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Any athlete who hankers to win some kind of Athlete of the Year award should contemplate passing through Arizona, if only long enough to be photographed next to a cactus. That will probably make him or her eligible for consideration as that state's best. Arizona, it seems, is desperate for a star to call its very own.
Proof comes with the announcement that Seattle Mariners first baseman Alvin Davis, who was born in Riverside, Calif. and still lives there, is this year's—yup—Arizona Professional Athlete of the Year. Asked Davis, "Why me?"
The answer is that, well, Davis did once play for Arizona State University. But even the sponsoring Phoenix Press Box Association understands that a Californian who plays baseball in Washington is a crummy choice as an Arizona hero. "In a couple of years," says Bob Crawford of The Phoenix Gazette, "people will forget that Davis went to Arizona State, and he won't be on the ballot." Oh, good. That presumably will free Davis to be chosen instead as Pro Athlete of, say, Wisconsin, Ohio or Massachusetts, all of which might claim him by virtue of his visiting there on road trips.
When Chicago goalie Darren Pang, all 5'5" of him, skated onto the ice before a game the other evening, 6'3" Montreal defenseman Larry Robinson smirked and asked the Black Hawks' Doug Wilson, "Where's the rest of your goalkeeper?" But be fair. Pang is taller than a lot of things. Like, well, the puck.
Anyway, Pang isn't the shortest goalie in NHL history. That distinction belongs to 5'2" Roy Worters, who played more than half a century ago for the New York Americans.
"He's in his berth," said the team's coach.
"I've looked there," said the customs agent.