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09/29/2016

Farewell to The King

[Posted Wednesday a.m.]

College Football Quiz: Five Division I-A backs have rushed for 6,000 yards or more in their career.  All made it to the NFL.  Name ‘em.  Answer below.

MLB

Wild Card Standings [thru Tuesday]

N.L.

Mets 84-74... +0.5
San Francisco 83-74... --
St. Louis 82-75... 1

A.L.

Toronto 87-70... +2
Baltimore 85-72... --
Detroit 84-73... +1
Seattle 83-74... +2

Big loss for the Orioles in Toronto on Tuesday, 5-1, with two more games there before the Orioles finish up with three at Yankee Stadium.

As for the N.L., who the heck knows how it will all end up this weekend.

---

Monday was an incredibly sad night in Miami as the Marlins played their first game since the Jose Fernandez tragedy against the Mets.  The Mets need to win every game possible down the stretch, but no one could think of that this night.  I watched the entire pregame ceremony, some scripted, some not, and like everyone else lost it when a lone trumpet played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as the players from both teams lined the foul lines.

And then after the national anthem, I, like everyone else had the same thought, expressed by a tearful Mets broadcaster, Gary Cohen, as SNY went to the booth, Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, all crying, with Gary saying in effect, never had the national anthem had more meaning, knowing how Jose Fernandez had tried four times to escape his native Cuba for the freedom of America.

But they still had to play a game and you wondered how it would go.

In the bottom of the first, Miami’s Dee Gordon led off against the Mets’ Bartolo Colon and Gordon batted right-handed for the first pitch, in honor of Fernandez, before switching to the left side and he promptly blasted a mammoth shot into the upper deck at Marlins Park.  It was Gordon’s first homer of the year in his 304th at bat.  It was otherworldly, Gordon crying as he circled the bases.

Unfortunately for the Mets, “Bad Bart” showed up after a string of masterful performances, Colon allowing 7 earned in just 2 1/3 and the Marlins won the game 7-3.

But on Tuesday, the Mets had to get back at it, while you knew Miami would be physically and emotionally drained from the prior 48 hours, and it showed.  The Mets won 12-1 behind Noah Syndergaard.

Jerry Crasnick / ESPN

“Eventually, a game had to be played, and as the Marlins prepared to take the field, a single face and voice stood out from the crowd.  There was (Giancarlo) Stanton, with red-rimmed eyes and a gray No. 16 adorning his black Marlins cap, exhorting his teammates to put their grief aside for a few hours and play the game the way Jose would have wanted.  When he finished talking, he thrust a finger in the air, and every other hand in the scrum shot skyward to meet it.  Stanton didn’t plan his sermon from on high. It just happened.

“ ‘Honestly, I went kind of numb in that moment,’ Stanton said.  ‘A lot of us were talking about, ‘Why are we here right now?  What’s the main purpose of this?  How do we get through this together?’  I was just trying to ease all that.  I told them, ‘We’re here for Jose and his fans and everyone to come together.  We’re the last hope and the last heart for him.’’

“There were multiple displays of grace, sportsmanship and people rising to meet the occasion during the Marlins’ 7-3 victory over the Mets.  Right after the national anthem, the Mets crossed the field and met the Marlins in an inspiring display of baseball brotherhood.  Just how classy a gesture it was dawned on Stanton when pitcher Jacob deGrom, his right arm encased in a cast and a sling, attempted to reach out in an effort to console him.

“Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, a spindly bundle of emotion and tears, set the tone for the evening when he launched his first home run in 74 games this season on his first swing against Bartolo Colon.  For the sake of improbability, timing, karma and bolt-from-the-heavens-caliber shock value, it might have been the closest thing to a miracle that baseball has seen since Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 home run against the Atlanta Braves.”

Jayson Stark / ESPN

“Let’s hope that someday, when we think of Jose Fernandez, we can remember the smile, we can remember the charisma, we can remember the special joy he brought to every day he ever spent on a baseball field.

“But right now, it’s just too hard to get beyond the sadness.  How do we even put that sadness into words as we try to process the incomprehensible news of the passing of one of baseball’s shining stars, at the far-too-young age of 24?

“We will always have Fernandez’ remarkable numbers to remind us of what he had already accomplished in a career that would last a mere 76 trips to a big league mound.  But how do we measure what it is we’ve lost, what the Miami Marlins have lost, what the sport of baseball has lost?

Where was this man heading in life?  Where was he heading in baseball?  It’s like asking, ‘How high is the sky?’  Because for Jose Fernandez, life had no limits. Every day, he looked at the world and thought, ‘Why not?’  Ask anyone who ever spent five minutes around him.  They would be the first to tell you there were four words in the dictionary he could never accept:

That.  Can’t.  Be.  Done.....

“He could have been Pedro Martinez.  He was that talented.  He was that unique. He was that irrepressible.”

Dan Le Batard / ESPN

Fernandez made us care...Fernandez took us with him for the emotional ride.  And it was such a fun party.  A carnival. Watching him work was a pleasure, his joy birthing our joy, contagious and expanding and shared – hell, yes, multiplying joy – so Sunday morning felt like the horror of watching the parade route end in a wreck and a funeral.  So sudden.  So fast.  Too fast.  Why?  Damn it.  Why?

“An uncommon joy has been extinguished.  Fernandez had found freedom on one boat, and now his life had ended on another.  There will be uncomfortable questions about that in the coming days and an investigation, but nobody wants to hear about that during the grief of the eulogy.  This feels so cruel, so wrong, so unfair.  It is the worst kind of awful, young life extinguished with thudding finality before it can really be lived, but it is somehow made harder because it was this life.

“I’m not talking about his promise or his pitching potential, even though he was on his way to a $200 million contract, and the loss of his baseball value is crippling to the franchise.  I’m talking about his personality, his energy, his soul.  Fernandez had so much joy and enthusiasm and gratitude and passion pouring from him – for being in this country, for getting to do what he loved, for squeezing every ounce of fun out of the day – that it could move even the repressed and the sour.  His smile and laugh routinely thawed stoic statues like Giancarlo Stanton.  Jesus, even hitting coach Barry Bonds was always kissing him in the damn dugout....

“Fernandez played the way the best Latin music feels.  He acted like a little boy in a sports world soaked with adult problems and cynicism that can make us lose sight of the root verb at the center of what he did for a living.  To play. You expected him to throw his glove into the sky at the end of successful innings.  And you know what watching him work felt like to South Florida’s Cubans?  Freedom....

“(Fernandez) was just beginning to share and live the best parts of his realized American dream. He had his first baby on the way.  He worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get to the top of this mountain, and he barely had time to enjoy the view.

“Thank you, Jose.

“For sharing your joyful time with us.

“For telling your story and our story with so much color and flair.

“For making us care in a way that can be hard to see today through our tears.”

[Miami Marlins outfielder Marcel Ozuna said he declined to go out on the boat, telling Fernandez “I couldn’t go out because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me,” he told the Miami Herald. Others told Fernandez and the other two on the boat to be very careful.]

---

--The Nationals suffered a huge blow as catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and is out for the playoffs, the same ACL he tore in May of 2012.  The poor guy, who was having his best year, is 29 and was to become a free agent after this season, having turned down an offer of three years and $30 million from the Nationals in just the last month, shades of the contract the team handed Stephen Strasburg prior to his getting hurt again.

Strasburg’s status for the playoffs is up in the air, but he is definitely out for round one.

--Sunday was Vin Scully’s final game broadcasting a Dodgers game at home.

Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times

“The farewell to the baseball rocked Dodger Stadium with cheers.

“The farewell to Vin Scully drowned it in tears.

In what was arguably the most perfect moment at Chavez Ravine since Kirk Gibson’s 1988 home run, the Dodgers ended a sweaty Sunday afternoon with a stirring two-part final act that could only be believed in Hollywood.

“One moment, the Dodgers’ unlikely journeyman, Charlie Culberson, was driving a ball over the left-field fence for a 10th-inning home run to give the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies and their fourth consecutive National League West Division championship.

“The next moment, after the team hugged and bounced in the infield while its fans danced in the stands, everyone stopped and pointed to the press box.

“ ‘Vin, we love you, and this is for you, my friend!’ screamed Dodger Manager Dave Roberts.

“Vin Scully, who had just called his last game at Dodger Stadium after 67 years as Dodger broadcaster, smiled back, mimicked an embrace, and made an announcement.

“A man who had spoken to this city’s heart for more than half a century wanted to offer up that voice one last time, but not in a way anyone would dream.

“A walk-off sendoff for Vin Scully – Dodgers clinch division title in dramatic fashion.

“He wanted to sing to us. He wanted to play a song he recorded for his wife, Sandi, 25 years ago, a song he felt expressed his emotions in words he could not speak.

“And with that, more than 50,000 Angelenos and exultant players stopped celebrating to listen to Scully’s recording of ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings.’....

“Did they mind?  They were transfixed. Entire rows locked arms.  Players stood frozen on the infield.”

Scully will announce the team’s final three games next weekend in San Francisco. But he swears he will not return to the booth for the World Series, should the Dodgers make it that far.

Arnold Palmer

Palmer died Sunday at a Pittsburgh hospital, three days after being admitted and one day before he was slated for heart surgery, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, Alastair Johnston, said, “all manner of sensitivity” would be given to the scheduling of the Ryder Cup in planning services, and a day later, it was decided a memorial will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, at St. Vincent College Basilica in Latrobe.

Prior to this, Palmer, per stipulations in his will, is to join his parents and his first wife Winnie in having his ashes spread at a specific location at Latrobe Country Club, where Arnold grew up and learned the game from his father Deacon.  This will be private.

Statement from Amy Palmer Saunders:

“My family and I are deeply moved by the outpouring of support and love that we have received from the countless friends and admirers of my father. These first hours have been challenging but we are comforted knowing that he was loved by so many and so deeply. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we have for the many people who have offered to help us in this time of sadness.  My father would be so pleased to know that he is being thought of and recognized this way....

“On behalf of my father and family, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles, seven majors, with all seven between 1958-64, ages 28-34.  He won at least one Tour event from 1955 to 1971.  In 1960, he finished in the top 5 in 19 of his 29 tournaments.  He was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1963 and its player of the year in 1960 and 1962.  In 1968, he became the first golfer to earn more than $1 million in career prize money on the PGA Tour.

His first major title was the 1958 Masters, but the legend grew in 1960 when he won his only U.S. Open and the Masters; a year that “Arnie’s Army” was born.  The Open at Cherry Hills was his duel with a new amateur who had burst on the scene, Jack Nicklaus.

Palmer famously won less than $3 million in his entire career, which Kyle Porter of CBSSports.com pointed out, was over $8 million less than what Rory McIlroy won on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

“In Palmer’s day, pro golfers took jobs during the winter and worked on the side to make ends meet.  It wasn’t the lucrative business it is these days.  Not even close.

“Palmer was the link between a world of professional golfers and a public that did not know it wanted to consume the sport as vociferously as it does today. Without him, golf as we know it does not exist.

“ ‘We should kiss the footsteps of Arnold Palmer because he’s the guy responsible for making us more money,’ former golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez once told the Post-Gazette.  ‘When Arnie wins a tournament, I make an extra $100,000.’

“Palmer was also the first to think of himself as a brand.  Because of this, Palmer was making $40 million a year well into his 80s.  He invented a drink – you know it as an Arnold Palmer, of course – flew his own plane from tournament to tournament, started a network, traveled the world and took a sport from national afterthought to an obsession for many folks.  It was quite a life Palmer lived.  Golf was almost not even the centerpiece.

“And this is why he has touched so many.  It’s why he connected with fans in a way Nicklaus (and to a large extent Woods) never can.  Golf was it for them.  For Palmer, it was a gateway.  He was great at the sport, no doubt, and his swashbuckling, creative swing and style were seemingly hand-picked for the boom of the television era.  But it always seemed to extend beyond the golf for The King.

“For all that Palmer accomplished, when he looked back on  his career it was always the people – Arnie’s Army – that meant the most.

“ ‘I feel the strength of the gallery, especially on a critical shot,’ he told the New York Times.  ‘Silence is louder than any noise on a golf course – the deathly silence that I sometimes feel and hear when I’m out there.  That will tell you how powerful the galleries really are.  They have an appreciation of what you’re going through, of what’s happening, and they understand.’”

Arnold Palmer brought a country-club sport to the masses.

“ ‘If it wasn’t for Arnold, golf wouldn’t be as popular as it is now,’ Tiger Woods said in 2004 when Palmer played in his last Masters.  ‘He’s the one who basically brought it to the forefront on TV.  If it wasn’t for him and his excitement, his flair, the way he played, golf probably would not have had that type of excitement.

“ ‘And that’s why he’s the king.’”

Doug Ferguson / Associated Press:

“On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it.

“He would hitch up his pants, drop a cigarette and attack the flags. With powerful hands wrapped around the golf club, Palmer would slash at the ball with all of his might, then twist that muscular neck and squint to see where it went.

“ ‘When he hits the ball, the earth shakes,’ Gene Littler once said.”

Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

“When I was 6 years old, my father put me on a steel-wheeled tractor,” Arnie recalled in a 2011 interview with the AP. “I had to stand up to turn the wheel.  That’s one thing that made me strong.  The other thing was I pushed mowers.  In those days, there were no motors on anything except the tractor.  The mowers to cut greens with, you pushed.

“And it was this,” he said, patting his arms, “that made it go.”

John Strege / Golf World

“(Palmer) played the game without compromise, choosing the hero shot over the prudent one. When Nicklaus once protected a lead by hitting an iron off the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote, ‘Arnold Palmer wouldn’t use an iron to press his pants.’  Palmer’s was an all-in approach that only widened his appeal and helped create the large and raucous crowds that became known as Arnie’s Army....

“It is hard for me to capture in words the magnitude of Arnold Palmer at that time,’ Nicklaus wrote in his autobiography, My Story.   ‘He was not only the game’s undisputed king, but the emperor-in-chief of contemporary American sports heroes – indeed, a national figure as renowned and admired as any man of his generation.’

“Palmer, with those victories, lifted the sport from its niche and placed it into the mainstream.  ‘Arnold Palmer didn’t make golf,’ Murray wrote.  ‘He just put it on page one.’....

“Palmer’s appeal was rooted in his blue-collar mien. He was born in Latrobe, Pa., a shot-and-a-beer town southeast of Pittsburgh.  ‘When he had a drink, he did it in public.  When he smoked, it was on the golf course for everyone to see,’ Thomas Hauser, his collaborator on the book, Arnold Palmer: A Personal Journey, wrote.

“His father, Deacon Palmer, was the greenkeeper and head professional at Latrobe Country Club (which Palmer eventually bought).  Pap, as his son called him, introduced Arnold to the game with two simple exhortations.  First, he positioned young Arnold’s hands on the grip of a golf club and said, ‘Don’t you ever change that.’  Then he told him to ‘hit it hard, boy.  Go find it and hit it hard again.’  He followed his father’s advice from his first swing to his last.

“Another lesson from Pap, a different one, stuck with him, too.  When Palmer was 17, he missed a short putt late in a match and flung his putter.  On the ride home, Pap said, ‘If I ever see you throw a club again, you will never play in another golf tournament.’  Palmer never threw another club.

“Manners were important to Palmer, as a sign by the door of the restaurant at his Bay Hill Club in Orlando reflects: ‘Gentlemen, No Hats in The Clubhouse, Please.’

“A breach made in Palmer’s presence was not tolerated, to which Welsh golfer Jamie Donaldson can attest.  One day Donaldson entered the clubhouse wearing his hat, until he spotted Palmer.  ‘I just got it off in time after he spotted me and was coming over,’ Donaldson said.  ‘It was pretty scary.’

