Steve Sparks highlights our All-July 4 Team

Sat, Jul 2

This weekend, we celebrate the nation's birthday by reveling in pyrotechnic displays, both in the backyard grill and in the night sky. Pull up a lawn chair and take in Page 2's All-July 4 Team:

John Bunn: As basketball coach at Stanford in the 1930s, Bunn's breadwinner was Hank Luisetti, a three-time All-American best known for inventing the one-handed shot. (Unfortunately for Bunn, the NCAA didn't create a tournament until 1939, the year after Luisetti had graduated.) Like the revolutionary heroes we celebrate this weekend, Bunn had ties to the origins of his game. He played and coached for Phog Allen at Kansas and also coached at Springfield College, basketball's birthplace.

Jason Grilli: Called on to douse flames, Grilli was a reliever who worked for five teams in nine MLB seasons, the best of which was 2006. In that year, he had five scoreless appearances in the postseason for the Tigers. Perhaps more impressive was his ability to evade the inferno that often consumed pitchers in Denver, where he threw to a 2.93 ERA as a member of the Rockies in 2008.

Flash Hollett: Frank William Hollett was a flash on the ice, not a flash in the pan. In a 13-year career, he played for three of the NHL's Original Six (Bruins, Maple Leafs, Red Wings) and became one of the league's most offensive-minded defensemen. And besides having a fitting nickname, his given name, Frank, is a Fourth of July tradition.

Steve Sparks: As far as last names go, this one just didn't fit. Sparks was a knuckleballer. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Tim Wakefield, born only 13 months after Sparks, is still baffling American League hitters without evoking comparisons to flame throwing. Sparks did lead the AL in complete games with eight in 2001.

Henry Sousa: Much as we'd like to call him "The Walk King" in tribute to John Philip Sousa, he was known as "The March King," though we don't know how often Henry drew bases on balls in his two-year pro baseball stint. Records of such stats aren't available from the 1928 and 1929 seasons in the Utah-Idaho League or the Arizona State League. So we'll just guess and say he'd join us in humming the tune to "Stars and Stripes Forever."