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A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR FORT ZACK
Frank Deford
December 19, 1977
Pro basketball superstar 'Double T' Townsend injures his hand on Santa Claus Night. Thereafter, in this fictional tale of a holiday miracle, he and his team are transformed
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December 19, 1977

A Christmas Gift For Fort Zack

Pro basketball superstar 'Double T' Townsend injures his hand on Santa Claus Night. Thereafter, in this fictional tale of a holiday miracle, he and his team are transformed

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Parker leaned back and glanced away. Outside he could hear the band playing Frosty, the Snowman, mariachi style. At last, he looked up at Double T, and he came to his feet and put out his hand. Double T took it and they shook. "I guess it's not easy being Santa Claus," Parker said. "Merry Christmas, Doubs."

"Merry Christmas, Fort Zachary," Double T said, and the mariachi band moved nimbly into O Tannenbaum.

On Christmas afternoon, in many of the rooms of the pediatric ward at St. Luke's, the rented TV sets were tuned in to the Rapid-Cavalier game. Fresh new snow blew against the windows and piled up on the sills as the parents gathered with their sick children, opening stockings and presents from home. The ward party would be held later, with Dr. Kinsolving, the pudgy pathologist, cast as Santa.

The receptionist on the floor, Mrs. O'Reilly, was watching the game herself at her desk when two men turned the corner by the visitors' room and came through the glass doors that led into the ward. They were both so laden with packages that they had not been able to brush the snow from their clothes, or even from their hair. "My Lord in heaven," Mrs. O'Reilly exclaimed, as they approached her, "it's Double T himself." All afternoon, on the television, Brent Musburger and Mendy Rudolph had been speculating as to where Double T might be.

"Mr. Townsend," she said, "they're looking for you in Cleveland."

"Then they be looking in the wrong place, Momma," Double T said. "Me and Sandy comes for the Christmas party."

"We have some presents for the children," Parker said, nodding his head at the packages he held in his arms.

"Oh, Mr. Parker, everyone will be so thrilled," Mrs. O'Reilly said, now recognizing the owner. "We'll start the party early."

Double T said, "No, wait a minute, Momma. First I wants to see a special friend of mine."

"Of course," she said. "Who is that?"

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