hector brito

In the Southeastern US, the word “bream” tends to be a catchall term applied to any number of sunfish with such varied monikers as “bluegill,” “sun perch,” “shellcrackers,” “warmouth” and, my favorite, “stump knockers.”

These are what one catches when taking kids fishing from the shore or a dock, using crickets or worms as bait. And a fish that weighs three-quarters of a pound is not only good size and puts up a nice fight, it’s excellent eating.

The upper end size-wise for bream is typically 12 inches in length and 2 pounds in weight.

All of which makes Hector Brito’s accomplishment even more amazing.

On Feb. 16, Brito, using a live nightcrawler for bait, landed a 5-pound, 12-ounce shellcracker, also known as a redear sunfish, while fishing in Arizona’s Lake Havasu. Brito’s fish, which appears to be a world record, was 17 inches long, and nearly as wide.

“(He) said he thought it was a catfish,” said John Galbraith, who weighed the fish on a certified scale.

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So, what to make the Washington, DC, lobbyist interested in introducing legislation that would ban openly gay athletes from playing in the National Football League?

Last week lobbyist Jack Burkman released a draft text of what he has named “The American Decency Act of 2014,” which would not only ban openly gay athletes from playing earning a living in the NFL but would levy multi-million dollar fees on teams that dared to violate the act, were it to be enacted.

Initially, one might simply shrug off the announcement as the ranting of a publicity-seeking jackass.

Yes, it’s hard to believe someone who earns a living from political lobbying would stoop to such a low maneuver, but things like this have been known to happen.

Magnanimously, the bill would exempt teams that build separate locker facilities so that gay and straight players may shower apart. Ah, good. I was so hoping we would find some way to reintroduce Separate but Equal; it was such a hit the first time around.

“I truly believe NFL team owners and coaches do not want openly gay players on their teams because of the issues that will cause and I think they may tell you that if they answered honestly,” Burkman said in a press release. “The morals in this country have dropped so low that it’s sad that a bill like this is even needed.”

Fortunately, because Burkman is a lobbyist he cannot introduce legislation, which must be done by a member of Congress. He claims his proposal has the support of several members of Congress, however.

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colliers encyclopedia yearbook

A wise man once said “Teachers believe they have a gift for giving; it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a market or a building.”

I am not that wise man; I have enough trouble trying to shepherd my own children in their studies.

Because my kids are products of a divorced household, my time with them is limited and the lure of video games, television and iPods at their other house has proven, more often than not, stronger than dad’s admonitions.

In fairness to them, had I spent the majority of my time as a youngster in a house essentially filled with children my own age and stocked with more games and toys than a small retail department store chain, it’s likely that reading and studying would have been well down on my list of priorities, as well.

Heck, growing up my home featured neither an army of co-conspirators nor a legion of amusements and I still avoided studying whenever possible, usually hightailing it out the door for the closest fishing pond or ball field.

My one saving grace was that I loved to read. Pretty much whatever I could find I would at least pick up and attempt to peruse.

This proved particularly useful when, as a youth, I would find myself banished to my room for various transgressions. (As I got older, my mother finally tired of wearing out her arm wielding the “spanking spoon” and decided exile a more suitable punishment.)

When I was around the age of 9 my parents received a collection of Collier’s encyclopedia yearbooks, years 1955 through 1973. They’d probably received them from friends who had relocated and didn’t want to lug the large, heavy tomes. My guess is that we must have gotten them in 1974, judging from the date of the last issue.

These were set up in a small bookshelf in my room, which proved convenient during my expulsion.

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Satchel Paige

Clarence “Ace” Parker died earlier this month at age 101. Parker was not only the oldest-living member of the NFL Hall of Fame, he was also one of the oldest-living former Major League baseball players.

Parker, who would gain fame on the gridiron between 1936 and 1941, and again after World War II in 1945, played under Connie Mack for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1936 and 1937.

While he enjoyed minimal success in the big leagues, at his passing he was noted for being one of just two individuals still alive who played on the same major league baseball field as Yankees great Lou Gehrig and the last living person to play on the same field as Rogers Hornsby, another baseball Hall of Famer.

Hornsby, who began his career in 1915 for the St. Louis Cardinals and would go on to compile the second-highest career batting average in Major League history at .358, was playing for the St. Louis Browns in one of his last games on May 7, 1937, when he took the field against Parker’s Athletics.

Hornsby, nicknamed the Rajah, made it back to the majors more than a decade and a half after his last game when he was hired by the inimitable Bill Veeck to manage the woeful Browns in 1952.

Among players that Hornsby, a cantankerous sort who didn’t smoke, drink or go the movies because he believed they could harm a batter’s vision, had on his roster in St. Louis was Satchel Paige, the former Negro Leagues star who, despite being in his mid-40s, was still quite effective.

Paige was the antithesis of his manager in just about every respect.

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Carlos Burle rides 100 foot wave

A Brazilian surfer, taking advantage of conditions created by a violent storm that ravaged Europe, caught and rode a wave estimated to have been a staggering 100 feet high earlier this week.

Carlos Burle, 45, took on the monster swell Monday at Praia do Norte, near the fishing village of Nazare, Portugal.

It is believed to be the biggest wave ever ridden, and easily tops the previous record, a 78-foot wave ridden by Hawaiian Garrett McNamara at the same location in 2011.

The day had plenty of excitement: Earlier Burle was surfing with fellow Brazilian Maya Gabeira when she was knocked unconscious by the strong waves and nearly drowned.

Gabeira was dragged onto shore and given medical attention on the beach before being taken to hospital. She sustained a broken ankle, according to The Telegraph.