“Nor would Palmer tolerate misbehavior on the golf course.  Curtis Strange, who played at Palmer’s alma mater, Wake Forest, on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship, berated a female volunteer at the Bay Hill Classic  in 1982.  Palmer, who counted Strange’s father Tom as a friend, angrily took Curtis aside and said, ‘If he were here today, I think he’d want me to take you over my knee.’  For a contrite Strange, it was said to have marked a turning point in his career.

“ ‘I happen to believe that manners do count – knowing when to speak and what to say, knowing when to remove your hat as a sign of basic courtesy, knowing how to win by following the rules, knowing the importance of when and how to say thank you,’ Palmer said in his book.  ‘Golf resembles life in so many ways.  More than any game on earth, golf depends on simple, timeless principles of courtesy and respect.’....

“In 2004, Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the country bestows on a civilian, from President George W. Bush.

“ ‘For all who love the game of golf, and for those who love to see it played, there has never been a sight in the game quite like Arnold Palmer walking down the fairway toward the 18th green,’ the president said.  ‘The announcer Vin Scully once said, ‘In a sport that was high society, Arnold Palmer made it High Noon.’’

“ ‘For more than 50 years, over thousands of miles of fairway, and in 92 professional championships, Arnold has given his all, playing with style and a daring that changed the game of golf.  He drew millions of fans, and every big crowd we see at a golf tournament today started with Arnie’s Army.  The father who had taught him to play golf at Latrobe Country Club would be very proud today of Arnold Daniel Palmer.’....

“(Palmer’s) good sportsmanship long outlived his competitive career.  A prolific letter writer who remarkably answered every piece of fan mail he received, Palmer wrote letters of congratulations to every winner of a PGA Tour event, ‘treasured letters,’ one recipient, Olin Browne, called them.

“Each of these letters no doubt concluded the same way, with his familiar and identifiable signature.  Palmer never scribbled his autograph in haste, incidentally.  It was never illegible out of respect to its recipients who by his reckoning ought to be able to read it.

“It was the signature of a man who cared.”

Jurek Martin / Financial Times

“Arnold Palmer did a lot more than popularize the country club sport of golf.  A handshake agreement with a young Cleveland lawyer, a childhood foe on the links, helped transform the lot of professional sports people all over the world.

“The year was 1958, just after Palmer had won the first of his four Masters tournaments, and the man gripping his hand was Mark McCormack, who had the idea that there was a future in representing men like the golfer, who played for pay.  Two years later, he founded IMG, which emerged as the premier sports agency in the business.

“In this age of the billionaire sports star, it is hard to recall that half a century ago the professional sportsman was little more than a vassal, owned lock, stock and barrel by teams able to pay them what owners, not players, thought they were worth and to trade them on a whim. Even the superstars were subject to this regime....

“But McCormack sensed that the dawning of the television age was going to change all this. There would be audiences on living-room couches exceeding by a factor of millions those who went to live games and they would be consumers of the goods their new idols endorsed.  And, as the U.S. grew more affluent, they would be in the market for more than Baby Ruth candy bars, named after the interwar baseball star.

“In Palmer, McCormack had the perfect prototypical candidate for this new age.  He was working-class, from the steel town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and played like a welder, with fearless determination.  He was open and gregarious and his fans, known as ‘Arnie’s Army,’ adored him, in real championships and in made-for-TV matchups against Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As Lee Trevino, the similarly hardscrabble Mexican-American champion, put it: ‘Arnie took the machete to the jungle and cut a path for the rest of us.’  That path, for Palmer, included being the first golfer to fly his own plane back and forth from tournaments.

“In his first two years with IMG, Palmer’s income from endorsements rose from $6,000 a year to $500,000, far more than he could earn by winning 10 tournaments.  Tiger Woods would later become the ultimate beneficiary, signing with Nike 20 years ago for nearly $40 million a year.  (Mr. Woods’ fall from grace and form, together with golf’s declining popularity, undoubtedly influenced Nike’s recent decision to discontinue its golf club manufacturing business.)  The basketball player Michael Jordan took the Palmer prototype to new commercial levels.”

John Feinstein / Washington Post

“As the statements poured out in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s death on Sunday night – ranging from 23-year-old Jordan Spieth to 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus to the President of the United States, I was struck by one thing: Almost no one said anything about Palmer’s golf.  It was all about the man.

“Palmer...was a great player... But Palmer wasn’t one of the most iconic athletes of the past 100 years because of what he did on the golf course, but because of what he did off the golf course.

“No one understood and embraced the responsibilities of stardom the way Arnold Palmer did.  No one ever signed more autographs – never a scrawl, but a very clear signature.  No one was more accessible or open with the media – all media, ranging from TV networks to high school kids who wanted to ask a few questions.

“Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the greatest players in golf history.  Palmer was the most important: He made golf a sport for TV, for corporate America and for millions of fans – his ‘army.’

“Palmer had an almost unique gift: He could make anyone he was talking to feel as if they were the most important person he had ever met.  Everyone who ever met Palmer has a story about their first encounter.

“Here’s mine: In 1994, while researching ‘A Good Walk Spoiled,’ I asked Doc Giffin, Palmer’s right-hand man for 53 years, whether Palmer might have some time to talk during the annual PGA Tour event he hosted at Bay Hill.  The next day, Doc asked me if I could go to Arnold’s house for breakfast later in the week.

“When we shook hands at the front door, Palmer said, ‘So, Doc tells me you went to Duke.’

“I said that was correct.  Palmer smiled, shook his head and said, ‘So, I guess you couldn’t get into Wake Forest.’

“His alma mater....of course.

“Two hours later, he had supplied me with enough material for several chapters.  Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I thanked him for his time, his hospitality and for breakfast.

“ ‘You got enough?’ he asked.  ‘I’m going down to my workshop to work on some clubs if you want to stick around a while longer.’

“That became another 90 minutes.

“Palmer did that for everyone.

“More than anything, Palmer always understood that fame and fortune aren’t a one-way street.  Before the 1997 Masters, Palmer took Tiger Woods to lunch in the champions’ locker room at Augusta National.  Woods was still a few days away from his first Masters victory – so Palmer hosted him.

“Woods was singing a song that went something like, ‘It’s just not fair.  I can’t be a normal 21-year-old.’

“ ‘You’re right,’ Palmer said.  ‘Normal 21-year-olds don’t have $50 million in the bank.’....

“This past March, a number of players changed their schedules to play Bay Hill because they knew Palmer was ill and it might be their last chance to pay tribute....

“Twenty-five years ago, Palmer made the cut at Bay Hill – for the final time – at the age of 61. That night, Peter Jacobsen went to a bakery and asked for a sheet cake for 100 people.

“ ‘I need it first thing in the morning,’ Jacobsen said.

“ ‘Monday is the earliest I can do it,’ the baker said.

“ ‘It’s for Arnold Palmer.’

“We open at 8 tomorrow. Is that soon enough?’

“When Jacobsen presented the cake to Palmer that afternoon during a rain delay with the entire field in the locker room, Palmer cried.  Then he cut a piece for every player.

“ ‘I cried because Peter and all the guys were saying to me that I was still one of them,’ Palmer said.  ‘That meant a lot.’

“He never stopped being one of them.

“On a searingly hot June day in 1994, Palmer played his last U.S. Open round....

“As Palmer walked up the 18th fairway that afternoon, many players came out of the clubhouse to stand behind the green and join the throngs....

“A few minutes later, when Palmer came into a packed interview room, he was overcome by tears on several occasions. He tried to talk – and stopped.  He tried again – and stopped.  Finally, he stood to leave.  Every single person in the room jumped to their feet and applauded.

“It was completely unprofessional.  No cheering in the press box.  And yet, it was absolutely the right thing to do because no one ever did more for the media than Palmer.

“A handful of us trailed him back to the locker room. There, he composed himself and talked for another 20 minutes.

“ ‘I shot 81 today,’ he said softly.  ‘I was terrible.  In any other sport, I’d have been booed – should have been booed. Instead, I get cheered.’

“He paused for a moment.  ‘How lucky have I been to have played this game for all these years?’

“Actually, the luck was ours.”

Ian O’Connor / ESPN

“Pull up a chair, young and impressionable golf fans, because you really need to hear this. Arnold Palmer was not a nice old man who sold you a cool soft drink years after he sold your parents and grandparents motor oil and rental cars.

“Yes, he was about as neighborly as a worldwide celebrity could ever be.  You could easily imagine him lending you his tractor or lawn mower or plowing eight inches of snow from your driveway if you happened to be away on business.  But please understand something when you consider the legacy of this late, great 87-year-old man from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who was always happiest when he was making someone else’s day.

“He was a lion long before there was a Tiger.  Just like Woods and Michael Jordan and Tom Brady and all the sporting titans defined by their killer game-day instincts, Arnold Palmer was a ferocious competitor driven – like many of us – to prove his manhood to his hard-driving, hard-drinking father, and to prove his worth to the doubters and haters who anticipated nothing more than a life of anonymous mediocrity from the greenkeeper’s son....

“Arnold became a star by swinging for the moon.  He won his first major at the 1958 Masters, but not before Hogan belittled him in the locker room.  Palmer had played poorly in a practice round with Hogan after driving all night from a playoff loss in North Carolina, and with Palmer in earshot, Hogan asked his playing partner Jackie Burke, ‘How in the hell did he get in the Masters?’

“ ‘Pissed me off,’ Palmer would tell me.  ‘P-i-s-s-e-d...Hogan was another one of the goddamn guys on tour as far as I was concerned. He was no big guy.  He was no big deal, and I didn’t care what he said.  All I wanted to do was beat him, and I did.’

“Palmer was also furious that Hogan never referred to him by his first name, that he always called him ‘fella.’”  [As Ian O’Connor pointed out to Arnold, though, Hogan called everyone ‘fella.’]

Then there was 1960, when Arnie won the Masters and U.S. Open, and was runner-up at the British Open, which earned him the Hickok Belt, then awarded to the professional athlete of the year.  Palmer was a finalist with the Yankees’ Roger Maris, who spotted Arnie at the banquet and said, ‘What the f--- are you doing here?’  [Maris didn’t believe golfers were athletes.]

Ian O’Connor:

“I asked Palmer how he replied to Maris.  ‘I didn’t say a goddamn word to him,’ he said.  ‘I didn’t say a word until after it was all over, and then I didn’t need to say anything.’  Palmer had the Hickok Belt in his hands as he walked past Maris.  ‘That’s what my father taught me,’ he said.  ‘Don’t say anything, just do it.’

“A child of the Great Depression, Palmer was the ultimate doer. He spent his early years in a house with no indoor plumbing on a country club course, watching the rich kids enjoy a world he couldn’t touch, before buying that very country club decades later.

“He loved driving his salmon four-door New Yorker, his first brand new car, just as much as he loved flying his Aero Commander and Cessna Citations.  He cherished his connection to the mill workers, to the Average Joe, who paid to watch him flick away his cigarette and hitch up his pants and attack the golf ball with all of his blue-collar fury.  Palmer forever looked like he was fighting a rattlesnake at the top of that homemade swing, and the people couldn’t get enough of it.”

Just last week, before he was admitted to the hospital, one of his longtime friends, Bob Florio, gave this account to Ian O’Connor upon Arnold’s passing.

“Florio had seen Palmer for a fundraiser outing. He rode in a cart with Palmer for two and a half hours, visiting this foursome and that foursome, before they retreated to the King’s office.

“ ‘Before Arnold fell asleep,’ Florio recalled, ‘and this is a perfect Palmer line, he asked me what time he needed to be at our reception.  I told him he didn’t need to go and he said, ‘Goddammit, I didn’t ask you if I needed to go or not.  I asked you when I needed to be there.’  So I told him 5:45 p.m.  And you know what, at 5:45 that freakin’ door opened and there was Arnold Palmer.  It didn’t matter that one of his guys had to practically carry him up the stairs.  If Arnold Palmer said he was going to be there, he was there.’”

A few days later he was dead.

---

In 2007, Arnie’s longtime aide, Doc Giffin, told Golf Digest that The King had signed an average of 100 autographs a day for every day of his life.  Give or take, that was 2.8 million at the time, a total that surpassed three million by the time of Palmer’s passing.  “People ask me, ‘Why is Arnold Palmer so popular?’ Giffin told us.  “The answer is simple: He likes people, and they know it.  His public face and his private face are exactly the same.  He’s not one of those guys who turns it on in public and turns it off in private.”

“The women want to be close to him, and men want to be him,” Geoff Ogilvy told Golf World in 2009.  “You don’t know how he does it, but he can be in a crowded room, and everyone in that room could leave thinking Arnold connected with them at least once.”  [Mike O’Malley / Golf Digest]

Herb Graffis / Golf Digest, February 1981: “He’s the boy next door.  The kid you asked to run an errand to the corner store. When he won the U.S. Amateur in 1954, it was a bit of an embarrassment to the USGA.  At that time, declaring an intention to turn professional was a violation of the rules of amateur status.   Before he won the amateur, Palmer had been telling everybody he was going to turn pro.  He wanted to be a pro so much, he’d already signed up with Wilson when he was still an amateur.  But Arnold was such a nice kid that everybody just looked the other way.”

Tommy Bolt / Golf Digest, June 1993: “We traveled together for a while when he was a young player. He had two pairs of pants at that time, one in the dry cleaners and the pair he had on.  You know Arnold’s habit of hitching his pants up all the time?  He got that because those pants didn’t fit.”

Fred Couples / Gold World, Sept. 14, 2009: “There isn’t a time when I see him that I don’t give him a kiss on the cheek.  That’s how I feel about him, and I know that a lot of other guys sort of feel the same way, that you love him like he’s your father or grandfather. I love all the old guys...Jack, Ray Floyd, [Lee] Trevino.  But would any of them say that Arnold wasn’t the most special of them all? I don’t think so.”

Peter Dobereiner / Golf Digest, February 1985: “Nobody has a bad word to say about Palmer, although he once had an extremely bad word to say about me.  It has been said before and deserves saying again that every tournament pro should go down on his knees and give thanks for Arnold Palmer.  So should golf writers and everyone else who lives by golf, although there was one fleeting moment when my allegiance faltered.  It was at Turnberry in Scotland during the John Player Classic when a hurricane with winds of more than 66 miles an hour hit the course.  The tented village was lacerated. Cashmere pullovers from an exhibition were flying through the air, and the press tent foundered with all hands.  Chi Chi Rodriguez was blown off his feet and presumably carried on the wind to Prestwick airport, because he was never seen again.  Horizontal rain struck like buckshot, and the hailstones carpeted the course.  At this point the tournament committee halted play.  Only three groups, one of which included Palmer, remained on the course, and they were ordered to mark their balls and complete the round in the morning.

“That evening there was a banquet, and I was seated next to Gary Player and opposite Palmer – an extremely angry Palmer.  He mumbled like a thundercloud that the round should have been washed out.  Player, who had returned a miraculous 71, disagreed.  Honesty compelled me to reveal that I was a member of the committee that had taken the disputed decision.  Lightning flashed from the thundercloud.

“ ‘In that case,’ growled Palmer – and here there was one of those freak lulls in the hubbub of conversation, so his words echoed through the hall – you are a bleep!’   There are bleeps and bleeps, and this was the ultimate bleep, usually described as being of Anglo-Saxon origin but actually deriving its roots from Latin. I appealed to Player for support.  ‘Arnold is quite right,’ said Gary, who was enjoying my embarrassment, ‘but on this occasion your decision was the correct one.’

