IN THIS TOWN, sports talk comes almost as cheaply as political talk. While the names Miller, Regardie and Boyd are not exactly household names, in the world of sports talk they are almost as common as Carter, Kennedy and Reagan.
Marie Miller's Springfield apartment is spotless, despite her protests not to "look at the mess." There are lots of lace doilies, ceramic knickknacks, scads of plastic flowers, pictures of her 14-year-old basset Candy, and an afghan or two. Nice little old lady, Miller.
But after five minutes, Miller comes out of the closet. After all, how many elderly women would bet their social security check on the World Series, have a brown belt in judo, get stopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike doing 92 mph and beg to take a visitor around the beltway in a fire-engine-red LTD?
Miller's age is undisclosed, although she will admit, "I go back to when Teddy Roosevelt was president." And when it comes to sports trivia, she says without blinking, "I can match any man."
Over a hamburger and french fries, she says, "It was a matter of survival, I had a father, seven brothers and later a husband, and sports was all they wanted to talk about. We would listen to the radio and go to the games and I loved every minute of it.
Miller became a trivia talkie by accident one night when she stumped national talk-show host Larry King with: "What team in the NFL doesn't have an insignia on its, helmet?(Answer: the Cleveland Browns).
She can tell you Hall of Famers who wore the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (Answer: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle). As a regular caller to WTOP Radio's Sportstalk, she calls herself Geritol Gerrie.
"Most of my friends like to play bingo or knit, but I just love sports," says Miller, who doesn't write down phone numbers or charge account numbers. She says she remember them and can recall some from years ago when she and her late husband lived in Pittsburgh, where her favorite teams play.
Miller loves to hate the Redskins."I cannot stand Joe Theismann," she storms. "Ever since he was at Notre Dame and changed the pronunciation of his name to rhyme with Heisman, I haven't liked him. His ego is too big. I liked Billy Kilmer."
She also likes to dream about becoming a trivia question herself. She'd like to take a ride in a submarine. "Maybe I can find some nut to take me." And she'd like to drive in a stock car race.
Question: Who was the first octogenarian to tackle Talladega?
Jen Regardie opens the door of his family's northwest Washington town house chomping on a world record wad of ghastly green gum.
Jon, who is 11, is a regular on Sportstalk. A sixth grader at Murch School, he was a guest last month on the WTOP program.
Sitting at the dining room table, he clicks on his tape recorder, wiggles and blows big green bubbles. He has recorded his Sportstalk appearance and when host Phil Wood introduces "the one and only Jon Regardie," Jon smiles and says, "That's me."
The kid's not shy, and has no qualms about voicing his views. "If the Bullets don't do well this, year, then I'd put Motta off," he says on the air.
His cousin called Sportstalk that night to ask Jon, "What about the Olympic boycott?" Jon shot back, "You would ask me a question like that," then said the athletes should stay home.
Then his teacher called. "Did you do your homework, Jon?"
For once, silence.
It doesn't last long. One caller asked Jon if he'd like to replace Warner Wolf. Jon clicks off the machine, chews a little harder and says, "I don't know, because in another 10 years there might be a better job."
He's a little guy who realizes he'll never be a professional athlete.
"So I'm gonna try to get some kind of a job in sports. I've had experience in the radio end. And I always write for the school paper, although this is my first year on the staff."
He can recall the scores of the 12 Bullet games he's attended, but the Redskins are his favorites, although he's never been to a game. Unlike Mrs. Miller, he'd gladly take a ticket.
A "B" student, Jon says he gets most of his facts from the Guinness Book of World Records and from his father, Bill, a real estate man. He's a devoted radio listener and he checks the fine print in the sports page every day.
He confesses it's easier to remember sports facts than history.
"I guess I just like it more," he says.
Maurice Boyd has listened to the radio most of his life. He's 31 and a sports fan who has never seen a sports event.
Boyd knows his stuff. He's a regular caller to Ken Beatrice's WMAL show and listened to Beatrice at WBZ in Boston.
Boyd lives in Silver Spring, graduated from American University with a degree in broadcast journalism and hopes to get his own show.
"You don't have to be able to see in order to have an opinion," he says. "You don't need sight to carry on a discussion. I don't have to see in order to talk about whether the Redskins should run or pass.
Boyd forms opinions after gathering two or three different versions of each game. Each morning he "reads" The Washington Post via a radio station. That takes about 2 1/2 hours. Each week he gets free recordings of Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News.
Above all, he believes there should be a distinction between sports trivia and what he describes as "important accomplishments of historical significance." "In the 1927 World Series who struck out in the third inning with the bases loaded? That is an absolute waste of everybody's time."
Boyd knows most of the regular callers to the local sports talk shows. He admires Regardie and says of Geritol Gerrie, "I think she drinks more than Geritol."