Monday, September 25, 2023 Sep 25, 2023
81° F Dallas, TX


What’s Landry’s hat size? Where’s Ron Fellows’ heart? And who is Wilford White?
By Norm Hitzges |

LANDRY, AGUIRRE, Danny White, Wacker, Schramm, Motta.

Sports names so familiar that the very mention of them conjures up pictures, flashbacks, fragments. Like Landry’s jaunty hats, Aguirre’s pained expression, the “Un-bee-lieeeevable” Wacker exuberance or the familiar look in Danny White’s eyes during crunch time.

Even those with a passing interest in sports know at least the names and some of their characteristics. To the Dallas sports junkie, that font of knowledge runs much deeper and is fed daily by a competitive media.

But, after 25 years, could there really be anything we don’t know about America’s Tom? How about his hat size-seven-and-a-quarter? Or that his son-in-law’s former University of Texas wishbone quarterback Eddie Phillips?

Even in the case of some of the most exposed sports figures, there remain some nuggets that get little or no notice. So, for whatever they’re worth, we present Some-Things-You-Probably-Didn’t-Know-About-Some-People-You-Probably-Thought-You-Knew.

CBS’ COVERAGE of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, marked the first time a network had treated an Olympic Games as programming and not just as a news event. The network’s man in charge of that coverage was Tex Schramm, then CBS’ assistant director of sports. Schramm’s choice for on-air anchor of the entire event was none other than Walter Cronkite.

Mavericks coach Dick Motta was cut from the team in his senior year at Jordan High School (Jordan, Utah) and couldn’t make the squad in any of his four years at Utah State.

Before he moved on to become a head coaching legend at the University of Texas, Darrell Royal spent two surprisingly successful years at Mississippi State where his star halfback was Bobby Collins, now SMU’s highly acclaimed coach.

The nation’s number one pass-catcher in college football for the 1977 season now plays here. Nope, it’s not Tony Hill. Not Doug Cosbie. Not Mike Renfro. It’s Texas Ranger second baseman Wayne Tolleson, then a speedy, though tiny, wide receiver at Western Carolina University.

Wijnand van Beveren, the father of Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer goalie Jan van Beveren, ran against the legendary Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, finishing sixth in the 200 meters.

Michele Davis, the wife of Mavs guard Brad Davis, once managed rock singer Tina Turner. In case you remember hearing that somewhere, it’s probably because you’ve played the sports edition of Trivial Pursuit. That’s one of the questions.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s first truly major job in pro football was doing public relations for the Los Angeles Rams in the mid-Fifties. The fellow who hired Rozelle was Tex Schramm, then the Rams general manager.

When Darrell Royal retired from his head coaching job at the University of Texas at Austin after the 75 season, the University interviewed just three people from the hundreds who wanted the job. Two are well-known: Mike Campbell, Royal’s longtime defensive aide, and Fred Akers, who got the job and still has it. The third name never really surfaced in the press. That other interviewee was none other than current TCU success story Jim Wacker, then making noise for having resurrected the fortunes of football at Texas Lutheran in his first collegiate head coaching job.

Think that after all the hullabaloo over the Cowboys quarterback question you know all there is to know about Danny White? Well, first of all, you can start by calling him “Wilford.” That’s his given first name. White left Arizona State in 1974 as the all-time most efficient passer in the history of college football. But White, while growing up, didn’t want to be an athlete. His career goal then? To be a veterinarian. White starred in both baseball and football in college. He played second base; his shortstop partner in the middle of the Arizona State infield was future Rangers second baseman Bump Wills.

All-time, all-Milky Way quarterback Roger Staubach didn’t become a quarterback until his senior season at Purcell High School in Cincinnati. He’d been a defensive back as a junior. Throughout the preseason practices leading up to the opening of his senior year, Staubach competed for the starting QB job with one Tom Schneeman. On the eve of the season the Purcell coach chose Staubach. What might have happened if Schneeman, not Staubach, had led Purcell that season? “I’d probably be back in Cincinnati running a fried chicken stand,” Staubach figures. Somehow you get the feeling that’s not true. But then, anybody know what Tom Schneeman’s doing these days?

While we’re on the subject of Cowboy quarterbacks, Gary Hogeboom’s last name means “Tall Tree” in Dutch.

EVERYONE KNOWS knows that the human heart is located on the left side of the chest. For about one out of every 1,000 people, however, the heart’s on the right side. Cowboy cornerback Ron Fellows is one of them. And, no, there aren’t any serious medical consequences when your heart leans to the right.

The wives of Mavericks players Jay Vincent and Derek Harper each gave birth to sons late last year. Vincent named his son “Julius” out of his profound respect for Philadelphia 76ers forward “Dr. J” Julius Erving. Harper, whose full name is Derek Ricardo Harper, opted to call his son Darius Ricardo because “I wanted to get his name as close to Derek Ricardo as possible without making him a Junior.”

