‘39 Wooden Golf Scorecard Has Ace, Double Eagle

The late John Wooden achieved almost incomprehensible basketball coaching feats during his glorious life, which sadly ended earlier this year at the age of 99.

But almost as rare as winning 10 national basketball championships and 88 games in a row with UCLA was a golf feat that Wooden has long been credited with, but was never indisputably verified.

That is, until his family started to clean out his Encino condo recently.

Wooden had long claimed that he once scored an ace and a double-eagle in the same golf round many, many years ago at a course in Indiana. As recently noted by Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS, Golf Digest magazine has past reported that only four people have ever actually documented such a personal occurrence. Including pros.

Make it five. Read more…

Book: Carroll Knew Who Players ‘Hung Out With’?

Pete Carroll’s new $29.95 book Win Forever is out and is currently racing up the Amazon sales charts, checking in today at #442 on the list.

Pete Carroll Lifts John Wooden Pyramid Of Success

(Carroll escaped NCAA, but could he evade copyright violations?)

In a review of the book, Marcia C. Smith of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER spotlights this passage on pages 128-129:

 ”(Carroll was able to) glean a wealth of information by paying close attention to the actions, mannerisms, and traits of our players. By taking note of the clothes they wear, the hairstyles they choose, their personal interests, and the people they choose to hang out with, we get mountains of information … to create a profile that would accurately direct our efforts to teach each player successfully.”

This from a coach who claimed to know absolutely nothing about the off-field activities of the one of the greatest college football players of all-time, Reggie Bush. (”I didn’t know.“) And the same guy who bolted for the NFL mere months before USC was hit with the worst NCAA sanctions since the SMU death penalty.

At least the previous passage was an original. Can’t say the same for some of the other coaching techniques Carroll detailed in the book. Read more…

LA Times: That Wooden Obituary Smear? Sorry!

Sad retraction today from the LOS ANGELES TIMES correcting the obituary of John Wooden that the newspaper published on June 5.

John Wooden

John Wooden obituary: The obituary on John Wooden that ran in Section A on June 5 and in a commemorative section June 13 included information attributed to former UCLA basketball player Andy Hill regarding controversial booster Sam Gilbert.

The article reported that Hill had told The Times that former team trainer Elvin “Ducky” Drake was something of a watchdog for the team, and that Drake had apparently missed what was going on with Gilbert.

Hill says that he did not discuss that with the reporter and that Drake would not have been in a position to do anything to detect Gilbert’s involvement or stop Gilbert from any inappropriate action.

Here’s the passage attributed to Hill in the Wooden obituary:

Sam Gilbert was a former UCLA student and wealthy contractor who opened his Los Angeles home to players beginning in the late 1960s and liked to think of himself as their surrogate father.

In 1967, when Alcindor and guard Lucius Allen were dissatisfied with life in Westwood and thinking seriously of transferring, Gilbert counseled them and was instrumental in persuading Allen to stay.

In a 1981-82 Los Angeles Times investigative series, several UCLA players said that Gilbert had helped athletes in ways that violated NCAA rules.

The improper benefits allegedly ranged from buying players’ game tickets at inflated prices to helping them buy cars and arrange for loans at steep discounts. On occasion, Gilbert also reportedly helped arrange abortions for their girlfriends.

Former Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps called Gilbert the “Sugar Daddy” of the UCLA program. After the Times series ran, the NCAA placed the team on probation.

None of the violations were tied to Wooden, but the retired coach acknowledged harboring suspicions about Gilbert during the 1960s and ’70s, and former players spoke of Wooden’s see-no-evil relationship with the booster.

Andy Hill, a former guard who later became a television producer and motivational speaker, told The Times that he believed that Wooden relied on longtime trainer Elvin “Ducky” Drake to be something of a watchdog for the team, and that Drake had apparently missed what was going on with Gilbert.

“Among the things Coach Wooden was good at,” Hill said, “was knowing what he didn’t want to know.”

