A tip of the hat to Boston's discerning hockey fans, 12,983 of whom turned out on Feb. 26 for the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Minnesota North Stars only to see the game marred by an NHL-record 406 penalty minutes. Last week the North Stars returned to Boston Garden for the first time since that shameful donnybrook for Games 1 and 2 of their opening-round Stanley Cup series against the Bruins. The North Stars won both games on their way toward eliminating the Bruins, and in the process the notion prevalent in the NHL that fighting sells tickets took a terrible beating. The games drew 8,539 and 9,069 fans, respectively.
Lest there be any confusion, basketball fans should be advised that the new 12-cent postal card that will go on sale May 5 does not honor Isiah Thomas, the star of Indiana's NCAA champions. There's a law against the depiction of living people on U.S. stamps and other postal issues. But the Hoosier star can probably expect some requests to autograph first-day covers of the card, which honors Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831), a Massachusetts postmaster and printer, founder of the American Antiquarian Society and publisher of the first dictionary, first Mother Goose tales and first English-language Bible printed in America.
For the first time in North American Soccer League history, a goaltender has scored a goal. The feat was achieved on April 5 in Atlanta by the Washington Diplomats' Jim Brown, who in his native Scotland once held a job building caskets, a line of work that, as he tells it, had one agreeable fringe benefit: occasionally, he'd nod off while having lunch in one of the coffins. Another of Brown's distinctions is his nickname, "Dracula," which he acquired because of his hatred of crosses—those annoying passes into the penalty area that stir goalies from their ofttimes dreamy repose.
But now Brown has also earned recognition as a goal-scoring goaltender. His goal came when, with the score tied 1-1, he got off a punt that sailed nearly the length of the field, then took a high bounce over the head of Atlanta Goaltender Graham Tutt and entered the net. Of his 100-yard goal, which helped the Diplomats to a 3-2 win, Brown said, "I was happy at first, then I started to think about the other goalkeeper and how tough it must have been for him."
What made the goal doubly fluky was this: Brown played eight games last winter in the NASL's indoor soccer league as a defender and forward. Those are positions at which one should score, especially on the fast, confined surfaces of indoor soccer. Yet during those eight games. Brown didn't get so much as an assist.
Year in and year out, the best high school basketball in West Virginia is played in the Kanawha Valley Conference, which comprises a dozen schools in Charleston and its environs. Founded during World War II, the Kanawha Valley has produced such stars as Charleston High's Rod Hundley, who led the conference by averaging 25.4 points per game in 1952 and 33.7 the next season, and East Bank High's Jerry West, who averaged 34.9 in 1956, still the conference record. You've no doubt heard of those two players but now it's time to meet a couple of other Kanawha Valley stars from the '50s, whose names appear on the rolls of conference scoring champions as follows:
1958 Gary Justice, 23.4
1959 Gay Elmore, 27.9
Strange to say, Justice and Elmore have had a more enduring—and, considered together, certainly more improbable—impact on the conference than Hundley and West. After graduating from Nitro High School (named, like the town in which it's located, after a local nitroglycerine plant), Justice played freshman basketball at the University of Richmond and later had a son, Gary Jr., who also attended Nitro High, class of '80. Elmore, a product of Stonewall Jackson High who played for a while at West Virginia University, also had a son, Gay Jr., who currently attends South Charleston High. And longtime West Virginia high school fans now experience a sense of d�j� vu as they contemplate the Kanawha Valley Conference's most recent scoring champions: