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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Two-Sport Stars Eventually Made the Braves' Day

April 08, 1999|LISA DILLMAN

What if four Atlanta Brave players and Manager Bobby Cox had taken that other athletic fork in the road?

Certainly, the very thought would have Brave fans waking up in a cold sweat, a nightmare scenario if Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Brian Jordan and Cox had flipped a coin and picked another sport. Glavine, of course, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984. Cox bypassed the dream of playing football for UCLA or USC. Jones was a stellar football player. Jordan played his final pro football game seven years ago.

Smoltz grew seven inches as a high-schooler in Michigan and was one day away from entering Michigan State in 1985 to play baseball and basketball.

"It would have been fun trying," Smoltz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I felt I could make a big-time school, but probably not play much--shoot free throws, stuff like that. But I wanted to try.

"Jud Heathcote kids me to this day. He says I was too much of a spaz to play for him."

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Trivia time: When Babe Ruth completed his career in 1935 with 714 home runs, he had more than twice as many as his closest pursuer. Who was the slugger who eventually reached the 500 plateau?

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Alone again, naturally: Italian Giovanni Soldini is on the verge of winning the Around Alone yacht race, a nine-month epic odyssey through the seas. He is leading heading into the final leg of the 27,000-mile race for solo sailors.

Already, he is a hero.

Isabelle Autissier, a heavy favorite to win, flipped and could not right her 60-foot yacht, PRB. Soldini braved 30-foot seas to save her life.

"If I am here today, if I am able to speak to you, to laugh or cry or whatever, it is because Giovanni came," she told the hundreds who greeted her and Soldini when they arrived March 3 in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

"Of course, I am sad about my boat, but to be alive is better."

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By George: Texas Gov. George W. Bush attended the Ranger opener against the Detroit Tigers and offered some broadcast play-by-play.

He left the TV booth hoping Texas would rally.

"Particularly if I'm not at the mike," Bush said.

Things failed to improve when he joined the Ranger radio broadcast for more play-by-play. By then the Tigers led, 11-0.

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Pony.com: More than two decades after his 1961 Kentucky Derby trophy was stolen from his home, jockey John Sellers may get it back, thanks to the Internet.

It was swiped from Sellars' home in Monrovia in 1978.

Sellers, 62, now living in Hallandale, Fla., was told by a friend last week that his beloved trophy was for sale on the Internet auction site eBay.

"I never thought I'd see any of them again," Sellers said in [New Jersey's] The Trentonian. "I was absolutely shocked. I couldn't believe it. I had just assumed that all my trophies were melted down."

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Trivia answer: Jimmie Foxx.

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And finally: Tommy Hawkins, former Notre Dame All-American and former Laker star, on the legendary John Wooden: "John Wooden is a beacon in a world of flashlights."

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