“It was luck. We never know when we will be catching the wave. I still hadn’t surfed any wave and everyone had already had their rides. Maya almost died,” Burle told Surfer Today. “For me, it was a big adrenaline moment to get back there after what happened.”

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Among the many things that Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll owns is a race track. That’s handy because the Quebec entrepreneur has more than 20 Ferraris, including a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider that he purchased at auction last month for $27.5 million.

The final price, which included commission, makes the red roadster the most expensive road car ever sold at auction.

N.A.R.T. stands for “North American Racing Team,” a Ferrari-backed venture created in the late 1950s to promote the brand in the US.

One of only 10 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spiders ever built, it had been owned by the same family since its creation – that of former Lexington, N.C., Mayor Eddie Smith, who died in 2007.

The single-family ownership increased interest in the car, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Smith bought the car for $14,500 when it was new. Despite its rarity, he enjoyed driving it regularly and was known throughout the small town of Lexington for giving kids a ride in the car so they should share the experience, according to the Times.

Since Smith’s death the Ferrari has been stored in a specially built garage. Proceeds from the sale were to be given to charity, according to Smith’s son.

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Baylor Vs. Wofford College

For you college football fans out there that might have missed it last weekend, tiny Wofford College of Spartanburg, SC, got a good old-fashioned butt whuppin’ at the hands of Big 12 power Baylor University, 69-3.

No surprise there, as Baylor plays big-time Division I football alongside the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, while Wofford is a small private school whose opponents include Presbyterian College, Appalachian State University and Furman University.

And while Wofford has fielded strong teams in recent years – the Terriers were 9-4 last year and made the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs – it has little chance of competing against the likes of Baylor, currently ranked No. 23 in the nation, just behind Nebraska and just ahead of TCU.

But it’s apparent that the folks who run the Terrier football program understand their job is about more than just Xs and Os. Not only does Wofford place a premium on academics, but it also appears to stress character, as well.

A Baylor alumnus who attended last weekend’s game at Waco, Texas, was so impressed with the Terriers’ sportsmanship in defeat that she wrote the Spartanburg newspaper to express her admiration.

“I wanted to say that Wofford has the classiest football team I have seen in a long time,” wrote Linda Wood. “The team stood on the field at the end for a very long time while the Baylor band played our school song. Very impressive and a classy move, especially after suffering a loss. These young men have been taught a great deal more than just football. I was, as were so many in attendance, very impressed.”

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2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Practice Sessions

Ilya Bryzgalov is a better at hockey than history – fortunately for him.

The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender recently raised some eyebrows when he said he could “see logic” in actions taken by Joseph Stalin during the dictator’s vise-like rule over the Soviet Union.

Bryzgalov, a native of the Russian city of Togliatti, on the Volga River, recently gave an interview to the Russian sports outlet Championat in which he was questioned on his views on Stalin, who had many millions killed between 1922 and 1953.

“Positive. I see logic in his action,” Bryzgalov said, according to a translation by Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov. “Not without going too far, of course. But he came to power in a country that had just lived through a revolution. There were so many spies, enemies, traitors there. A lot of people still had guns after the civil war. The country was in ruins, (people) needed to survive somehow. The country needed to be rebuilt, and in order to do that it needed to be held in iron hands.

“… He knew what he was doing. He is described as a ‘bloody tyrant.’ But at the time it couldn’t be any other way. Yes, there were innocent people who were victims of repression. But it happens.”

This may be nit-picky, but a word of advice to whichever public relations firm is advising Bryzgalov and/or the Flyers: when discussing the deaths of millions, avoid phrases such as “but it happens.”

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joe weatherly

One of the great things about the week leading up to NASCAR’s race in Darlington, S.C. – at least if you live in South Carolina – is reminiscing about the past.

Whether it’s Cale Yarborough sailing clean over the wall and coming to rest several hundred yards outside the track in the 1965 Southern 500, Ricky Craven edging Kurt Busch by .002 seconds – the closest finish in NASCAR history – in the thrilling 2003 spring race, or Johnny Mantz, the slowest of 75 drivers to qualify for the track’s inaugural race but then going on to outlast the field in a 1950 Plymouth outfitted with truck tires, Darlington has had no shortage of great moments.

The State newspaper of Columbia today focused on the man who won at the track 50 years ago this week – Joe Weatherly.

Weatherly was known as the clown prince of racing, a nickname that was well-earned, according to publication.

“He flew to races in his own plane, but never learned to read the instruments. He used gas station maps for navigation. Once, he left his Virginia home for a race in Dayton, Ohio. All was well until the Empire State Building appeared out his window,” according to The State.

“On a good day, his rental car wouldn’t be a total loss upon return. On a typical day, the car might have found the bottom of a hotel’s pool,” the paper added. “He often was as lubricated as his race car’s engine, a party animal with a knack for talking his way out of arrests.”

Weatherly, who captured NASCAR’s top division title in 1962 and ’63, won 25 races in his career. The victory at Darlington on May 11, 1963, however, would be his last.

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1954 Mercedes W196

A Formula One car that sat practically forgotten in a warehouse for almost three decades is expected to fetch nearly $6.5 million at auction.

The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196, driven by five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, is described as “one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th century.”

Fangio drove the 2.5 liter straight-9 Mercedes, seen above, to victory in the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races.

The iconic car contains many features which were innovative at the time, including a fuel-injected engine, lightweight chassis and improved brakes.

“The first time I saw this car I needed oxygen,” racing historian Doug Nye said. “It’s landmark technology and it was driven by a landmark driver.”

British auction house Bonhams unveiled the car Monday night and said it will put the German-made automobile under the hammer in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Bonhams would not comment on where the car was found.

It will be sold in its current condition with noticeable blemishes and dirt.

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