Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Augusta National to Go Public & Other Great April Fool's Day Sports Hoaxes

Augusta National to Go Public

Golf Magazine in its May 1990 edition had good news for the average golf enthusiasts. Augusta National Golf Club, the elite private golf course and home of the Masters would allow public access. As a result, both Augusta National and Golf Magazine received a glut of inquiries from excited public course frequenter all over to inquire about greens fees. The joke was on Golf Magazine, however, when it was forced to publish a retraction, which confirmed Augusta National was still a private club open only to members and guests.

Japanese Marathoner Runs 26 Days

The Daily Mail‘s April 1, 1981 edition included a story about Kimo Nakajimi, a Japanese runner who’d entered the London Marathon. Due to a translation error, according to the hoax story, Nakajimi believed that he had to run for 26 days, not just 26 miles. Reportedly, Nakajimi was out on United Kingdom back roads still running and determined to finish the race. Some people even reported that they’d spotted him but were not able to stop him and explain the misunderstanding.

The Daily Mail article attributed the translation error to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who explained, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."

Mets' Phenom Pitcher 168 MPH Fastball

In the April 1985 edition of Sports Illustrated published an article by George Plimpton in which described an incredible rookie baseball player who the Mets had invited to spring training in St. Petersburg. The player was named Sidd Finch who reportedly pitch a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy.

Finch had never played baseball before, but had been raised in an English orphanage before being adopted by the archaeologist Francis Whyte-Finch. According to Plimpton's article, the elder Finch had been killed in a plane crash in Nepal. Sidd, a veiled reference to the protagonist in Herman Hesse's novel, Siddhartha, attended Harvard before making a pilgrimage to Tibet where he studied under "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa" and mastered "siddhi," yogic mastery of mind-body." Through his Tibetan mind-body mastery, Finch had "learned the art of the pitch."

Finch impressed manager Yogi Berra, as the story goes. Finch resembled “a pretzel gone loony" and wore a hiking boot on his right foot while pitching, his other foot being bare. His speed and power were so great that the catcher would only hear a small sound, "a little pft, pft-boom," before the ball would land in his glove, knocking him back. One player declared that it was not "humanly possible" to hit Finch's pitches.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Finch hadn't yet decided whether to commit himself to a career as a baseball player or to pursue a career as a French Horn player. He told team management he would inform them of his decision on April 1.

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