Book of N.C. sports trivia a winner

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011

“Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia,” by Jimmy Tomlin. Bandit Books, Winston-Salem, N.C. 2011. 282 pp. $15.95.
By Deirdre Parker Smith
SALISBURY — You don’t have to be one of those glassy-eyed, slack-jawed, remote-clutching sports fans to enjoy Jimmy Tomlin’s new book, “Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia.”
It’s so full of quirky, amazing, memorable trivia, that almost anyone who lives in the state and has ever rooted for a favorite time will find something that will become part of their repertoire of “hey-did-you-know …”
And there’s tons and tons of college sports trivia, from the Big Four — Duke University, N.C. State, Carolina and Wake Forest — to our hometown teams, Livingstone and Catawba colleges.
And there’s pro stuff, too. Panthers. Hornets. Bobcats and more.
This is the perfect gift for the avid sports fan — the one who can spout off individual stats faster than he can name his children — or the casual observer who enjoys TV time watching the Panthers (poor Cam Newton) or the Wolfpack or the Demon Deacons. Even folks who only keep up with hometown teams will find stuff to talk about.
While it may not prompt family-style dinner table talk, it’s perfect for an evening of popcorn and apple cider and more entertaining than those reruns of the stale holiday movies.
Tomlin organizes it by day, starting Jan. 1, including Leap Day, and ending Dec. 31.
So, in one month, you can learn things from 1882 to 2011.
How Tomlin managed to find all this is one thing — how he decided to use it is another. How do you wade through the massive amount of information? Do you try to balance the trivia, something from every team, for example?
The mind reels.
Sure, there’s some ho-hum stuff, some everybody-knows-that moments, but those are far outnumbered by the ones that make you want to tell a friend, “Hey, listen to this one.”
In fact, you could get pretty annoying with it.
Here’s one of my favorites, from my alma mater, Wake Forest University:
January 20, 1964: “Wake Forest basketball coach Horace “Bones” McKinney, a restless, excitable coach known for his sideline histrionics, introduces a new strategy for keeping himself under control during games — an automotive seat belt. ‘If I’m going to stay in this business, I’m going to have to do something about the tension,’ he explains. So for Wake Forest’s home game against Maryland, McKinney straps himself to the bench with a red seat belt — to match the bright red socks he wears for good luck — to keep himself from doing anything that might earn him a technical foul. For most of the game the seat belt does its job, but with nine minutes to go in the game and the Demon Deacons falling apart, an official’s call that McKinney disagrees with sends him off the edge. Off comes the seat belt and up pops the incredulous coach for the rest of the ,game. Wake winds up losing, 91-82.”
And right below that entry, Tomlin writes about Catawba College’s Dwight Durante, from 1966, who poured it on to beat Western Carolina after a devastating loss. He winds up signing with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Speaking of the Globetrotters, did you know Curly Neal is From Greensboro?
Surely you know this: July 4, 1862. “Union prisoners in the POW camp at Salisbury celebrate the Fourth of July with a baseball game. Baseball at the prison will be depicted in a famous lithograph by Otto Boetticher. It was during the Civil War era that baseball gained its popularity in North Carolina.”
Did you know a guy from Lenoir appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in a Norman Rockwell illustration? What happened to that illustration? Check it out: September 4.
It would be nice to have an index, but it would likely be as long as the book itself. You could do a class project by cross-referencing all the mentions of UNC (lots) or all the bits about golf or baseball.
Tomlin admits in his introduction he is a sports fan and a trivia fan but he warns — “… let me say this: Instant Replay is not an encyclopedia, nor was it ever meant to be. … there’s simply no way I could’ve included every athlete, every team, every game, every Olympian, every state and national record.”
But he did a fine job, putting in enough stuff to keep you supplied with trivia questions for your sports bar buddies or your Uncle Joe for a good, long while.

Book signing
Jimmy Tomlin will sign copies of “Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia” and trade trivia at Literary Bookpost, 110 S. Main St., on Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.
Jimmy Tomlin has worked for more than 25 years as a newspaper and magazine journalist.