Masters' Green Jacket among Most Enduring of Traditions

Article excerpt

The first green jacket given to the winner of the Masters went to Sam Snead in 1949. A half-century later, it has become one of the most enduring traditions in sports - and, thankfully, one that won't be corrupted anytime soon.

Unless a lot of people in authority change their minds, you won't find green jacket knockoffs at Wal-Mart or Sports Authority. They are made and worn only by Masters champions and members of the Augusta National Golf Club.

And guess what - they aren't made anywhere near Georgia. Try Cincinnati, one-time home of baseball's Big Red Machine. Hamilton Tailoring Co. has done the honors for the past 33 years.

"It's a really big deal because of the tradition and prestige associated with owning one," said Hamilton chairman Ed Heimann, who declined to say how much it costs to manufacture the jackets. "That's something you can't really put a price tag on anyway. It's not about how cheaply or expensively it's made, but what it stands for to the person wearing it."

And here's a trivia note: The jacket's unusual shade of green was selected to match the rye grass that Augusta National uses on its fairways. In other words, one nice tradition begets another.

ALL HAIL DIKEMBE

Looking for a real sports hero? How about the 2000 winner of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award - none other than former Georgetown Hoya Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo, to use his full Democratic Republic of Congo handle.

Mutombo, who now labors (literally) for the downtrodden Atlanta Hawks, will receive the award June 19 in Tulsa. Named after the late Oklahoma State and U.S. Olympic basketball coach, it is presented annually to an athlete who has excelled in his sport and has shown a desire to help others.

Mutombo, a 7-foot-2 center, is a three-time NBA defensive player of the year and leads the league in rebounding. He also gave more than $2 million to a $15 million fund-raising drive to build a hospital in his native country and has created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which is dedicated to improving health, education and quality of life there.

Says Mutombo: "In Central Africa, there is an old proverb, `When you take the elevator up to reach the top, please don't forget to send the elevator back down so that someone else can take it to the top.' This is my way of sending the elevator down."

Nicely said and done.

BASEBALL'S WRIGHT STUFF

If you've seen the classic baseball film "Pride of the Yankees" - and hasn't everybody? - you'll remember Teresa Wright's impressive performance as Lou Gehrig's wife, Eleanor. (If I recall the plot correctly, Lou knew he was dying, but he didn't want Ellie to know. She knew, but she didn't want him to know that she knew. …