But it was Chamberlain's style to fabulate a little, says Ruklick: "Once he said he'd driven his new Cadillac from Los Angeles to Philly in 26 hours. When somebody pointed out that he'd have to average more than 100 mph, not including the times he stopped for gas, Wilt said, 'I never stopped. My car has auxiliary gas tanks.' " According to Ruklick, his friend was also stretching the truth by bragging in his book A View from Above that he'd had sex with about 20,000 women. Ruklick says Chamberlain complained to him that the boast had cost him millions of endorsement dollars. The true figure, Wilt admitted, was closer to a mere 10,000.
Purists aren't the only ones who love quaint little Fenway Park. The place has just 33,455 seats—a fraction of the number of fans dying to get tickets when the Yankees came to Boston last week for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the American League Championship Series. "We could have sold at least 60,000," said Red Sox CEO John Harrington, whose club, in keeping with postseason policy, controlled about 80% of the tickets at Fenway. ( Major League Baseball took the rest.) With demand outstripping supply by 2 to 1 or more, there was bound to be some serious arbitrage—or scalping, as noneconomists call it.
With the advent of E-commerce, scalping is no longer limited to sidewalks and classified ads. One fan sold four $65 box seats to last Saturday's Pedro Martinez-Roger Clemens matchup for $12,100 on ebay, a 4,554% profit on a $260 investment. But he might regret it: The Red Sox surfed the Web last week, trying to track down anybody offering playoff ducats for resale. "Anyone who has resold even a single ticket to these playoffs will have his season tickets taken away permanently," said Boston p.r. director Kevin Shea.
The scene was different in Atlanta, where the Braves' first four postseason home games averaged 7,605 empty seats at 50,062-seat Turner Field. Proud Atlantans offered up excuses ranging from high prices ($27 regular-season tickets marked up to $60 for the playoffs) to midweek afternoon game times that made it tough for working stiffs to get to the ballpark. In any case, on Sunday morning it took less than 30 seconds to buy four $45 tickets to a prospective seventh game of the National League Championship Series at Turner Field—first pitch, 8:12 p.m—on Ticketmaster's Web site.
All of which made October less than peachy for Georgia's would-be scalpers. One ebay seller offered four tickets to each of the first two games of the National League series for a minimum bid of $262. That was $218 below face value. There were no takers.
Great's Greater Than Greatest
It was the pep talk battle of the millennium. In the cardinal-and-gold corner: the Greatest, Muhammad ALL In the blue-and-gold corner: the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Last Friday night, on the eve of the Notre Dame-USC game, Ali pumped up the Trojans at their hotel in Michigan City, Ind. Gretzky did the same for the Fighting Irish at a rally in South Bend. Ali's bluster should have prepared Southern California for a blustery day, but during a cold and rainy second half USC folded like a butterfly. The Irish scored 22 second-half points to skate past the Trojans 25-24.