Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. Is there an official weight of a table tennis ball?

K.L.J., Great Bend, Kan.

A. According to the International Table Tennis Federation, a ball must be 40 millimeters in diameter, made of celluloid or similar plastic material and weigh 2.7 grams. In many parts of the world, table tennis is also known as pingpong.

Q. How tall is Big Bird on “Sesame Street”?

H.C., Babbie, Ala.

A. At 8 feet 2 inches in height, Big Bird certainly earns his name.

Q. I came across this inscription in an autograph book, “Acta non verba.” What does it mean?

Y.D., Rome, N.Y.

A. It’s a Latin phrase meaning “Deeds, not words.” It’s the motto for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

Q. A carat is a standard measure of weight for gemstones. What is the exact weight?

L.C., Asheville, Tenn.

A. One carat weighs 200 milligrams, or about the weight of a paperclip. A one-carat round diamond is 6.5 millimeters wide (about a quarter of an inch). One hundredth of a carat is a point.

Q. In baseball, who were the Bash Brothers?

O.W., Kempton, Pa.

A. This was the nickname for Oakland Athletics teammates Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. They earned the nickname for the home runs they bashed in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. This deadly one-two punch is, in part, why the A’s made three consecutive World Series appearances.

During the 1998 baseball season, McGwire hit 70 home runs, breaking Roger Maris’ previous record for a single season.

Both McGwire and Can-seco have admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.

Q. What was the original name of the recording group Creedence Clear- water Revival? When were they formed?

S.L., Angleton, Texas

A. Formed in 1959 by brothers John and Tom Fogerty, along with Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, the band was known as the Blue Velvets, and then Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets. By the early ’60s, the sound of music was changing, and the band’s name was a remnant of the past. They changed it to the Visions, but after the British invasion, they quickly changed it to the Golliwogs.

At the insistence of a record producer, the band changed its name one more time, to Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Creedence” to honor a friend of Tom Fogerty, Credence Nuball; “Clearwater” came from a beer commercial but took on a stronger message connecting it to environmental issues; and “Revival” was for the members’ commitment to the group. The band broke up in 1972.

Q. There was a cereal mascot back in the 1940s with the first name Cheeri. Do you know who I mean?

A.F., Van Buren, Ark.

A. Sure do! In 1941, General Mills introduced Cheerioats, the first ready-to-eat oat cereal. The following year, Cheeri O’Leary — a cartoon girl — appeared on the package. In 1945, Cheerioats was renamed Cheerios, and Cheeri went into retirement at a very young age.

Q. During my career, I flew through Chicago’s O’Hare airport many, many times. Now that I’m retired and reflecting on the days gone by, I’m wondering, who was O’Hare?

H.J.K., Burbank, Calif.

A. In 1942 and 1943, the airport was constructed to serve as a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54s. Douglas Company’s contract ended in 1945, and although there were plans to continue to build commercial aircraft, the company chose to concentrate production on the West Coast. With the departure of Douglas, the structure took the name Orchard Field Airport, the source of its three-letter IATA code, ORD.

In 1949, the airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport in honor of Navy flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare.

Send questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

2013 Gary Clothier

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