Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Hercules, Herschel tee it up for Thompson

28th annual tournament for cancer research

Former California Angels pitcher Paul Hartzell cranks out a drive dur-ing last year?s Danny Thompson Memorial. Hartzell, a 1975 Lehigh University graduate, pitched for Cali-fornia, Minnesota and Milwaukee from 1976-84. He is senior vice president of Data Site Services for Merrill Corporation in St. Paul, Minn. Hartzell won the prestigious Danny Thompson Memorial Chairman?s Award in 2002 Photo by David N. Seelig

The ground-breaking television show ?Hill Street Blues,? and college football?s hierarchy of running backs will be well represented this year at the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf tournament in Sun Valley.

The tournament runs from Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 25-28. Tournament director Georgie Fenton expects 210 golfers, down slightly because of the Republican National Convention and Olympics.

First-year celebrity participant James Sikking (Lt. Howard Hunter) will join fellow ?Hill Street Blues,? cast member Ed Marinaro (Officer Joe Coffey) in the field of the 28th annual Thompson Memorial clam-bake. The ?Hill Street Blues,? ensem-ble cop drama ran from 1981-87 on television.

Marinaro was one of college foot-ball?s greatest running backs, playing for Cornell University back in 1971. He will be joined at the 2004 Thomp-son by an even greater college run-ning back?1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker of Georgia.

Meanwhile, Marinaro and Walker will both tip their hats in Sun Valley to 2004 College Football Hall of Fame inductee LaVell Edwards, who won 257 games in 29 seasons as Brigham Young University?s football coach and captured the national title in 1984.

Two other first-time Thompson celebrities this year are actor Kevin Sorbo, who played the lead role in television?s ?Hercules: The Legen-dary Journeys,? from 1995-2000 and is now Dylan Hunt in ?Gene Rodden-berry?s Andromeda,? and 11-year major league catcher Duke Sims.

Syndication star Sorbo, 45, a na-tive Minnesotan who played center in hockey in his younger years, plays in celebrity golf tournaments whenever he has a chance. Married with two young sons, Sorbo lives in Montana and films in Vancouver, B.C., Can-ada.

The 2004 Thompson will also host a two-time Stanley Cup winner in Craig Ludwig, 43, the hard-hitting 6-3, 210-pounder from Rhinelander, Wisc. He came out of the University of North Dakota and played 1,256 National Hockey League games from 1982-99?winning Stanley Cups in Montreal in 1986 and Dallas in 1999.

It should be a good weekend.

Played exclusively at Sun Valley since its founding in 1977, the Thompson Memorial returns Wednesday through Saturday, Aug. 25-28 on the Sun Valley champion-ship course. Elkhorn won?t be used this year for the first time because of ongoing course construction there.

The tournament is named for Danny Thompson, a Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers infielder who died of leukemia in 1976 at 29.

Last year?s Thompson take for cancer research was $630,000. This year?s proceeds may not reach that level, but Thompson tournament di-rector Georgie Fenton is optimistic. ?We hope to get close to that,? she said Monday.

In 27 years, the Thompson Memo-rial has raised $6,755,500 for cancer research, split between University of Minnesota Leukemia Research Foun-dation ($3.5 million) and Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) of Boise ($3.3 million).

Since MSTI opened its doors in 1969 it has become Idaho?s largest provider of cancer care services.

Once again, a tournament high-light will be the 11th annual Thomp-son Memorial live and silent auction with auctioneer Marjoe Gortner Fri-day, Aug. 27 in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn.

All the big fund-raising numbers and loyal support represent quite an accomplishment for a late-August celebrity clambake started in 1977 by Idaho legislator Ralph Harding and baseball slugger Harmon Killebrew.

The celebrity list is dotted with athletes, legislators and entertainers.

It starts with one of the Thompson Memorial?s most loyal celebrity sup-porters?Arnie Ferrin of Ogden, Utah.

Ferrin, former University of Utah athletic director, was a four-time bas-ketball All-American for the Utes from 1944-48.

As a freshman, Ferrin (13.2 ppg) won the Most Outstanding Player award in Utah?s 42-40 (OT) victory over Dartmouth in the 1944 NCAA championship game before 15,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. Fer-rin scored 22 of Utah?s 42 points. He played three seasons for the NBA?s Minneapolis Lakers from 1949-51, helping the Lakers to two NBA titles. Ferrin went back to school and earned his college degree from Utah in 1966.

The sports celebrity list includes:

 From baseball: Hall of Famer Duke Sims and Paul Hartzell.

 From football: Ed Marinaro, Herschel Walker, Jerry Kramer, Joe Washington and LaVell Edwards (the BYU football stadium is now named LaVell Edwards Stadium).

 From basketball: Jack Marin. From hockey: Rod Gilbert and Craig Ludwig.

 From ESPN: John Barrett (fly fishing) and Chris Berman ("The Berminator"). From the entertainment world: Kevin Sorbo, James Sikking, Muzzie Braun and Leslie Nielsen.

