Considering the list of guest stars, the Feb. 17 episode of the CBS sitcom Yes, Dear could have been taped in Cooperstown. Jerry Van Dyke (right, kicking) plays Big Jimmy, who has long bragged to his son about managing Hall of Famers Ernie Banks (left, flinching), Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson in the minors. The son arranges a reunion, only to discover that the retired stars actually despise his dad. Banks felt particularly at home during last month's taping. His stunt double for a fight scene (yes, there is one) was one-time Cubs teammate Jophrey Brown, and Banks's son Joey accompanied his father to the set. "Being on stage is like being at bat," says Banks, 72, who appeared on Married...with Children in 1993. "The adrenaline, the excitement, the fun, the teamwork is all there. I told them if another role comes up, I'm ready to play two."
?Even though she was raised in California, Serena Williams pledged her allegiance to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Might it have something to do with the 20 dozen roses she reportedly received during the final weekend of the Australian Open from Tampa Bay's star receiver, Keyshawn Johnson? After winning the Open, Serena flew immediately to L.A., then choppered to San Diego for the game. Afterward Serena and Keyshawn, neither of whom would comment on their relationship, mingled at a postgame bash at the W hotel.
? Richard Petty has NASCAR records, a Presidential Medal of Freedom for charity work, a place in the Motorsports Hall of Fame—and now his own breakfast cereal. This week General Mills is introducing Richard Petty 43's, named of course after his car's number. (The company is also donating $43,000 to Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp, which will host kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses and is set to open in June 2004.) The King, 65, says he helped in the creation of the cereal, a brown-sugar-sweetened rice and corn concoction shaped in 4's and 3's. "They ran everything past us," he says. "It all tasted pretty good to me."
? Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam is at work on another baseball book. The Teammates, to be published by Hyperion in May, chronicles the 60-year friendship among Red Sox players Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio. Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky. The book, which revolves around a trip Pesky and DiMaggio took to see a wheelchair-bound Williams in October 2001, grew out of relationships Halberstam developed with those players while researching his 1989 best-seller, Summer of '49. "It's a book on friendship, getting older and affection," Halberstam says.
?"Sleep tight" has a special meaning for Yao Ming, especially on road trips. The 7'5" Rockets center recently told a Chinese newspaper how cramped he feels in king-sized hotel beds. Michael Lu, director of housekeeping at the Oakland Marriott City Center—where the Rockets stay when visiting the Warriors-read the story, and he and his staff stitched together a roll-away and a king-sized mattress to create a 10-foot-long bed for Yao's recent stay there. Yao slept so soundly that he asked Lu (in Chinese) to "hold that bed for me!" for next time.