Michael Phelps on giving Boomer medals, Oriole who snubbed him

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Michael Phelps rarely takes his Olympic medals out of hiding. So Phelps has one mandate should son Boomer one day want to take one of the 28 prizes for show-and-tell.

Dad has to come, too.

“They [the medals] are never out of my range of sight,” Phelps said on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday.

Phelps said he has taken his medals out once for a photo shoot, and that’s it.

He also was asked what sport he would most like to see Boomer excel.

“I always thought it would be so cool, like Sunday at the Masters, Boomer Phelps leads the Masters by three strokes or something,” said Phelps, who announced on Wednesday that he would play the pro-am at the Waste Management Open next month near his Arizona home.

Phelps also mentioned his “bad sports memory,” when he was growing up and Baltimore Orioles players snubbed him for autographs.

Phelps is from Baltimore, a huge Orioles fan, and even sat in the Camden Yards third-base-line seats at Cal Ripken Jr.’s famous 2,131 game on Sept. 6, 1995, where he broke Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive games-played streak.

Of the snubbing, Phelps said one pitcher in particular stood out, and he’ll never forget his name: Bob Milacki.

Milacki played eight years in the big leagues, compiling a mediocre 39-47 record with a 4.38 earned-run average. He pitched for the Orioles from 1988 through 1992, ending his Baltimore stint when Phelps was 7 years old.

Phelps did get plenty of Orioles autographs, though. He said he recently found a signed baseball in storage with the names of Mike MussinaChris HoilesBen McDonald (who won the 1988 Olympics with Team USA, when it was a demonstration sport), David Segui and Roberto Alomar. Given some of those players’ Orioles careers didn’t intersect, it could have been multiple baseballs.

But back to Milacki. The snub was likely the same story Phelps told in his first book, “Beneath the Surface,” excerpted below:

I remember one afternoon when I saw an Orioles pitcher standing over by the railing, near third base, talking to a friend of his. “I’m going to get his autograph,” I told my dad. “Michael, he’s talking to someone,” Dad said. “If you interrupt him now, it would be rude. Just stand near them and wait until they’re finished. Then you can ask him for his autograph, and I’m sure he’ll give it to you.” It didn’t quite work that way. As soon as the pitcher was finished talking, I spoke up, but he waved me off, because he didn’t feel like signing. My dad had been sitting in the background watching all this, but he shot up to the railing and just about undressed the pitcher in front of everyone. “Now why are you so special that you can’t sign one autograph for this boy? He was waiting for you for ten minutes. I know you saw him. He was the only one waiting and he was very polite. Do you really think you’d be playing baseball in Camden Yards if you didn’t have kids looking up to you like that? The pitcher never did come back to sign anything, but he did sort of crawl away.

MORE: Phelps’ Under Armour spot named best ad of 2016

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier top pairs’ short at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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World champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier lead after the pairs’ short program in what may be their last U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Knierim and Frazier, who last March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, tallied 81.96 points to open the four-day nationals on Thursday.

They lead by 15.1 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe going into Saturday’s free skate in San Jose, California. The top three teams from last year’s event — which Knierim and Frazier missed due to him contracting COVID-19 — are no longer competing together.

After nationals, a committee selects three U.S. pairs for March’s world championships in Japan.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Before the fall Grand Prix Series, the 31-year-old Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“I don’t like to just put it out there and say it is the last or not going to be the last because life just has that way of throwing curveballs, and you just never know,” Frazier said this month. “But I would say that this is the first nationals where I’m going to go in really trying to soak up every second as if it is my last because you just don’t know.”

Knierim is going for a fifth U.S. title, which would tie the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka Ina, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Knierim is also trying to become the first female pairs’ skater in her 30s to win a national title since 1993. Knierim and ice dancer Madison Chock are trying to become the first female skaters in their 30s to win a U.S. title in any discipline since 1995.

After being unable to defend their 2021 U.S. title last year, Knierim and Frazier reeled off a series of historic results in what had long been the country’s weakest discipline.

They successfully petitioned for an Olympic spot and placed sixth at the Games, best for a U.S. pair since 2002. They considered retirement after their world title, which was won without the top five teams from the Olympics in attendance. They returned in part to compete as world champions and to give back to U.S. skating, helping set up younger pairs for success.

They became the first U.S. pair to win two Grand Prix Series events, then in December became the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final podium (second place). The world’s top pairs were absent; Russians banned due to the war in Ukraine and Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China leaving competition ice (for now).

Knierim and Frazier’s real test isn’t nationals. It’s worlds, where they will likely be the underdog to home favorites Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who edged the Americans by 1.3 points in the closest Grand Prix Final pairs’ competition in 12 years.

Nationals continue with the rhythm dance and women’s short program later Thursday.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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