Finding Greener Pastures
In recent years baseball officials have expressed concern about losing top-notch athletes to football and basketball. But two developments in the past two weeks may be an indication of a change on that front. The Cardinals signed outfielder Brian Jordan to a three-year deal, thereby bringing to an end his career as a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons. And the Brewers signed their first-round choice, outfielder Kenny Felder, to a contract (with a $550,000 bonus) stipulating that Felder give up football. He had been slated to compete for the quarterback job at Florida State as a redshirt junior next fall.
Jordan signed for $2.2 million, which included a $1.5 million signing bonus. "The bonus was enough to make me give up football," he said, adding that the Falcons "weren't very aggressive in trying to sign me. I guess they didn't think I was going to sign with St. Louis. I got tired of messing around." Falcon coach Jerry Glanville will miss him. He described Jordan as "a trained killer. Surrender isn't inside him."
In the Cardinals' organization, however, there is rejoicing. "We haven't developed a power hitter here in a long time," says St. Louis catcher Tom Pagnozzi. "I hate to put the pressure on the guy, but he has the capability of being that type of player."
The most positive sign for baseball would be if Deion Sanders forwent football. That's likely to happen. Sanders has said he wants to play baseball but doesn't want to give up playing for the Falcons for at least another year. The Braves are trying hard to sign him to a contract that will keep him out of football permanently, and have until July 31, the day he is supposed to report to the Falcons, to do so. Negotiations with Sanders's agent, Eugene Parker, are scheduled for the end of June.
It's quite likely that a single play on the gridiron, the one in which Bo Jackson suffered a ruinous hip injury, was the catalyst that caused these players to change their career plans. It may have been the best advertisement that baseball could have had.
The Brewers' Yeast
The resurgence of Milwaukee, which as of Sunday had won 16 of its last 23 games to move to within 3� games of first place, has been due in good part to speedy shortstop Pat Listach, the best every-day rookie in the American League this year. Listach, 24, has filled a major hole created by the absence of shortstop Bill Spiers, who underwent back surgery in the off-season. Listach finished last week hitting .291, and he was second in the league in stolen bases, with 23. He has been so dynamic that manager Phil Garner made him the leadoff man in the middle of May and dropped Paul Molitor to third in the order, where Molitor has thrived.
Listach came to camp without much hope of making the team—veteran Scott Fletcher and rookie William Suero were ahead of him. But ask the Brewers about him now, and you hear nothing but raves. "He's very smart, and he can also adapt well," says Garner. "He makes all the right plays; we saw that in spring training. You only have to tell him things one time."
Adaptable? Listach became a switch-hitter only two years ago but now hits capably from both sides of the plate. (At week's end he was batting .379 righthanded and .254 lefthanded.) Moreover, he was primarily a second baseman in the minor leagues, but he has made the transition to shortstop with little trouble.