Quick Larry Bird Item

In June of 1985, a Boston newspaper writer was questioning Larry Bird’s shooting touch due to a sprained index finger on his right hand. Bird quieted his critic by challenging the reporter to a free throw shooting contest. To make it fair, Bird shot with a handicap–he taped together all five fingers on his shooting hand. The writer sank 54 of 100 foul shots; Bird drilled 86!

That gave him a shooting percentage of .860 for the contest. To put that in perspective, even with a taped up hand, Bird shot .886 over his career. He led the NBA in that department four times, shot over .900 in four of his final five full seasons (in this case, we’ll got with playing 45+ games as a “full season”), and he hit a personal high of .930 one year.

Quick Baseball Item: Dale Long hit a home run in eight straight games in 1956. For that, he got a raise of $2,300 which hiked his salary to $15,000. He held that record alone for 31 years until Don Mattingly tied it (Ken Griffey Jr. later tied this as well). When Mattingly accomplished this he was earning a bit more than Long had. His 1987 salary was $1,975,000. Of course, that sum is now petty cash, only about four times more than what today’s minimum salary is. Long was also famous for being one of a handful of men who caught at least one game in the majors even though he threw lefty.

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