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CALL IT IN THE AIR.
March 1, 2002
by Bill Hogan

 

 
 

Itís a good time to take a look back into the annals of sports. On March 5, 1922 the great Babe Ruth was in contract negotiations with New York Yankee co-owner Colonel Tillinghast Huston.

The Babe, coming off the 1921 season in which he hit a record fifty-nine home runs, wanted a three year contract worth fifty thousand a year. That would make him baseballís highest paid player, and rightly so.

 
 


Iím not sure what the Colonelís counter offer was but obviously it wasnít to the Babeís liking and both sides were at a standstill. At a meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas Ruth suggested an intriguing manner by which to settle the monetary dispute.

On March 5 eighty years ago, Babe Ruthís salary would be decided by the flip of a coin. Heads, the Babe played for the money offered by the Colonel, tails and he would receive fifty grand a year for three years plus five hundred dollars for every home run he hit.

The Colonel flipped a half-dollar and when it landed, the Babe became the highest paid baseball player of all time. Heíd go on to hit thirty-five home runs during the 1922 season and cash in another seventeen and a half thousand dollars.

Iíd have to consult my friend at Morgan Stanley but I figure sixty-seven grand, factoring in the rate of inflation for eighty years, would make even A-Rod a happy man.

The Babe let it ride on the toss of a coin.

Itís a good time to take that look back because, despite the Olympics, we are currently in the midst of the annual void between the Super Bowl and March Madness.

The games are behind us. The rumble over the French figure skating judge has subsided, Michael Jordan is out, possibly for the rest of the year, probably for the rest of his life and we still have two weeks to kill before the start of the NCAA Menís Basketball Tournament.

Baseballís spring training is in the early stages, the Masters is April, the Derby in May and there wonít be a really meaningful NBA or NHL game for at least two months.

I never really gave much thought as to when Sports Illustrated published their famed Swimsuit issue Ė only that they continue to publish the special edition. But it makes perfect sense to have an entire sports magazine dedicated to the latest developments in beachwear hit the newsstand in late February.

Simply, itís either that or a preview edition about this weekís Pro Bowlers Association World Championships from Toledo, Ohio.

I wonder if the editors at SI saw fit to toss a coin to decide which concept would be better received by their readership. Heads we go with bikini-clad fashion models, tails and itís the PBA.

The biggest problem I have with this sporting lull is that my wife (a very savvy sportsfan) knows that itís the perfect time of the year to get me to do things around the house.

Hereís how this weekend is shaping up for me.

Painfully aware of how I feel about watching bowling on television and having given me ample time to peruse the pages of the SI Swimsuit issue, itís now time for me to actually contribute to the household in some significant manner.

So I fall back on the Babeís coin toss theory.

Heads I clean the garage, tails I plant myself on the couch for third round coverage Genuity Championship (most of us know it as the Doral-Ryder Open).

Like the Colonel, my wife curiously agrees to the coin toss method. But thereís a caveat. (There always seems to be a caveat when she agrees that quickly). She picks the events.

Heads I finally hang the drapes in the master bedroom, tails I take the kids to Chucky Cheese.

Chucky Cheese. Mayhem and mozzarella. Fifty-fiftyís not going to cut it when it can land me inside the land of a thousand runny noses. How can I eat pizza with a migraine? Not that you can really call what they serve pizza. I can do better with an english muffin, a jar of Ragu and a toaster oven.

How about heads I hang myself, tails I slit my wrists.

The PBA World Championships in Toledo, Ohio never looked so good.

Heads I make it to the tipoff of the Gonzaga game a week from Thursday, tails they find me wondering in a field somewhere wearing nothing but a big foam finger.

 

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