Three days later, Chris Dufresne of the L.A. TIMES wrote a story in the newspaper titled, “The Dark Side of UCLA Basketball.

In reponse to that piece, here’s a letter Hill sent to Dufresne in which Hill notes that he was misquoted in the Wooden obit: Read more…

Why I’ll Never Forget The Night John Wooden Died

With some media friends in town working the Dodger game last night here in L.A., I decided to hit the Ravine for the first time this season. I didn’t make the decision until late afternoon, but I’m glad I did.

Vin Scully Announces John Wooden's Passing On Los Angeles TV

I’ve only lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, so I don’t have a connection to John Wooden any more unique than most of you. But the announcement of his sad passing? That moment was, though sad, something I’ll recall for all time.

I was in the Dodger Stadium press box when the news filtered out that the greatest sports legend in Los Angeles history had died, and it just so happened that perhaps the second greatest L.A. sports legend was only a few feet away from me when word came down. Read more…

Speed Read: One Day Left For Halladay Shopping

Please forgive the residents of Toronto if they’re not that relieved to learn that Roy Halladay will probably remain a Blue Jay through 2010. They’re in the midst of a rather nasty civic strike up there, and it’s hard to smell the roses when no one has picked up the trash for the past six weeks. And speaking of things that stink, Halladay gave up 11 hits over seven innings as the Jays lost to the Mariners in Seattle on Wednesday, 3-2. Ask not for whom the MLB Trade Deadline tolls. It tolls for thee.

Roy Halladay

For those keeping score at home (howdy, Steinbrenners!), Halladay has lost three of his past four decisions; kind of hard to fathom since, according to all of the trade rumors that have involved him lately, he’s supposedly The Chosen One. Those rumors have circled him like buzzards, and Halladay can’t wait for all of this to be over.

“It hasn’t been fun,” Halladay said. “There’s been a lot of attention, questions from all angles; not only the media, but friends and acquaintances.”

“I don’t know what the best way is to go about it. They’re doing their due diligence but how you go about that, what’s the best way, I’ve never had to do that.

“You never want that kind of circus. That part will be nice. It’s baseball, something you love to do and I look forward to doing it. But you look forward to a time when there are fewer outside things going on.”

He was supposed to be a Phillie by now, but the world champions got tired of waiting and asked Cliff Lee to the prom instead. (And, sorry Philadelphia, but your pitching still isn’t as good as the Giants’). So now the Jays are saying they’ll probably just keep him, even though there may be some interest from the Rangers, the Angels and the Red Sox. Also, the Yankees have been quiet on the subject … too quiet. That trading deadline of Friday at 4 p.m. (ET) cannot come soon enough.

Oh, and add the Dodgers to the list of teams interested in Halladay. Or if they weren’t before they are now, since Lee landed with the Phillies. LA has lost four straight, Albert Pujols doing the honors on Wednesday with a run-scoring single in the 15th to give the Cardinals a 3-2 win. The Giants, 7 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and first in the Wild Card race, went out and armed themselves with 2006 NL MVP batting champ Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates, after having snagged Ryan Garko from the Indians earlier in the week. The Giants gave up a lot for Sanchez in minor league pitcher Tim Alderson, whom I think is going to be great. But at least there’s some wheeling and dealing occurring to keep me amused. The Pirates, by the way, also traded Jack Wilson to the Mariners, meaning that they traded away their starting double play combination on the same day.

Elsewhere in trade deadline rumblings, you’ve got your Padres shopping first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, closer Heath Bell and right-hander Kevin Correia, with the Brewers seeming to be the team most interested in the latter. Of course the Padres offering up the cream of their roster in late July has become a tradition as old as baseball itself. The Marlins are “in serious talks” for Bell, accordingto SI.com. … if the Rangers can’t get Halladay, they’re hoping for Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn … Orioles left-hander George Sherrill to the White Sox? Baltimore needs a third baseman, and Chicago GM Kenny Williams may be willing to include Josh Fields in a deal. But Sherrill doesn’t want to go.

