The greatest April Fools’ hoax of all time was a 1985 Sports Illustrated cover story dated April 1 called “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” about a New York Mets prospect who pitched wearing one hiking boot and supposedly could hit 168 mph on a radar gun.
Inspired by the fictional El Sidd or perhaps having smoked a boatload of tall fescue cut with Scott’s Miracle-Gro, a guy in Illinois named Bruce Kaufman founded the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association exactly seven years later.
Actually, the USLMRA is not a hoax. It really exists.
“We’re turning 18, and as lawn mower racing comes of age, we need to get more serious about our sport,” said Kaufman, who answers to “Mr. Mow It All” and has had his tongue surgically attached to the inside of his cheek.
“We used to say ‘anything mows.’ But we’re adults now. We’re still on the ‘cutting edge,’ but now we’re all about maturity,” he said.
Mr. Mow It All would neither confirm nor deny that Sodzilla, Turfinator, Weedy Gonzales and Sir Lawnsalot would come out of retirement for the 2010 STA-BIL National Lawn Mower Racing Series. But in keeping with the sport’s newfound maturity with an eye on legitimacy, he said drivers would have their forearms and heads measured to disprove steroid use.
■ LA ROCQUE AND ROLL: Last year Al La Rocque retired from coaching local high school basketball so he could watch his daughter, Lindy, play at Stanford. The Cardinal justified his career move by reaching the women’s Final Four. This year Stanford is back, and so are the La Rocques. Al and wife Beverly are so proud of Lindy, a backup guard from Durango High, they were spotted wearing “FEAR THE TREE” T-shirts on ESPN last week despite not having lost a bet.
■ TIME IS ON HIS SIDE: As of this writing, UFC president Dana White was ranked No. 6 on the list of Time Magazine’s 100 poll of influential people in government, science, technology and the arts. President Barack Obama was 13th. Lady Gaga was No. 1. I’m not sure what this all means because, frankly, I’m afraid to ask.
■ BUSCH ADMINISTRATION: Las Vegas’ Kyle Busch won his first race as a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner Friday, proving that every now and then it can be a good thing to drive a Toyota in which the gas pedal gets stuck.
■ GORMAN LOSES? REALLY? People who say Bishop Gorman never loses haven’t been following the girls softball team, which tied a game the other day and called it progress. The rebuilding Gaels were 0-9-1 after being outscored 101-27 to open the season. In 2008-09, Gorman won state titles in baseball, boys basketball, girls tennis and lacrosse (boys) and was ranked the nation’s sixth-best high school athletic program by Sports Illustrated. Hickory High of Indiana was ranked No. 1. (Not really. Punahou of Hawaii was No. 1.)
■ IUPUI A-OK: Vacating victories in college athletics is not really a penalty. (See: Michigan, Fab Five.) Last week, the NCAA found major infractions in all 14 sports at IUPUI and said it must “vacate” 18 wins by the men’s basketball team, 14 by the women’s basketball team and 40 by the volleyball team. IUPUI did not, however, have to vacate its position on the optometrist eye chart.
■ DRINK FIGHT JAYHAWK: Like many college basketball fans, James Price started reading up on the Saint Mary’s basketball team during its NCAA Tournament run. “Saint Mary’s is a Lasallian school, which means its core values are ‘faith, service and community,’ ” Price wrote in an e-mail. “I told my Kansas friends that those were probably a cut above the Jayhawk core values of drinking and fighting.”
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352.