“That is Palmer – forthright, down to earth and a terrible judge of character.  It is typical of the man that two minutes later he was his usual affable self, his anger released and forgotten, and we were into deep speculation about the display of highland dancing and whether anything was worn under the kilt.  A frenzied eight-some reel revealed the answer, to a delighted guffaw from Palmer.”

Dan Jenkins / Golf Digest, June 2001: “I don’t suppose anybody’s ever enjoyed being who they are more than Arnold’s enjoyed being Arnold Palmer.”

Tom Watson / Golf World, Sept. 14, 2009: “Frank Beard said that we owe 80 cents of every dollar we earn to Arnold.  That’s true.”

Roger Maltbie / Golf Digest, September 1999: “The first professional golf tournament I ever saw was the old Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. I was 11 years old, and my parents took me to see the event.  From the street above Pebble Beach, there’s a curved walkway down to the first tee.  It was a gray morning that’s so common there at Pebble Beach.  I was an Arnold Palmer fan. As we came down that walkway, Arnold was standing on the first tee, and, like a spotlight, there was a beam of light on Arnold.  Everybody else was in the gray.  It was as though it was a stage set.

“Off we went to follow Arnold.  This was ’63 or ’64, and Arnold was the biggest star in the game. Huge gallery.  I get separated from my parents.  I’m nervous.  I’m lost.  There are a lot of people.  Now what do I do?  So, I’m behind the second tee, waiting for Arnold to tell off.  He had looked at me a couple of times, and I guess he could tell I was very nervous.  After he teed off, he came over to me and said, ‘Are you OK, son?’  I said, ‘I’m lost.  I can’t find my mom and dad.’ He said, ‘Then you come with me. They’ll find you with me.’ So he took me by the hand and led me down the fairway. We got about 50 yards down the fairway and my mom screamed, ‘Roger!’  Arnold led me over to my parents and that was that. Then I got my butt blistered.”

Peter Deeks / Golf Digest, September 2009: “I graduated from college in spring 1967, and on Christmas Eve that year four friends came to my parents’ house, where I was still living, to drink some beer and catch up.  We got to talking about who we had wished Merry Christmas, and someone asked if I had done so to Arnold, who was (and still is) my idol.  I said, ‘No, but I will right now,’ at which point I phoned AT&T information in Latrobe, Pa.  I asked for a listing for an A.D. [Arnold Daniel] Palmer.  I heard, ‘I have no listing for A.D. Palmer, but I have an Arnold Palmer.’

“I dialed the numbers and heard, ‘Hello?’

“ ‘Is Arnold there?’

“ ‘It’s Arnold speaking.’

“I immediately dispatched one of my friends to an extension phone, as I needed corroboration for this call.  I said it was Peter Deeks from Toronto, Canada, calling, and I added, ‘I hope I’m not bothering you.’

“He said, ‘No, I’m putting presents under the tree for Winnie, Amy and Peggy.’

“We talked about many subjects, but the best was me telling Arnold how to resolve issues in the PGA between the club professionals and the touring pros. The conversation carried on for 12 minutes, according to the bill I received from Bell Canada. The bill also showed the commencement time of the call at 1:06 a.m. Christmas Day.

“In December 1989, my brother Jim and family came to our house for Christmas dinner. He gave me two presents and said, ‘Open the small one first.’  I did so, and it was a video to be watched ‘immediately.’

“On comes Arnie saying, ‘Hi, I’d like to wish Peter, Wendy and Sarah and Jocelyn Deeks a very Merry Christmas....Peter, do me a favor and call me again, but don’t make it on Christmas Eve, OK?’

“I was stunned. Then I was to open the large present, and it was a cue card with the above message and signed, ‘Arnold Palmer.’

“Jim, a TV director, had been assigned to do a TV promo in June 1989 for the Cadillac Skins Game being played in Toronto.  He’d prepared the cue card in advance, and Arnold readily agreed to do it when the serious work was completed.  The cue card has been framed and adorns a wall of our family room.”

Rocco Mediate / Golf Digest, September 2009: “I was fortunate to be paired with Mr. Palmer at the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, which was his last U.S. Open.  Friday afternoon, we were walking up the 18th fairway toward the green.  I was about 50 yards or so behind him, just taking it all in: huge galleries as far as you could see and applause as loud as it could possibly be, just to acknowledge and admire the man they all loved and had cheered for so long.  It didn’t matter what he shot.  It mattered to them that he was there, and they appreciated it.

“When I putted out on 18 I went to him, shook his hand and said, ‘You made all this possible for golf – this is all because of you.’  At that, we both were overcome with emotion.”

Dan Jenkins / Golf Digest

“Like all my pals in the sportswriting lodge, I became a huge Arnold Palmer fan early on.  He made our job easy.  Not because he was so colorfully reckless in how he went about winning and losing, but because he was so darn nice, friendly and cooperative.  He treated us like equals rather than servants. Rare in those days.

“I was first awakened to Arnold’s future greatness by one of his fellow pros, Jay Hebert.  This was upstairs in the Augusta National clubhouse in 1958 a few days before Palmer would win his first Masters.  I was working for a Texas newspaper then and doing a piece on how Ken Venturi was looking like the game’s next big star.  I was interviewing other pros on the subject. The sport was in need of a new hero. Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were in their sunset years, and Cary Middlecoff was still calling every writer ‘pard.’

“I recall my shock when I asked Hebert to list the qualities that were helping Venturi become the next great golfer.

“Jay said, ‘Ken Venturi’s not the next great golfer.  Arnold Palmer is.’

“Arnold Palmer?  The guy who can’t keep his shirttail in?  The guy who thinks he can drive the golf ball through a tree trunk?  Why him?

“Hebert said, ‘Because he’s longer than most of us, and he makes six birdies a round. He also makes six bogeys, but one of these days he’s going to eliminate the bogeys.’  He did.  And the sports world became a more exciting place.

“Then there was the day I helped Arnold win the U.S. Open, the one at Cherry Hills in 1960. I feel like I’ve written about this a hundred times, so once more won’t hurt under the circumstances.

“My good friend and sportswriting colleague Bob Drum was with me in the locker room as the last round was getting underway.  Writers were welcome in the locker room in those glory years.  Competitors were grousing and laughing, coming and going that day.  It was kind of like being backstage at the opera.

“Arnold stopped by to chat with Drum and me on his way out.  He was seven strokes and 14 players behind with only 18 to play, but still a contender in his mind.  He said he intended to drive the first green, a 346-yard par 4, make a birdie, and maybe shoot a 65 for 280, adding ‘Doesn’t 280 always win the Open?’

“ ‘Yeah, when Hogan shoots it,’ I said wittily.

“With an assist from our author, Arnold Palmer went on to claim his only U.S. Open title at Cherry Hills in 1960.

“Arnold laughed and went out the door, and the next thing we knew he had birdied six of the first seven holes, and Drum and I were on the course chasing after him with what seemed like the entire population of Denver.

“We caught up with him at the 10th tee and were visible standing at the ropes. He saw us, walked over, and said – for our stories and immortality – ‘Fancy seeing you here.  Who’s winning the Open?’

“His next move was to relieve me of my pack of Winstons and the Coke I’d just bought at a concession stand – and keep them.

“That’s why I still claim an assist for his historic 65 – and victory.

“Final memory.  It’s the close of the decade, around 1970.  I was then with Sports Illustrated and visiting Arnold in Latrobe to do an instruction piece – the only one I’ve ever written, or have read.  We’d fooled around on the golf course all morning, and Winnie had now served us lunch. Neither of us had the remotest idea that Arnold Palmer was done winning majors.

“The coffee table had become famous by then.  It was designed to hold all of the golf medals he had won and was winning.  Under glass and on green velvet were strewn these hordes of gold medals.  I was taking pleasure in studying them when three silver medals grabbed my attention.

“The silver medals were for Arnold’s losses in U.S. Open playoffs to Jack Nicklaus in ’62 at Oakmont, to Julius Boros in ’63 at Brookline and to Billy Casper in ’66 at Olympic.

“I said, ‘Arnold, what are these silver medals doing in here?’

“He said, ‘Well, they’re not exactly ugly.’”

Jim McCabe / Golfweek

“Before there was Twitter and Instagram and all the vehicles by which today’s athletes can scream, ‘Look at me,’ Arnold Palmer used his own social media.  It was called the human touch, and it often started with eye contact, grew into a firm handshake and involved simple acts of kindness.

“Such as when he found out his trip to Boston would coincide with the graduation of the eldest son of his friend Richard Connolly.  ‘He asked me, ‘Would they like me to come and speak?’  I mean, who does stuff like that?’  Richard Connolly said.  ‘This was my son’s high school graduation; he wasn’t receiving a doctorate from Stanford or anything.’

“Palmer not only was the guest speaker at Middlesex School’s graduation but he went back to the house for the party....

“(You might be wondering) what happened to times like this and what happened to the mold that was used to make Palmer.  Clearly, it broke.

“That point was driven home to Connolly – whose relationship to Palmer began as stockbroker but soon morphed into pure friendship – on a trip to St. Andrews.  Connolly said he always wanted to meet the late Tip Anderson, the legendary caddie who was on Palmer’s bag for back-to-back wins in the British Open.

“ ‘I called Arnold.  He told me exactly where to meet Tip, and sure enough, when (my wife) Ann Marie and I walked into the Dunvegan (Hotel), there he was,’ Connolly said.

“What they talked about that day had very little to do with Palmer the golfer but everything to do with Palmer the man, Connolly said.

“ ‘When we said our goodbyes and headed for the door,’ Connolly said, ‘Tip said to us, ‘No one ever said a bad thing about the man.  Isn’t that a hell of a thing?’’

“It is, indeed.”

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“If it was the Giants vs. Colts sudden death championship game in 1958 that made pro football a big deal on television in this country, it was Arnold Palmer who did the same for golf.  It all started with him, a leading man built for television, a swashbuckling figure who would take a drag on his cigarette and then either do something to win a big tournament, or do something that broke your heart.

“ ‘You want to know the secret to my so-called success?’ Frank Chirkinian, the legendary producer and director of golf at CBS for what felt like a thousand years, told me one time.  ‘I put the camera on Arnold and left it there.’....

“He was not the greatest golfer of all time....(But) no figure in the history of American sports ever meant more to one sport than Arnold Palmer, Deacon’s son, out of Latrobe, Pa.  And no figure in a sport was ever loved more than Arnold was....

“He did not just change golf.  He and his agent, Mark McCormack, changed the business culture of professional sports.  McCormack grew his representation of Palmer into a giant company named IMG, for the International Management Group.  You can make the case that not only did Palmer make a fortune for himself because of his immense popularity, he made several fortunes for the future stars of American sports, and not just in golf; make a case that he was as much a champion at business as he was at golf.  Maybe more.

“I met him one time, at Bay Hill. I was there to write a piece about him for Esquire magazine, and we finally ended up in his office, Palmer talking about his triumphs and his disasters, being as gracious with me as he was with everybody else, because there was never a more available and accessible American sports celebrity....

“And there was a moment, near the end, when he was telling another story, and came around from behind his big desk, and grabbed a driver leaning against a wall, and took his stance, and put those bricklayer’s hands on the club, and it was as if all the years between the two of us and my one childhood disappeared.

“A few minutes later we were done.  He said, ‘You good?’

“And I said, ‘You have no idea.’

“There have been other star athletes who helped grow other major sports in America.  No one ever did more for one than Arnold Palmer did for golf.  No one was ever a bigger star.  Jack Nicklaus had it right, exactly, and of course.  Everybody loved Arnold Palmer.”

So what is the true story behind the Arnold Palmer drink?

The rumor at Wake Forest was that he developed the beverage in the dining hall.  Palmer himself set the record in a ‘30 for 30’ short, “The Arnold Palmer.”

“My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, ‘Hey babe, I’ve got an idea.’  You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.  We mixed it up and I got the solution about where I wanted it and I put the lemonade in it.  I had it for lunch after working on the golf course.  I thought, ‘Boy, this is great, babe.  I’m going to take it when I play golf.  I’m going to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.’’

“Palmer goes on to tell the story about how he was in a Palm Springs restaurant, ordered the drink to his specifications and was overheard by a woman sitting nearby.  ‘I want an Arnold Palmer,’ she told the waitress.  ‘I want what he ordered.’

And with that, a legend was born.  Ten years ago, the rights to the drink were sold to AriZona Beverage Co.  Sales exceeded $100 million in 2010, and no doubt are far higher today, and will soar from here on.

By the way, Palmer always said the drink was about the proper balance.

“Iced tea dominates the drink, and if it doesn’t, it’s not really right,” he used to say.

Steve Politi / Star-Ledger

“I ran into (Palmer at Augusta National ) having lunch with his family outside the Augusta National clubhouse once and couldn’t help but notice that Arnold Palmer was, in fact, drinking an Arnold Palmer.

“I didn’t want to bother him.  But I was curious: How did Arnold Palmer order an Arnold Palmer?  This is what I wrote that day in 2013:

It has to be a bit awkward, right?  Does he tell the waitress, ‘I’ll have  me?’  Does he just expect that she’ll know, because of who he is?  That could lead to an awkward moment if, for a change of pace, he’d like a Dr. Pepper.

“Really, few people in history have this problem. Sam Adams, the patriot, was long dead when Sam Adams, the beer, hit the market in 1985.  No one is sure if Harvey Wallbanger was an actual bar patron – a Manhattan Beach surfer, according to Wikipedia – or just a legend.  Shirley Temple might have had this issue, but that ‘cocktail’ was invented for her because she was too young to drink....

“Those are mysteries that I cannot answer now.  But I can solve one puzzle, at least.  I chased Kelsey, the waitress serving Arnold Palmer yesterday, back to the bar where she was putting in another drink order.

 “ ‘How did Arnie order his drink?’

“He leaned over and said, ‘I’ll have a Mr. Palmer.’  Then he winked,’ Kelsey said.

“Of course he did.”

--At age 43, Arnie won his last PGA Tour event, the 1973 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, besting Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller by two.  It was his 62nd career victory, trailing Sam Snead (82) and Ben Hogan (64).  Jack Nicklaus was at 46 then, age 33, and he’d finish at 73.  Tiger wouldn’t be born for another 2 ½ years and is currently at 79.

Palmer had a T-4 in the U.S. Open that year and a 3rd at the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open, but there would be only 11 top 10s thereafter and no wins.

But it was fitting the Bob Hope was his last, Palmer winning it five times.

Gary Player:

“Vivienne and I just woke up on the farm this morning to the sad news that our friend Arnold Palmer passed away peacefully last night in the USA.

“I have so many vivid memories of our time together competing around the world, with our families, helping each other’s charities, and just being together.  Arnold was many things to many people and undoubtedly made golf more popular, but to me he was simply a dear friend for over 60 years.  Of course, like anybody we had our differences but these never stood in the way of our relationship and I will miss him terribly. He could be difficult and demanding but also blessed with charisma, charm and patience.  Arnold Palmer simply transcended the game of golf.  He was inspirational to so many and lived his life to the fullest.  He had a slashing, dashing style accompanied with a knowing smile.  He was loved by all even when they did not know him.  He always made an effort, even when the odds were stacked against him.  Our prayers go out to Kit and his entire loving family.

“Muff, I will raise my glass and toast your life tonight my friend, and hope to be reunited for another round together in time.  Rest In Peace.  I love you.”

Jack Nicklaus (initial reaction):

“I just got the news at about 8:45 that Arnold had passed.  I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend – and that golf lost a great friend.

