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Well, she isn't. Miss Sally Lark is an interior decorator from Brooklyn. "My friends used to tell me I would like hockey," she says, "but I was only interested in baseball. They insisted I go with them to the opening game of the 1942 season. So I went and, sure enough, they were right. From that day to this, I've missed only about 10 of the Rangers' home games."
There may be other fans as devoted as Miss Lark, but they have not achieved her anonymous celebrity—possibly because they lack her almost incandescent visibility. For one thing, she is just a shade short of being a platinum blonde and, for another, she subscribes season after season to a seat directly in front of the visitors' penalty box and just to the right of the Rangers'. When an outbreak of violence results in mass penalties, Miss Lark sits quietly as the snarling, sweating players tumble in around her and settle on their benches.
"It's better not to talk to them at first," she says. "They're not in a very good humor. But if a player gets a major penalty he usually has time to cool off before he leaves the box. Then, maybe, we speak."
Hockey players are so heavily padded that they all seem to be the same size and shape. Swirling like bright-colored leaves over the ice, they are nearly indistinguishable except by number. Yet Miss Lark can recognize one instantly, without reference to the number on his back.
"I know all the players, not just the Rangers. After all, there's hardly a man on any team who hasn't sat just behind me in the penalty box or else played with us. We're a great trading team, you know."
Years ago, before glass panels were installed between the game and the spectators, Miss Lark was hit in the ear by a flying puck ("Just a few drops of blood") and, even now, if she wears a hat, she is likely to have it knocked into her lap by some player thrashing about behind her on the penalty bench. Otherwise she finds life exciting but safe in her rinkside seat, with the timekeeper on the left and her guests on the right. She holds a season subscription to two seats in addition to the one she occupies.
She was the center of quite a fuss in Montreal last year, without ever leaving New York. The Canadiens had come south for Stanley Cup playoffs with the Rangers, and the games were televised by special arrangement to Montreal. Every time the camera zoomed in on the penalty box, there Miss Lark would be, apparently planted by the enemy to distract and disrupt the players. Canadians peered at their TV screens, muttered and exploded angrily in letters to the press. They finally calmed down, though, when somebody spread the word around Montreal that Miss Sally Lark was a Ranger fan like any other and not an agent provocateur at all.
TIME OF THE GAME
Attorney John J. Wicker Jr., something of a human IBM machine from Richmond, Va., uses the Rose Bowl as an example that football is actually one half huddling, one third officials handling the ball, and only 17% actual football playing.