Collinsville resident Brian Parker was named Rookie of the Year by the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Parker regularly races at Salina Highbanks Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned dirt track in northeast Oklahoma. Many current and retired NASCAR stars — Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt to name a few — once drove dirt cars on a regular basis at small-town tracks similar to the Highbanks.
Parker took the Grand National division championship at Salina; he won seven features and totaled 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 19 starts. He totaled 479 points, beating Vince Quenneville of Brandon, Vt., by 28 points.
“All we wanted to do this year was go out and win races,” Parker said. “We didn't expect this much success.”
Outside the dasherboards
*Next time you attend a Barons game, make note how the American Hockey League team honors former Oklahoma City players who made the NHL. Players from the original Blazers (1960s, 1970s), Stars (1980s) reborn Blazers (1990s, 2000s) and Barons (current) are listed on the arena walls located between the upper and lower bowls. Oklahoma City has a rich hockey history that rivals many minor pro teams in traditional markets in the north and east.
*A decent start to the season for Edmond native Matt Donovan, who plays for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. The New York Islanders prospect on defense has a goal and 11 points in 25 games. He's plus-4.
*No bouncer will be necessary at the Gecko's nightclub in Oklahoma City. The proprietor is former Oklahoma City Blazers forward Ron Aubrey. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Portland, Maine, native was the enforcer for several teams during a 24-year playing career. Aubrey had more than 500 fights, which included parts of two seasons with the Blazers' Central Hockey League franchise. He's also dabbled in professional boxing since retiring from hockey 13 years ago.
Shakers and movers
A few items in fine print you might have missed:
*Bright future for former Bishop McGuinness soccer standout Elyse Hight. The true freshman earned some star power this season at Notre Dame, starting 16 games in goal. Hight finished the season with a 10-5-1 record and 0.63 goals against average. She posted five shutouts. The No. 23-ranked Irish reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, where they lost 1-0 to Florida State.
*Former Putnam City North running back Deji Karim was signed to the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad. Karim, who spent the last two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been out most of this season with injuries. ... The New York Giants added former Oklahoma State lineman Levi Adcock to their practice squad. ...
*Former Oklahoma City RedHawks outfielder Travis Buck signed with the San Diego Padres organization. ... Another former Hawk, slugger Ryan Ludwick, signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds. ... Former Oklahoma State and Stillwater High star Josh Fields signed with the Philadelphia Phillies system. Fields has played for the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City and L.A. Dodgers organizations. The Phils also signed former RedHawks catcher Humberto Quintero.
“He threw it right to me. It was a dream come true. I want to say, ‘Thank you, Sam Bradford.'” — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen after picking off the former OU quarterback and returning the ball 29 yards for a touchdown Sunday. The Vikings beat St. Louis, 36-22.
Grey Flannel Auctions had a high-end sale that only “deep pockets” could afford to partake. Several Babe Ruth and Yankee items were on the block, including a pair of pinstriped, flannel pants the Hall of Fame slugger wore on opening day in 1921. The pants had a 42-inch waist; “Ruth” was stitched in script underneath an A.G. Spalding Bros. tag on the rear waistband; and 8½ inches of flannel were added to each leg so the Babe could roll them up and tuck them inside blue stirrup socks.
Some authentication was done by studying a picture of Ruth, who posed with Frank “Home Run” Baker on opening day of '21.
A minimum opening bid of $25,000 was required, which apparently was pocket change to the eventual — albeit anonymous — winner. At the auctioneer's hammer, the selling price was a cool $183,500.
A few more items from the 704-lot auction with the final price:
*A bonus check given to Lou Gehrig, signed in pencil by Gehrig and in fountain pen by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert. The September 1930 check was for $833.33. The auction selling price was $18,368.
*A baseball with Ruth's autograph. What makes this ball special compared to other Ruth autographs is the quality. Grey Flannel Auctions rated the signature as a 10. Final price: $43,560. In comparison, a baseball autographed by Ruth and a young Joe DiMaggio sold for “just” $4,468. The signatures rated a 7, and a coat of shellac was previously added for protection. Good intentions, but not necessarily great for resale.
*Roger Maris was presented with sterling silver humidor by Poole, commemorating the Yankee bopper's then-single-season record 61 homers in 1961. The Yankee crest is on the cover with Maris' name. The inside of the cover has an engraving of Maris' signature as well as those of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and other members of that championship team. Selling price: $4,570.