Other Great Senatorial Moments in Sports


Many have been surprised that the United States Senate has spent so much time lately on sports. First, the Senate listened to testimony from Roger Clemens on baseball's steroid crisis. Later, Senator Arlen Specter questioned the NFL about the New England Patriots' Spygate scandal. While it seems strange for Congress to be concerning itself with sports, it is hardly unprecedented, as these past newspaper reports will indicate. 
July 14, 1966

Senate hearings began yesterday into the investigation of Arnold "Red" Auerbach, head coach of the Boston Celtics. Spearheaded by California Senator George Murphy, whose Los Angeles Lakers have lost several NBA championships to the Celtics, the Senate took a break from debating funding for the Vietnam conflict to tackle the serious issue of whether the Celtics fail to provide hot water in the visiting team's locker room.

Radio reporters from across the nation were present, as Mr. Auerbach claimed that the Celtics' locker room also suffered from a deficiency in hot water due to the old facilities of the Boston Garden. "It is what it is," he shrugged.

Many have also indicated that certain areas of the basketball court at the Boston Garden cause basketballs to behave in strange ways when dribbled. Mr. Auerbach vigorously denied the existence of these so-called "dead spots," claiming that he should not be held responsible for the "inferior dribbling skills of the opponent." When asked why players seemed to dribble better once they became members of the Celtics, he responded that it was simply a matter of good coaching.

The Senate seemed largely satisfied with his testimony, although Mr. Auerbach was reprimanded for lighting a cigar with five minutes left in the session.

August 8, 1964

Baseball's amphetamine problem reached the floor of the United States Senate today when New York Yankee star Mickey Mantle appeared in a congressional hearing on the issue. Hundreds of newspaper reporters attended in order to cover the stunning testimony for their afternoon editions. This number greatly exceeded the number of reporters present a day earlier for the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

Many observers worried that the famous Yankee outfielder would be ensnarled in the growing scandal. However, Mr. Mantle was completely exonerated when he revealed that, while he had used amphetamines, he had never used them before a baseball game, only when he needed some "extra pep in order to chase skirts after the game."

The Junior Senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy, one of the chief questioners, agreed that this was certainly reasonable, and Mr. Mantle was dismissed.

November 20, 1979

As the Iranian hostage crisis reached its 17th day, the United States Senate took a break from foreign affairs to hold hearings with George Steinbrenner in an attempt to deal with the growing jerk epidemic in Major League Baseball. Well over two network television correspondents were there to cover the proceedings for the nightly network newscasts.

"It seems every day there are more and more jerks in a league that used to be a bastion of goodness, and you, sir, are the biggest jerk of them all," Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts accused the irritable New York Yankee owner.

Unfortunately, the session came to an early end when Mr. Steinbrenner fired all of the Senators, preventing them from passing much needed jerk legislation for American sports.

October 31, 1929

Just days after the stock market crash, baseball slugger Babe Ruth was brought before Capitol Hill yesterday as part of an investigation into the alleged drinking of alcohol and other spirits in Major League Baseball. While the rest of the country faithfully follows the tenets of prohibition, it has been claimed that many in Major League Baseball have completely ignored this law.

Western Union offices were flooded with baseball fans, as Mr. Ruth's testimony was streamed live to teletype machines across the nation.

The hearing started with an apparent bombshell when it was alleged that Mr. Ruth had been spotted at a suspected speakeasy in Washington when the Yankees played there this past August.  

While Mr. Ruth admitted that he had been present at the establishment, he said he was unaware that alcohol was served there. "I was only there to get a cold glass of milk and a big juicy steak," Mr. Ruth told legislators. "And then I left at eight o'clock so that I could get to sleep early in order to hit some home runs the next day. You know, for the kids," he added.

Mr. Ruth was later dismissed after he promised to hit home runs for all of the Senators and to take some of them along the next time he went out for milk.

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