Meanwhile, THE SPORTING NEWS has commissioned one of those pointless, confounding polls that sucker people like me into writing about them, thus oiling the wheels of conversation. This time it’s the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time, with the winner being — no surprise here — John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood is the safe choice, as his 10 NCAA men’s titles will likely not be challenged before one school corners the market on human cloning, or the invention of Flubber. The list was voted on by a panel of coaches, the identities of which are uncertain (except for this complete list, that is. I see that Jerry Glanville is on there, which is probably why Bill Walsh is only at No. 26).

John Wooden, Bill Walton

I’m not even certain what the criteria is here. Are we just counting Xs and Os, or overall character and influence? Is basketball a harder sport to coach than football or hockey? Why leave out boxing and swimming? What, no Dennis Erickson?

Here’s the top 10:

1. John Wooden, college basketball
2. Vince Lombardi, NFL
3. Bear Bryant, college football
4. Phil Jackson, NBA
5. Don Shula, NFL
6. Red Auerbach, NBA
7. Scotty Bowman, NHL
8. Dean Smith, college basketball
9. Casey Stengel, MLB
10. Knute Rockne, college football

Although I don’t think that Wooden belongs at the top, I think it’s cool that he’s still around to be told he won this. Let’s salute him by lifting our glasses and saying: “What, you think you’re better than me? It’s go time! Mendlebaum! Mendelbaum!”

Manny Ramirez

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, why not travel to Lowell, Mass., and help the Lowell Spinners celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Manny Ramirez trade. It’s Quitters Night at LeLacheur Park as the Red Sox Single-A affiliate reminds everyone that Manny (they say) quit on the season during his last year with the Sox. Activities will include a fan vote of the top five list of quitters, liars and cheaters of all time; the top five Manny moments; and a cardboard cutout of Manny which will be signed by fans and shipped to him.

Also, the Spinners will have a hypnotist to provide assistance for fans that need a little extra help to quit smoking or other addictive habits.

And now, links to ponder while recovering from wounds inflicted by your porn star girlfriend

  • The Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki likes Britney Spears, and he doesn’t care who knows it. Also, if he could have one legendary player as a teammate, his first choice would be Derek Jeter; “except then I wouldn’t have a position. So I guess it would be Babe Ruth. He seems like someone it would be fun to hang out with.”
  • This is a pretty poor excuse for a fight at an Angels’ game, but one guy’s t-shirt does get ripped, and someone gets a beer dousing. The funny part is that the guy in the middle with the “Eight Men Out”-era straw hat, who appears to be playing peacemaker, is the one who gets the brunt of the abuse. “For the love of Christy Mathewson, knock it off you guys!”

  • I’ve always been able to make a comfortable disconnect between FOX NEWS and FOX SPORTS, but that peace was tested on Wednesday when the latter trotted out their “10 people we’d like to go away” slideshow. Among the usual suspects (Erin Andrews, etc.) we have at No. 8, President Obama? Seriously? Are Rupert Murdoch’s bony fingers pushing the buttons at the sports division now? Sorry, not even going to link to it.
  • Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza admitted that he hit the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira on purpose Wednesday night, the inning after Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain threw near the head of Evan Longoria. “It’s about time someone made a statement,” Garza said. … “I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say, ‘You know, we’re tired of it.’” Time for Bob Watson to get out the whuppin’ stick. But will he?
  • Ann Killion is leaving after 21 years as a sports reporter and columnist at the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, not a surprising development as Dean Singleton continues to cut costs and gut sports sections in his teetering MediaNews Group stable of Bay Area newspapers. We wish her well.
  • The Astros’ LaTroy Hawkins accused umpire Mike Everitt of wanting the Cubs to win in Chicago’s 5-1 victory over Houston on Wednesday. “Maybe he was having a bad day,” Hawkins said. “I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway.” … Asked by Houston reporters whether he regretted the remark, Hawkins replied: “Why would I?”
  • Bugs Bunny turned 69 this week. I mention this because of one of the greatest cartoons ever produced — 1946’s “Baseball Bugs,” which I’m sure everyone has seen at least once. This classic also indirectly produced one of the greatest blog posts of all time, “Bugs Bunny, the greatest banned player ever,” by U.S.S. MARINER. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Baseball Bugs

  • Police in Shelton, Conn., broke up a canary fighting ring recently, seizing 150 birds and confiscating $8,000 that had been bet on the fights. As you know, there’s nothing lower than canary fighting. But did these sick bastards actually think that they could elude the long arm of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture? Not likely.