“At this point I don’t know what happened, and I suppose it is not important what happened.  What is important is that we just lost one of the incredible people in the game of golf and in all of sports.  My friend – many people’s friend – just wore out.  I know he was in Pittsburgh trying to find out how to make himself better.  That’s what Arnold has always tried to do.  He has always been a fighter and he never gave up on anything.  He didn’t give up even now.  Maybe his body did, but I know I wish I had another chance to talk to him, but I am so glad we talked a couple weeks ago on his birthday (Sept. 10), when he sounded great.  So Barbara and I are just in shock and incredibly saddened.  Our hearts, thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to Kit, his kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and his entire loving family.

“He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time.  I will miss him greatly.

“Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer.  He was an icon. He was a legend.  Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport.  He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself.  Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans – Barbara and I among them.  We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way.  Arnold always had my back, and I had his.  We were always there for each other.  That never changed.

“He was the king of our sport and always will be.”

I’ll share some final personal thoughts next time.

Ryder Cup

United States Captain Davis Love III’s choice of Ryan Moore as his final captain’s pick on Sunday night really wasn’t that hard, even though he entered the week seemingly behind Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Bubba Watson.  Moore, in finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship, has a run of four top 10s in his last six starts, including a win at last month’s John Deere Classic, and then went toe-to-toe with McIlroy with a matching 64 at East Lake.  Plus Moore has a top-shelf short game, which comes in handy given the Ryder Cup format, as well as extensive match-play experience going back to his terrific amateur career.

Captain Love also tabbed Bubba Watson as a vice captain, joining Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk.  Watson said this week if he couldn’t make the team as a player he wanted to be a vice captain.  Now this is a move that makes sense.

Jaime Diaz / Golf World

Golf’s crowded schedule in 2016, in which the four major championships were packed to fit in the Olympics, has given the sport an intensified presence these past few months.  Now, in a rush, comes the Ryder Cup.

“But even at the end of an exhausting season, the biennial matches seem more important than ever.  The event’s mix – equal parts paralyzing pressure and unleashed emotion (but hold the prize money) – keeps hitting a sweet spot.  As much as golf can be, the Ryder Cup is raw, which is more and more how the world likes its entertainment.

“Of course, despite the buildup and the competition seeming like life and death, nothing is really decided by who wins or loses the Ryder Cup.  It’s why the idea that Europe’s current run of triumphs is making the matches less interesting couldn’t be more wrong.  The Ryder Cup works because it puts the best players from the world’s greatest golf nations in an uncomfortable must-win scenario that inevitably produces moments of human fragility.  It’s golf’s version of ‘Seinfeld,’ a blockbuster show often said to be about ‘nothing,’ but which through its incisive humor accentuated our failings.”

Needless to say, Arnold Palmer will be honored this weekend.

Europe captain Darren Clarke: “The respect that we are all going to pay him this week is something that the man commands and deserves.  He was a global superstar, in not just our sport. He transcended our sport. Arnie’s Army was known worldwide, and we are as shocked and saddened over Arnold’s passing as everybody else in here, I’m sure, is.”

Added Davis Love: “His legacy will live on forever, especially through The Ryder Cup. ...Darren and I had a little chat right when he arrived, and you know, as everything we’ve done over the last year and a half, we’ve agreed that we’re going to do the right thing for the game, and certainly this one for the Palmer family.  But both of our teams want to honor the Palmer legacy in the same way.  I think you’ll see us all honoring him all week, I think is the best way to put it.”

Golf Balls

--With everything else going on last Sunday, it just needs to be said that McIlroy’s performance was truly extraordinary down the stretch, overcoming a 3-shot deficit on the final three holes, helped by jarring a wedge shot for eagle on the par-4 16th.

--Colin Montgomerie won last weekend’s Champions Tour event in Victoria, British Columbia, Monty’s fourth senior win, but first in 17 starts this year.  He defeated Scott McCarron on the third hole of a playoff.

But with the mention of his name at Ryder Cup time, it’s a reminder of what an overwhelming force he was in the event; 20-9-7, 6-0-2 in singles....just phenomenal.

College Football

New AP Poll....

1. Alabama (50 first-place votes) 4-0
2. Ohio State (4) 3-0
3. Louisville (6) 4-0
4. Michigan (1) 4-0
5. Clemson 4-0
6. Houston 4-0
7. Stanford 3-0
8. Wisconsin 4-0
9. Texas A&M 4-0
10. Washington 4-0
11. Tennessee 4-0
12. Florida State 3-1
13. Baylor 4-0
14. Miami 3-0
15. Nebraska 4-0
16. Ole Miss 2-2
19. San Diego State 3-0

38. Wake Forest 4-0...yup, we received 9 votes this week!  Seeing as we play Louisville, Florida State and Clemson, assuming we beat North Carolina State this week, and then beat those three, we’re BCS bound!!!  [I’m relying on Arnie to pull some strings upstairs now.  Like fortuitous turnovers...cases of hoof and mouth disease afflicting our opponents...diphtheria...that kind of thing.]

--Among this week’s big games, you have 7 Stanford at 10 Washington, but this is late Friday for us east coasters, which sucks, while there are two huge games on Saturday....

8 Wisconsin at 4 Michigan, 3:30 ET, and 3 Louisville at 5 Clemson, 8:00.  I’ll be glued to both, with ‘live look-ins’ at the Ryder Cup and Mets-Phillies (plus Wake-N.C. State).

--Mark R. is a Notre Dame alum and like all of them these days, is beside himself after the Fighting Irish’s 1-3 start, writing me he was tired of coach Brian Kelly continuously berating his players on the sidelines, including screaming at Deshone Kizer, the biggest talent on the team.

But Mark’s mood didn’t improve the day after the 38-35 loss to Duke in South Bend.  Mark, a Steelers fan, took his grandson to the Eagles game, Sunday, in Philadelphia, wearing his Steelers cap.  Not a good idea, especially with a final score of 34-3.  At least he escaped physical harm.

--Former LSU coach Les Miles, fired Sunday four games into his 12th season, with a 114-34 record at Baton Rouge and the 2007 BCS Championship, will reportedly receive a buyout of $12.9 million, according to USA TODAY.

They are impatient fans, down in LSU, and it doesn’t help that Alabama’s Nick Saban, who led LSU to its first national title in decades, after the 2003 season, has had tremendous success at ‘Bama and had won the last five meetings with Miles.

Early candidates for the job include Houston’s Tom Herman, and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State.

NFL

--They are still talking about the godawful performance of the Jets last Sunday, at least in these parts, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick becoming the first since 2007 to throw six interceptions in an NFL game.

The thing is Joe Namath did it three times for New York.

After the Jets’ 24-3 loss, Namath tweeted, “If I could remember an uglier game than we just played it would have to be one that I caused with the #Jets...”

In 1967, Namath threw six interceptions in a 28-28 tie against the Oilers.  Following that game, he posted a career-best passer rating (158.3) in a 33-14 win over the Dolphins.

While ’67 was my first real season as a full-fledged Jets fan, I don’t remember that particular contest.  But I sure do the other two.  In 1970, two years after Super Bowl III, Baltimore got its revenge picking Namath off six times in a 29-22 Jets loss.

Five years later, in 1975, Namath went 8-of-24 for 96 yards and six INTs...a passer rating of 6.9, in a 43-0 loss to Miami.

But that’s why we loved Namath.  He was a true gunslinger, and in both ’70 and ’75, he followed up his hideous efforts with three-touchdown in each (except lost both of them).  [Jim Chairusmi / Wall Street Journal]

But the Jets are now in major trouble, hosting Seattle this week as part of their brutal early-season schedule (followed by road games at Pittsburgh and Arizona), and coach Todd Bowles was furious after Sunday’s effort.

He needed just one adjective to describe it all.

We took an ass kicking,” Bowles said.  “S----y game plan. S----y execution.  S----y all around.”

Including two fumbles, the eight combined turnovers were the most by the Jets since 1976 – when they had a franchise-record 10 in a loss to the Patriots.

“I’m disappointed...pissed off....mad,” Bowles said.  “We need to regroup.”

Sure do, Mr. Bowles.

Well I just want to remind everyone I was totally ambivalent about the Jets bringing back Fitzpatrick.  I wrote many times last spring, we can go 8-8 with him, and 8-8 without him, preferring we give one of our young guys a shot, even if that meant Geno Smith.

But then Fitzpatrick had his best game as a Jet two weeks ago in Buffalo, and all was right again with the world. Then, Sunday, he reminded you why no one else in the NFL wanted to give him what the Jets had on the table all along.

So which Fitz will show up this coming Sunday?

--Yes, Philadelphia fans are fired up with their 3-0 start behind rookie QB Carson Wentz, the signal-caller the Browns passed on, because they are, err, the Browns.  [Rams fans can’t be too happy, either, after they acquired the first overall selection from Tennessee, with Cleveland trading its rights to No. 2 to Philly, and L.A. choosing Jared Goff.]

Wentz, the strapping lad from North Dakota State, has completed 64.7% of his passes, while throwing 5 touchdown passes and no interceptions.  The Philadelphia offense is the only one in the NFL without a turnover.  Six other passers have amassed 750 or more passing yards in their first three starts since 1970, but Wentz is the first since Warren Moon (1984) to do so without throwing a pick.   And his quarterback rating of 103.8 is the highest ever for a rookie who has thrown at least 100 passes in his first three games.  [Neil Greenberg / Washington Post]

Actually, Wentz’ has gone a rookie-record 102 passes without an interception to start his career, while Dallas rookie Dak Prescott is at 99 without an INT.  As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’  [Tom Brady went a record 162 passes without an interception at the beginning of his career, but most of those were not as a rookie.]

--So after three weeks, just five undefeated teams are left.

New England, Baltimore, Denver, Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Three have yet to win...Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Chicago.  Seeing as they don’t play each other, we can now project both the Browns and Bears will go 0-16.

But Jacksonville is at Chicago in Week 6 and so we’re projecting the Jags will use that as a springboard towards an 8-8 mark.

Meanwhile, of the 1-2 teams that were expected to get off to better starts, like Carolina and Arizona, Carolina should be concerned.  It’s one thing to lose at Denver in the season opener, it’s another to lose to injury-riddled Minnesota at home, even if the Vikings are 3-0.

As for Arizona, yes, they too should be concerned with last week’s loss in Buffalo and the loss at home to Brady-less New England.

--In catching up on some of the action Sunday, I can’t help but note that the pride of Jeannette High in Pennsylvania (Arnold Palmer country, Latrobe being a rival), Terrelle Pryor, who has turned himself into a receiver with Cleveland, after a go of it as a quarterback at Oakland, 2012-13, was the first in NFL history to complete more than one pass and haul in more than 100 receiving yards in the same game; Pryor 3-of-5 threw the air for 35 yards, while catching 8 passes for 144 yards.  He also ran four times for 21 and a touchdown.  But the Brownies lost to the Dolphins 30-24 in overtime.

Nonetheless, good to see the immensely talented Pryor make the most of what was undoubtedly his final shot in the NFL.  He should last awhile now.

--Who are the Pats starting at quarterback in this final game without Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett suffering a thumb injury and Jimmy Garoppolo nursing his sprained shoulder?  Both were at practice Tuesday, but no other word on them.  We’ll learn something today, Wednesday.

--Big blow for the Houston Texans as defensive end J.J. Watt reinjured his back and is probably out for the season.  The Texans never felt like Watt was healthy after offseason surgery for a herniated disk in late July.

--With the debate behind Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it’s thought the 5.7 overnight rating for the Falcons-Saints could end up being the least-watched “Monday Night Football” game in history; the Falcons winning 45-32 as running back Devonta Freeman had 152 yards rushing for Atlanta, with another 55 receiving, while quarterback Matt Ryan was a cool 20/30, 240, 2-0, 113.2, besting Drew Brees who threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns.

Premier League...English Football

--Huge scandal broke on Monday with the revelation that Sam Allardyce, new manager of Team England, was close to losing his job after revelations from a 10-month undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph involving secretly-filed conversations that seem to show him making some rather controversial statements to undercover reporters.

The Daily Telegraph claimed to have “unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football,” including telling fictitious businessmen how to circumvent FA (Football Association) third-party ownership laws (transfer rules).

Allardyce also appeared to sell himself as an ambassador to the fabricated firm that the businessmen represented in a deal worth an alleged $500,000.

And Allardyce disparaged Roy Hodgson, who he replaced as England’s manager, Hodgson’s assistant, the FA’s expenditure on Wembley Stadium, even Prince Harry: “Harry’s a naughty boy.  He’s a very naughty boy, very naughty.”

So I wrote the above Tuesday morning.  About eight hours later, Tuesday afternoon, Allardyce stepped down. 

In a statement, the FA said Allardyce’s conduct was “inappropriate of the England manager,” saying he accepted he made a “significant error of judgement” and had apologized.

Gareth Southgate, who currently manages England’s under-21 squad, will take over on an interim basis for the next four international matches.

--In Champions League play on Tuesday, Tottenham defeated CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Son Heung-min’s fifth goal in five games for the Spurs, while Leicester City beat FC Porto 1-0.

--This Sunday, it’s Tottenham hosting Manchester City!

NCAA Men’s Soccer Coaches Poll (Sept. 27)

1. Maryland
2. Notre Dame
3. Syracuse
4. North Carolina
5. Clemson
6. Indiana
7. Butler
8. Denver
9. Louisville
10. Creighton
11. Wake Forest

Talk about brutal schedules, Wake Forest is at Clemson on Friday, then at Notre Dame, home against Louisville, and at Syracuse the rest of the way.  Nos. 2-5.  If they could manufacture a split of these four, I imagine the Deacs would be ecstatic.

Stuff

--LeBron James responded to a question on Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem as training camp opened for the Cavs.  What would James do?

“Me standing for the national anthem is something I will do,” James aid.  “That’s who I am.  That’s what I believe in.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t believe in what Colin Kaepernick is doing.  You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion, and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something.”

James has been outspoken about social issues.

“For me, my personal feeling is that I got a 12-year-old son, a 9-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and I look at my son being four years removed from driving his own car and being able to leave the house on his own, and it’s a scary thought right now to think if my son gets pulled over,” James said.  “You tell your kids if you just apply [the lessons you teach them] and if you just listen to the police that they will be respectful and it will work itself out.  And you see these videos that continue to come out, and it’s a scary-ass situation that if my son calls me and says that he’s been pulled over that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and my son is going to return home.  And my son just started the sixth grade.”

Top 3 songs for the week 9/28/63: #1 “Blue Velvet” (Bobby Vinton)  #2 “Sally, Go ‘Round the Roses” (The Jaynetts)  #3 “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes...Phil Spector at his best...)...and...#4 “Heat Wave” (Martha & The Vandellas)  #5 “My Boyfriend’s Back” (The Angels)  #6 “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals) #7 “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (The Tymes...surprised this peaked at only #7...timeless...)  #8 “Mickey’s Monkey” (The Miracles... ‘Chimps’ not highly rated on All-Species List because they are wont to rip your face off...which is why we prefer the docile, family oriented, Gibbon...)  #9 “Cry Baby” (Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters)  #10 “If I Had A Hammer” (Trini Lopez...he’s a little too peppy for holding a hammer...not sure I’d want him as my next door neighbor...like if you heard this guy hammering in the evening, you might be tempted to call the cops... )

College Football Quiz Answer: 6,000 yards rushing....

1. Ron Dayne, 7,125, 1996-99, Wisconsin
2. Tony Dorsett, 6,526, 1973-76, Pitt
3. Ricky Williams, 6,279, 1995-98, Texas
4. Charles White, 6,245, 1976-79, USC
5. DeAngelo Williams, 6,026, 2002-05, Memphis

Next Bar Chat, Monday.

 

 



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Bar Chat

09/29/2016

Farewell to The King

[Posted Wednesday a.m.]

College Football Quiz: Five Division I-A backs have rushed for 6,000 yards or more in their career.  All made it to the NFL.  Name ‘em.  Answer below.

