Those I've met and those I'd like to

March 04, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

As we progress in age, our youthful years are fondly remembered in sports with an individual we idolized and fantasies we have.

And for today's younger generation, I am sure that you have your idol.

We even go so far in the sports world having people we'd like to meet and actions we'd like to conquer. At least I still do.

Growing up my idol was Rocky Colavito. He was a strapping outfield star of the Cleveland Indians. He was to be one of the main stars that would carry the Indians from their heydey years of the 1940s through and into the '60s.

I specifically recall one humid night, sitting in my parents' living room. On June 10, 1959, two days prior to my eighth birthday, I watched along with my father as Colavito pounded four consecutive home runs over the Memorial Stadium walls in Baltimore.


All of Colavito's fans were devastated when he was dealt away by Frank "Trader" Lane. That trade eventually was to be known as the "Curse of the Indians," which supposedly haunted the Indians until the winning days of the '90s.

In my 33 years of covering sports, I've been fortunate to meet such people as Ara Parseghian, Digger Phelps, Lou Holtz, Woody Hayes, Frank Robinson, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, etc. Not always just doing interviews, but actually getting to meet and talk with them.

Who would you like to meet?

How about baseball? I'd like to meet Willie Mays. He epitomized baseball, even though he was instrumental in the New York Giants beating my Indians in the 1954 World Series.

How about basketball? I'd like to meet John Wooden. He was Mr. College Basketball as the great UCLA coach. The pros? No real need here.

How about football? Unfortunately, Vince Lombardi is not with us, so I'll go for Notre Dame coach Ty Willingham. The pros? Tim Brown of Oakland, obviously being a Notre Dame alumnus.

How about golf? Other than the obvious Tiger Woods, I'd really like to meet Ernie Els and I wouldn't mind it being in his native South Africa.

How about hockey? Any icer that has never had a limb broken or a tooth missing.

If there is something you've not yet been able to actively accomplish, what would it be?

For me, there are a couple of things.

I'd like to play an exhibition round of golf with Woods. I'll invite The Inspector (Phil Mickelson) to look at my clubs before we play.

I'd like to get strapped inside an Indy or Busch car and be the pilot going full speed at Indianapolis or Daytona.

Most of all, and this does not involve sports, the one thing I'd like to do is get to Rome and meet the Pope.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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