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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

These Kids Use Equipment That Passed a Drug Test

May 22, 1996|MAL FLORENCE

Youngsters in Stockton are getting 1,205 soccer balls. Their benefactors? An international heroin-smuggling ring.

The balls were among 1,300 soccer balls seized as evidence five years ago. Investigators determined that 95 balls, which weighed more than the rest, were used to smuggle powdered heroin into the country from Pakistan.

The rest of the balls were held as evidence. One defendant has pleaded guilty in the case, and the other disavowed ownership of the balls, so the courts released them from evidence.

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Trivia time: What nickname identified the Houston Astros before 1965?

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Brick brothers: Peter Vecsey in the New York Post: "Wilt Chamberlain told me last summer Orlando ought to hire him as Shaq's foul-shot doctor.

" 'After all, I already know what doesn't work. I've missed them from every possible angle and made every conceivable adjustment.' "

Chamberlain was a 51.1% free-throw shooter in his 14-year NBA career and only 48.5% in the playoffs.

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Burning Musburger: Mark Soltau of the San Francisco Examiner writes that sportscaster Brent Musburger keeps insisting--without substantiation--that Stanford sophomore Tiger Woods will become a pro golfer this summer.

"He [Musburger] knows more about my life than I do," Woods told Soltau. "He's never asked me anything. Considering the source, it's not hard to understand."

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Canadian zoo? Jerry Crasnick in the Denver Post: "Maybe it's a blessing the crowds in Montreal are small. When the Rockies were in town, Dante Bichette dodged so many objects from the stands that he asked local reporters, 'What do they feed these people, anyway?' "

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Golfing tip: Annika Sorenstam of Sweden, the U.S. Women's Open champion, listens to birdies. She said that when she putts, she never sees the ball go in the hole.

"I keep my head down and listen to the ball when it drops into the cup," Sorenstam said. "It helps me keep my head still."

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Too demanding: Noting how many youths applied for the NBA draft to play at "the next level," Hal Bock of the Associated Press writes: "Maybe the next level ought to be English 101."

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Strange marketing: Dan Shaughnessy in the Boston Globe: "In North Carolina, you can buy NASCAR bagels. 'Rusty Wallace Wheels' come in packs of [what else?] four. In the words of Bob Costas, 'When I think bagels, I think NASCAR.' "

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Looking back: On this day in 1976, Reggie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals hit three home runs--two right-handed and one left-handed--in a 7-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Trivia answer: They were known as the Houston Colt .45s.

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And finally: Cleveland Cavalier mascot Whammer, whose favorite stunt is sliding down a rope from the rafters, asked team radio announcer Joe Taite why he never mentions him on the air.

Replied Taite: "I'll mention you when the rope breaks."

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