10 sports stories that shook the world

From Ball Four to the bad trip
By MARK JURKOWITZ  |  April 6, 2006

BALL FOUR: Breaking baseball's unwritten code1) Ball Four (1970).  This was former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s groundbreaking and hilarious expose of what actually goes on behind clubhouse doors. It portrayed athletes as the philandering, boozing, flawed characters that some of them were and got its controversial author branded as a traitor to the code of  baseball silence. You’ll never quite think of Mickey Mantle the same way again.

2) University Of Minnesota cheating scandal (St. Paul Pioneer Press,  March 10 1999). This Pulitzer-winning expose by George Dorhmann revealing that members of the University of Minnesota basketball squad had not done their own schoolwork broke the day before the team started play in the NCAA tournament. Angry readers decided to blame the messenger and pro wrestler turned Minnesota Governor Jesse (The Body) Ventura denounced the journalism as “despicable.”

3) “Totally Juiced”  (Sports Illustrated, June 3, 2002). This Sports Illustrated story written by Tom Verducci did a good job of sounding one of the earlier alarm bells on rampant steroid abuse. It included the memorable statement by former National League MVP and admitted steroid user Ken Caminiti that “It’s no secret what’s going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using steroids.”

4) “Let’s Iron Out Some Of This Dirty Laundry” (The Globe, Oct. 30, 2005). Dan Shaughnessy’s column not only incorrectly predicted that Theo Epstein would re-up as Red Sox general manager, it took such a blatantly pro-Lucchino anti-Epstein tack that it was widely blamed for helping convince Theo to walk away (albeit temporarily) from the team. A furious Red Sox Nation blogosphere demanded nothing short of Shaughnessy’s scalp.

5) “Tibialibus Rubris XV, Eboracum Novum V”  -- (the Globe, April 7, 1973). The great Globe writer George Frazier actually produced this front-page account of a 15-5 Red Sox Opening Day win over the Yankees completely in Latin. That game featured the first ever at bat by a designated hitter,  the Yanks’ Ron Blomberg. But the real moral of the story was that the newspaper business was a lot more fun in those days.

6) “Designated Swinger” (Penthouse magazine, April 1989). Wade Boggs’s mistress Margo Adams told all in this expose, revealing, among other things, that Boggs believed that having sex weakened the legs. Perhaps equally notable were Adams’s recollections of Bogg’s feelings about teammates ranging from Jim Rice to Roger Clemens. To say that this story chilled relations in the Sox clubhouse is a serious understatement.

7) Jim Thorpe was a pro (Worcester Telegram, January 22, 1913). The newspaper reports that famed athlete Jim Thorpe had played semi-pro baseball in 1909 and 1910, causing him to lose his amateur status and be stripped of his 1912 Olympic Gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon.  It was at those Olympics that the king of Sweden dubbed him “the greatest athlete in the world.” It took 70 years for the International Olympic Committee to return those medals to him — posthumously.

8) Reggie Lewis and cocaine (Wall Street Journal, March 9, 1995). A story by Ron Suskind makes the strongest allegation that the sudden 1993 death of Celtic star was connected with drugs, declaring that “cocaine was a central, explosive issue” in his case. Unleashes a feeding frenzy in which both the Globe and the Herald rush to play catchup, digging up sources who claim knowledge of Lewis’s drug use.

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Related: The curly-haried boyfriend, The Most Hated Man in Boston, The curse of the grackle, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Media, Baseball, Wade Boggs,  More more >
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