April Fool's Day Sports Hoaxes
Gymnast To Ascend Church Steeple.
A notice ran in Chicago papers advertising that on April 1st, at one o'clock, a "famous gymnast" would ascend the steeple of St. Paul's Church from the outside "and stand upright on the summit, returning the same way to the ground — all to be accomplished in the space of twenty minutes." At the time appointed, a crowd of over 300 people gathered, including reporters, pencils in hand. But as the hours wore on, the truth gradually stole over the minds of the sightseers that it was "All fools day," and "the crowd suddenly discovered it was time to go to dinner, which they did with a rush." [Weekly Hawk-Eye (Burlington, Iowa) — Apr 20, 1858]
Babe Ruth Turns Jockey.
"WILLACOOCHE, Ga., April 1. — Babe Ruth, the big Bambino of the Yanks, revealed here today that he has lost so much weight by intensive spring training that he has been forced to give up his career as a baseball player and become a jockey.
Ruth, who formerly could cover more ground than any outfielder in the American League—also while sitting down—now tips the beam at a mere 108 pounds. If he fails as a jockey, he may seek the flyweight boxing championship." [Miami News-Record - Apr 1, 1930]
Gandhi in Golf Togs.
"It's Gandhi, of all people, all decked out in golf togs and with a smile that looks as if he's just got a birdie — perhaps with a pinch of salt. Maybe this was his day for golf. At any rate, he seems pleased."
Babe Ruth Pole Vaulting.
"Babe Ruth himself — see him over the bar? — putting a little finesse into pole vaulting. His regular exercise on days like this one. Fine for reducing — and the Babe's gone in for that lately."
Giants Join High School Football Team.
"A couple of Junior High School graduates may solve Coach James Freeman's problems in rebuilding the line of the Dobyns-Bennett high school football team next fall. The two young football giants are G.W. and D.W. Sally... they're identical twins, known to team mates as 'Double Trouble'." [Kingsport Times - Apr 1, 1943]
Four Perfect Bridge Hands.
At London's St. James' Club, on April 1, four perfect bridge hands (a full suit) were dealt at the same table. The odds of this happening were estimated to be 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 to 1. The players had to convince other club members that the perfect hands were not a hoax. The duke of Marlborough, with 13 spades, held the winning hand. [Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 3, 1959.]
Evening Standard photographer John Polink caught a picture of chariots racing down the Main Street of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Mantle Traded to Angels.
The Long Beach Independent reported that the New York Yankees had traded center fielder Mickey Mantle to the Los Angeles Angels. In return for Mantle, the Yankees received "$1 million dollars, half interest in radio station KMPC and a player package of Ned Garver, Del Rice, Aubrey Gatewood and Gene Leek."
1961 was the first year of the LA Angels existence. So it would have been extremely unlikely for them to have acquired a player as prominent as Mantle in any trade.
Pittsburgh Pirates Move to Titusville.
The Titusville Herald ran a headline across the top of its sports page declaring that the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team was moving to the small town of Titusville, Pennsylvania (population 5000). The team reportedly was making the move because it was "tired of battling the city fathers for a new stadium on Pittsburgh's North Side."
Players for the Pirates were said to be happy with the move, although reliefer Roy Face asked, "Where's Titusville?"
The April Fool's Day announcement caused the first sellout of the Titusville Herald in many years, as people bought copies for their scrapbooks.
Cassius Clay Wins Literary Prize.
The Yale Literary Magazine announced that pugilist Cassius Clay, aka the "Louisville Lip" (later known as Muhammad Ali), had been awarded the Ephraim Barnard Gates Award, given to the person "who has done the most to revitalize poetry during the last year."
The award committee cited "his mockery of the loose trochee, culminating in shocking spondees in the penultimate lines, and the final heavy line in irregular iambics" which produced "stanzas almost perfectly orchestrated."
The Literary Magazine explained that the Ephraim Barnard Gates Award was a little-known prize, presentation of which had been discontinued after the Civil War but which had been revived in honor of Clay.
