SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum And Kostya Kennedy
March 11, 1996
Fine Relief
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March 11, 1996


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Inevitably reel life and real life diverge. In The Fortune Cookie, Hinkle is not seriously hurt but is bullied by his brother-in-law, a sleazy personal injury lawyer named William (Whiplash Willie) Gingrich (played by Walter Matthau), he sues the Browns, CBS and Memorial Stadium for $1 million. Whiplash wangles a $250,000 settlement, but Hinkle, beset by a bout of conscience, ultimately exposes the scam.

Gallagher, however, was seriously injured—he has undergone 13 facial operations and the right side of his face is partially paralyzed—and sued the Browns for $2 million. Gallagher, 33, and his Cleveland-based lawyers (none of whom is named Gingrich) fought a seven-year legal battle and recently won about $800,000 when the Ohio Supreme Court reinstated an award that had been won in a county court and then reversed in an appeal.

"I've still never seen the whole movie," says Gallagher, "but I did see the part where Jack Lemmon gets hit, and it really spooked me. The difference, of course, is that he was faking, and this is my life." Gallagher's life has taken an upturn recently—WJET put him back on the air as the weekend sports anchor.

And Hollywood may once again figure in the saga, too. "I've had several calls," says Gallagher. "They tell me they want to make the real Fortune Cookie. And if they want to do the real story, the ups and downs I've had and not just do it for laughs, I'm definitely interested."

Tradition Be Banned
A few months ago we reported on the concern that Trinity College-Cambridge authorities were having about the injuries incurred during their students' annual run around the Great Court, which was immortalized in Chariots of Fire (SCORECARD, Nov. 20, 1995). Well, the college has come to a decision that will certainly offend traditionalists: It has banned the race, which was first run in the 16th century. But then we wonder how much the run, in which dressed-to-the-nines students often carried glasses of beer or wine, was about tradition anyway. As one scholar-athlete put it, "If there's one way to get drunken students running around the court, it's to try to ban us from doing it."

Perfection Is Hard to Follow

During a Feb. 23 dual meet against Kentucky, Georgia freshman Karin Lichey became the first gymnast, college or otherwise, to earn a 40.00—a perfect 10 in each of the four events. One week later writer-reporter Dana Gelin was on the scene in Tuscaloosa as Lichey came back to earth against Alabama.

"When I heard Karin had gotten a 40, I thought three things," Alabama coach Sarah Patterson said last Friday after her No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide had beaten top-ranked Georgia 197.550-196.675 in front of a record SEC women's gymnastics crowd of 13,563. "She had to be in a great zone, the atmosphere had to be just right, and the judges had to be in the right frame of mind."

Against Alabama, Lichey was definitely not in a zone, and the judges were not in a Bo Derek frame of mind. Only one perfect 10 was awarded, to Georgia's Leah Brown in the vault, and Lichey finished with a 38.825 in the all-around. Said Lichey, "This brought me back to reality."

The reality is that with any perfect score, there is invariably skepticism, a sense that it came as a result of overly generous judging. Because of this skepticism, judges, who are already touchy about the somewhat subjective nature of their scoring, may be reluctant to grant another 40.00 for a long while. One wonders if Lichey's four-bagger will stand alone as a Bob Beamonesque standard that everyone in gymnastics will talk about and nobody will attain—for a couple of decades anyway.

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