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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Jackie Robinson of California Named Moreland

June 30, 1997

This year is the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in organized baseball, but although he grew up in Pasadena and attended UCLA, Robinson never played professional baseball in California.

The first black professional in the state was Nate Moreland, a Pasadena Junior College teammate of Robinson's, who played his first game for the El Centro Imperials of the Class C Sunset League on May 18, 1947, barely a month after Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Moreland, like Robinson, was a catcher at Muir Tech, but became a pitcher at Redlands University and pitched 10 years in the minor leagues. His record was 152-104.

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Trivia time: According to a sporting goods store survey, the top selling sports apparel item is Michael Jordan's red Bulls jersey. What is the second most popular?

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Color coordinated: Venus Williams, the 17-year-old American tennis phenom, showed up at Wimbledon wearing purple, green and white beads in her hair. They complemented purple and green braces in her teeth.

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Different strokes: Deion Sanders, on the difference between being a defensive back and a baseball player: "I'm 'Prime Time' in football. I'm Deion in baseball. Look, you've got to be that way in football. You've got to intimidate some people out there as a DB. But in baseball, that stuff doesn't work."

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Land of Schott: From Fly, in the Sporting News: "Finally, Fly sees where [the Reds], the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County've settled a lawsuit by a preacher the team kicked out of Riverfront during the '90 World Series for hangin' a "John 3:16" sign.

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"Proof positive: It ain't exactly a banner year in Cincy."

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One for the Worm: A survey of 1,500 pizza delivery people nationwide reported that the name most used when ordering pizza to be delivered is Dennis Rodman. And many of those using Rodman's name answer the door in costume.

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Just in case: The number on the umpire's room at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., where the New York Yankees hold spring training, is also written in Braille.

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Sounds like: Toronto Blue Jay infielder Juan Samuel named his recently born son Samuel Samuel.

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Tell it as it is: The slogan for Darlington International Raceway's 1.366-mile oval is "Too Tough to Tame."

Ernie Irvan has no argument with that. Asked what was the toughest part of the track, he said, "Everything after leaving the pits."

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Trivia answer: Michael Jordan's black Bulls jersey.

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And finally: Tim Murphy, 75, of Irving, Texas, had heart bypass surgery in 1984. At the time he held sprint records for 70 and over. After the surgery, he quickly resumed running and bettered the world record for the 75-79 age group with a 13.32 seconds 100 meters.

"When you change age groups and you're the new kid on the block, you've got to make hay while the sun shines," Murphy said.

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