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September 8, 1977 — Portland Trail Blazer basketball player Bill Walton came unheralded, but soon attracted autograph seekers, at the annual Labor Day swim.

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YESTERYEARS: Bill Walton surprises Cross Channel Swim organizers in 1977

Just under 140 swimmers paddled across the Columbia River Monday during Hood River’s annual Labor Day swim, but most of the attention focused on just one surprise entrant. Nobody was more surprised than Chamber of Commerce Manager Tina O’Banion when Portland Trail Blazer basketball star Bill Walton checked in for the crossing. “Really,” she said, “I didn’t know.” She said he had sent his application in more than a month early. “He signed as William Walton, Portland,

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