Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Who's on First? New Almanac Sets the Record Straight

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Who's on First? New Almanac Sets the Record Straight

Article excerpt

During the past year, John Hassan spent every working moment tracking the macro and micro developments in sports.

As editor of the "1998 ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac," he sorted through a mountain of facts in 18 sports, from the Super Bowl to the champions of the Soap Box Derby.

Work on the almanac, which hit the shelves before Thanksgiving, is the product of months spent scouring sports Web sites, reading countless sports pages, and tuning in ESPN's "SportsCenter." Hassan, who is moving on to help edit the biweekly sports magazine ESPN, launching in March, says Tiger Woods and "his success at the Masters, as well as his overall success as a black golfer," was easily the biggest story of 1997. Hassan calls what Woods did at the Masters (becoming the youngest winner by the largest margin with a record low score) "astonishing. He stomped the best players in golf. All of a sudden Tiger Woods was not about hype anymore. He went on to become the first player in the history of the PGA Tour to win $2 million in earnings." Although the ESPN almanac does not name athletes or stories of the year, Hassan picks Woods as the No. 1 male athlete and Cynthia Cooper and Martina Hingis as the leading female athletes. Cooper was a great story not only because she led the Women's National Basketball Association in scoring and her team, the Houston Comets, to the league's inaugural championship, but also because she did so while keeping tabs on her ill mother, Hassan explains. If Hingis hadn't fallen off a horse in April, he believes the Swiss tennis star might have won the French Open to go along with wins in the other three majors - Wimbledon, plus the US and Australian Opens. Even without a victory in the French, Hassan is convinced that Hingis produced the greatest year in women's tennis since 1988, when Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam and the Olympics. Hassan had hoped that Graf, who missed much of '97 while on the mend, would win the '98 Australian Open, which begins Jan. …

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