During the NFL draft in 1946, the Washington Redskins were giddy when they nabbed UCLA running back Cal Rossi. By pairing Rossi with star quarterback "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh, Washington hoped to build a backfield that would give opponents nightmares. There was just one problem: Rossi was still a junior in college, and in those days, only seniors were eligible for the draft. How did the Skins fumble so badly? The team's owner, George Marshall, was too cheap to send scouts across the country; instead, he just picked new players by scanning the sports page.
The team selected Rossi again the next year, but amazingly, it was yet another wasted draft pick. As soon as the team selected him, the Redskins learned that Rossi had joined the Navy and had no intention of playing pro football.
As a 1987 minor-league baseball game, catcher Dave Bresnahan made what looked to be a critical blunder. He threw the ball over the third baseman's head, and the opposing team's runner trotted home as the ball rolled into the outfield. But when the player arrived at home plate, Bresnahan tagged him out. How could the ball be in left field and in Bresnahan's mitt? A quick investigation revealed that the so-called ball Bresnahan had thrown into the outfield was, in fact, a potato. In his spare time, the catcher had carved a tuber to look like a baseball and stashed it into his mitt.
Creative? Definitely. Successful? Not so much. The umpire scoffed at the ploy and called the runner safe at home. The bush league play also enraged Williamsport's manager, who yanked Bresnahan from the game, fined him $50, and kicked him off the team. The fans, on the other hand, loved the stunt so much that Williamsport retired Bresnahan's number the following season. At the ceremony, he joked, "Lou Gehrig had to play 2,130 consecutive games and hit .340 for his number to be retired, and all I had to do was bat .140 and throw a potato."
Back in 2005, Paul Tormanen looked like a rising star on the bass-fishing circuit. When other anglers struggled to find a decent catch, he managed to fill his boat with trophy bass in less than an hour. But unbeknownst to his rivals, Tormanen was arriving at each tournament a little too prepared. He would hit the lake before the competition, catch a mess of fish, and then leave the biggest ones tethered to a stump underwater. On tournament day, he'd simply retrieve his catch and collect the prize.
Tormanen got away with the scheme for several months, but his plans went awry after another fisherman stumbled onto his stash one day. Fish and Wildlife agents secretly marked the illicit catch, and when Tormanen netted the fish, he was arrested for contest fraud. The dubious tactic earned hm 120 hours of community service and a lifetime ban from fishing competitions.
Tormanen's dirty tactics may seem crude, but they're masterful compared to those of Robby Rose. During 2009's Bud Lite Trail Boss Big Bass Tournament, Rose tried to make his bass seem bigger by stuffing 16 oz. weights down their throats. Contest officials realized something was fishy when Rose's leaden catch sank to the bottom of the holding tank.
__________________________The above article by Ethan Trex is reprinted with permission from the Scatterbrained section of the November-December 2010 issue of mental_floss magazine.
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