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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

He Took Last Shot, Then Got Parting Shot

June 14, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Philadelphia Phillies' Manager Terry Francona managed Michael Jordan when they were in the Chicago White Sox system with the Class-AA Birmingham Barons in Alabama.

"We were playing a pickup basketball game in my apartment complex," Francona recalled. "M.J. is so competitive, even in something like that. Somehow, I ended up with the ball and missed a shot. The other team went down and made the winning basket.

"As we were walking off the court, M.J. says to me, 'Don't you know I always take the last shot?' "

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Trivia time: Who was the last amateur to win the U.S. Open?

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A young Babe? Outfielder J.J. Davis of Baldwin Park High, a first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has signed a contract that gives him a $1.675-million bonus--making him the second-highest paid player in the Pirate organization, behind pitcher Kris Benson, the club's No. 1 pick in '96 who signed for a $2-million bonus.

The 18-year-old power hitter, who stands 6 feet 6 and weighs 230 pounds, once hit a home run that traveled more than 500 feet, according to Rowland High Coach Craig Snyder.

"We have a two-story house behind our fence in left-center field," Snyder told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He hit a home run over that house and over the house behind that."

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A Kemp fan: Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer commenting on SuperSonic forward Shawn Kemp's television interview in which he demanded to be traded and hinted of conspiracies:

"Kemp sounded as loopy as his TV commercial for Reebok, a disturbingly bleak glance into an empty soul whose message couldn't sell a shoe to a barefoot supermodel standing in a campfire."

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Some feat: Shaun Powell of Newsday writes that Karl Malone "is so strong he can bench-press Michael Jordan's wallet."

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FYI: Baltimore's Roric Harrison was the last American League pitcher to hit a home run. He did it Oct. 3, 1972, against Cleveland.

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Looking back: On this day in 1987, the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics at the Forum, 106-93, winning the NBA championship in six games.

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Trivia answer: Johnny Goodman in 1933.

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And finally: Chicago Bull guard Steve Kerr on Jordan: "In three or four years, maybe he'll start on a decline. But when you're declining from a mile above everybody else . . .

"In 10 years, at the age of 44, he could probably be a good shooting guard in the NBA. At 54, an average shooting guard. It's all relative."

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