Sultan of Swatch?
If Elvis fans can jockey for a lock of the King's hair on eBay, why shouldn't baseball buffs be able to barter for a bit of the Bambino?
This summer, Donruss, a Texas-based baseball card company, purchased a rare, 78-year-old, game-worn Babe Ruth jersey for $262,000 at an auction. Will it go up on the CEO's wall? Nope.
The company recently unveiled plans to cut it up into a thousand pieces, encase the pieces in plastic squares and insert the squares in random baseball card packs next year. Although some memorabilia collectors are aghast at the desecration of such an historical artifact, Donruss officials say they're doing it to share with fans what's usually available to only the super-rich.
As a spokesman told Hair Balls, "For the cost of a $5 pack, you can bring a piece of Babe Ruth closer to you."
Hey, on that note, isn't Ted Williams on ice somewhere around here? -- Michael Serazio
There was a semi-cryptic coda to a brief item in the September 19 Houston Chronicle.
The item detailed how a security guard at Wells Fargo Bank's downtown building died of a heart attack at the scene of a protest by the group ACORN.
"Several witnesses, including a photographer for the Houston Chronicle, were questioned A spokesman for the Chronicle said the paper would cooperate fully in the investigation," the article stated.
The spokesman, assistant managing editor Ernie Williamson, was described in the story as being "satisfied that the photographer acted in a professional manner."
And that was basically it. A little light on the details, you might say.
Robert Hurst, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department, says officers are investigating allegations that photographer David Fahleson, 43, pushed guard Michael Eve, 59, as the protest temporarily degenerated into a scrum.
"From what I'm hearing, there were quite a lot of people around, and at some point there may have been some type of physical contact between the photographer and the guard," Hurst says. "It's still under investigation Whether there was pushing, whether that may have led to the death, is something that is still under investigation."
One person familiar with the incident viewed news footage of the event and concluded that it shows "only minimal incidental contact -- if even that" between the guard and photographer.
Williamson declined comment to the Press. Hurst says he doesn't know how long the investigation will take; when it's finished it will be up to the district attorney's office to decide whether to take anything to a grand jury. -- Richard Connelly
No Mudslinging Here
Glenn Slade had a dream. That dream involved 20 gallons of pudding and half-naked women. And as sure as America is the land of the free, Houston is now the home of the Association of Pudding Wrestling.
Created in March, the APW proudly boasts 50 of Houston's finest young women (ages 18 to 34), who work their magic in four area bars. The bikini-clad warriors fight two at a time in a 12-foot ring of vanilla pudding.
Slade says he treats his women right: They get $40 just for showing up, and keep the cash they make from selling raffle tickets. (Raffle winners get to hose down the ladies after the show.)
So what kind of girl is pudding-wrestling material?
"Someone who's at least levelheaded," says Slade, who used to run a notes receivable factoring company, and who now runs the APW with partners Ronnie Greenroad and Jodi Jean. "I don't really like drama queens."
A protective pudding pimp, Slade respects his women, many of whom are single moms. And he's proud to offer his beauties an alternative to stripping.
Plus, he says, "It's some of the best exercise you'll ever do. You think you're in shape? Go last five minutes with my girls in the ring." -- Craig Malisow
Steam Table Magic
While he's not what you would call a household name, rising country star John Evans is pretty famous around these parts. The tall honky-tonker has won the Houston Press Local Musician of the Year award two years in a row, along with five other honors in our annual shindig since 2001. And when Luby's approached Evans about adapting his song "Safe Place to Hide" into a jingle for its upcoming "Tastes Like Texas, Feels Like Home" TV ad campaign, it seemed like a match made in heaven -- a star on the rise singing the praises of a troubled cafeteria chain trying to recapture the magic of days gone by.
But confidential sources tell Hair Balls that evidently Evans wasn't famous enough for the suits at Luby's. Unlike Dodge trucks, which took those now-ubiquitous "Llano Estacado" and "Texan 'Til I Die" songs and made their authors (Cooder Graw and Kevin Fowler, respectively) famous by plastering their names on the screen MTV-style, Luby's thought it had a better plan. Why not take Evans's jingle and get a big ol' star like Robert Earl Keen or Clay Walker or Clint Black to sing it?
Trouble was, neither Keen nor Walker nor Black would play along, and so now Luby's is "stuck" with Houston's two-time reigning Local Musician of the Year. For his part, Evans has only high praise for the company. "It's an exciting deal," he says of the spots, which will show Evans at Gruene Hall singing the praises of the company that brought us the LuAnn Platter and that delicious baked fish with lemon. Evans adds that his band has had its guitars stolen for the fourth time in two years. "Luckily the Luby's money came through, and I'll have some money to replace some of the stuff." -- John Nova Lomax
His Cup Runneth Over
Syndicated business columnist Scott Burns recently informed Houston Chronicle readers that companies could provide workers with a dignified retirement by raising prices for their goods by only pennies.
As an example, his column noted that Starbucks could increase its company match ninefold for retirement plans by merely adding three cents to the $3.50 cost of a grande latte.
But it was more than the fundamentals of supply and demand that led reader Jack Olson to question the premise in that September 16 Burns column. Just one day earlier, the columnist told readers of a way to make $800,000 over 40 years (with interest and inflation factored in). All they had to do, Burns advised, was to invest the savings they'd make from not buying that daily $3.50 latte from Starbucks. -- George Flynn
Enron? What Enron?
Local boy Joe Householder, who started out as a reporter for KTRH-AM before turning to political consulting, has landed a big-time job: He's become the communications director for New York Senator (and future presidential candidate?) Hillary Clinton.
The New York Daily News, ever eager to fan discussion of "Hillary in 2004," saw great import in Householder's hiring, observing that he had served as spokesman for Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's successful 2002 campaign (Iowa's caucuses being the opening round of the Democratic primary season).
Householder's Iowa stint was noted on the September 12 press release in which Clinton's office announced his hiring, as was his more recent job with the Houston political-consulting firm of Varoga, Rice & Shalett.
The release also mentioned that "Joe spent two years as Media Relations Manager for an international law firm."
Somehow the law firm's name was omitted. It was Vinson & Elkins, which earned a ton of headlines it would rather forget when the firm got heavily entangled in the Enron scandal.
We're sure the omission was just an oversight. -- R.C.
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