Australia's This Day Tonight ran a segment about the "Dial-O-Fish," a new electronic fishing rod that could be set to catch any desired species. A "fishing expert" demonstrated how to use the device. First he dialed up garfish, and soon had caught half a dozen. Next he dialed up tommy ruff. Hundreds of viewers reportedly called in wanting to know where to buy one, and a Japanese manufacturer declared it was ready to go into production immediately.
Radio Merseyside in Britain reported about a ‘bionic’ horse. The broken leg of this horse had been replaced with a plastic leg that gave the horse more spring in its step. As a result, the horse was said to be favored to win the Grand National.
Fishing Line Banned.
Dave Heberle, outdoors columnist for the Erie Times-News, reported that monofilament fishing line (a popular type of line used in trout fishing) was being banned in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania after an EPA researcher, Dr. Ayper Ilfu, found it caused cancer in brook trout. Dr. Ilfu conceded however, "We're not 100 percent sure about rainbows or browns." Violators would be fined $50 on a first offense and $75 for repeat infractions.
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission was flooded by calls from concerned fishermen. Also, anglers rushed to tackle shops to stock up on the popular line. Robert Herbert, owner a tackle shop south of Erie, said, "I'll tell you, it was brutal. People just
The Island of Murango.
The London Times reported on a small, Pacific island state named Murango whose inhabitants (most of whom seemed to be of British descent) were busy preparing to send a delegation to the Moscow Olympics, despite the western boycott of the games. The Murango islanders were said to enjoy two things most in life: their local drink, ourakino, and sports. In 1972 the small island state had supposedly achieved a brief moment of glory on the international stage by winning a bronze medal in boxing during the 1972 Munich Olympics. The winner of the medal had been named Dick T. Murango. However, Dick T. Murango and the island of Murango were entirely fictitious, though in 1972 a man named Dick T.
The 26-Day Marathon.
The Daily Mail ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The Daily Mail showed pictures of Nakajimi running and reported that he was still somewhere out on the roads of England, determined to finish the race. Supposedly he had been spotted occasionally, still running. The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be
The Laytonsville Dump Stadium.
State Senator Victor Crawford of Montgomery, Maryland introduced a bill into the Maryland senate proposing that his district receive $45 million to buy the Baltimore Colts and build a new stadium for them at the Laytonsville dump site in upper Montgomery County.
Sports Illustrated revealed that the New York Mets’s were hiring a new rookie pitcher, Sidd Finch (short for Siddhartha Finch), who could throw a ball with startling, pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph. Sidd Finch had never played baseball before. Instead he had mastered the “art of the pitch” in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the “great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa.“ Mets fans celebrated their teams good luck and flooded Sports Illustrated with requests for more information. In reality, this unusual player sprang from the imagination of author George Plimpton.
The New York City Packers.
New York City Comptroller Harrison Goldin called a news conference at which he announced that the city was purchasing the professional football team, the Green Bay Packers. City retirement funds would be used to make the purchase, and the Packers would replace the Giants and the Jets. Reporters had already phoned the story into the New York Post and Daily News when a press representative in Golden's office announced that the news was an April Fool's day joke. The Post complained that they had almost put the story on their front page, a mistake which would have cost them $100,000 to correct.
Maradona Joins Soviet Soccer Team.
The Soviet newspaper Izvestia reported that the Moscow Spartak soccer team was in negotiations with Argentine star Diego Maradona. On the table was an offer of $6 million for him to come play for them. If all went well, he would join the team within a year. The report was met with astonishment around the world — not because many people believed it, but because it was the first time the normally very serious Izvestia had ever published an April fool's day hoax. Frivolity of this kind had previously been frowned upon by the Kremlin.
Grandstand’s Newsroom Brawl.
On the BBC Sports show Grandstand, as presenter Desmond Lynam talked about upcoming events to be covered a fight broke out behind him in the newsroom. As the fight escalated, Lynam continued to calmly discuss the news, assuring the audience that, "We'll continue to do our best to cover sport in the way that you like, backed up by our highly professional team." Later in the show, Lyman noted that viewers may have seen "a bit of an altercation" behind him and apologized for this. But then he proceeded to show an instant replay of the fight.
