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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

He's Living Proof You Can't Believe Your Own Ears

July 22, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Stop spreading the news:

Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees' all-star shortstop, was shot last week in Newark, N.J., and rushed to a hospital. Or so he heard on a radio report while driving to Yankee Stadium, a victim of another bad rumor but not gunfire.

"Man, I hope no one is planning to shoot me and they let it out early," he said after arriving in the clubhouse. "I was asleep today, man. I didn't get up until 1 o'clock, I wasn't shot today, as far as I know."

Said teammate Chili Davis from a few lockers over, not letting Jeter joke it away that easily:

"Better get a bodyguard."

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Trivia time: Cal Ripken is closing in on becoming only the second player to spend his entire career in the American League and total at least 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. Who was the first?

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Reading is fumblemental: Kansas City Chief linebacker Derrick Thomas, after an original payment of a little more than $61,000 about a year and a half ago, has canceled the remainder of a $127,000 pledge to libraries in Kansas City, Mo., because of bad publicity over the unpaid amount.

The donation was supposed to pay fines for lost and overdue books for more than 4,000 children in the city, thereby enabling them to check out more books. Thomas' spokeswoman said that another problem, in addition to his being upset by the public disclosure of the matter, is that John Elway has not yet fulfilled his promise to sign footballs that would be sold to raise money.

Elway's representatives said they had not heard of any such plan.

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Caddie hacked: This marks the first week, at the John Deere Classic in Illinois, that PGA Tour caddies will be permitted to wear shorts if the heat index reaches 100 or higher. It comes with the stipulation, though, that the optional new look is required to be "hemmed, khaki color and should be no shorter than knee-length," according to a memo from tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.

And aren't the caddies thrilled.

Andy Martinez, who carries for Tom Lehman, said of the PGA brass: "Those guys are ridiculous."

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Beantown/Greentown: Tim Flannery, normally the San Diego Padres' third base coach, became an emergency relief pitcher. It was at the home run contest at the all-star competitions in Boston, when he served up 13 blasts in 16 swings to a certain slugger.

"I'm in there after batting practice, icing down, eating about two dozen clams and sipping on a Guinness," Flannery said. "Mark McGwire comes up to me before the Home Run Derby and says he doesn't have a guy to pitch to him.

"I don't know what happened to the guy who was supposed to throw, but I start thinking: Irish guy hitting, Irish guy throwing, Irish beer, Irish city. Gotta be. Gotta do it."

Green Monster, indeed.

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Trivia answer: Carl Yastrzemski.

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And finally: Pitcher David Cone this week got his third traditional key to the city from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to go with the ones after the Yankees won the World Series in 1996 and '98. The latest salute honored Cone's perfect game on Sunday and came with another, more practical gift:

A giant key chain.

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