MLB

Wild Card Standings [thru Tuesday]

N.L.

Mets 84-74... +0.5
San Francisco 83-74... --
St. Louis 82-75... 1

A.L.

Toronto 87-70... +2
Baltimore 85-72... --
Detroit 84-73... +1
Seattle 83-74... +2

Big loss for the Orioles in Toronto on Tuesday, 5-1, with two more games there before the Orioles finish up with three at Yankee Stadium.

As for the N.L., who the heck knows how it will all end up this weekend.

---

Monday was an incredibly sad night in Miami as the Marlins played their first game since the Jose Fernandez tragedy against the Mets.  The Mets need to win every game possible down the stretch, but no one could think of that this night.  I watched the entire pregame ceremony, some scripted, some not, and like everyone else lost it when a lone trumpet played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as the players from both teams lined the foul lines.

And then after the national anthem, I, like everyone else had the same thought, expressed by a tearful Mets broadcaster, Gary Cohen, as SNY went to the booth, Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, all crying, with Gary saying in effect, never had the national anthem had more meaning, knowing how Jose Fernandez had tried four times to escape his native Cuba for the freedom of America.

But they still had to play a game and you wondered how it would go.

In the bottom of the first, Miami’s Dee Gordon led off against the Mets’ Bartolo Colon and Gordon batted right-handed for the first pitch, in honor of Fernandez, before switching to the left side and he promptly blasted a mammoth shot into the upper deck at Marlins Park.  It was Gordon’s first homer of the year in his 304th at bat.  It was otherworldly, Gordon crying as he circled the bases.

Unfortunately for the Mets, “Bad Bart” showed up after a string of masterful performances, Colon allowing 7 earned in just 2 1/3 and the Marlins won the game 7-3.

But on Tuesday, the Mets had to get back at it, while you knew Miami would be physically and emotionally drained from the prior 48 hours, and it showed.  The Mets won 12-1 behind Noah Syndergaard.

Jerry Crasnick / ESPN

“Eventually, a game had to be played, and as the Marlins prepared to take the field, a single face and voice stood out from the crowd.  There was (Giancarlo) Stanton, with red-rimmed eyes and a gray No. 16 adorning his black Marlins cap, exhorting his teammates to put their grief aside for a few hours and play the game the way Jose would have wanted.  When he finished talking, he thrust a finger in the air, and every other hand in the scrum shot skyward to meet it.  Stanton didn’t plan his sermon from on high. It just happened.

“ ‘Honestly, I went kind of numb in that moment,’ Stanton said.  ‘A lot of us were talking about, ‘Why are we here right now?  What’s the main purpose of this?  How do we get through this together?’  I was just trying to ease all that.  I told them, ‘We’re here for Jose and his fans and everyone to come together.  We’re the last hope and the last heart for him.’’

“There were multiple displays of grace, sportsmanship and people rising to meet the occasion during the Marlins’ 7-3 victory over the Mets.  Right after the national anthem, the Mets crossed the field and met the Marlins in an inspiring display of baseball brotherhood.  Just how classy a gesture it was dawned on Stanton when pitcher Jacob deGrom, his right arm encased in a cast and a sling, attempted to reach out in an effort to console him.

“Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, a spindly bundle of emotion and tears, set the tone for the evening when he launched his first home run in 74 games this season on his first swing against Bartolo Colon.  For the sake of improbability, timing, karma and bolt-from-the-heavens-caliber shock value, it might have been the closest thing to a miracle that baseball has seen since Mike Piazza’s post-9/11 home run against the Atlanta Braves.”

Jayson Stark / ESPN

“Let’s hope that someday, when we think of Jose Fernandez, we can remember the smile, we can remember the charisma, we can remember the special joy he brought to every day he ever spent on a baseball field.

“But right now, it’s just too hard to get beyond the sadness.  How do we even put that sadness into words as we try to process the incomprehensible news of the passing of one of baseball’s shining stars, at the far-too-young age of 24?

“We will always have Fernandez’ remarkable numbers to remind us of what he had already accomplished in a career that would last a mere 76 trips to a big league mound.  But how do we measure what it is we’ve lost, what the Miami Marlins have lost, what the sport of baseball has lost?

Where was this man heading in life?  Where was he heading in baseball?  It’s like asking, ‘How high is the sky?’  Because for Jose Fernandez, life had no limits. Every day, he looked at the world and thought, ‘Why not?’  Ask anyone who ever spent five minutes around him.  They would be the first to tell you there were four words in the dictionary he could never accept:

That.  Can’t.  Be.  Done.....

“He could have been Pedro Martinez.  He was that talented.  He was that unique. He was that irrepressible.”

Dan Le Batard / ESPN

Fernandez made us care...Fernandez took us with him for the emotional ride.  And it was such a fun party.  A carnival. Watching him work was a pleasure, his joy birthing our joy, contagious and expanding and shared – hell, yes, multiplying joy – so Sunday morning felt like the horror of watching the parade route end in a wreck and a funeral.  So sudden.  So fast.  Too fast.  Why?  Damn it.  Why?

“An uncommon joy has been extinguished.  Fernandez had found freedom on one boat, and now his life had ended on another.  There will be uncomfortable questions about that in the coming days and an investigation, but nobody wants to hear about that during the grief of the eulogy.  This feels so cruel, so wrong, so unfair.  It is the worst kind of awful, young life extinguished with thudding finality before it can really be lived, but it is somehow made harder because it was this life.

“I’m not talking about his promise or his pitching potential, even though he was on his way to a $200 million contract, and the loss of his baseball value is crippling to the franchise.  I’m talking about his personality, his energy, his soul.  Fernandez had so much joy and enthusiasm and gratitude and passion pouring from him – for being in this country, for getting to do what he loved, for squeezing every ounce of fun out of the day – that it could move even the repressed and the sour.  His smile and laugh routinely thawed stoic statues like Giancarlo Stanton.  Jesus, even hitting coach Barry Bonds was always kissing him in the damn dugout....

“Fernandez played the way the best Latin music feels.  He acted like a little boy in a sports world soaked with adult problems and cynicism that can make us lose sight of the root verb at the center of what he did for a living.  To play. You expected him to throw his glove into the sky at the end of successful innings.  And you know what watching him work felt like to South Florida’s Cubans?  Freedom....

“(Fernandez) was just beginning to share and live the best parts of his realized American dream. He had his first baby on the way.  He worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get to the top of this mountain, and he barely had time to enjoy the view.

“Thank you, Jose.

“For sharing your joyful time with us.

“For telling your story and our story with so much color and flair.

“For making us care in a way that can be hard to see today through our tears.”

[Miami Marlins outfielder Marcel Ozuna said he declined to go out on the boat, telling Fernandez “I couldn’t go out because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me,” he told the Miami Herald. Others told Fernandez and the other two on the boat to be very careful.]

---

--The Nationals suffered a huge blow as catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and is out for the playoffs, the same ACL he tore in May of 2012.  The poor guy, who was having his best year, is 29 and was to become a free agent after this season, having turned down an offer of three years and $30 million from the Nationals in just the last month, shades of the contract the team handed Stephen Strasburg prior to his getting hurt again.

Strasburg’s status for the playoffs is up in the air, but he is definitely out for round one.

--Sunday was Vin Scully’s final game broadcasting a Dodgers game at home.

Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times

“The farewell to the baseball rocked Dodger Stadium with cheers.

“The farewell to Vin Scully drowned it in tears.

In what was arguably the most perfect moment at Chavez Ravine since Kirk Gibson’s 1988 home run, the Dodgers ended a sweaty Sunday afternoon with a stirring two-part final act that could only be believed in Hollywood.

“One moment, the Dodgers’ unlikely journeyman, Charlie Culberson, was driving a ball over the left-field fence for a 10th-inning home run to give the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies and their fourth consecutive National League West Division championship.

“The next moment, after the team hugged and bounced in the infield while its fans danced in the stands, everyone stopped and pointed to the press box.

“ ‘Vin, we love you, and this is for you, my friend!’ screamed Dodger Manager Dave Roberts.

“Vin Scully, who had just called his last game at Dodger Stadium after 67 years as Dodger broadcaster, smiled back, mimicked an embrace, and made an announcement.

“A man who had spoken to this city’s heart for more than half a century wanted to offer up that voice one last time, but not in a way anyone would dream.

“A walk-off sendoff for Vin Scully – Dodgers clinch division title in dramatic fashion.

“He wanted to sing to us. He wanted to play a song he recorded for his wife, Sandi, 25 years ago, a song he felt expressed his emotions in words he could not speak.

“And with that, more than 50,000 Angelenos and exultant players stopped celebrating to listen to Scully’s recording of ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings.’....

“Did they mind?  They were transfixed. Entire rows locked arms.  Players stood frozen on the infield.”

Scully will announce the team’s final three games next weekend in San Francisco. But he swears he will not return to the booth for the World Series, should the Dodgers make it that far.

Arnold Palmer

Palmer died Sunday at a Pittsburgh hospital, three days after being admitted and one day before he was slated for heart surgery, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, Alastair Johnston, said, “all manner of sensitivity” would be given to the scheduling of the Ryder Cup in planning services, and a day later, it was decided a memorial will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, at St. Vincent College Basilica in Latrobe.

Prior to this, Palmer, per stipulations in his will, is to join his parents and his first wife Winnie in having his ashes spread at a specific location at Latrobe Country Club, where Arnold grew up and learned the game from his father Deacon.  This will be private.

Statement from Amy Palmer Saunders:

“My family and I are deeply moved by the outpouring of support and love that we have received from the countless friends and admirers of my father. These first hours have been challenging but we are comforted knowing that he was loved by so many and so deeply. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we have for the many people who have offered to help us in this time of sadness.  My father would be so pleased to know that he is being thought of and recognized this way....

“On behalf of my father and family, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles, seven majors, with all seven between 1958-64, ages 28-34.  He won at least one Tour event from 1955 to 1971.  In 1960, he finished in the top 5 in 19 of his 29 tournaments.  He was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1963 and its player of the year in 1960 and 1962.  In 1968, he became the first golfer to earn more than $1 million in career prize money on the PGA Tour.

His first major title was the 1958 Masters, but the legend grew in 1960 when he won his only U.S. Open and the Masters; a year that “Arnie’s Army” was born.  The Open at Cherry Hills was his duel with a new amateur who had burst on the scene, Jack Nicklaus.

Palmer famously won less than $3 million in his entire career, which Kyle Porter of CBSSports.com pointed out, was over $8 million less than what Rory McIlroy won on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

“In Palmer’s day, pro golfers took jobs during the winter and worked on the side to make ends meet.  It wasn’t the lucrative business it is these days.  Not even close.

“Palmer was the link between a world of professional golfers and a public that did not know it wanted to consume the sport as vociferously as it does today. Without him, golf as we know it does not exist.

“ ‘We should kiss the footsteps of Arnold Palmer because he’s the guy responsible for making us more money,’ former golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez once told the Post-Gazette.  ‘When Arnie wins a tournament, I make an extra $100,000.’

“Palmer was also the first to think of himself as a brand.  Because of this, Palmer was making $40 million a year well into his 80s.  He invented a drink – you know it as an Arnold Palmer, of course – flew his own plane from tournament to tournament, started a network, traveled the world and took a sport from national afterthought to an obsession for many folks.  It was quite a life Palmer lived.  Golf was almost not even the centerpiece.

“And this is why he has touched so many.  It’s why he connected with fans in a way Nicklaus (and to a large extent Woods) never can.  Golf was it for them.  For Palmer, it was a gateway.  He was great at the sport, no doubt, and his swashbuckling, creative swing and style were seemingly hand-picked for the boom of the television era.  But it always seemed to extend beyond the golf for The King.

“For all that Palmer accomplished, when he looked back on  his career it was always the people – Arnie’s Army – that meant the most.

“ ‘I feel the strength of the gallery, especially on a critical shot,’ he told the New York Times.  ‘Silence is louder than any noise on a golf course – the deathly silence that I sometimes feel and hear when I’m out there.  That will tell you how powerful the galleries really are.  They have an appreciation of what you’re going through, of what’s happening, and they understand.’”

Arnold Palmer brought a country-club sport to the masses.

“ ‘If it wasn’t for Arnold, golf wouldn’t be as popular as it is now,’ Tiger Woods said in 2004 when Palmer played in his last Masters.  ‘He’s the one who basically brought it to the forefront on TV.  If it wasn’t for him and his excitement, his flair, the way he played, golf probably would not have had that type of excitement.

“ ‘And that’s why he’s the king.’”

Doug Ferguson / Associated Press:

“On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it.

“He would hitch up his pants, drop a cigarette and attack the flags. With powerful hands wrapped around the golf club, Palmer would slash at the ball with all of his might, then twist that muscular neck and squint to see where it went.

“ ‘When he hits the ball, the earth shakes,’ Gene Littler once said.”

Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

“When I was 6 years old, my father put me on a steel-wheeled tractor,” Arnie recalled in a 2011 interview with the AP. “I had to stand up to turn the wheel.  That’s one thing that made me strong.  The other thing was I pushed mowers.  In those days, there were no motors on anything except the tractor.  The mowers to cut greens with, you pushed.

“And it was this,” he said, patting his arms, “that made it go.”

John Strege / Golf World

“(Palmer) played the game without compromise, choosing the hero shot over the prudent one. When Nicklaus once protected a lead by hitting an iron off the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote, ‘Arnold Palmer wouldn’t use an iron to press his pants.’  Palmer’s was an all-in approach that only widened his appeal and helped create the large and raucous crowds that became known as Arnie’s Army....

“It is hard for me to capture in words the magnitude of Arnold Palmer at that time,’ Nicklaus wrote in his autobiography, My Story.   ‘He was not only the game’s undisputed king, but the emperor-in-chief of contemporary American sports heroes – indeed, a national figure as renowned and admired as any man of his generation.’

“Palmer, with those victories, lifted the sport from its niche and placed it into the mainstream.  ‘Arnold Palmer didn’t make golf,’ Murray wrote.  ‘He just put it on page one.’....

“Palmer’s appeal was rooted in his blue-collar mien. He was born in Latrobe, Pa., a shot-and-a-beer town southeast of Pittsburgh.  ‘When he had a drink, he did it in public.  When he smoked, it was on the golf course for everyone to see,’ Thomas Hauser, his collaborator on the book, Arnold Palmer: A Personal Journey, wrote.

“His father, Deacon Palmer, was the greenkeeper and head professional at Latrobe Country Club (which Palmer eventually bought).  Pap, as his son called him, introduced Arnold to the game with two simple exhortations.  First, he positioned young Arnold’s hands on the grip of a golf club and said, ‘Don’t you ever change that.’  Then he told him to ‘hit it hard, boy.  Go find it and hit it hard again.’  He followed his father’s advice from his first swing to his last.

“Another lesson from Pap, a different one, stuck with him, too.  When Palmer was 17, he missed a short putt late in a match and flung his putter.  On the ride home, Pap said, ‘If I ever see you throw a club again, you will never play in another golf tournament.’  Palmer never threw another club.

“Manners were important to Palmer, as a sign by the door of the restaurant at his Bay Hill Club in Orlando reflects: ‘Gentlemen, No Hats in The Clubhouse, Please.’

“A breach made in Palmer’s presence was not tolerated, to which Welsh golfer Jamie Donaldson can attest.  One day Donaldson entered the clubhouse wearing his hat, until he spotted Palmer.  ‘I just got it off in time after he spotted me and was coming over,’ Donaldson said.  ‘It was pretty scary.’

