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Arsenal Has One Final Who's Who at Highbury

May 08, 2006|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Tiger Stadium ... Boston Garden ... Highbury Stadium.

If a sad closing can happen in the U.S., it surely can occur across the pond. Another great sports architectural landmark had its final day in the athletic sun Sunday as the Arsenal soccer team ended its 93-year stay at Highbury in North London with a 4-2 victory over Wigan.

The closing ceremony included appearances by boxer Henry Cooper, who lost to Muhammad Ali in a world title fight at the stadium in 1966, and Arsenal season-ticket holder Roger Daltrey of the Who, performing "My Generation."

And no, if you must ask, the Who hasn't been touring for 93 years. It only seems that way.

Fight line: The Ali-Cooper bout at Highbury was their second matchup. In 1963, Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, fought Cooper at Wembley Stadium and overcame a fourth-round knockdown. According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Ali phoned Cooper on the 40th anniversary of the fight to reminisce.

Trivia time: Who was the LPGA Tour's first grandmother?

Shell game: The NFL draft's l-e-n-g-t-h can lead to a bit of confusion ... bringing Oakland Raider Coach Art Shell to mind.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News noted that Shell on draft day referred to Matt Leinart as "Mike Leinart."

That wasn't all, USC fans.

"It's my duty to report that Shell also referred to Leinart's USC teammate as 'Michael Bush,' so who knows, maybe Mike J. Simpson, Michael Polamalu, Mike-dale White and Mickey Lott also commanded high spots on the Raiders' draft board," Kawakami wrote.

"Or maybe the Raiders were ... determined to draft somebody named Michael, and Huff was the best Mike available."

Endangered species: Gordon Wittenmyer of the St. Paul Pioneer Press researched the dying art of the inside pitch and the reasons behind its decline.

It wasn't always that way.

"[Don] Drysdale always told me when he went to the mound, both sides of the plate were his," Bert Blyleven, the former major league pitcher and current TV analyst for the Minnesota Twins, told Wittenmyer. "The hitter just had to guess which side he was going to."

Good old days: Meanwhile, in the minors ...

On the same website where the decline of the inside pitch was lamented by former major leaguers, a wire story reported that a double-A game Saturday was stopped because of three bench-clearing incidents.

"I've been in the game a long time, and I've never seen anything like this," Birmingham (Ala.) Baron Manager Chris Cron told the Associated Press of the game with the Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns. "It was out of hand. Nobody was in control. So I took my guys off the field."

How did it all start? Apparently with a high pitch ... but not an inside one.

Trivia answer: Bettye Danoff. Danoff, in 1950, was one of the 13 founders of the LPGA.

And finally: England's next soccer manager, Steve McClaren, showed he may be the best man for the job when he once spoke about his limited interests to reporters: "I don't read the papers, I don't gamble, I don't even know what day it is."

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