The First Time I Heard of Dr. Tom

The first time I heard of Dr. Tom Amberry, the world champion free throw shooter, was when I was sitting in a donut store having a cup of coffee. I was skimming a local newspaper, and my eye fell on a story about a 71-year-old retired podiatrist who had made 2,750 free throws in a row to enter the Guinness Book of Records.

I can remember thinking there had to be a mistake there somewhere. No one is capable of that level of perfection, especially at that age.

In the story Dr. Amberry was quoted as saying that his free throw shooting routine took six seconds and was like “auto hypnosis.” Hypnosis has lurked around the edges of sports in an intriguing way for many years. But the idea of packaging it in six-second doses was new and very attractive to me.