Friday, December 4, 2015

A nice story to end the week

I am not as much of a sports fan as I was when I was in graduate school, but I still enjoy a feel-good story and this long article in Sports Illustrated about the Caltech basketball team is a great example of the genre. Written by Chris Ballard, there's a funny little anecdote about a chemist we may know:
By Eslinger’s arrival, in 2008, losing had become a badge of honor at Caltech; being bad at sports only proved how smart the students were. Two years earlier, the Provost’s office had even explored the idea of eliminating the school’s NCAA program entirely. “There were some dark years,” says Robert Grubbs, a Nobel-winning chemistry professor and one of the few hoops boosters on the faculty. “The first time I took my older son to a basketball game here, by halftime he was cheering for the other team.”
Did not know Professor Grubbs was a basketball fan.

(Does anyone remember the poster session at the 2005 National Organic Symposium that was held in the press box? fancy suite of some sort? at the football stadium at the University of Utah? Am I misremembering that?) 

9 comments:

  1. He certainly has the basketball figure - until I saw Grubbs up close (as opposed to watching him give a presentation in a big lecture hall) , I did not realize he was so tall

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  2. Thanks for the story. Reminds me of my first year at Caltech as a grad student when Caltech made the CBS Evening News (with Dan Rather) for having lost something like 70 football games in a row. The school's opponents were traditionally the Boys Club, folks at the YMCA, the police department team, etc.

    While interviewing one of the players, a post-doc with a heavy German accent, and after getting exasperated with hearing about his work in quantum physics, the interviewer asked the post-doc, "Well, why do you like to play?" The answer: "I like to crush people." I vaguely remember spewing out whatever beverage was in my mouth, laughing so hard.

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  3. I know the younger Robert Grubbs enjoys basketball. I played a few games with him at Gordon Polymers a couple years ago. Pretty solid jumper and good hustle, put back a few of my sloppy layup attempts.

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  4. Yep, the 2005 NOS poster sessions were in the football stadium in Salt Lake. Not the pressbox, but a nice big room ("fancy suite") under the grandstands with a phenomenal view of the mountains.

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  5. From an article at ESPN on CalTech's first in-conference win in 26 years: "At one point, Nobel laureate Dr. Robert Grubbs was hugging the school president at center court. If that's not a hoops first, I'll eat my calculator."

    http://espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6170690

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    1. Every sentence of that article is essentially, "Folks at CalTech are a bunch of unathletic dorks!" Wow, I don't miss Reilly's writing.

      I heard that Chris Chang (Berkeley) played for the basketball team while he was an undergrad at CalTech. Anyone know if this is indeed true?

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  6. Regarding Bob Grubbs at the Polymer GRC - I fondly recall playing hoops with him and his son Barney (now a chemistry prof himself, at SUNY Stony Brook). It was Grubbs vs. Grubbs under the backboard, and Dad wasn't giving his son ANYTHING. A lot of elbows may have been thrown, shorts & shirts grabbed, etc. Both were pretty good players, but I've also heard that Barney's sister was a super player in college, and possibly better than her Dad and brother.

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    1. We've all got pointy elbows, but Katy clearly has the basketball talent! She played four years at Yale & a couple with the mighty BC Mess in Luxembourg.

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  7. The caltech bookstore sells t-shirts that say "Caltech Football: Undefeated since 1993"

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