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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

ALAN VERLANDER on Wednesday was introduced as the new COO of Gator Bowl Sports' events division on Wednesday, and he will be "charged with securing almost any event that will ... help make Jacksonville a sports destination," according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Those events "could range from a neutral-site college football game to the Florida high school football playoffs to youth soccer tournaments." Verlander comes to the new organization after serving as Sports & Entertainment Dir for the city of Jacksonville. He previously was Jacksonville Univ. AD. Gator Bowl Sports President & CEO RICK CATLETT said of Verlander, "He was an athletic director ... so he knows college sports. He was our marketing director and he worked for Host Communications, so he knows how to sell. And he’s got government experience." City of Jacksonville Dir of Communications DAVID DECAMP said that the city "would name an interim director of Sports and Entertainment 'in days,' then launch a search for a permanent director" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/12).

Author BEN BRADLEE JR.'s "THE KID: THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF TED WILLIAMS," which was released on Dec. 3, "details an extraordinary American life while showing us how that life morphed into a legend," according to Allen Barra of the BOSTON GLOBE. The book "reads like an epic, starting before Williams's birth in 1918, outlining his Anglo and Mexican heritage growing up in Southern California, and continuing after his death in 2002 to the present." Bradlee has "given us the fullest exploration yet of his monumental ego and the best explanation for his vast inferiority complex." Unlike "earlier biographers, Bradlee doesn't romanticize the account of Williams's war service." The book is "packed with great moments," and for "every high point, there's a spectacular low." But while there is "much to praise here, there are shortcomings." Bradlee devotes "a bit too much time to the Williams story" after his retirement. The "unfathomable neuroses of Ted and his children and their ongoing internecine warfare eventually has a numbing effect." By the time his "younger two children proceed with cryogenically preserving his remains, the reader's head may feel frozen" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7). In N.Y., Sherryl Connelly wrote Williams was a "nasty man but his life story makes for great copy" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/8).

COMPARE & CONTRAST: In N.Y., Charles McGrath wrote what distinguishes the book from "the rest of Williams lit is, first of all, its size, and the depth of its reporting." Bradlee "seemingly talked to everyone, not just baseball people but Williams' fishing buddies, old girlfriends, his two surviving wives and both of his daughters." Bradlee had "unparalleled access to Williams family archives." His account "does not materially alter our picture of Williams the player, but fills it in with much greater detail and nuance." Bradlee's "expansiveness enables his book to transcend the familiar limits of the sports bio and to become instead a hard-to-put-down account of a fascinating American life." It is a "story about athletic greatness but also about the perils of fame and celebrity, the corrosiveness of money and the way the cycle of familial resentment and disappointment plays itself out generation after generation" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/8). SI's Stephanie Apstein writes the book "lacks the elegance" of LEIGH MONTVILLE's '04 biography of Williams, "TED WILLIAMS: THE BIOGRAPHY OF AN AMERICAN HERO." But Bradlee's book "makes up for it with staggering reporting -- the 14-page appendix II, which lists more than 600 people he interviewed over 11 years, is longer than nine of the 34 chapters." Bradlee "tracked down everyone from Williams' two surviving wives to the man who serviced his satellite dish." It is "in those off-the-field moments that The Kid proves most insightful" (SI, 12/16 issue).

DOING DUE DILIGENCE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Howard Schneider wrote the book is "superb," yet "sometimes troubling." But "research alone doesn't make 'The Kid' a first-rate biography." Bradlee was "able to organize the great mass of data into a lucid and readable whole and -- most important -- bring his subject and the people around him to provocative and stormy life" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/7). In N.Y., Bruce Weber wrote the biography is a "work of obvious journalistic muscle and diligence," as it "provides documentary evidence on every page to bolster the book's presumption that Williams was ... larger than life." But Bradlee is "hampered by the incontrovertible fact that Williams was a significant personage because of his batting feats." While he "hardly ignores Williams's years as a player," Bradlee is "not an especially astute baseball writer." The "best baseball chapter is a patient recounting of Williams's melodramatic and bittersweet final game, in which he homered in his last time at bat." But even in that instance, Bradlee "gives the last word to someone else, JOHN UPDIKE, who wrote about the game for The New Yorker in a famous essay." The book has "neither the hagiographic sheen of recent biographies of YOGI BERRA and WILLIE MAYS, nor the gleeful legend-puncturing of RICHARD BEN CRAMER's celebrated portrait of JOE DIMAGGIO." Bradlee's "evenhanded thoroughness ultimately does his subject ... no favors" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/5).

