One of the finest scholar-athletes in Ohio State history celebrates his 76th birthday today and chances are most of you have never heard of Paul Ebert. That is probably because he long ago stepped away from a successful athletic career to become one of the world’s foremost cardiologists.
Born Aug. 11, 1932, in Columbus, Paul Allen Ebert was a do-everything athlete at old South High School before entering Ohio State. For the Buckeyes, he became an All-America performer in two separate sports.
The 6-4, 188-pound Ebert was one of the first OSU basketball stars on the national level, leading the Buckeyes in scoring each of the three seasons he was a varsity player. From 1952-54, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was voted MVP by his teammates all three of those seasons.
By the time he had finished his college career, Ebert had established the school career scoring record with 1,436 points. During his senior year in 1954, he also became the first Buckeye ever to top the 500-point mark in a single season when he tallied 516, and he earned a third-team All-America selection from United Press International.
As good as he was in basketball, Ebert may have been even better in baseball.
He fashioned a career record of 21-8 as a pitcher, leading the Buckeyes in victories and strikeouts in each of the years he played. A consensus first-team All-American as a senior, Ebert set new OSU records for single-season and career strikeouts, marks that stayed on the books until Steve Arlin broke them in the mid-1960s.
After college, the Milwaukee Hawks made Ebert their fifth-round selection in the 1954 NBA draft – the 38th overall pick in that draft. (That same year, the Hawks took LSU star and future Hall of Famer Bob Pettit with their first-round pick.) Meanwhile, the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates offered Ebert lucrative pro baseball contracts. But the money wasn’t very good in the NBA, and under Major League Baseball rules then in force, Ebert would have been required to play for the club with which he signed for a minimum of two years. Also by that time, he had already married his wife, Louise, and began medical school at Ohio State.
He turned down the pro sports offers and concentrated on finishing his studies, embarking upon a distinguished and decorated medical career.
Ebert graduated from the Ohio State Medical School in 1958, and then interned and served his residency at prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Later, he spent two years as a senior assistant surgeon at the National Heart Institute in Bethesda, Md., where he specialized in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and became one of the world’s top pediatric heart surgeons.
Ebert has also served as professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Center, chairman of the department of surgery at Cornell University Medical College and a similar position at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
In 1986, he became director of the American College of Surgeons in Chicago, and three years later was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award, considered the highest honor given by the NCAA. It is awarded to a distinguished citizen of national reputation based on outstanding life accomplishment.
Ebert, who resides in the Chicago area, has returned to Ohio State several times over the years, including 1977 when he was a member of the inaugural class of the university’s athletic hall of fame. He joined an illustrious slate of first-year inductees including Chic Harley, Jerry Lucas, Jack Nicklaus, Lynn St. John and Jesse Owens.
Also celebrating a birthday today is former Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine. Born Aug. 11, 1975, in Denver, Joe Berton Germaine moved with his family at a young age to Mesa, Ariz., where he became a high school star quarterback and defensive back. He later became a record-setting QB at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College before joining the Buckeyes in 1995. Germaine would go on to earn MVP honors for rallying Ohio State to a victory over Arizona State in the 1997 Rose Bowl, and then have the most productive single season any Ohio State QB has ever had in 1998. As one of the team captains, he set 11 different school records on his way to throwing for 3,330 yards and 25 touchdowns. After a brief stint in the NFL, Germaine has become one of the top passers in the Arena Football League, throwing for more than 14,000 yards and 290 TDs in five seasons.
Among the worldwide celebrities marking their birthdays today: Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf; FedEx founder, chairman, president and CEO Fred Smith; country singer John Conlee (“Rose Colored Glasses”); singer, former Raspberries frontman and Cleveland native Eric Carmen; Oasis bassist Andy Bell; singer Joe Jackson (“Steppin’ Out”); Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; video game designer Shinji Mikami (“Resident Evil”); poker player Erick Lindgren; former middleweight boxing champion Jermain Taylor; reality show maven Amber Brkich; Fear Factor host Joe Rogan; New York Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera; and professional wrestler Terry Bollea. You probably know him a little better as Hulk Hogan.
