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Decades Later, Splinter's Memory Still Crystal Clear

THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

March 30, 1998|MAL FLORENCE

Billy Crystal recalled when he met Ted Williams, one of his boyhood heroes:

"I walked up to him at a card-signing show and told him I still had home movies I made of him striking out," Crystal said.

He described the day of the game and the time at bat. Williams thought about it for a moment then nodded his head.

"Curveball," he said. "Low and away."

* Trivia time: Who holds the record for most rebounds in a Final Four game?

*

Agonizing: A.J, Foyt's sons, Larry and Jerry, race Formula 2000. At Phoenix, Larry gave his ride to Jerry after getting hurt in a crash.

"Watching your brother get in your car is a little like watching him kiss your girlfriend," Larry said.

*

Different priorities: Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Stanford has had four NBA first-round draft picks in its history. Kentucky, which beat the Cardinal in overtime on Saturday, had five on its 1996 team alone."

*

Ripping Reggie: Bob Kravitz in the Rocky Mountain News: "Please tell me Reggie White was just reading for the Archie Bunker part in 'All in the Family.' "

*

More Kravitz: "Just when I thought fixing a Nuggets game was the perfect crime--how would you know if they've thrown a game?--I read about the Northwestern game-fixing fiasco."

*

Tongue twisters: Blackie Sherrod in the Dallas Morning News: "March Madness announcers earned their paychecks. Try these on your upper plate: Obinna Ekezie and Sarunas Jasikevicius . . . and this is just the Maryland roster."

*

Workaholic? Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, has boundless energy.

"I like to get to the office by 4 or 4:20 [a.m.]," Gruden said. "I think my brother [who was visiting him] thought I'd get up at 7 or 7:30, have some eggs and sit around reading the paper."

*

Lumbering: Stanford's Dancing Tree, called the "worst mascot in the tournament" by Rhode Island Coach Jim Harrick, was in usual irreverent form Saturday.

In what appeared to be a dig at the commercialism of the Final Four at San Antonio, the Tree sported a coonskin cap from the Alamo--with price tag attached.

The Tree is Stanford sophomore Matt Enumclaw, who said: "The Stanford attitude rejects all things that are normal or corporate."

*

Trivia answer: Bill Russell of San Francisco, with 27 against Iowa in the championship game of 1956. Houston's Elvin Hayes had 24 against UCLA in a semifinal game in 1967.

*

And finally: Dan Bickley in the Arizona Republic on Arizona Diamondback Manager Buck Showalter:

"He comes off as a drill sergeant hellbent on discipline. His smile is AWOL, and the look on his face resembles a man who just chugged a quart of motor oil. And the only B.S. is his initials."

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