“Nor would Palmer tolerate misbehavior on the golf course.  Curtis Strange, who played at Palmer’s alma mater, Wake Forest, on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship, berated a female volunteer at the Bay Hill Classic  in 1982.  Palmer, who counted Strange’s father Tom as a friend, angrily took Curtis aside and said, ‘If he were here today, I think he’d want me to take you over my knee.’  For a contrite Strange, it was said to have marked a turning point in his career.

“ ‘I happen to believe that manners do count – knowing when to speak and what to say, knowing when to remove your hat as a sign of basic courtesy, knowing how to win by following the rules, knowing the importance of when and how to say thank you,’ Palmer said in his book.  ‘Golf resembles life in so many ways.  More than any game on earth, golf depends on simple, timeless principles of courtesy and respect.’....

“In 2004, Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the country bestows on a civilian, from President George W. Bush.

“ ‘For all who love the game of golf, and for those who love to see it played, there has never been a sight in the game quite like Arnold Palmer walking down the fairway toward the 18th green,’ the president said.  ‘The announcer Vin Scully once said, ‘In a sport that was high society, Arnold Palmer made it High Noon.’’

“ ‘For more than 50 years, over thousands of miles of fairway, and in 92 professional championships, Arnold has given his all, playing with style and a daring that changed the game of golf.  He drew millions of fans, and every big crowd we see at a golf tournament today started with Arnie’s Army.  The father who had taught him to play golf at Latrobe Country Club would be very proud today of Arnold Daniel Palmer.’....

“(Palmer’s) good sportsmanship long outlived his competitive career.  A prolific letter writer who remarkably answered every piece of fan mail he received, Palmer wrote letters of congratulations to every winner of a PGA Tour event, ‘treasured letters,’ one recipient, Olin Browne, called them.

“Each of these letters no doubt concluded the same way, with his familiar and identifiable signature.  Palmer never scribbled his autograph in haste, incidentally.  It was never illegible out of respect to its recipients who by his reckoning ought to be able to read it.

“It was the signature of a man who cared.”

Jurek Martin / Financial Times

“Arnold Palmer did a lot more than popularize the country club sport of golf.  A handshake agreement with a young Cleveland lawyer, a childhood foe on the links, helped transform the lot of professional sports people all over the world.

“The year was 1958, just after Palmer had won the first of his four Masters tournaments, and the man gripping his hand was Mark McCormack, who had the idea that there was a future in representing men like the golfer, who played for pay.  Two years later, he founded IMG, which emerged as the premier sports agency in the business.

“In this age of the billionaire sports star, it is hard to recall that half a century ago the professional sportsman was little more than a vassal, owned lock, stock and barrel by teams able to pay them what owners, not players, thought they were worth and to trade them on a whim. Even the superstars were subject to this regime....

“But McCormack sensed that the dawning of the television age was going to change all this. There would be audiences on living-room couches exceeding by a factor of millions those who went to live games and they would be consumers of the goods their new idols endorsed.  And, as the U.S. grew more affluent, they would be in the market for more than Baby Ruth candy bars, named after the interwar baseball star.

“In Palmer, McCormack had the perfect prototypical candidate for this new age.  He was working-class, from the steel town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and played like a welder, with fearless determination.  He was open and gregarious and his fans, known as ‘Arnie’s Army,’ adored him, in real championships and in made-for-TV matchups against Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As Lee Trevino, the similarly hardscrabble Mexican-American champion, put it: ‘Arnie took the machete to the jungle and cut a path for the rest of us.’  That path, for Palmer, included being the first golfer to fly his own plane back and forth from tournaments.

“In his first two years with IMG, Palmer’s income from endorsements rose from $6,000 a year to $500,000, far more than he could earn by winning 10 tournaments.  Tiger Woods would later become the ultimate beneficiary, signing with Nike 20 years ago for nearly $40 million a year.  (Mr. Woods’ fall from grace and form, together with golf’s declining popularity, undoubtedly influenced Nike’s recent decision to discontinue its golf club manufacturing business.)  The basketball player Michael Jordan took the Palmer prototype to new commercial levels.”

John Feinstein / Washington Post

“As the statements poured out in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s death on Sunday night – ranging from 23-year-old Jordan Spieth to 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus to the President of the United States, I was struck by one thing: Almost no one said anything about Palmer’s golf.  It was all about the man.

“Palmer...was a great player... But Palmer wasn’t one of the most iconic athletes of the past 100 years because of what he did on the golf course, but because of what he did off the golf course.

“No one understood and embraced the responsibilities of stardom the way Arnold Palmer did.  No one ever signed more autographs – never a scrawl, but a very clear signature.  No one was more accessible or open with the media – all media, ranging from TV networks to high school kids who wanted to ask a few questions.

“Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the greatest players in golf history.  Palmer was the most important: He made golf a sport for TV, for corporate America and for millions of fans – his ‘army.’

“Palmer had an almost unique gift: He could make anyone he was talking to feel as if they were the most important person he had ever met.  Everyone who ever met Palmer has a story about their first encounter.

“Here’s mine: In 1994, while researching ‘A Good Walk Spoiled,’ I asked Doc Giffin, Palmer’s right-hand man for 53 years, whether Palmer might have some time to talk during the annual PGA Tour event he hosted at Bay Hill.  The next day, Doc asked me if I could go to Arnold’s house for breakfast later in the week.

“When we shook hands at the front door, Palmer said, ‘So, Doc tells me you went to Duke.’

“I said that was correct.  Palmer smiled, shook his head and said, ‘So, I guess you couldn’t get into Wake Forest.’

“His alma mater....of course.

“Two hours later, he had supplied me with enough material for several chapters.  Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I thanked him for his time, his hospitality and for breakfast.

“ ‘You got enough?’ he asked.  ‘I’m going down to my workshop to work on some clubs if you want to stick around a while longer.’

“That became another 90 minutes.

“Palmer did that for everyone.

“More than anything, Palmer always understood that fame and fortune aren’t a one-way street.  Before the 1997 Masters, Palmer took Tiger Woods to lunch in the champions’ locker room at Augusta National.  Woods was still a few days away from his first Masters victory – so Palmer hosted him.

“Woods was singing a song that went something like, ‘It’s just not fair.  I can’t be a normal 21-year-old.’

“ ‘You’re right,’ Palmer said.  ‘Normal 21-year-olds don’t have $50 million in the bank.’....

“This past March, a number of players changed their schedules to play Bay Hill because they knew Palmer was ill and it might be their last chance to pay tribute....

“Twenty-five years ago, Palmer made the cut at Bay Hill – for the final time – at the age of 61. That night, Peter Jacobsen went to a bakery and asked for a sheet cake for 100 people.

“ ‘I need it first thing in the morning,’ Jacobsen said.

“ ‘Monday is the earliest I can do it,’ the baker said.

“ ‘It’s for Arnold Palmer.’

“We open at 8 tomorrow. Is that soon enough?’

“When Jacobsen presented the cake to Palmer that afternoon during a rain delay with the entire field in the locker room, Palmer cried.  Then he cut a piece for every player.

“ ‘I cried because Peter and all the guys were saying to me that I was still one of them,’ Palmer said.  ‘That meant a lot.’

“He never stopped being one of them.

“On a searingly hot June day in 1994, Palmer played his last U.S. Open round....

“As Palmer walked up the 18th fairway that afternoon, many players came out of the clubhouse to stand behind the green and join the throngs....

“A few minutes later, when Palmer came into a packed interview room, he was overcome by tears on several occasions. He tried to talk – and stopped.  He tried again – and stopped.  Finally, he stood to leave.  Every single person in the room jumped to their feet and applauded.

“It was completely unprofessional.  No cheering in the press box.  And yet, it was absolutely the right thing to do because no one ever did more for the media than Palmer.

“A handful of us trailed him back to the locker room. There, he composed himself and talked for another 20 minutes.

“ ‘I shot 81 today,’ he said softly.  ‘I was terrible.  In any other sport, I’d have been booed – should have been booed. Instead, I get cheered.’

“He paused for a moment.  ‘How lucky have I been to have played this game for all these years?’

“Actually, the luck was ours.”

Ian O’Connor / ESPN

“Pull up a chair, young and impressionable golf fans, because you really need to hear this. Arnold Palmer was not a nice old man who sold you a cool soft drink years after he sold your parents and grandparents motor oil and rental cars.

“Yes, he was about as neighborly as a worldwide celebrity could ever be.  You could easily imagine him lending you his tractor or lawn mower or plowing eight inches of snow from your driveway if you happened to be away on business.  But please understand something when you consider the legacy of this late, great 87-year-old man from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who was always happiest when he was making someone else’s day.

“He was a lion long before there was a Tiger.  Just like Woods and Michael Jordan and Tom Brady and all the sporting titans defined by their killer game-day instincts, Arnold Palmer was a ferocious competitor driven – like many of us – to prove his manhood to his hard-driving, hard-drinking father, and to prove his worth to the doubters and haters who anticipated nothing more than a life of anonymous mediocrity from the greenkeeper’s son....

“Arnold became a star by swinging for the moon.  He won his first major at the 1958 Masters, but not before Hogan belittled him in the locker room.  Palmer had played poorly in a practice round with Hogan after driving all night from a playoff loss in North Carolina, and with Palmer in earshot, Hogan asked his playing partner Jackie Burke, ‘How in the hell did he get in the Masters?’

“ ‘Pissed me off,’ Palmer would tell me.  ‘P-i-s-s-e-d...Hogan was another one of the goddamn guys on tour as far as I was concerned. He was no big guy.  He was no big deal, and I didn’t care what he said.  All I wanted to do was beat him, and I did.’

“Palmer was also furious that Hogan never referred to him by his first name, that he always called him ‘fella.’”  [As Ian O’Connor pointed out to Arnold, though, Hogan called everyone ‘fella.’]

Then there was 1960, when Arnie won the Masters and U.S. Open, and was runner-up at the British Open, which earned him the Hickok Belt, then awarded to the professional athlete of the year.  Palmer was a finalist with the Yankees’ Roger Maris, who spotted Arnie at the banquet and said, ‘What the f--- are you doing here?’  [Maris didn’t believe golfers were athletes.]

Ian O’Connor:

“I asked Palmer how he replied to Maris.  ‘I didn’t say a goddamn word to him,’ he said.  ‘I didn’t say a word until after it was all over, and then I didn’t need to say anything.’  Palmer had the Hickok Belt in his hands as he walked past Maris.  ‘That’s what my father taught me,’ he said.  ‘Don’t say anything, just do it.’

“A child of the Great Depression, Palmer was the ultimate doer. He spent his early years in a house with no indoor plumbing on a country club course, watching the rich kids enjoy a world he couldn’t touch, before buying that very country club decades later.

“He loved driving his salmon four-door New Yorker, his first brand new car, just as much as he loved flying his Aero Commander and Cessna Citations.  He cherished his connection to the mill workers, to the Average Joe, who paid to watch him flick away his cigarette and hitch up his pants and attack the golf ball with all of his blue-collar fury.  Palmer forever looked like he was fighting a rattlesnake at the top of that homemade swing, and the people couldn’t get enough of it.”

Just last week, before he was admitted to the hospital, one of his longtime friends, Bob Florio, gave this account to Ian O’Connor upon Arnold’s passing.

“Florio had seen Palmer for a fundraiser outing. He rode in a cart with Palmer for two and a half hours, visiting this foursome and that foursome, before they retreated to the King’s office.

“ ‘Before Arnold fell asleep,’ Florio recalled, ‘and this is a perfect Palmer line, he asked me what time he needed to be at our reception.  I told him he didn’t need to go and he said, ‘Goddammit, I didn’t ask you if I needed to go or not.  I asked you when I needed to be there.’  So I told him 5:45 p.m.  And you know what, at 5:45 that freakin’ door opened and there was Arnold Palmer.  It didn’t matter that one of his guys had to practically carry him up the stairs.  If Arnold Palmer said he was going to be there, he was there.’”

A few days later he was dead.

---

In 2007, Arnie’s longtime aide, Doc Giffin, told Golf Digest that The King had signed an average of 100 autographs a day for every day of his life.  Give or take, that was 2.8 million at the time, a total that surpassed three million by the time of Palmer’s passing.  “People ask me, ‘Why is Arnold Palmer so popular?’ Giffin told us.  “The answer is simple: He likes people, and they know it.  His public face and his private face are exactly the same.  He’s not one of those guys who turns it on in public and turns it off in private.”

“The women want to be close to him, and men want to be him,” Geoff Ogilvy told Golf World in 2009.  “You don’t know how he does it, but he can be in a crowded room, and everyone in that room could leave thinking Arnold connected with them at least once.”  [Mike O’Malley / Golf Digest]

Herb Graffis / Golf Digest, February 1981: “He’s the boy next door.  The kid you asked to run an errand to the corner store. When he won the U.S. Amateur in 1954, it was a bit of an embarrassment to the USGA.  At that time, declaring an intention to turn professional was a violation of the rules of amateur status.   Before he won the amateur, Palmer had been telling everybody he was going to turn pro.  He wanted to be a pro so much, he’d already signed up with Wilson when he was still an amateur.  But Arnold was such a nice kid that everybody just looked the other way.”

Tommy Bolt / Golf Digest, June 1993: “We traveled together for a while when he was a young player. He had two pairs of pants at that time, one in the dry cleaners and the pair he had on.  You know Arnold’s habit of hitching his pants up all the time?  He got that because those pants didn’t fit.”

Fred Couples / Gold World, Sept. 14, 2009: “There isn’t a time when I see him that I don’t give him a kiss on the cheek.  That’s how I feel about him, and I know that a lot of other guys sort of feel the same way, that you love him like he’s your father or grandfather. I love all the old guys...Jack, Ray Floyd, [Lee] Trevino.  But would any of them say that Arnold wasn’t the most special of them all? I don’t think so.”

Peter Dobereiner / Golf Digest, February 1985: “Nobody has a bad word to say about Palmer, although he once had an extremely bad word to say about me.  It has been said before and deserves saying again that every tournament pro should go down on his knees and give thanks for Arnold Palmer.  So should golf writers and everyone else who lives by golf, although there was one fleeting moment when my allegiance faltered.  It was at Turnberry in Scotland during the John Player Classic when a hurricane with winds of more than 66 miles an hour hit the course.  The tented village was lacerated. Cashmere pullovers from an exhibition were flying through the air, and the press tent foundered with all hands.  Chi Chi Rodriguez was blown off his feet and presumably carried on the wind to Prestwick airport, because he was never seen again.  Horizontal rain struck like buckshot, and the hailstones carpeted the course.  At this point the tournament committee halted play.  Only three groups, one of which included Palmer, remained on the course, and they were ordered to mark their balls and complete the round in the morning.

“That evening there was a banquet, and I was seated next to Gary Player and opposite Palmer – an extremely angry Palmer.  He mumbled like a thundercloud that the round should have been washed out.  Player, who had returned a miraculous 71, disagreed.  Honesty compelled me to reveal that I was a member of the committee that had taken the disputed decision.  Lightning flashed from the thundercloud.

“ ‘In that case,’ growled Palmer – and here there was one of those freak lulls in the hubbub of conversation, so his words echoed through the hall – you are a bleep!’   There are bleeps and bleeps, and this was the ultimate bleep, usually described as being of Anglo-Saxon origin but actually deriving its roots from Latin. I appealed to Player for support.  ‘Arnold is quite right,’ said Gary, who was enjoying my embarrassment, ‘but on this occasion your decision was the correct one.’

“That is Palmer – forthright, down to earth and a terrible judge of character.  It is typical of the man that two minutes later he was his usual affable self, his anger released and forgotten, and we were into deep speculation about the display of highland dancing and whether anything was worn under the kilt.  A frenzied eight-some reel revealed the answer, to a delighted guffaw from Palmer.”

