(Originally published in the Vancouver Courier)
The Aug. 8, 2008 edition of this column is brought to you by the number eight. The Romans called it VIII. In Chinese, it’s a homonym for prosperity.
Eight is the central back row position in rugby union.
Eight runners entered the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games mile race at Empire Stadium, but only Roger Bannister and John Landy finished in under four minutes.
In the Olympics, there are eight men or women rowing, with a coxswain of course to do the steering. Richmond’s Kyle Hamilton is one of five B.C. rowers on the men’s team for Beijing. Darcy Marquardt of Richmond is joined by two others from B.C. in the women’s boat.
Greg Adams wore number eight when he scored “The Goal” that sent the Vancouver Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. Michael Dickerson was the Vancouver Grizzlies’ only number eight during his 1999 to 2001 tenure with the bad news bears.
The greatest business deal in hockey history could’ve been done Aug. 8, but Peter Pocklington chose to trade Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988.
Quarterback Steve Young entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, a year before Troy Aikman was inducted. They joined receiver Tommy McDonald and free safety Larry Wilson as the great eights in the Canton, Ohio football shrine.
There were eight eights before B.C. Lions’ utilityman Bret Anderson, including quarterbacks Danny Barrett and Jerry Tagge and receiver Ned Armour.
Steve Kindel wears number eight for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but the world’s most famous eight is Spanish defender Xavi Hernandez, the top player of Euro 2008. The 2004 Whitecaps women won the W-League final on penalty kicks on Aug. 8, the same day the number eight horse Actxotic won the eighth race at Hastings Racecourse.
Lynn Swann is the greatest 88 of NFL history; Eric Lindros was going to be the greatest 88 in hockey history, but he got his bell rung a few too many times. Kobe Bryant has one eight on the back of his gold-and-purple Lakers jersey.
More than any other sport, baseball is the ultimate game of numbers. It has a veritable dream team of eights.
Baltimore Orioles’ ironman Cal Ripken Jr. wore number eight. Eight Chicago White Sox were banned forever from baseball for conspiring to lose the 1919 World Series to the underdog Cincinnati Reds and are collectively known as the Black Sox.
Eight turned on its side is the symbol for infinity, but this column’s length is finite.
Aug. 8 is also the final day on the job for Courier editor Mick Maloney after 25 years in the chair. It was Mick who took a chance on this columnist in the summer of 1998. For that I am forever grateful. Enjoy your retirement. We’ll miss you.