During the 1970s, a television show was introduced called "Sports Challenge."
The game pitted three-member teams from famous lineups in various sports
against each other. Three of us from the Brooklyn Dodgers made up one of the
teams: Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, and me.
Our team proved to be a winning combination, with Jackie and Duke showing
poise under pressure as usual. Duke was especially sharp, and would hit his
buzzer quickly when Dick Enberg, the host, would ask a sports question. After
several rounds of questions, with certain numbers of points scored for correct
answers, came the final round. The idea here was to identify the "mystery
guest" by viewing a silhouette on a screen and listening to clues given by
Enberg. This last round carried the biggest point value, so a team well behind
in points could catch up or win with the correct answer.
As we were preparing to film a segment before a live audience, Jackie had to
leave the set and go to the property room and change his tie. While he was
backstage, he accidentally ran into the mystery guest in the hallway. It was
baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
The director had to announce a delay while the staff located another mystery
guest. Meanwhile, we waited in the Los Angeles studio and Duke began to
speculate on whom they could find quickly in the area. After he discounted a
few possibilities, Duke said, "Hey! Right across the street from this studio
is television station KTLA, and Tommy Harmon, the great football Hall of
Famer, is the sports director over there. Let's be ready."
When the game progressed to the final round, our team was trailing the
Baltimore Colts, headed by their great quarterback, Johnny Unitas. The
silhouette was flashed on the screen, and before Dick Enberg could give the
first clue, Duke hit his buzzer. "Tommy Harmon," he said. Dodgers win again.
In yet another encounter, the Brooklyn Dodgers were matched against three
famous jockeys: Eddie Arcaro, Johnny Longden, and Willie Shoemaker.
When Enberg asked the name of the racehorse which holds the record for coming
from farthest behind to win a race, Duke again was first with the buzzer.
"Silky Sullivan," he answered correctly. And to think, Shoemaker was the
jockey riding Silky Sullivan that day!
From Tales from the Dudger Dugout by Carl Erskine.
Copyright © 2000 by Carl Erskine. Reprinted with permission.