Is John Wooden the best coach of all time?

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Survivor: NFL Boaters Let Sea Sweep Them Away

• The lone survivor of the NFL Florida boat wreck says Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper took off their life jackets & let the sea sweep them away.

Nick Schuyler NFL boat survivor

• Former New Orleans Saints RB Deuce McAllister is having a hell of a time with his car dealership in Mississippi.

• Good news: The Baltimore Orioles want to give you a free ticket for your birthday. Bad news: It’s for a Baltimore Orioles game.

• A couple of Wisconsin kids are in trouble for taking a whiz in sodas sold at a high school basketball game.

Read more…

Ailing Wooden’s Kids: He Can’t Sign Autographs

How do you know when a near life-long celebrity is really, really sick? When his children issue a public press release asking fans not to ask for his autograph anymore. That’s the case with Los Angeles’ personal sports Paul Bunyan, with 98-year-old UCLA basketball figurehead John Wooden needing a respite from fan attention because of a prolonged fight against pneumonia, a sickness for which he was hospitalized back on Feb. 13.

john wooden autograph

(One of hundreds from one day. One of hundreds.)

According to the L.A. DAILY NEWS, Wooden’s children made the request to try and allow their father a full chance at recovery, a move made necessary because they claim Wooden spends hours a day signing his name to memorabilia sent both to his home address and the UCLA basketball office.

Just think about that: Even though he hasn’t been actively involved in basketball in decades, Wooden is getting hundreds of items a day to sign, and he’s too dedicated to keeping his fans happy to stop doing it, so long as the mail keeps flooding in. It’s almost baffling.

Read more…

Piniella Thinks The Cubs Could Use Mental Help

Ignoring perhaps the most important sports maxim ever — that games are decided on the field — Lou Piniella is getting somewhat desperate to turn the Cubs into winners (or at least lovable losers). Sweet Lou is convinced the problems are all in their heads.

Lou Piniella

Piniella is turning to proven winners like Phil Jackson and John Wooden, and a number of sports psychologists, to settle Chicago’s mental turmoil. The signing of free agent Milton Bradley immediately invalidates any of Piniella’s strategy.

Read more…

Family Finally Swipes 98-Year-Old Wooden’s Keys

The amazing John Wooden celebrated the big 9-8 earlier this week, and for that we’re happy. We’re also relieved to know that we won’t have to worry about him plowing into any westside farmer’s markets anytime soon.

John Wooden's Car On Ebay

You see, Coach Wooden’s car is up for sale on Ebay.

Read more…

Wooden Mural Unveiled At Los Angeles School

THE GUTTY LITTLE BRUINS passes along a report from the L.A. DAILY NEWS’ Jill Painter on the tribute to college basketball legend John Wooden from the high school that bears his name. A brand new mural was unveiled in the coach’s honor earlier this month.

John Wooden Mural

The mural was designed and painted by Los Angeles artist Hector Rios, who didn’t know who Wooden was, but produced the mural in three months after the research into the iconic UCLA coach. It’s on the wall on the outside of an English classroom (Wooden taught English before his big coaching days.)

The late Nell Wooden is depicted holding a basketball. Also on the mural are “Inch and Miles”, the character from his children’s book, Wooden heroes Abe Lincoln and Mother Teresa, etc. The words ”father, husband, teacher, coach, athlete” are on the mural, with pictures of Wooden in each of those roles.

A fitting tribute to the Wizard of Westwood, who was very much the renaissance man (I had no idea he was a children’s book author.)