After the replay the newsroom brawlers were shown standing together, holding a sign that read "April Fool."
Most Accurate Golf Ball.
The Hoffman York & Compton ad firm released a mock ad for Aero, "the world's most accurate golf ball."
"By shifting the center of mass away from the immediate core, we've created a projectile that reacts with gyroscopic action. Quite simply, this means that the spin on the ball is greatly enhanced from the moment of impact by the club. And that increased spin, just like a gyroscope, actually fights erratic flight. The results are remarkable."
Joggers Slow Down To Help Squirrels.
Cologne radio station Westdeutsche Rundfunk announced that city officals had decreed that joggers could only run at a maximum speed of six miles per hour through the city's parks. Any faster, it was said, and they would inconvenience the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.
Mark Cuban Fakes Fight.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, known for his frequent arguments with officials (for which he has suffered heavy fines), appeared to get into yet another screaming match with an official during the second quarter of the game against the New Orleans Hornets. He was seen arguing with a referee during a stoppage in play. Then he shoved the man and had to be restrained by one of the team's equipment managers. Only then was it revealed that the entire incident had been staged.
Soccer Star Yardis Alpolfo.
Alex McLeish, manager of the Scottish Rangers Football Club, announced that he had signed Yardis Alpolfo, a seventeen-year-old Turkish player, to a £5 million deal. Many news organizations, including Reuters, reported the story as fact. Yardis Alpolfo was an anagram of "April Fool's Day."
The Tour de France Sunflower Conspiracy.
The bicycle magazine VeloNews revealed the shocking truth behind the Tour de France: The fields of sunflowers lining the tour's route were the result of a secret program of genetic manipulation designed to produce flowers that would exactly match the color of the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. Unfortunately, these genetically engineered sunflowers were also prone to fungal infection. Those concerned were "embarking on a nationwide campaign to warn farmers about the risks involved in accepting cash, seeds or other considerations to plant flowers along the route of this year's Tour."
Orchestra Steroid Scandal.
NPR also ran a story about the growing use of performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) in the world of music. It stated that: "Something is happening in the world of music. Musicians are playing faster, louder, and stronger than they ever have before… Rumors have been circulating for some time that just like in the world of sports performance enhancing drugs may be the cause."
Left-Handed Golf Ball.
Sports manufacturer Dunlop announced plans to offer a golf ball designed specifically for left-handed players. Dunlop CEO Chris Ronnie explained:
"Left-handed golf clubs are now commonplace, but no company has yet produced a left-handed golf ball... Many golfers mark their ball with an ink image or even a printed logo to help them focus on the ball at the position of address. The Dunlop Lefty will assist left-handed golfers with a strategically placed, ergonomically designed Dunlop arrow, which points from the left-hand side of the ball to the right, thus indicating the correct position of ball focus for the player."
Rugby Refs to Wear Glasses.
Ad placed by the Rugby Football Union:
At the Rugby Football Union (RFU) we're constantly striving to improve things for players and public alike. That's why we're harnessing the latest technology to give hard-pressed referrees "an extra pair of eyes". Eight fibre-optic cameras in the ball, a GPS satellite and laser read-out glasses should once and for all put an end to interminable "was it a try or not?" arguments. Professor Avril Premier, who is also a leading researcher into odour-sensitive shorts that change colour at the first signs of in-scrum flatulence, is confident that diehard traditionalists will soon be won over.
The News of the World revealed that the sport of darts was about to be revolutionized by the introduction of a square dartboard at that year's Blue Square UK Open. The board was designed by Prof. Ali Dosaly, who commented, "Darts needed a new look."
Hillary Clinton’s Bowl Off.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton challenged rival Barack Obama to a "bowl off."
"Today I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I’ll even spot him two frames. It’s time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all of the pins to be counted. And I’m prepared to play this game all the way to the tenth frame."
The challenge was a joking reference to Obama's poor performance when he spent an afternoon bowling in Altoona, Pennsylvania, scoring a 37 out of a possible 300.
Dogs on Ice.