Also on this date in 1929, Babe Ruth became the first major leaguer to hit 500 career home runs. Ruth connected off Cleveland Indians righthander Willis Hudlin at League Park, the Tribe’s home park from 1901 to 1932 and their on-and-off home base until 1946. The Indians moved into cavernous Cleveland Stadium in 1932, but still played most weekday games at League Park, the last stadium used in Major League Baseball that never installed lights. League Park closed at the end of the 1946 season and stood at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 66th Street until it was torn down in 1951.
THE FINE ART OF COMEDY
My wife and I went to the historic Palace Theater in Columbus last night to catch comedian Lewis Black’s performance.
Black was his usual sardonic self – his tour is called “Let Them Eat Cake” – with riffs on the anticipation of losing one’s virginity, golf and, of course, politics and current affairs. He was his usual equal opportunity offender, too, saying things such as, “Anyone who’s still a Democrat or a Republican after the past 20 years – you’re hallucinating without the drugs.”
The entire 90-minute set – along with a 20-minute warmup from fellow comic Lynne Koplitz – was equal parts provocative and side-splittingly funny.
But Black showed why he is so good at what he does when late in his set during some musings on the price of gas, a heckler from the balcony yelled, “I didn’t come here for the news.”
Black stopped, walked over to the side of the stage and without aid of a microphone shot back, “I give you my take on these things. If we don’t laugh at this (bleep), we’re all (bleeping) gonna end up like you.”
That line got the biggest pop of the night and rightfully so.
Later, Black admitted the exchange bothered him but that it came with the territory.
“Over the last 20 years, I have really enjoyed performing for my fans,” he said. “But then they bring their friends and, well …”
** Forgive me while I clean out some stuff that accumulated during my vacation such as the cover of my college football preview issue of Sports Illustrated. The magazine renowned for its spectacular photography gave me a hackneyed posed shot of spread-legged Todd Boeckman flanked by James Laurinaitis and Beanie Wells? I expected a little more creativity from SI, especially on one of their best-selling issues of the year. Olan Mills could have done better.
** How many more players have to be arrested before Georgia head coach Mark Richt starts feeling some heat from the national press? If you’re scoring at home, at least eight Bulldogs have run afoul of the law since the end of the 2007 season.
** Those who continue to complain about the lack of excitement in horse racing obviously didn’t see Big Brown’s come-from-behind victory Aug. 3 in the Haskell Invitational.
** Another great race occurred the day before that when undefeated Deweycheatumnhowe held off a late charge to win the prestigious Hambletonian, the top prize in harness racing. Even if you don’t like the Standardbreds, you have to root for a horse whose name pays homage to the Three Stooges.
** Watching snippets of the lengthy Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies made me wonder why Chris Berman continues to be hell-bent on continuing a shtick that got old about 10 years ago.
** Also about those Hall of Fame ceremonies: When is the committee going to wise up and enshrine NFL Films founder Ed Sabol? As Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times put it, “Sabol shouldn’t just be in the Hall of Fame, there should be a whole wing devoted to him and his work.”
** If Erin Andrews doesn’t understand that the way she dresses on assignment has an impact on the way others perceive her, she’s dumber than I thought.
** Hey, Phil Mickelson. These past two Tiger-less major championships were there for your taking. Instead, Pádraig Harrington is now the toast of the golfing word with his victories at the British Open and the PGA Championship. You’re 38 now, Lefty. Just how many more legitimate chances at major championships do you think you’re going to have? Or maybe you’re content with not quite realizing your vast potential. Of course, I know you have 51 million reasons why my opinion doesn’t matter. That’s how much money you made last year alone – 47 mil of it from endorsements.
** And that attitude is precisely why I look for the Americans to get waxed again in the Ryder Cup competition, set for Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
** Speaking of Harrington, did you know he is a distant cousin of 1995 World Series of Poker champion Dan Harrington as well as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington?
** USA Today’s website staged a reader poll to determine college football fans’ choice for the top two teams this preseason. Georgia was No. 1 and Ohio State finished No. 2. Of course, that started a whole new round of posts from the dunderheads trying to wish the Buckeyes out of a third straight appearance in the BCS title game. Several of them referred to OSU as “the Buffalo Bills of college football.” First of all, that comparison is getting stale. Secondly, it’s not even accurate. The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s and came away winless. The Buckeyes may have lost back-to-back BCS games, but most of their critics have evidently forgotten the 2002 national championship.
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