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Original Issue

Sports Beat

Who'll wear the houndstooth hat? ESPN is developing a script for
The Junction Boys, the story of Paul (Bear) Bryant's grueling
1954 Texas A&M football training camp, to air in mid-December.
Network honcho Mark Shapiro has yet to cast a leading man, but
Jim Dent, on whose book The Junction Boys: How Ten Days in Hell
with Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team the film is based,
has a clear first choice. "Tommy Lee Jones," says Dent. "He is
the perfect type--rugged, played football at Harvard. Bear
Bryant's greatest asset was his presence. They say he'd just walk
into a room and sweep you away. I see that in Tommy Lee Jones."

--The bizarre intrafamilial wrangling over the remains of Ted
Williams isn't, it turns out, stranger than fiction. An eerily
similar scenario was presented in James Halperin's 1997 sci-fi
best-seller, The First Immortal. In the book the patriarch of a
wealthy and famous Boston family chooses to be cryonically frozen
at an Arizona facility after his death but does not inform his
children of his decision until he is about to die. The offspring
(three daughters and a son) then engage in a long and highly
public legal fight over his body that lures tens of thousands of
converts to the cryonics movement. "My theory was that a public
controversy would take cryonics mainstream," says Halperin, 49.
"The longer the Williams thing drags on, the better it is for

Halperin, who grew up a Red Sox fan in Boston and recalls
watching Williams on TV as a boy, has followed the Splendid
Splinter even more avidly since Williams's death. "I hope he ends
up being cryonically frozen," says Halperin, who has signed up
for the process himself. "I don't know if we'll see a Williams
clone in the Red Sox' lineup in 100 years, but it's a lot better
odds than if they just let the worms eat him."

--Never mind pregame head butting or high-decibel player
introductions. The WUSA's first-place Philadelphia Charge has a
more civilized way to get jacked for a game: poetry readings.
Before each match team bard Erin Martin, a forward, reads
several stanzas of original verse aimed at building teammates'
confidence while dissing the opponent: "They spend more time in
La Jolla than working on set plays/Instead of talking tactics,
they're busy catching rays," began Martin's poem about the San
Diego Spirit.

Martin, who has penned a parody of 'Twas the Night Before
Christmas ("They spoke not a word but went straight to their
work/Scored lots of goals, though the ref was a jerk"), began
writing poems a few years ago while playing in Japan. In Philly
her verses are indispensable. "She gets us loose," says Charge
coach Mark Krikorian. Adds midfielder Stacey Tullock, "We won't
leave the locker room before she says it. It doesn't matter if
the refs are calling us onto the field." Even when Martin missed
a game against the Carolina Courage because of a groin injury,
she called in and read a poem over speakerphone. "Coaches can
give scouting reports," says Martin. "I want to give something
more fun."

Athletes from 10 countries took part in a three-round
mobile-telephone-throwing competition in Manchester, England.



COLOR PHOTO: ALAN HAWES/THE POST AND COURIER (FANS) PICTURE THIS Fans had to step right up if they wanted to see the Class A Charleston Riverdogs play on Nobody Night--the team intentionally locked fans out so it could set a record for lowest attendance, with zero. Who would pull such a promotional stunt? Owner Mike Veeck, who is the son of Bill Veeck, who in 1951 hired midget Eddie Gaedel to bat for his St. Louis Browns.


Cowboys offensive lineman discussing his 410-pound frame: "I'm
not the first 400-pound player. I'm just the first to admit it."