Celebrity, pol details

Herschel Walker, known in his high school years in Georgia for the prodigious number of sit-ups and push-ups he did to achieve fitness, also rushed for 6,317 yards and 86 touchdowns during high school foot-ball.

As a freshman at the University of Georgia, Walker led the Bulldogs to the 1980 NCAA national title with a 26-20 win over Florida. He became a three-time All-American. Walker?s Georgia teams had a 33-3 record. He rushed for 5,259 yards in three years and held 11 NCAA records when he elected to forgo his senior year and jumped to the upstart USFL in 1983.

Walker ended up rushing for 8,225 yards with 61 rushing TDs in the National Football League for Dallas, N.Y. Giants and Philadelphia. He caught passes for another 4,859 yards (21 TD). In 1999, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

In one poll, Walker has been judged the second-greatest college football player ever, after Red Grange.

Another new celeb in 2004, Salt Lake City?s Duke Sims, 63, played 11 major league seasons as a catcher with Cleveland and four other teams. He batted .239 in 843 games.

On the entertainment side, Los Angeles native Sikking, 70, has a film and television career dating back to 1955. He has appeared in TV shows from ?Perry Mason,? ?Combat!,? ?Ellery Queen,? and ?Hunter,? to, more recently, ?Curb Your Enthusi-asm,? and ?The Guardian.? But he is probably best known as the prickly Lt. Howard Hunter in ?Hill Street Blues.?

Here are some other celeb details:

Rod Gilbert, 63, from Montreal, is the compact, 5-9, 175-pound right-hand shot who played his entire 18-year career with the New York Rang-ers from 1960-77. The eight-time NHL All-Star was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1982.

Although he never won a Stanley Cup, Gilbert was a Big Apple favorite while scoring 406 goals and 1,021 points in 1,065 Ranger games, topped by 43 goals and 97 points in 1972.

One of the best golfers and putters in the Thompson field is Duke bas-ketball All-American Jack Marin, one of the founding fathers of the Celeb-rity Players Golf Tour.

One-handicapper Marin was a 6-6 forward who graduated from Duke in 1966 and was a 15.0 ppg pro scorer. Marin, who also played for Buffalo and Chicago, was traded by Baltimore to Houston for Elvin Hayes in 1972. He was a two-time NBA All-Star in a career that lasted from 1966-77.

Brooks Robinson of Little Rock, the ?Human Vacuum Cleaner,? is familiar to any baseball fan with a healthy respect for diamond defense. The all-time greatest third baseman was named to the Hall of Fame in 1983 after a matchless 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles.

Robinson, 67, is a 6-1, 190-pounder whose numerous major league fielding records include a .971 fielding average, best ever for a third sacker. He batted .267 with 2,848 hits in 2,896 games from 1955-77, all with the Baltimore Orioles, which was a major league record.

The 18-time All-Star won the Golden Glove each year from 1960-75 and was baseball's Most Valuable Player in 1964 with career-best .317 with 28 homers and 118 RBI. He starred on the four-time AL pennant-winning Oriole teams that won World Series titles in 1966 and 1970, losing only one game.

Another major leaguer returning to the Thompson is Paul Hartzell.

Hartzell, 51, a 6-5, 200-pound right-handed pitcher from Pennsylva-nia, started his big league career with the California Angels in 1976 and played on four different teams through 1984. Now a corporate ex-ecutive, Hartzell has played an im-portant role on the Thompson board of directors and received the 2002 Chairman?s Award for exemplary service.

Politicians on board are:

They include Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-Ky.); Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.); Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.); Rep. Butch Otter (R-Id.); Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.); Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Id.); Rep. Charles Sten-holm (D-Tx.); Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.); Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.); Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.); Sen. Don Nickles (R-Ok.); and Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.).

Among the heavy money hitters, US Bank remains as a "Platinum" top-level sponsor, along with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The only ?Gold? sponsor is Delta Air Lines.

"Silver" sponsors are Anheuser-Busch, Corbett Industries, Merrill Corporation, Simplot and Washington Group International Inc. The "Pre-mier" sponsors are Ceridian, C.T.F.A., Qualcomm and Visa.

Spectators are invited to watch and, when appropriate, ask for auto-graphs. Check the pairing sheets at the Sun Valley golf pro shop to get an idea of where your favorite golfer is playing.

Tournament format is four-man two-best ball over two days on the Sun Valley course. Here is the tour-nament schedule.

 Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 25-26: Registration from 8-6 on the Sun Valley Inn Limelight Room terrace and promenade. Practice rounds all day, each day, on the Sun Valley golf course.

 Thursday, Aug. 26: Welcome western barbecue at 6:30 p.m. on the Trail Creek Cabin grounds. Tourna-ment pairings distributed there.

 Friday, Aug. 27: First 18-hole round of the Thompson Memorial, featuring 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. shotgun starts at Sun Valley. Cocktails and auction dinner 6:30 p.m. in the Lime-light Room of Sun Valley Inn.

 Saturday, Aug. 28: Final 18-hole round of the Thompson Memo-rial, featuring 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. shot-gun starts at Sun Valley. Awards reception at 6:30 p.m. at the golf course.

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