Dan Jenkins / Golf Digest, June 2001: “I don’t suppose anybody’s ever enjoyed being who they are more than Arnold’s enjoyed being Arnold Palmer.”

Tom Watson / Golf World, Sept. 14, 2009: “Frank Beard said that we owe 80 cents of every dollar we earn to Arnold.  That’s true.”

Roger Maltbie / Golf Digest, September 1999: “The first professional golf tournament I ever saw was the old Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. I was 11 years old, and my parents took me to see the event.  From the street above Pebble Beach, there’s a curved walkway down to the first tee.  It was a gray morning that’s so common there at Pebble Beach.  I was an Arnold Palmer fan. As we came down that walkway, Arnold was standing on the first tee, and, like a spotlight, there was a beam of light on Arnold.  Everybody else was in the gray.  It was as though it was a stage set.

“Off we went to follow Arnold.  This was ’63 or ’64, and Arnold was the biggest star in the game. Huge gallery.  I get separated from my parents.  I’m nervous.  I’m lost.  There are a lot of people.  Now what do I do?  So, I’m behind the second tee, waiting for Arnold to tell off.  He had looked at me a couple of times, and I guess he could tell I was very nervous.  After he teed off, he came over to me and said, ‘Are you OK, son?’  I said, ‘I’m lost.  I can’t find my mom and dad.’ He said, ‘Then you come with me. They’ll find you with me.’ So he took me by the hand and led me down the fairway. We got about 50 yards down the fairway and my mom screamed, ‘Roger!’  Arnold led me over to my parents and that was that. Then I got my butt blistered.”

Peter Deeks / Golf Digest, September 2009: “I graduated from college in spring 1967, and on Christmas Eve that year four friends came to my parents’ house, where I was still living, to drink some beer and catch up.  We got to talking about who we had wished Merry Christmas, and someone asked if I had done so to Arnold, who was (and still is) my idol.  I said, ‘No, but I will right now,’ at which point I phoned AT&T information in Latrobe, Pa.  I asked for a listing for an A.D. [Arnold Daniel] Palmer.  I heard, ‘I have no listing for A.D. Palmer, but I have an Arnold Palmer.’

“I dialed the numbers and heard, ‘Hello?’

“ ‘Is Arnold there?’

“ ‘It’s Arnold speaking.’

“I immediately dispatched one of my friends to an extension phone, as I needed corroboration for this call.  I said it was Peter Deeks from Toronto, Canada, calling, and I added, ‘I hope I’m not bothering you.’

“He said, ‘No, I’m putting presents under the tree for Winnie, Amy and Peggy.’

“We talked about many subjects, but the best was me telling Arnold how to resolve issues in the PGA between the club professionals and the touring pros. The conversation carried on for 12 minutes, according to the bill I received from Bell Canada. The bill also showed the commencement time of the call at 1:06 a.m. Christmas Day.

“In December 1989, my brother Jim and family came to our house for Christmas dinner. He gave me two presents and said, ‘Open the small one first.’  I did so, and it was a video to be watched ‘immediately.’

“On comes Arnie saying, ‘Hi, I’d like to wish Peter, Wendy and Sarah and Jocelyn Deeks a very Merry Christmas....Peter, do me a favor and call me again, but don’t make it on Christmas Eve, OK?’

“I was stunned. Then I was to open the large present, and it was a cue card with the above message and signed, ‘Arnold Palmer.’

“Jim, a TV director, had been assigned to do a TV promo in June 1989 for the Cadillac Skins Game being played in Toronto.  He’d prepared the cue card in advance, and Arnold readily agreed to do it when the serious work was completed.  The cue card has been framed and adorns a wall of our family room.”

Rocco Mediate / Golf Digest, September 2009: “I was fortunate to be paired with Mr. Palmer at the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, which was his last U.S. Open.  Friday afternoon, we were walking up the 18th fairway toward the green.  I was about 50 yards or so behind him, just taking it all in: huge galleries as far as you could see and applause as loud as it could possibly be, just to acknowledge and admire the man they all loved and had cheered for so long.  It didn’t matter what he shot.  It mattered to them that he was there, and they appreciated it.

“When I putted out on 18 I went to him, shook his hand and said, ‘You made all this possible for golf – this is all because of you.’  At that, we both were overcome with emotion.”

Dan Jenkins / Golf Digest

“Like all my pals in the sportswriting lodge, I became a huge Arnold Palmer fan early on.  He made our job easy.  Not because he was so colorfully reckless in how he went about winning and losing, but because he was so darn nice, friendly and cooperative.  He treated us like equals rather than servants. Rare in those days.

“I was first awakened to Arnold’s future greatness by one of his fellow pros, Jay Hebert.  This was upstairs in the Augusta National clubhouse in 1958 a few days before Palmer would win his first Masters.  I was working for a Texas newspaper then and doing a piece on how Ken Venturi was looking like the game’s next big star.  I was interviewing other pros on the subject. The sport was in need of a new hero. Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were in their sunset years, and Cary Middlecoff was still calling every writer ‘pard.’

“I recall my shock when I asked Hebert to list the qualities that were helping Venturi become the next great golfer.

“Jay said, ‘Ken Venturi’s not the next great golfer.  Arnold Palmer is.’

“Arnold Palmer?  The guy who can’t keep his shirttail in?  The guy who thinks he can drive the golf ball through a tree trunk?  Why him?

“Hebert said, ‘Because he’s longer than most of us, and he makes six birdies a round. He also makes six bogeys, but one of these days he’s going to eliminate the bogeys.’  He did.  And the sports world became a more exciting place.

“Then there was the day I helped Arnold win the U.S. Open, the one at Cherry Hills in 1960. I feel like I’ve written about this a hundred times, so once more won’t hurt under the circumstances.

“My good friend and sportswriting colleague Bob Drum was with me in the locker room as the last round was getting underway.  Writers were welcome in the locker room in those glory years.  Competitors were grousing and laughing, coming and going that day.  It was kind of like being backstage at the opera.

“Arnold stopped by to chat with Drum and me on his way out.  He was seven strokes and 14 players behind with only 18 to play, but still a contender in his mind.  He said he intended to drive the first green, a 346-yard par 4, make a birdie, and maybe shoot a 65 for 280, adding ‘Doesn’t 280 always win the Open?’

“ ‘Yeah, when Hogan shoots it,’ I said wittily.

“With an assist from our author, Arnold Palmer went on to claim his only U.S. Open title at Cherry Hills in 1960.

“Arnold laughed and went out the door, and the next thing we knew he had birdied six of the first seven holes, and Drum and I were on the course chasing after him with what seemed like the entire population of Denver.

“We caught up with him at the 10th tee and were visible standing at the ropes. He saw us, walked over, and said – for our stories and immortality – ‘Fancy seeing you here.  Who’s winning the Open?’

“His next move was to relieve me of my pack of Winstons and the Coke I’d just bought at a concession stand – and keep them.

“That’s why I still claim an assist for his historic 65 – and victory.

“Final memory.  It’s the close of the decade, around 1970.  I was then with Sports Illustrated and visiting Arnold in Latrobe to do an instruction piece – the only one I’ve ever written, or have read.  We’d fooled around on the golf course all morning, and Winnie had now served us lunch. Neither of us had the remotest idea that Arnold Palmer was done winning majors.

“The coffee table had become famous by then.  It was designed to hold all of the golf medals he had won and was winning.  Under glass and on green velvet were strewn these hordes of gold medals.  I was taking pleasure in studying them when three silver medals grabbed my attention.

“The silver medals were for Arnold’s losses in U.S. Open playoffs to Jack Nicklaus in ’62 at Oakmont, to Julius Boros in ’63 at Brookline and to Billy Casper in ’66 at Olympic.

“I said, ‘Arnold, what are these silver medals doing in here?’

“He said, ‘Well, they’re not exactly ugly.’”

Jim McCabe / Golfweek

“Before there was Twitter and Instagram and all the vehicles by which today’s athletes can scream, ‘Look at me,’ Arnold Palmer used his own social media.  It was called the human touch, and it often started with eye contact, grew into a firm handshake and involved simple acts of kindness.

“Such as when he found out his trip to Boston would coincide with the graduation of the eldest son of his friend Richard Connolly.  ‘He asked me, ‘Would they like me to come and speak?’  I mean, who does stuff like that?’  Richard Connolly said.  ‘This was my son’s high school graduation; he wasn’t receiving a doctorate from Stanford or anything.’

“Palmer not only was the guest speaker at Middlesex School’s graduation but he went back to the house for the party....

“(You might be wondering) what happened to times like this and what happened to the mold that was used to make Palmer.  Clearly, it broke.

“That point was driven home to Connolly – whose relationship to Palmer began as stockbroker but soon morphed into pure friendship – on a trip to St. Andrews.  Connolly said he always wanted to meet the late Tip Anderson, the legendary caddie who was on Palmer’s bag for back-to-back wins in the British Open.

“ ‘I called Arnold.  He told me exactly where to meet Tip, and sure enough, when (my wife) Ann Marie and I walked into the Dunvegan (Hotel), there he was,’ Connolly said.

“What they talked about that day had very little to do with Palmer the golfer but everything to do with Palmer the man, Connolly said.

“ ‘When we said our goodbyes and headed for the door,’ Connolly said, ‘Tip said to us, ‘No one ever said a bad thing about the man.  Isn’t that a hell of a thing?’’

“It is, indeed.”

Mike Lupica / New York Daily News

“If it was the Giants vs. Colts sudden death championship game in 1958 that made pro football a big deal on television in this country, it was Arnold Palmer who did the same for golf.  It all started with him, a leading man built for television, a swashbuckling figure who would take a drag on his cigarette and then either do something to win a big tournament, or do something that broke your heart.

“ ‘You want to know the secret to my so-called success?’ Frank Chirkinian, the legendary producer and director of golf at CBS for what felt like a thousand years, told me one time.  ‘I put the camera on Arnold and left it there.’....

“He was not the greatest golfer of all time....(But) no figure in the history of American sports ever meant more to one sport than Arnold Palmer, Deacon’s son, out of Latrobe, Pa.  And no figure in a sport was ever loved more than Arnold was....

“He did not just change golf.  He and his agent, Mark McCormack, changed the business culture of professional sports.  McCormack grew his representation of Palmer into a giant company named IMG, for the International Management Group.  You can make the case that not only did Palmer make a fortune for himself because of his immense popularity, he made several fortunes for the future stars of American sports, and not just in golf; make a case that he was as much a champion at business as he was at golf.  Maybe more.

“I met him one time, at Bay Hill. I was there to write a piece about him for Esquire magazine, and we finally ended up in his office, Palmer talking about his triumphs and his disasters, being as gracious with me as he was with everybody else, because there was never a more available and accessible American sports celebrity....

“And there was a moment, near the end, when he was telling another story, and came around from behind his big desk, and grabbed a driver leaning against a wall, and took his stance, and put those bricklayer’s hands on the club, and it was as if all the years between the two of us and my one childhood disappeared.

“A few minutes later we were done.  He said, ‘You good?’

“And I said, ‘You have no idea.’

“There have been other star athletes who helped grow other major sports in America.  No one ever did more for one than Arnold Palmer did for golf.  No one was ever a bigger star.  Jack Nicklaus had it right, exactly, and of course.  Everybody loved Arnold Palmer.”

So what is the true story behind the Arnold Palmer drink?

The rumor at Wake Forest was that he developed the beverage in the dining hall.  Palmer himself set the record in a ‘30 for 30’ short, “The Arnold Palmer.”

“My wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, ‘Hey babe, I’ve got an idea.’  You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.  We mixed it up and I got the solution about where I wanted it and I put the lemonade in it.  I had it for lunch after working on the golf course.  I thought, ‘Boy, this is great, babe.  I’m going to take it when I play golf.  I’m going to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.’’

“Palmer goes on to tell the story about how he was in a Palm Springs restaurant, ordered the drink to his specifications and was overheard by a woman sitting nearby.  ‘I want an Arnold Palmer,’ she told the waitress.  ‘I want what he ordered.’

And with that, a legend was born.  Ten years ago, the rights to the drink were sold to AriZona Beverage Co.  Sales exceeded $100 million in 2010, and no doubt are far higher today, and will soar from here on.

By the way, Palmer always said the drink was about the proper balance.

“Iced tea dominates the drink, and if it doesn’t, it’s not really right,” he used to say.

Steve Politi / Star-Ledger

“I ran into (Palmer at Augusta National ) having lunch with his family outside the Augusta National clubhouse once and couldn’t help but notice that Arnold Palmer was, in fact, drinking an Arnold Palmer.

“I didn’t want to bother him.  But I was curious: How did Arnold Palmer order an Arnold Palmer?  This is what I wrote that day in 2013:

It has to be a bit awkward, right?  Does he tell the waitress, ‘I’ll have  me?’  Does he just expect that she’ll know, because of who he is?  That could lead to an awkward moment if, for a change of pace, he’d like a Dr. Pepper.

“Really, few people in history have this problem. Sam Adams, the patriot, was long dead when Sam Adams, the beer, hit the market in 1985.  No one is sure if Harvey Wallbanger was an actual bar patron – a Manhattan Beach surfer, according to Wikipedia – or just a legend.  Shirley Temple might have had this issue, but that ‘cocktail’ was invented for her because she was too young to drink....

“Those are mysteries that I cannot answer now.  But I can solve one puzzle, at least.  I chased Kelsey, the waitress serving Arnold Palmer yesterday, back to the bar where she was putting in another drink order.

 “ ‘How did Arnie order his drink?’

“He leaned over and said, ‘I’ll have a Mr. Palmer.’  Then he winked,’ Kelsey said.

“Of course he did.”

--At age 43, Arnie won his last PGA Tour event, the 1973 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, besting Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller by two.  It was his 62nd career victory, trailing Sam Snead (82) and Ben Hogan (64).  Jack Nicklaus was at 46 then, age 33, and he’d finish at 73.  Tiger wouldn’t be born for another 2 ½ years and is currently at 79.

Palmer had a T-4 in the U.S. Open that year and a 3rd at the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open, but there would be only 11 top 10s thereafter and no wins.

But it was fitting the Bob Hope was his last, Palmer winning it five times.

Gary Player:

“Vivienne and I just woke up on the farm this morning to the sad news that our friend Arnold Palmer passed away peacefully last night in the USA.

“I have so many vivid memories of our time together competing around the world, with our families, helping each other’s charities, and just being together.  Arnold was many things to many people and undoubtedly made golf more popular, but to me he was simply a dear friend for over 60 years.  Of course, like anybody we had our differences but these never stood in the way of our relationship and I will miss him terribly. He could be difficult and demanding but also blessed with charisma, charm and patience.  Arnold Palmer simply transcended the game of golf.  He was inspirational to so many and lived his life to the fullest.  He had a slashing, dashing style accompanied with a knowing smile.  He was loved by all even when they did not know him.  He always made an effort, even when the odds were stacked against him.  Our prayers go out to Kit and his entire loving family.

“Muff, I will raise my glass and toast your life tonight my friend, and hope to be reunited for another round together in time.  Rest In Peace.  I love you.”

Jack Nicklaus (initial reaction):

“I just got the news at about 8:45 that Arnold had passed.  I was shocked to hear that we lost a great friend – and that golf lost a great friend.

“At this point I don’t know what happened, and I suppose it is not important what happened.  What is important is that we just lost one of the incredible people in the game of golf and in all of sports.  My friend – many people’s friend – just wore out.  I know he was in Pittsburgh trying to find out how to make himself better.  That’s what Arnold has always tried to do.  He has always been a fighter and he never gave up on anything.  He didn’t give up even now.  Maybe his body did, but I know I wish I had another chance to talk to him, but I am so glad we talked a couple weeks ago on his birthday (Sept. 10), when he sounded great.  So Barbara and I are just in shock and incredibly saddened.  Our hearts, thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to Kit, his kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and his entire loving family.

