Oh, the things you learn
A little research can turn up the darndest bits of information.
What I found Friday is a perfect example. I was looking for some background on Chuck Connors. Now, anyone from my generation knows Connors starred in the TV series The Rifleman as Lucas McCain, the sharp-shooting rancher who was always helping the local sheriff deal with the bad guys. And most trivia buffs can tell you that Connors also played major league baseball, albeit for a short stint -- one game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 66 with the Chicago Cubs. More than a cup of coffee, but not enough for a caffeine high. He did manage to hit two home runs, though, one of them off New York Giants ace Sal Maglie.
What I didn't know until Friday was that Connors also played professional basketball. He was tall and lean around at 6-feet-6, so he certainly had the build. And this was in the 1940s, when 6-6 meant you played center. Anyway, Connors played one season for the Rochester Royals, another for the Boston Celtics and then played four games in a second season with the Celtics.
Alas, his hardwood career was just as undistinguished as his career on the diamond. It turns out that ol' Chuck's TV character was a much better shot than the guy who played basketball. During his time with the Celtics, Connors shot, get this, 25 percent from the field.
Oh, but there's more. It seems that Connors' most noteworthy achievement in basketball was becoming the first NBA player to shatter a backboard. Once I stumbled onto this little nugget, I found it mentioned in many places. But really, who knew?
The thing is, Connors didn't break the glass board with an eye-popping, Blake Griffin-type dunk. And no, he didn't shoot it with his rifle. All it took was an ordinary shot hitting in just the right place. Or, in this case, the wrong place.
It happened while the Celtics were warming up for a game with the Chicago Stags at Boston Arena. They had to move out of the Celtics' usual home, Boston Garden, because Gene Autry's rodeo was playing there. Everything seemed fine, except that a worker had failed to insert a piece of protective rubber between the rim and backboard. So when Connors fired up a two-handed set shot, the ball clanked off the rim (what would you expect from a 25 percent shooter?) and, as fans and players looked on in shock, the backboard shattered.
You know what a really bad shot in basketball is called, right?
Yep, Chuck Connors shot the ultimate brick.