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Born on the Fourth of July: Digger Phelps
ESPN The Magazine

Digger Phelps (7/4/41)
ESPN college basketball analyst

Stephen Dunn/Allsport

How will you spend the Fourth this year?
I'll be in Lake Tahoe playing in a celebrity golf tournament with Jordan, Barkley, Lemieux, Theismann ... it'll be my 10th year playing ... It's fun, there's great relationships, no egos and lots of war stories. Barkley talks some trash to me: "Hey, Digger?", "What, Chucky?" "I thought this was for celebrities. What are you doing here?"

What would you rather be doing?
I'd rather be making birdies than bogies. I also told my son-in-law (Mariners pitcher) Jamie Moyer that on my birthday I want a win and the ball. He's pitching on July 4th, so I want him to win and I want the ball.

Does being born on the Fourth of July mean anything special to you?
It's nice that the whole country celebrates it and everybody has the day off. It's just nice to know it's a special day and that I'm fortunate to have been born on it. The greatest gift is being born on a day, born in a place where you're given the opportunity to do things that are important to you; where dreams become reality.

What's interesting is that 1941 was also the year of Pearl Harbor.

Best Fourth of July memory?
I grew up in Beacon, N.Y. There was one time, when I was 4 or 5, this lady made me a cake and I tripped and fell on the sidewalk, lost the whole cake, and scraped up my knees.

Worst part of having birthday on FOJ?
Worst part about this year is that I'm turning 60. But really I'm going on 16. But sharing the holiday with my birthday has never been a threat. This year everybody's confused because it's on a Wednesday -- I've been celebrating the whole week; I already had two parties.

Are people born on the FOJ different from those with other birthdays?
No. Although I'm called a firecracker for the way I coached.

Food, beverage of choice on the Fourth?
Nothing like a good cookout ... bratwurst, burgers. And a few cold ones -- that's the Irish tradition in me. But there's nothing like a good hamburger. With fresh onions and cheese. Well done too, I don't want my meat still breathing.

If you could only pick one on the fourth, would it be: Beach, BBQ, Baseball or Beer?
Baseball. 'Cause you can still have beer and peanuts. When I was growing up I went to Yankee Stadium for a doubleheader and ate 14 hot dogs with mustard. I can't do that anymore. Now, I look at them and get fat.

American History Quiz

1. Who wrote the national anthem?
2. Who sewed the American flag?
3. What does the First Amendment guarantee?
4. What was the shot heard round the world?
5. How many original colonies were there?
6. What was the first capital of the U.S.?
7. What are the first words of the Declaration of Independence?

[We extended the quiz in hopes that Digger would slip up, but the man went seven-for-seven. He's heavy. For the rest of us, here are the answers]:

1. Francis Scott Key
2. Betsy Ross
3. Freedom of speech
4. The shot that started The Battle of Concord.
5. 13.
6. Philadelphia.
7. "When in the course of human events..."

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