Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

How Far Can a Ball Be Thrown?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Irish-born James Patrick Garvan (1843-1896), who migrated to Sydney, once threw a cricket ball a record distance of 121 yards 1 foot (98.75 metres). Does that record still stand?

Apart from his ball-throwing prowess, Patrick Garvan was a remarkable man indeed. He was a competitive sculler and amateur heavyweight boxer. He was an insurance entrepreneur who founded today's MLC insurance company, and a politician who was Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales in the late 1880s.

His daughter later donated 100,000 pounds towards the cost of establishing The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

But we digress. We tried to find how far a cricket ball or baseball (they're much the same size) - or even a golf ball - has ever been thrown.

Scouring the internet, we found that British Olympic javelin-thrower Roald Bradstock holds the world record for throwing an iPod (154 yards), an egg (118 yards) and a goldfish (56 yards). And he has thrown a golf ball 170 yards (160 metres).

Back in 1884, another Englishman, Robert Percival, threw a cricket ball 422 feet (128.6 metres) at Durham Sands racecourse.

On August 1, 1947, a Canadian, Glen Gorbous, hurled a baseball 445 feet 10 inches (135.89 metres). It has been estimated that Glen's "muzzle" velocity would have been around 120 mph (193 kph), with a running start.

The Gorbous drill, a special training technique developed for baseball throwing, was named after him. It involves throwing the ball straight up in the air as a way of developing the muscles used in distance throwing.

World-famous athlete Mildred "Babe" Didrikson threw a baseball 296 ft. (90.22 metres) on July 25, 1931, and that probably is still the furthest a woman has ever managed to throw a ball.

You might think that a cricket ball, being slightly heavier and smaller than a baseball, would fly further, but that's not borne out by past statistics.

Spectators at The Oval (London) in 1878 wildly applauded cricket icon, Dr. William Gilbert Grace, when he threw a ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres) three times with the wind, and more than 100 yards (91.44 metres) in the opposite direction.

In a profile of the great doctor, Duncan Hewett, who lives in Bristol (Dr. Grace's home town) says: "W.G. Grace was a legend in England in his lifetime. The nation admired him.

"He perhaps could have been an even better player if is wasn't for food. He enjoyed his lunch at matches too. A number of times he got out shortly after a big meal.

"A whiskey often accompanied his food. He was once compared to Henry VIII.

"Grace scored 54,896 runs at an average of 39.55. He is still the fifth highest scoring player of all time. He wasn't just a batsman though. He took 2876 wickets at an average of 17.92 - the sixth highest wicket taker of all time.

"On two occasions (1873, 1876) he scored 2000 runs and took 100 wickets in one season. He also make 887 catches, which is still the second highest number of catches taken by anyone in their career.

"All of this was done in 43 years between 1865 and 1908 when he eventually retired, aged 59."

By throwing a cricket ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres), Grace narrowly beat what may have been the record, set by a famous bare-knuckle fighter, William Abednego Thompson (1811-1880), better known as Bendigo.

Naturally lefthanded, Bendigo fought as a southpaw, but used his right hand to throw a cricket ball 115 yards (105.16 metres). On another memorable occasion, using his left hand, he hurled half a brick across the River Trent - a distance of 70 yards (64.01 metres).

Bendigo, the youngest of 21 children, was one of triplets named Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, after the young men in the Old Testament who emerged unharmed from the fiery furnace of Babylon.

A biographer wrote "He excelled at all outdoor sports - running, somersaulting, cricket and stone throwing, and like many others indulged in badger-baiting and cock-fighting at local pubs... His angling gained him a few prizes and he was also known to swim a bit, pulling three drowning folks out of the River Trent during his lifetime."

Bendigo became so famous that an Australian goldmining town adopted his name (with a population of 92,000, Bendigo is now Victoria's fourth largest city).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a ballad entitled Bendigo's Sermon which can be found on the internet at Wikisource

You can see Roald Bradstock throwing a golf ball 170 yards in this video: http://www.youtube.co/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=njPiif2pPZs or google "longest golf ball throw."

Adventurers Reach Remote Rotuma

Thursday, 13 October 2011, Posted at 15:31

The intrepid band of treasure hunters led by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre in the icebreaker ICE have landed on Rotuma Island, one of the Fiji group. Here is Don's account, copied from his website:

Rotuma island appeared at first light on Wednesday, completing the 900 miles in exactly 6 days and 210 gal. fuel including all the head currents, so happy about that.
This place is heaven…We anchored in crystal clear ‘special’ blue water at 0700, with no sign of civilisation, in a beautiful bleached white super fine sandy bay beside a small outer island,,, coconut palms, black volcanic rocks… just incredible!
At 9am .Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Doctor all turned up from the other end of the mountain's volcanic island that is very spectacular. We were happy about that as Jane and I were about to land and make the 3 hr walk in the sun to visit them.
There is no anchorage by the village they are in…2000 people live here but we have only seen five people in the last two days..and one was a 56-year-old guy who was asking Mark about Jane! He lives with his mum and has never left the island…and there are no available women as they all go to Fiji!
So we have been catching fish, making awesomely spectacular scuba dives, snorkeling and spear fishing , beachcombing, night time crayfish spotting, having barbies etc. all on a place that seems deserted..Very few people come here and they get one supply boat a month…
The plan now is to leave on Saturday..It is just too good here..
Tomorrow we are going to try getting around the island..about a 12-mile circuit on a dirt road/track..There is one car here in this bay and the driver may be able to take us... sort of a trip to town too....not sure what we will find.
We should get to the Yasawas on Monday, stay for a few days there and then head to the marina at Vuda Point..Mel has apparently gone on a holiday and not back till Tuesday, so no problem for us….this is so good after Tarawa!
Will blog again on Saturday night once we are under way..Turtles cruise past every day now instead of oil slicks and rubbish..life is how it should be.

Don has promised to donate 20 per cent of any treasure he finds to the Sheffield Institute Foundation for research into Motor Neurone Disease and other Neurological disorders.

You can follow Don's adventures or email him by visiting his blog, www.bluetreasure.me

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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