NASCAR promoted Senior Manager for Team Marketing Services JIMMY SMALL to Iowa Speedway President. The announcement comes on the heels of NASCAR's recent purchase of the speedway (NASCAR). The 28-year-old Small is considered a "rising star" in the racing industry. His background in "improving the fan experience, sponsor relations and ticket sales helped convince the organization to put him in charge in Iowa." Small has been with NASCAR in "a variety of of capacities" since '08 (AP, 12/12)....St. Petersburg-based businessman BILL EDWARDS has become Principal Owner of the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL).

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NFL Panthers LB LUKE KUECHLY is "tackling his first major charitable endeavor" since joining the league, as he "will serve as a spokesman for Project Life, a national nonprofit organization to register college students for bone marrow donation." Kuechly "will be featured on posters, radio spots and in an online campaign to bring attention to a donor database that has far fewer registrants than those for organ donation, despite a simple testing process." He is "young enough to have cachet on college campuses." Project Life Founder & Exec Dir DAVID LINDSAY said that the organization "targets college students because 'their marrow tends to be healthier,' and they can stay on the national donor registry for more than 30 years until they're 55" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/13).

GRID IRON GIRDERS: Texas A&M's Board of Regents on Thursday "unanimously approved a new contract" for football coach KEVIN SUMLIN. The new contract pays him $5M annually for six years, and his buyout obligation to the school, which runs through the '16 postseason, requires restitution of $5M to A&M (Bryan-College Station EAGLE, 12/13)....New UConn football coach BOB DIACO's five-year contract is worth $8M over the life of the deal (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/13).

WE ARE HEADED NORTH: Canadian Olympic Committee President MARCEL AUBUT on Thursday pledged C$37M to the committee's "Own the Podium" initiative over the next four years. The contribution between is a 48% increase from the prior four years, which included the '10 Vancouver Games (CP, 12/12)....Vancouver Mayor GREGOR ROBERTSON on Thursday said that questions "about potential conflicts of interest with prominent real-estate businessmen funding a Vision councillor's $100,000 trip to the Sochi Games are 'ridiculous'" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/13)....Former VANOC CEO JOHN FURLONG said that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police "have closed an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against him by a former student and found no evidence to support criminal charges, prompting him to declare he's been 'fully cleared' in one of a series of allegations and lawsuits facing him" (Vancouver SUN, 12/13).

GIRL POWER: Univ. of Minnesota Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport Dir MARY JO KANE and Associate Dir NICOLE LAVOI "hope to start a global gross-roots campaign" that focuses on how female athletes are deserving of praise for their athletic exploits as opposed to merely their looks. The campaign is called the "#HeresProof project," and the two women also "collaborated on a thoughtful documentary airing this month" entitled "Media Coverage and Female Athletes" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/13).

CHARITY STRIPE: Blackhawks players KRIS VERSTEEG, PATRICK KANE, BRANDON SAAD and NIKLAS HJALMARSSON on Thursday visited the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to drop off toys donated by Blackhawks fans during the first three home games in December (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/13)....Ducks LW DUSTIN PENNER and C ANDREW COGLIANO on Thursday "showered local kids with a Toys 'R' Us shopping spree" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/13)....Celtics players JEFF GREEN, KELLY OLYNYK, BRANDON BASS and COURTNEY LEE on Thursday attended a Boston Children's Hospital fundraiser at the Gucci boutique on Boylston Street (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/13)....Univ. of Memphis men's basketball coach JOSH PASTNER "donated $250,000 to the athletic department's capital campaign for facilities," marking the "largest ever by a Memphis coach" (, 12/12),

NAMES: Univ. of Texas President BILL POWERS was not fired Thursday after a Board of Regents vote, but he also did not get a "vote of confidence" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 12/13)....Scottsdale police said that Suns broadcaster TOM CHAMBERS on Saturday was arrested "on suspicion of driving under the influence." Chambers "admitted to having a few beers" at the Stanford-Arizona State Pac-12 Championship "before getting behind the wheel" (, 12/12)....Rosenhaus Sports has signed Wake Forest WR MICHAEL CAMPANERO for representation in the '14 NFL Draft. Brothers DREW & JASON ROSENHAUS will represent him (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer)....Phillies P JONATHAN PAPELBON will appear in an AOL series titled "MY INK," which features athletes with tattoos (BOSTON HERALD, 12/13)....Jazz assistant coach SIDNEY LOWE's "ongoing court case reached a resolution Wednesday" when he "pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns for three years in North Carolina." Lowe "received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, must pay $79,000-plus in restitution and was assessed a $2,000 fine" (DESERET NEWS, 12/12)....Capitals LW ALEX OVECHKIN and his fiancée, tennis player MARIA KIRILENKO, on Wednesday attended Washington Life's annual Young and the Guest List part at the Carnegie Library (, 12/12).