Geek Trivia: A good (space)walk spoiled

Besides Alan Shepard's historic golf shot, what other athletic event completed the so-called <em>Lunar Olympics</em> initiated by the crew of Apollo 14?

Besides Alan Shepard's historic golf shot, what other athletic event completed the so-called Lunar Olympics initiated by the crew of Apollo 14?

About 12 minutes after Shepard turned the Frau Mauro highlands into the lunar equivalent of St. Andrews, his fellow moonwalker, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, used a moment of free time to become the moon's first champion javelin thrower.

Apparently, there were a number of extra lunar scoop handles lying around, since Mitchell could spare one to throw at Shepard's first -- shanked -- golf shot. "Old lefty," as Shepard called Mitchell, landed the makeshift javelin pretty near his target, and NASA has the photo to prove it.

As far as anyone knows, these two ultra-rare items of sports memorabilia are still exactly where Mitchell and Shepard left them on the surface of the moon -- just waiting for future lunar tourists to snatch them up (after which they will almost certainly end up for auction on a future incarnation of eBay).

The second golf ball Shepard hit apparently landed in the vicinity of the Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Experiments Package, which should make it relatively easy to find once moonwalkers return to the area. Just track down the radioactive power source and then fan out looking for the trademark dimpled white sphere.

For the record, outer space hasn't served exclusively as a driving range for those duffers that have slipped the surly bonds of Earth. The short game has gotten some adjunct representation too.

In 1996, during space shuttle Endeavour mission STS-72, mission commander Brian Duffy received a regulation putter as a gift from astronaut trainer Tim Terry. It just so happened that the gift presentation occurred onboard the Endeavour while the shuttle was in orbit. The crew put the putter to use during mission downtime, hitting makeshift balls through a roll of duct tape -- in microgravity.

While that may sound like a mildly dangerous pursuit within the confines of a space shuttle, it's probably safer than attempting a shuttle-bound javelin throw. Both Duffy's "shuttle putter" and Shepard's lunar six iron are now the property of the U.S. Golf Association's Museum and Library in Far Hills, NJ, where both are usually on display for your viewing pleasure.

If, through some fantastic confluence of future technology, cat burglary, and/or the aforementioned eBay purchase, someone is able to assemble all the artifacts of extraterrestrial athletics into a single collection, it would not only serve as the Holy Grail of sports geekery -- but also as an all-star specimen of Geek Trivia.

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