Massive Cowboy defensive tackle John Dutton got more than 100 college scholarship offers-as a basketball player. Among those schools all hot to get Dutton was perennial powerhouse UCLA and its living legend, coach John Wooden.

When SMU basketball coach Dave Bliss married, his best man was current Texas coach Bob Weltlich. Bliss served as Welt-lich’s best man a couple of years later.

Some people are right-handed, some are left-handed and some are ambidextrous. Then there’s Cowboy fullback Ron Springs. His grade school had only “right-handers’ desks.” So, whenever Springs attempted to cross over and write lefty, his natural way, the teacher smacked him on the hands. What evolved defies reason. Springs now writes and eats right-handed but throws left-handed. Plays ping pong as a righty but tennis as a lefty. He kicks right-footed but bats lefty. Shoots pool right-handed. Bowls left-handed. In golf, he drives and hits irons off his left side but switches over to putt.

How did Sam Perkins happen to choose the number 41 for his Mavericks jersey? That’s his shirt-sleeve length. Next time you’re in Jas K. Wilson, check out the selection in 16-41s.

Former Cowboy guard Herb Scott is the lead baritone in the Dallas Believer’s Tabernacle Choir. Howard Richards, who often lines up next to Scott, speaks French fluently.

Tennis star and Dallas native Bill Scanlon bought 100 tickets to every Dallas Sidekicks soccer game and donated them to needy children.

Don Carter, who collects expensive basketball players as owner of the Mavericks, also collects classic cars. In Carter’s array of 14 autos are two extremely unusual vehicles: the car from the movie Chitty Chit-ty Bang Bang and the posh auto the movie detective Matt Helm (Dean Martin) zipped around in. That Matt Helm car came equipped with about everything imaginable, including a complete bar. The teetotalling Carter had the bar removed.

Mark Aguirre, the most expensive model in Carter’s basketball collection, has taken up the same hobby as his owner. Aguirre now has three: a Mercedes, a Porsche and a Toyota. Guess which of those car makers sponsors Maverick games? By the way, had Aguirre been named NBA Rookie-of-the-Year, he’d have owned that Matt Helm car; that was part of his Mavericks contract.

Seven-foot one-inch Jon Koncak, the All American load in the middle of SMU’s superb basketball team, wears 38 waist, 41 inseam trousers. Hope he and long-armed Perkins have found a classy place to shop.

Frank Gifford (ABC) and Pat Summerall (CBS) were two of the first athletes to move from the NFL playing field into the broadcasting booth. And each remains among the most successful in making that switch smoothly. The guy who gave both of them their first shot at network TV back in the late Fifties was Tex Schramm, then overseeing sports at CBS in New York.

About the same time Tex held sway at CBS, the New York Giants were annually among the NFL’s powerhouses. The reasons behind the Giants’ success over the last half of the Fifties probably could be attributed to their assistant coaches. Tom Landry handled the defense; the renowned Vince Lombardi ran the offense. Head coach Jim Lee Howell reportedly was in charge of reading the local newspapers.

Are you sure we should be letting Tom Landry make the quarterback choice? Tom filled in as an emergency quarterback for the New York Giants in a few games of the ’52 season. Landry’s stats: 47 attempts, 11 completions (23 percent), one touchdown and seven interceptions. One of those games against the Pittsburgh Steelers featured a shoving and punching match between Landry and a Steeler defensive lineman who’d broken through and smashed Landry in the face as Tom faded back to pass. Landry’s fisticuffs foe was Ernie Stautner, who’s been Landry’s most trusted defensive aide for the past 19 seasons.

Add a Ranger reserve to the list of the Vietnam wounded. First baseman-outfielder Bobby Jones has been steadily losing his hearing since a tour of duty in ’Nam from December of ’69 through February of ’71. Jones served as an assistant artillery mate, and the constant explosions of the 18-inch gun did irreparable damage to Jones’ hearing that continues to worsen.

Mavs floor leader Brad Davis once had a tryout as a second baseman with the Pirates and can still be seen regularly in the third-base stands at Arlington Stadium. Davis has been a Ranger season ticket holder for four years.

Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of the centers of American tradition. George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Marshall all lived, worked or studied there. But Williamsburg has never named a street for any of those superpatriots. While you’re in that historic city, however, you can stroll down Ron Springs Drive.

“Too Tall” Jones originally attended Tennessee State to play basketball. He started at one forward on a state team that had current New York Knick Truck Robinson at the other forward and future Portland Trail-blazer Lloyd Neal starting at center.

Six-foot-eleven Mavericks center Kurt Nimphius majored in meteorology at Arizona State, thus making him ultimately qualified to answer the cliche question that all tall people eventually get: “How’s the weather up there?”

And finally, what fellow who once: a) honchoed CBS’ telecasting of the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics, b) convinced pro football players Pat Summerall and Frank Gifford to try announcing and c) gave current NFL commish Pete Rozelle his first important NFL job. . .got his own start in sports as an usher at Santa Anita racetrack?