Tom's Tidbits

Psst. Let's go to the pitcher's mound and talk with our gloves
covering our mouths.
DOWN ON THE CORNER: The most underrated, underknown sports bar in town might be Friendly's Restaurant & Pub at Roger Place and Potomac Street. Others boast of big screens, steaks and skin. But like a street-football team, what a sports bar needs first is a quarterback, preferably a well-worn guy from the neighborhood who sort of used to be a pro athlete. That's Denny Domachowski, who manages the place. He was part of the last graduating class of the old Augustinian High School in 1972, then briefly served as a practice goaltender for the Boston Bruins. No, he didn't play in a game. He was mostly a dartboard between the nets during workouts. He's also coy about talking about it, but mention it anyway when you see him. Friendly's is where they talk sports, not just come to watch games. And it's too cozy to sit only with your friends, thereby remaining funny and smart. At Friendly's you might need to share space with people who think you're a jackass. So, do your sports homework before go. And eat smart. Friendly's has brain sandwiches.

FLIPPIN' OUT: Keep your eyes on Noel Holloway and Mickey DeFilippo of the St. Louis Gymnastics Club. They'll compete along with young gymnasts from seven other states on Dec. 12 and 13 at the Iron Kids St. Louis Invitational Gymnastics Meet at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Last month at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Holloway, 11, finished 17th and DeFilippo, who just turned 10, finished 20th in the 10-11 age group at the U.S. Gymnastics Future Stars National Championships. The event comprised 70 gymnasts invited from across the country. Holloway and DeFilippo were the only athletes invited from Missouri. For information about the St. Louis Invitational, call 968-9494.

TWISTED MISTER: The current issue of Heartland USA magazine carries a two-page color feature story about Blues enforcer Tony Twist. The spread, which highlights Twister's interest in the outdoors and in motorcycling, includes photography by Carole Twist, Tony's mother.

LOTTA DOUGH: Willie's Gourmet Cookies, Willie McGee's answer to Lorna Doones, disappeared as an offering on grocery shelves this fall. But Jim Boen, head of Big League Cookie Co. of Ballwin, says he anticipates the cookies will be back in stores within the next two weeks. "We had a little bit of a distribution problem," Boen says, "but we've taken care of that." I say another problem is the price. It's $1.79 for two cookies -- 2.5 ounces total dough for your dough -- and higher at the ballpark. Were he not part of the operation, McGee himself would have to play another big-league season to afford Willie's Gourmets.

RIVERS RERUN: Before there was Jamie Rivers, Blues defenseman, there was St. Louis football Cardinals linebacker Jamie Rivers. The grid Rivers was a 6-foot-2 inch, 245-pound linebacker out of Bowling Green, who played for the Big Red from 1968 through 1973 and then two seasons for the New York Jets. Linebacker Rivers, who had four interceptions for 33 yards in his career, now owns the McDonald's restaurant at 4006 Lindell Blvd. The hockey player says he has never heard of the linebacker. The linebacker did not return a call asking whether he knew of the defenseman.

TIME EXPIRED: One of the few soccer or rugby players most Americans know by name is Andy Capp, the English layabout of the comic strips. On June 13, Capp's creator, Reg Smythe, died in Hartlepool, England, at age 81, although almost nothing about the death turned up in the news. The strip, begun in 1957, is running its course on the year's worth of strips Smythe left behind. Maybe you've noticed that the referee in all of Capp's games is either his landlord or his bartender. I like the puffs of smoke Capp leaves behind him when he runs, and I envy how he competes, even at the beer-league level, while living as a lecher.

Noted singles hitter Gene Autry, owner of the California Angels, died Oct. 2 at 91 in Studio City, Calif. Some of the singing cowboy's single smashes include "Back in the Saddle Again" (1941), "Here Comes Santa Claus" (1947) and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1949). Laugh, but I say "Rudolph" is the hit song that can be sung from memory by more people than any other in history. I'm talking about hit songs here -- not "Happy Birthday" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." I say if you assembled 1,000 Americans of all ages, hues, thoughts and income levels, the one hit record the crowd could sing is "Rudolph" ... before "My Girl," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Hello Dolly" or fill-in-the-blank. Now, what's my middle name?

The Saturday Sports Journal died, eight issues into its life, after the release of its May edition. "We had a good readership following, but it just didn't have the advertising support that it needed to make it," says publisher Ken Christian. The Journal was a clearinghouse of information on non-school-related amateur sports. Christian says some of that information continues to be available online at www.saturdaysports.com. "But it's more of a guidepost than a detailed source," Christian says. "It will direct you to other Web sites."

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