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Sports, Cars & Other Pastimes

Pop culture is as American as apple pie. Enjoy the stories behind favorite hobbies, sports, and collectibles.

Fenway: America’s Most Beloved Ballpark

On April 20, 2012 most of the Boston citizenry will be wearing something that designates them as the loyal Red Sox fans that they are. Tomorrow they will celebrate the centennial their beloved ballpark with a game against the New York Yankees. One hundred years ago on this date they played the New York Highlanders who would later become the Red Sox arch rivals–the New York Yankees. (In that first game, the Red Sox were victorious.)

Satchel Paige, Legendary Pitcher

  • One of the greatest baseball pitchers of all times
  • Great crowd-pleaser who attracted huge audiences wherever he was

Leroy Robert Page was born in Mobile, Alabama to John Page, a gardener, and Lula Page, a domestic worker. John died a few years after their son was born, and Lula changed the spelling of the last name to Paige, perhaps to make a new beginning.

The Nicholas Brothers: Fayard (1914-2006) and Harold (1921-2000)

Magical tap dancers; charismatic performers

The Nicholas Brothers may never have become the household names that Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire became, but they should have. Astaire and Kelly were great dancers; the Nicholas Brothers were even better. In Fayard’s obituary from USA Today in 2006, Gregory Hines notes that if the Nicholas brothers’ life story were ever to be filmed, their dance numbers would have to be computer-generated because no dancer could duplicate them.

Benji, Shelter Dog Turned Movie Star

The lovable mixed-breed dog that was to become Benji was discovered in 1960 by veteran Hollywood animal trainer Frank Inn (1916-2002). Inn always looked first at shelters for the animals he needed for various show requests, and the Burbank Animal Shelter was where he met and fell in love with the shaggy brown dog, known as Higgins, that was to be his biggest star.

Who Was Frank Inn?
Inn was born to a Quaker family in Camby, Indiana, and his original name was Elias Franklin Freeman. He left home at age 17, intent on making a name for himself in Hollywood. Two years later he was seriously injured in a car accident and was convalescing at a friend’s house at a time when the family dog had just had a litter of pups. Frank discovered he had a knack for working with animals. His ability soon landed him a job with Rudd Weatherwax, who trained Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.

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