The Daily Mirror reported that online bookmaker Blue Square, inspired by the popularity of ITV's Dancing On Ice and trying to boost the popularity of greyhound racing, had organized a "Dogs on Ice" event:
"There have been concerns that the new sport might be in some way cruel, although reports from trial runs, suggest that the dogs really love it. They have to wear special non-slip shoes, but there have still been occasions when one has slid into the crash barriers which ring the track. Organisers are talking to animal rights activists to get them on board before the big launch."
Microsoft announced the release of a new game for the Xbox: Alpine Legend. It featured the tagline, "Join the Global Yodel." Players competed online by yodeling and blowing on an alpine horn:
"Take your band through all the alpine rights of passage: a mountainous village tour, recording sessions in a log cabin studio, overcoming throat soother addiction, and even competing in a live yodel off."
GM and Chrysler ordered out of NASCAR.
Car and Driver Magazine revealed that the White House had ordered GM and Chrysler to stop participating in NASCAR by the end of the 2009 season, deeming it an "unnecessary expenditure." Failure to comply would disqualify them from receiving any additional bailout money from the government.
NASCAR was said to be exploring other options, such as inviting Korea's Hyundai corporation to compete in GM and Chrysler's place.
Melbourne Cricket Grounds Renamed.
Australia's Herald Sun newspaper reported that a Chinese company, Mekong Industries, had submitted a multi-million dollar proposal to buy the naming rights to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, renaming the stadium the Mekong Cricket Grounds.
The report played on fears that Asian companies were rapidly taking over Australian industries, especially in the mining sector, and provoked an angry response from readers. By midday, the story had attracted almost 200 angry comments such as “The Chinese corporate takeover of Australia has begun!” and “OZ Minerals, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Minerals, now the MCG. What next?” People suggested other names for the stadium, such as "Mainly Corporate Greed," "Mao's Cricket Ground" and "Melbourne Sports Ground (MSG)."
However, some did realize the story was a joke, noting that the spokeswoman's name was "April Fulton."
Melbourne makes bid to host Running of the Bulls.
Melbourne Tourism Minister Tim Holding announced the city was making a bid to host the Running of the Bulls:
"For too long the people of Pamplona have monopolised this event, the Brumby Government is determined to grab the bull by the horns and snare this important event for Melbourne."
Holding said the bull run would "start in the historic theatre precinct at the Paris End of Collins Street, travel through Chinatown, across Swanston Street, through the quaint King Street district and end at a packed Etihad Stadium."
Google Australia announced it had partnered with the Australian rules football league to develop the gBall.
This was a rugby ball with "inbuilt GPS and motion sensor systems to monitor the location, force and torque of each kick." Google could then provide users with "detailed online kicking tips, style suggestions and tutorials based on their gBall kicking data." As an added bonus, "Kicking data is also sent to national talent scouts and player agents. The gBall will vibrate if talent scouts or player agents want to make contact with the user."
World’s Longest Anthem.
The Sun revealed that during the World Cup qualifying match against Ukraine, fans would have to stand as the world's longest national anthem played, the six-and-a-half minute version of Oi Ukrainy. Any fans who sat down during the anthem would be ejected from Wembley stadium. The anthem would be sung by the folk star Furstov Aprylova.
iPad Fit Series.
Health and Fitness company Dailyburn introduced the iPad Fit Series. This app transfored an iPad into a scale. After a person stepped on the screen, the app would instantly analyze body fat percentage, calculate BMI, and then announce their weight out loud, either scolding or congratulating based on the results.
Beckham fractures his coccyx.
RTL Belgium disappointed soccer fans by reporting that soccer star David Beckham had fallen and fractured his coccyx while collecting Easter eggs with his children. "Beckham is clearly not as nimble at picking Easter eggs as he is with a football at his feet," the report noted.
Beckham suffered the injury while celebrating Easter in England with his family. He slipped on wet grass and fell violently backwards. He quickly realized he was hurt as he lay immobilized on the ground. A doctor examined him and declared that he would have to rest for the next six weeks, and would not be able to play as Paris Saint-Germain midfielder during this time.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.