There’s nothing better than a good Larry Bird story to brighten up your Tuesday morning.
This latest tale comes courtesy of The Indianapolis Star’s Dana Hunsinger Benbow, who detailed Monday how Bird’s illustrious collegiate career at Indiana State also included a fleeting foray into baseball.
As Benbow tells it, the soon-to-be Boston Celtics star, then fresh off a national title game loss to Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans, decided to lace up the spikes for one doubleheader in the spring of 1979 to fulfill a wager with Sycamores baseball coach Bob Warn.
Wearing No. 24 (the only jersey that fit his 6-foot-9 frame), Bird played first base, went 1-for-2 with two RBIs and knocked in the winning run as Indiana State knocked off Kentucky Wesleyan. Oh, and he also had a full-on collision with his own catcher.
“But Larry being Larry, he went after the popup and charged in,” Tom James, Indiana State’s sports information director at the time, told Benbow. “The catcher tried calling him off and was in better position to make the play.
“They ran hard and they collided. They hit each other and they went down,” Warn said. “The ball was caught. I think Larry hung on to the ball, but they both laid there and didn’t move.”
Luckily for Celtics fans, Bird popped back up, was removed from the game and never played competitive baseball again. He retired from the game with a career batting average of .500.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images