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DRIBBLE AND DROOL

Andy Van De Voorde, managing editor: High seeds Arkansas, UCLA, and Massachusetts go far, along with sleepers Wake Forest, Michigan State and Arizona (the man's alma mater, wouldn't you know it?), but Kansas beats Connecticut for the crown.

Sure, guys. Don't forget to tip the kid from Domino's every day, and when your wives throw you out, you can crash at my place. At halftime, maybe we'll watch the invaders shoot up the White House.

There are plenty of noble qualities inside Richie Ashburn, the great Philadelphia Phillie who was belatedly elected to the Hall of Fame last week by the Veterans Committee.

For one thing, this consummate professional hit .308 over the course of a fifteen-year career with one of the weakest clubs in the National League. Twice he led the NL in batting average (.338 in 1955, .350 in 1958), and four times he was the leader in walks. For another, he was absolutely wonderful to watch in the outfield, although he was overshadowed by three legends in the making only ninety miles away--Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. For a third, Ashburn once gave Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax the ultimate compliment: "Either he throws the fastest ball I've ever seen," Ashburn said, "or I'm going blind."

But the single noblest thing about Richie Ashburn may be that he spent the last season of his career with the 1962 New York Mets. That fledgling club managed to lose a record 120 games under the bemused leadership of Casey Stengel, and its best pitcher, beleaguered Roger Craig, won 10 games and lost 24.

When teammates weren't crashing into Ashburn on routine fly balls and opponents weren't racking up an astounding 948 runs against the Mets, the 35-year-old center-fielder quietly hit .306 in 1962--31 points higher than any other regular.

"I don't know what's going on," Ashburn said of the Mets, "but I know I've never seen it before."

We won't see his like again.

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