnny O'Brien, who played six seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1950s, told this story to Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Press:
"I zipped through a yellow light, and a police officer stopped me. I showed him my license. He said, 'You got a New Jersey driver's license and a Pennsylvania plate. Where do you live?'
"I said, 'Seattle, Wash.'
"He said, 'What are you doing in Pittsburgh?' I told him I had a summertime job playing second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"He handed me back my wallet and said, 'Go ahead. You have enough problems already.' "
Trivia Time: Who holds the national high school single-game record for touchdowns on kickoff returns? (Answer below.)
Attention, Larry Smith: USC's last four football coaches have failed to win their opening games as the Trojan coach.
In 1957, Don Clark and the Trojans lost to Oregon State, 20-0.
In 1960, John McKay and the Trojans lost to Oregon State, 14-0.
In 1976, John Robinson and the Trojans lost to Missouri, 46-25.
And in 1983, Ted Tollner and the Trojans tied Florida, 19-19.
A USC coach hasn't won his first game at the school since 1951, when Jess Hill's first team beat Washington State, 31-21.
Smith will make his debut as USC's coach Sept. 7 at Michigan State.
Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press collected these malapropisms:
From Met announcer Ralph Kiner: "The Pirates won 8 of their 102 losses against the Mets last season."
Kiner on Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, which opened in 1970: "Baseball began right here in this very stadium back in 1869."
Not to be outdone, Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto had this to say after partner Fran Healy referred to himself and Rizzuto as journalists: "Yes, but you gotta make things up once in a while."
According to Tracy Franz, a backup tight end who is keeping a training camp diary for the San Jose Mercury News, Coach Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers talked to the players about intimidation before their exhibition game against the Raiders last week.
Apparently, the words were wasted on Franz.
"The fact that we were playing the Raiders didn't affect me at all," he wrote. "The way I looked at it, they were wearing black uniforms, and we were wearing red and white. They were 8-8 last season, and we were 10-5-1. That's not too intimidating."
The 49ers won the game, 42-16.
Trivia Answer: Roger Maris, who returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in a 1951 game for Shanley High of Fargo, N.D., according to the National High School Sports Record Book.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Walt Terrell: "It's great to be in first place, but we've still got tomorrow to go. I'm not going to bake a cake and have a girl pop out of it."