Playing Catch-Up Checking in with some old column fodder

Comeback Skid: Pultz, 48, had his ring return cut short by a 39-year-old.
Charles Steck

Kendall Marshall remains forever old.

When first we encountered Marshall, he was the starting guard and occasional leading scorer for the varsity basketball team at Evangel Christian, a high school in Dale City, Va. At the time, Marshall was 11 years old and in sixth grade (“The Class of 2009,” 2/7/2003).

Marshall is still playing high school ball. He’s now a 10th-grader and point guard at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington. (Marshall pulled some sort of redshirting stunt along the way to get another school year, so he’s now in the Class of 2010.)

But this fall, with another three years of high school ball still to go, Marshall held a press conference to announce he was committing to North Carolina and Roy Williams.

But as far away as he is from getting to Chapel Hill, Marshall already has a blog—

“Kendall Marshall’s Journal”—on Inside Carolina, a Web site and glossy mag affiliated with Fox Sports and aimed at obsessive Tar Heel fans.

“So far I’m doing pretty well (14.4 ppg, 7.6 apg),” he wrote in last week’s entry. “First game I came out and I didn’t play very well at all, but we still got the win and that was encouraging. Ever since then I’ve been playing well and scoring and getting my teammates the ball in the right positions and just helping my team overall.”

The ability Marshall’s revealed with the blog—to use proper syntax while not really saying anything—will come in handy in a few years, when and if he really does find himself in the media circus that is ACC basketball.

Mike Vechery is suing the Washington Nationals.

In 2005, through pluck and luck, Vechery managed to briefly turn the franchise’s first spring training after leaving Montreal into his own sports-journalism fantasy camp (“The Checkbook Journalist,” 3/11/2005).

Vechery’s real career is in real estate, and when the Expos moved from Montreal he had an infomercial show called the Mike Vechery Open House Hour that aired on WFED-AM, a low-powered and essentially unknown station that was bizarrely named as the team’s flagship in its first year in D.C. Vechery bought sponsorship space at Space Coast Stadium, the team’s spring training home in Melbourne, Fla., and used his contacts at the station to get media credentials to camp.

He then used those credentials to gain access to a real Nats press conference and, armed with his own video camera and having just read Jose Canseco’s Juiced, asked Manager Frank Robinson a real sports-journalism question: whether Robinson thought players found to be using steroids should have asterisks affixed to their home run records.

Robinson ignored Vechery’s question, and team officials bounced the faux journalist out of camp shortly after he asked it. Vechery’s sponsorship deal with the team was canceled, and, 15 minutes into the first broadcast of the Open House Hour following the press conference episode, as he was telling listeners what happened, WFED pulled the plug on his show and told him he was never going to be allowed on the station again.

The Open House Hour had a regular time slot of Sundays from noon to 1 p.m., which, it turns out, overlapped with air time the Nationals had previously tried to get Vechery to give up for their pregame show.

Vechery accused the team of using his steroids question to try to ruin his real estate career, just so it could get the air time it coveted. He filed a lawsuit against Baseball Expos LP, the corporate name of the team before the sale to the Lerner family, and Bonneville International Corp., the Utah-based radio giant that owned WFED.

The suit alleges the team bullied the station into throwing him off the air, and he estimates that the loss of the show through the team’s tortious interference cost him “between $300,000 and $800,000” in real estate sales that first year alone.

Vechery says that the Nationals offered him $15,000 to settle the suit and take a hike, but he’d rather have his day in court; he recently deposed John Dever, the Nats’ official who booted him out of training camp.

He thinks the case will go to trial in “about eight months,” and he says his chances of winning have only gotten better with time.

“Look at the Mitchell Report,” he says. “Now we know that Jose Guillen, the best player on the Nationals in 2005, was using steroids. I think that validates my question. With what the public knows now about Major League Baseball, stonewalling everything, the timing right now would be perfect for my trial.”

•When we met Lamont and Anthony Peterson, they were teenagers, banging on each other in a makeshift boxing ring in the dark, wet basement of a school in Columbia Heights (“The Fight Club,” 3/22/2002).

They’re still sharing a ring, only they’re hitting other people these days. The Peterson brothers will both be fighting for minor national titles on the same card on Jan. 4 at the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Miss.

Anthony, with a 25-0 record with 18 KOs, will face Guadalupe Rosales for the WBO NABO lightweight championship. Brother Lamont Peterson (23-0, 11 KOs) goes against Brazilian Antonio Mesquita (34-0, 26 KOs) for the WBO NABO light welterweight belt.

Boone Pultz probably won’t be lacing them up again. Pultz, a former cruiserweight titleholder and big draw for local fight fans back in the 1980s, launched a comeback last year at 47 years old after an 11-year layoff (“Requiem for a Cruiserweight,” 12/1/2006).

But in October, Pultz was beaten up by a 39-year-old scrub named Darryl Holley at “Du” Burns Arena in Baltimore. It was Pultz’s first loss in more than 17 years, since a defeat by TKO to Magna Havnaa in a WBO cruiserweight title bout in Denmark. Before pounding Pultz, Holley (career mark 6-6-0) hadn’t won in more than 18 years.

And last month, Truman Tuttle, a legendary trainer who taught a young Pultz how to box back in 1976 and played Mickey to Pultz’s Rocky throughout the ups and downs of his fight career, died of kidney ailments at 81.

• In 2006, 15-year-old Eddie Lu signed on with the Arlington Rooks, a once-dominant chess team that had faded with age, and helped his elders win their first D.C. Chess League winter title in more than a decade (“Rook No Quarter,” 6/15/2007).

Lu, who went undefeated for the season, was the youngest Rook by at least 30 years. In fact, all his teammates were older than his father, and one, Hal Mouzon, was playing on the team in 1960—before Lu’s father was born. No new player of any age had cracked the Rooks lineup since the 1990s. All admitted that the new blood was what put them back on top.

Then Eddie jumped. In the offseason, Lu, who won his first individual Virginia State Chess Championship in 2007, left the old guys to form D.C. Metro High, a squad made up exclusively of fellow high school players.

In its inaugural outing, D.C. Metro High won the D.C. Chess League’s summer league team championship. Sorry, geezers.

•The time has passed for reportage on the Eastern Motors Curse.

The whole thing started as a gag last season because I got a big kick out of the used-car chain’s commercials, what with all their bad dancing and worse lip-syncing to the company’s amazing jingle, and a bigger kick out of all the alleged curses (the Madden Curse, the Sports Illustrated Curse, and, of course, the Campbell’s Chunky Soup Curse) plaguing today’s athletes.

So whenever LaVar or Laveranues or some other Eastern Motors spokesmodel would go down with an injury, I’d take up space here or on the City Paper blog to attribute the wounds not to the breaks of the game, but to…the Eastern Motors Curse!

No logic was used or implied. All these mythical curses rely on the same reality: Players get injured. I saw a stat recently that showed the Chicago Bears have gone through a season with the same starting quarterback only once since 1985.

But this season, the joke has turned sad. So, the Eastern Motors Curse is hereby retired, this on a week when first-generation commercial star Kevin Jones went down with torn knee ligaments and late-model spokesmodel Willis McGahee went out with broken ribs.

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