“He was one of my best friends, closest friends, and he was for a long, long time.  I will miss him greatly.

“Arnold transcended the game of golf. He was more than a golfer or even great golfer.  He was an icon. He was a legend.  Arnold was someone who was a pioneer in his sport.  He took the game from one level to a higher level, virtually by himself.  Along the way, he had millions of adoring fans – Barbara and I among them.  We were great competitors, who loved competing against each other, but we were always great friends along the way.  Arnold always had my back, and I had his.  We were always there for each other.  That never changed.

“He was the king of our sport and always will be.”

I’ll share some final personal thoughts next time.

Ryder Cup

United States Captain Davis Love III’s choice of Ryan Moore as his final captain’s pick on Sunday night really wasn’t that hard, even though he entered the week seemingly behind Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Bubba Watson.  Moore, in finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship, has a run of four top 10s in his last six starts, including a win at last month’s John Deere Classic, and then went toe-to-toe with McIlroy with a matching 64 at East Lake.  Plus Moore has a top-shelf short game, which comes in handy given the Ryder Cup format, as well as extensive match-play experience going back to his terrific amateur career.

Captain Love also tabbed Bubba Watson as a vice captain, joining Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk.  Watson said this week if he couldn’t make the team as a player he wanted to be a vice captain.  Now this is a move that makes sense.

Jaime Diaz / Golf World

Golf’s crowded schedule in 2016, in which the four major championships were packed to fit in the Olympics, has given the sport an intensified presence these past few months.  Now, in a rush, comes the Ryder Cup.

“But even at the end of an exhausting season, the biennial matches seem more important than ever.  The event’s mix – equal parts paralyzing pressure and unleashed emotion (but hold the prize money) – keeps hitting a sweet spot.  As much as golf can be, the Ryder Cup is raw, which is more and more how the world likes its entertainment.

“Of course, despite the buildup and the competition seeming like life and death, nothing is really decided by who wins or loses the Ryder Cup.  It’s why the idea that Europe’s current run of triumphs is making the matches less interesting couldn’t be more wrong.  The Ryder Cup works because it puts the best players from the world’s greatest golf nations in an uncomfortable must-win scenario that inevitably produces moments of human fragility.  It’s golf’s version of ‘Seinfeld,’ a blockbuster show often said to be about ‘nothing,’ but which through its incisive humor accentuated our failings.”

Needless to say, Arnold Palmer will be honored this weekend.

Europe captain Darren Clarke: “The respect that we are all going to pay him this week is something that the man commands and deserves.  He was a global superstar, in not just our sport. He transcended our sport. Arnie’s Army was known worldwide, and we are as shocked and saddened over Arnold’s passing as everybody else in here, I’m sure, is.”

Added Davis Love: “His legacy will live on forever, especially through The Ryder Cup. ...Darren and I had a little chat right when he arrived, and you know, as everything we’ve done over the last year and a half, we’ve agreed that we’re going to do the right thing for the game, and certainly this one for the Palmer family.  But both of our teams want to honor the Palmer legacy in the same way.  I think you’ll see us all honoring him all week, I think is the best way to put it.”

Golf Balls

--With everything else going on last Sunday, it just needs to be said that McIlroy’s performance was truly extraordinary down the stretch, overcoming a 3-shot deficit on the final three holes, helped by jarring a wedge shot for eagle on the par-4 16th.

--Colin Montgomerie won last weekend’s Champions Tour event in Victoria, British Columbia, Monty’s fourth senior win, but first in 17 starts this year.  He defeated Scott McCarron on the third hole of a playoff.

But with the mention of his name at Ryder Cup time, it’s a reminder of what an overwhelming force he was in the event; 20-9-7, 6-0-2 in singles....just phenomenal.

College Football

New AP Poll....

1. Alabama (50 first-place votes) 4-0
2. Ohio State (4) 3-0
3. Louisville (6) 4-0
4. Michigan (1) 4-0
5. Clemson 4-0
6. Houston 4-0
7. Stanford 3-0
8. Wisconsin 4-0
9. Texas A&M 4-0
10. Washington 4-0
11. Tennessee 4-0
12. Florida State 3-1
13. Baylor 4-0
14. Miami 3-0
15. Nebraska 4-0
16. Ole Miss 2-2
19. San Diego State 3-0

38. Wake Forest 4-0...yup, we received 9 votes this week!  Seeing as we play Louisville, Florida State and Clemson, assuming we beat North Carolina State this week, and then beat those three, we’re BCS bound!!!  [I’m relying on Arnie to pull some strings upstairs now.  Like fortuitous turnovers...cases of hoof and mouth disease afflicting our opponents...diphtheria...that kind of thing.]

--Among this week’s big games, you have 7 Stanford at 10 Washington, but this is late Friday for us east coasters, which sucks, while there are two huge games on Saturday....

8 Wisconsin at 4 Michigan, 3:30 ET, and 3 Louisville at 5 Clemson, 8:00.  I’ll be glued to both, with ‘live look-ins’ at the Ryder Cup and Mets-Phillies (plus Wake-N.C. State).

--Mark R. is a Notre Dame alum and like all of them these days, is beside himself after the Fighting Irish’s 1-3 start, writing me he was tired of coach Brian Kelly continuously berating his players on the sidelines, including screaming at Deshone Kizer, the biggest talent on the team.

But Mark’s mood didn’t improve the day after the 38-35 loss to Duke in South Bend.  Mark, a Steelers fan, took his grandson to the Eagles game, Sunday, in Philadelphia, wearing his Steelers cap.  Not a good idea, especially with a final score of 34-3.  At least he escaped physical harm.

--Former LSU coach Les Miles, fired Sunday four games into his 12th season, with a 114-34 record at Baton Rouge and the 2007 BCS Championship, will reportedly receive a buyout of $12.9 million, according to USA TODAY.

They are impatient fans, down in LSU, and it doesn’t help that Alabama’s Nick Saban, who led LSU to its first national title in decades, after the 2003 season, has had tremendous success at ‘Bama and had won the last five meetings with Miles.

Early candidates for the job include Houston’s Tom Herman, and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State.

NFL

--They are still talking about the godawful performance of the Jets last Sunday, at least in these parts, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick becoming the first since 2007 to throw six interceptions in an NFL game.

The thing is Joe Namath did it three times for New York.

After the Jets’ 24-3 loss, Namath tweeted, “If I could remember an uglier game than we just played it would have to be one that I caused with the #Jets...”

In 1967, Namath threw six interceptions in a 28-28 tie against the Oilers.  Following that game, he posted a career-best passer rating (158.3) in a 33-14 win over the Dolphins.

While ’67 was my first real season as a full-fledged Jets fan, I don’t remember that particular contest.  But I sure do the other two.  In 1970, two years after Super Bowl III, Baltimore got its revenge picking Namath off six times in a 29-22 Jets loss.

Five years later, in 1975, Namath went 8-of-24 for 96 yards and six INTs...a passer rating of 6.9, in a 43-0 loss to Miami.

But that’s why we loved Namath.  He was a true gunslinger, and in both ’70 and ’75, he followed up his hideous efforts with three-touchdown in each (except lost both of them).  [Jim Chairusmi / Wall Street Journal]

But the Jets are now in major trouble, hosting Seattle this week as part of their brutal early-season schedule (followed by road games at Pittsburgh and Arizona), and coach Todd Bowles was furious after Sunday’s effort.

He needed just one adjective to describe it all.

We took an ass kicking,” Bowles said.  “S----y game plan. S----y execution.  S----y all around.”

Including two fumbles, the eight combined turnovers were the most by the Jets since 1976 – when they had a franchise-record 10 in a loss to the Patriots.

“I’m disappointed...pissed off....mad,” Bowles said.  “We need to regroup.”

Sure do, Mr. Bowles.

Well I just want to remind everyone I was totally ambivalent about the Jets bringing back Fitzpatrick.  I wrote many times last spring, we can go 8-8 with him, and 8-8 without him, preferring we give one of our young guys a shot, even if that meant Geno Smith.

But then Fitzpatrick had his best game as a Jet two weeks ago in Buffalo, and all was right again with the world. Then, Sunday, he reminded you why no one else in the NFL wanted to give him what the Jets had on the table all along.

So which Fitz will show up this coming Sunday?

--Yes, Philadelphia fans are fired up with their 3-0 start behind rookie QB Carson Wentz, the signal-caller the Browns passed on, because they are, err, the Browns.  [Rams fans can’t be too happy, either, after they acquired the first overall selection from Tennessee, with Cleveland trading its rights to No. 2 to Philly, and L.A. choosing Jared Goff.]

Wentz, the strapping lad from North Dakota State, has completed 64.7% of his passes, while throwing 5 touchdown passes and no interceptions.  The Philadelphia offense is the only one in the NFL without a turnover.  Six other passers have amassed 750 or more passing yards in their first three starts since 1970, but Wentz is the first since Warren Moon (1984) to do so without throwing a pick.   And his quarterback rating of 103.8 is the highest ever for a rookie who has thrown at least 100 passes in his first three games.  [Neil Greenberg / Washington Post]

Actually, Wentz’ has gone a rookie-record 102 passes without an interception to start his career, while Dallas rookie Dak Prescott is at 99 without an INT.  As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’  [Tom Brady went a record 162 passes without an interception at the beginning of his career, but most of those were not as a rookie.]

--So after three weeks, just five undefeated teams are left.

New England, Baltimore, Denver, Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Three have yet to win...Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Chicago.  Seeing as they don’t play each other, we can now project both the Browns and Bears will go 0-16.

But Jacksonville is at Chicago in Week 6 and so we’re projecting the Jags will use that as a springboard towards an 8-8 mark.

Meanwhile, of the 1-2 teams that were expected to get off to better starts, like Carolina and Arizona, Carolina should be concerned.  It’s one thing to lose at Denver in the season opener, it’s another to lose to injury-riddled Minnesota at home, even if the Vikings are 3-0.

As for Arizona, yes, they too should be concerned with last week’s loss in Buffalo and the loss at home to Brady-less New England.

--In catching up on some of the action Sunday, I can’t help but note that the pride of Jeannette High in Pennsylvania (Arnold Palmer country, Latrobe being a rival), Terrelle Pryor, who has turned himself into a receiver with Cleveland, after a go of it as a quarterback at Oakland, 2012-13, was the first in NFL history to complete more than one pass and haul in more than 100 receiving yards in the same game; Pryor 3-of-5 threw the air for 35 yards, while catching 8 passes for 144 yards.  He also ran four times for 21 and a touchdown.  But the Brownies lost to the Dolphins 30-24 in overtime.

Nonetheless, good to see the immensely talented Pryor make the most of what was undoubtedly his final shot in the NFL.  He should last awhile now.

--Who are the Pats starting at quarterback in this final game without Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett suffering a thumb injury and Jimmy Garoppolo nursing his sprained shoulder?  Both were at practice Tuesday, but no other word on them.  We’ll learn something today, Wednesday.

--Big blow for the Houston Texans as defensive end J.J. Watt reinjured his back and is probably out for the season.  The Texans never felt like Watt was healthy after offseason surgery for a herniated disk in late July.

--With the debate behind Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it’s thought the 5.7 overnight rating for the Falcons-Saints could end up being the least-watched “Monday Night Football” game in history; the Falcons winning 45-32 as running back Devonta Freeman had 152 yards rushing for Atlanta, with another 55 receiving, while quarterback Matt Ryan was a cool 20/30, 240, 2-0, 113.2, besting Drew Brees who threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns.

Premier League...English Football

--Huge scandal broke on Monday with the revelation that Sam Allardyce, new manager of Team England, was close to losing his job after revelations from a 10-month undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph involving secretly-filed conversations that seem to show him making some rather controversial statements to undercover reporters.

The Daily Telegraph claimed to have “unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football,” including telling fictitious businessmen how to circumvent FA (Football Association) third-party ownership laws (transfer rules).

Allardyce also appeared to sell himself as an ambassador to the fabricated firm that the businessmen represented in a deal worth an alleged $500,000.

And Allardyce disparaged Roy Hodgson, who he replaced as England’s manager, Hodgson’s assistant, the FA’s expenditure on Wembley Stadium, even Prince Harry: “Harry’s a naughty boy.  He’s a very naughty boy, very naughty.”

So I wrote the above Tuesday morning.  About eight hours later, Tuesday afternoon, Allardyce stepped down. 

In a statement, the FA said Allardyce’s conduct was “inappropriate of the England manager,” saying he accepted he made a “significant error of judgement” and had apologized.

Gareth Southgate, who currently manages England’s under-21 squad, will take over on an interim basis for the next four international matches.

--In Champions League play on Tuesday, Tottenham defeated CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Son Heung-min’s fifth goal in five games for the Spurs, while Leicester City beat FC Porto 1-0.

--This Sunday, it’s Tottenham hosting Manchester City!

NCAA Men’s Soccer Coaches Poll (Sept. 27)

1. Maryland
2. Notre Dame
3. Syracuse
4. North Carolina
5. Clemson
6. Indiana
7. Butler
8. Denver
9. Louisville
10. Creighton
11. Wake Forest

Talk about brutal schedules, Wake Forest is at Clemson on Friday, then at Notre Dame, home against Louisville, and at Syracuse the rest of the way.  Nos. 2-5.  If they could manufacture a split of these four, I imagine the Deacs would be ecstatic.

Stuff

--LeBron James responded to a question on Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem as training camp opened for the Cavs.  What would James do?

“Me standing for the national anthem is something I will do,” James aid.  “That’s who I am.  That’s what I believe in.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t believe in what Colin Kaepernick is doing.  You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion, and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something.”

James has been outspoken about social issues.

“For me, my personal feeling is that I got a 12-year-old son, a 9-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and I look at my son being four years removed from driving his own car and being able to leave the house on his own, and it’s a scary thought right now to think if my son gets pulled over,” James said.  “You tell your kids if you just apply [the lessons you teach them] and if you just listen to the police that they will be respectful and it will work itself out.  And you see these videos that continue to come out, and it’s a scary-ass situation that if my son calls me and says that he’s been pulled over that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and my son is going to return home.  And my son just started the sixth grade.”

Top 3 songs for the week 9/28/63: #1 “Blue Velvet” (Bobby Vinton)  #2 “Sally, Go ‘Round the Roses” (The Jaynetts)  #3 “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes...Phil Spector at his best...)...and...#4 “Heat Wave” (Martha & The Vandellas)  #5 “My Boyfriend’s Back” (The Angels)  #6 “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals) #7 “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (The Tymes...surprised this peaked at only #7...timeless...)  #8 “Mickey’s Monkey” (The Miracles... ‘Chimps’ not highly rated on All-Species List because they are wont to rip your face off...which is why we prefer the docile, family oriented, Gibbon...)  #9 “Cry Baby” (Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters)  #10 “If I Had A Hammer” (Trini Lopez...he’s a little too peppy for holding a hammer...not sure I’d want him as my next door neighbor...like if you heard this guy hammering in the evening, you might be tempted to call the cops... )

College Football Quiz Answer: 6,000 yards rushing....

1. Ron Dayne, 7,125, 1996-99, Wisconsin
2. Tony Dorsett, 6,526, 1973-76, Pitt
3. Ricky Williams, 6,279, 1995-98, Texas
4. Charles White, 6,245, 1976-79, USC
5. DeAngelo Williams, 6,026, 2002-05, Memphis

Next Bar Chat, Monday.