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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Obviously, This Is a Hobby That Suits Him to a Tee

May 18, 1999|MAL FLORENCE

James Cottingham is a golf nut--make that a golf ball nut. An anesthesiologist from Corpus Christi, Texas, Cottingham estimates he has collected 7,705 balls since his obsession began nine years ago.

He finds about 2,000 balls a year during trips to Hawaii--even in lava beds--and about half are usable. Cottingham has found he can fit about 840 in an ice chest for the flight home.

"I casually fell into this, then I realized it was a disease." said the 61-year-old Cottingham. "There's a fine line between hobbies and sanity."

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Trivia time: Who holds the Laker scoring record for an NBA playoff game?

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The kid is waiting: Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that after the Lakers had taken a 2-0 lead in their playoff series with Houston, a small boy waited for Charles Barkley in the near-empty Rocket locker room at the Great Western Forum.

"He almost whispered a request for the Air Jordans that Barkley gives away after every game.

" 'I'm sorry, I already gave them away tonight,' Barkley said. "'Come back Monday after we kick their butts in Houston, and they're yours.' "

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Bow wow powwow: Is baseball going to the dogs?

The Minnesota Twins are inviting dog owners to bring their pets to the team's Fourth of July game against the Detroit Tigers.

The Twins are the most recent baseball team to try the gimmick to attract fans. The Montreal Expos drew 21,804 fans--and 757 dogs--to a similar promotion last August.

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Invention: In his motivational book, "The Winner Within," Miami Heat Coach Pat Riley says, "When faced with a fork in the road, I say: Hit the exhilarator!"

Said Johnette Howard of Newsday: "Whatever that is. I'm guessing it's something they're putting on the Mercedes."

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New rule: Woody Paige of the Denver Post on Colorado Avalanche right wing Theo Fleury, who stands only 5-feet-6: "If a defenseman cuts Fleury, he should be penalized for 'low sticking.' "

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Elementary: Ed Price of the Mesa (Ariz.) Tribune reports that in the seventh inning of a Diamondback-Met game May 7, the pitchers were Holmes (Darren) and Watson (Allen).

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Shocking: From Jay Leno: "Bad news for professional wrestling. TV Guide is reporting that a female wrestler named Chastity once appeared in a porno movie.

"I just hope this one incident doesn't overshadow the family values message that professional wrestling has been sending all these years."

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Trivia answer: Elgin Baylor, with 61 points against Boston on April 14, 1962. In the same year, the Lakers scored an NBA playoff record of 51 points in one quarter against Detroit.

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And finally: A week ago last Sunday, New York Met TV announcer Ralph Kiner told a story about a fan who threw the ashes of his dead father onto Wrigley Field during a game.

Partner Tom Seaver wondered why Kiner would tell this story on Mother's Day.

"I was going to save it until Father's Day," Kiner said, "but I'm not working."

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