Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask Hal

I found several Easter eggs when I was going through Hal's books today -- so many, in fact, that I was disappointed when I opened a book that appeared to have no markings or papers tucked inside.

Many of the loose items I found in between the pages of Hal's books today were submissions for "Ask Hal the Referee," such as this one from a major in the Marine Corps about payment for NBA playoff games:

On these notes, Hal often scribbled (and I mean scribbled) his response on the letters and notecards, and I presume he turned them into his "Ask Hal" column.

One of the letters I found gave a detailed explanation of how a basketball team was fouled, and through a series of strange calls, the fouled player ended up getting a foul shot later in the game. The fouled team won by one point, and the coach was wondering if that was the right call. Hal's scribbled answer: "Good call."

Some other Easter eggs today:
The cover of this basketball guide from 1921-22 has the signature "F.J. Powers" across the top. A little bit of Googling later, I found out F.J. Powers was Francis J. Powers, a sports journalist who worked in Dayton then Cleveland then Chicago. I found an auction for a photo of Powers and other sports journalists, and the three of them had signed it; the photo was listed at $6,999. I'm not sure what that says about this particular book, but it sure showed me that Powers was an important person. Click here to read more about Powers.

This "news flash" was tucked in "The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Guide" from 1969, and notes changes of rules. I'm unclear as to whether these are rules for college basketball, but I would assume so because of where it was found.

The "National Basketball Association Official Guide for 1966-67" was in really good condition, other than some minimal wear on the cover -- except for two of the pages inside that had yellowed because of some acidic paper stuck inside. That acidic paper was a Western Union Press Message on the Cincinnati Royals trading George Wilson to the Chicago Bulls for Lenney [sic] Chappell, as well as a notecard with heights and weights for those on the Royals roster.

Some of the fun finds (though not exactly Easter eggs) from today:
Do Books Help?
In the early days when we began to publish books on sports, games, physical education, etc., we would trot down to one of our large wholesale booksellers to secure advance orders.
The first few years were rather discouraging, but gradually the buyer became convinced by sales records that people brought books to help them understand and enjoy sports. He told us one time that he would take the quantity we suggested (it was an ambitious suggestion), but he still didn't know why anybody bought the books. He knows now and is one of our enthusiastic supporters.
Books on sports do help, just as books on reading, writing and 'rithmetic. But practice is necessary, and also guidance by a trained teacher is essential. We have books covering practically every sport and will welcome your inquiry. If we do not publish the book you want, we will tell you where to obtain it.
That text was on the back cover of "The Official National Basketball Committee Basketball Guide" from 1941-1942.

Who wears short shorts?

The Hal Lebovitz Collection will be auctioned off, and all proceeds from the sale will go to a foundation in the Lebovitz family name at Lakeland Community College. (The date of the sale, along with other details, will be announced at a later date.) Lebovitz — a former News-Herald and Lorain Morning Journal columnist, and longtime sports editor of The Plain Dealer — was inducted into the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. He died in 2005. Learn more about the collection here, here, here and here.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl



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