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20 fun facts about diamonds and hoops

Michael Jordan prepares to bat for the Scottsdale

Michael Jordan prepares to bat for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League in 1994. Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Allsport

As Spring Training and the NCAA Tournament continue . . .

Twenty fun facts about diamonds and hoops

1 Chuck Connors, TV's rifleman, played two seasons for the Boston Celtics (1946-48) and then for baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers (1949) and Chicago Cubs (1951). The Seton Hall standout also was drafted by the Chicago Bears.

2 Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson (Creighton) played for the Harlem Globetrotters in 1957-58.

3 Gene Conley won championships with the Boston Celtics (1959-61) and Milwaukee Braves (1957).

4 Kenny Lofton played in the Final Four (1988 with Arizona) and in the World Series (1995 Indians and 2002 Giants).

5 Former Detroit Pistons teammates Dave DeBusschere and Ron Reed both pitched for the Chicago White Sox at opposite ends of their baseball careers.

6 Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was a basketball star at Minnesota and was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, ABA Utah Stars and NFL Minnesota Vikings.

7 Big Frank Howard, who hit 382 home runs for the Dodgers, Washington Senators-Texas Rangers and Tigers, still holds the Ohio State record for most rebounds in a game (32) and was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors.

8 Lou Boudreau was captain of the University of Illinois basketball team before joining the Cleveland Indians in 1938. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a shortstop for the Indians and Red Sox.

9 Knicks legend Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton also played first base in the Cleveland Indians farm system.

10 Believe it or not, Sandy Koufax was better known for basketball than baseball at Brooklyn's Lafayette High School.

11 Prior to his 14-year career in the NBA, Danny Ainge spent three seasons as a utility player for the Toronto Blue Jays.

12 Although most people remember him as the shortstop for the pennant-winning 1960 Pirates and 1964 Cardinals, Dick Groat was a two-time basketball All-American at Duke and played for the Fort Wayne Pistons.

13 Bill Sharman, a Hall of Fame basketball player and coach, was a career .281 hitter during five seasons in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system.

14 Cotton Nash, whose No. 44 basketball jersey hangs in the rafters of Kentucky's Rupp Arena, played first base in the ninth inning of Joel Horlen's 1967 no-hitter for the White Sox and recorded all three putouts.

15 Pitcher Mark Hendrickson of the Orioles has played for five baseball teams and four NBA teams, including two stints with the Nets.

16 Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins also served an 80-game tour with the Harlem Globetrotters.

17 Former Yankee pitcher Steve Hamilton was the first-round pick of the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958 and played the team's final two seasons before it moved to Los Angeles.

18 Former Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Howie Schultz started his baseball career and ended his NBA career with teams that eventually moved to Los Angeles.

19 Michael Jordan "retired" from the Chicago Bulls in 1994 to try his hand at baseball in the Chicago White Sox farm system. History shows that he returned to the Bulls and won three more NBA titles.

20 Twelve men have played major league baseball and professional basketball. The only one we hadn't mentioned until now is Frank Baumholtz.


By Dave Whitehorn and Norm Cohen

New York Sports