SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
February 23, 1976
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February 23, 1976


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Billie Jean has put up the tennis racket with which she won her sixth and final Wimbledon singles title last summer (other rackets she has donated to charity have sold for as much as $2,000). Elton John, part owner of the NASL's Los Angeles Aztecs, has given one of his tasteful concert suits, complete with sequined piano keys on arms, legs and collar (original cost: $3,000). O. J. Simpson has autographed a football ("From a women's sports fan") and the renowned distance runner Bobby Riggs has put up the shoes he used in his slow but financially successful race in Death Valley. Bob Griese has sprung for an autographed chin strap, Olga Korbut for autographed gymnastic slippers, Francie Larrieu for a pair of green size-five track shoes. There's a Rosie Casals tennis dress, an autographed Joe DiMaggio bat, a pair of Joe Namath's jogging shorts. There are 102 articles in all, including such nonsport items as a lithograph of the White House donated by Betty Ford and, for some unexplained reason, a full dental impression of Marilyn Monroe's teeth. The auction runs until March 31. Hurry, hurry, hurry.


"Giant Roman Candle Explodes, Fails to Break World's Record," read the headline in The Southampton [N.Y.] Press. The man responsible for the dud was George Plimpton, who in the past has bombed as a major league pitcher, a quarterback for the Detroit Lions and an opponent for Archie Moore. Plimpton, a longtime fireworks buff (SI, June 30), was trying to gain entry to the Guinness Book of World Records with the world's largest fireworks display, supplanting the existing mark held by the Ogatsu Fireworks Co. of Tokyo. Ogatsu fires its champion from a 36-inch mortar. Plimpton had high hopes that his 40.5-inch, 720-pound Roman candle, known as Fat Man, would rise 1,000 feet and illuminate the skies over eastern Long Island with one million twinkling stars in the configuration of a chrysanthemum. But Fat Man sat heavily on the ground, sizzled, smoked and then exploded, leaving a gaping hole 10 feet deep and 35 feet wide.

Said the chagrined Plimpton, staring at the smoking hole in the ground instead of a record-breaking chrysanthemum in the sky, "I don't believe it. It's an absolute failure."

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