SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum
May 02, 1994
Farewell to (Both) Arms
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May 02, 1994


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NFL Draft: Yesterday and Today
The NFL draft has turned into an over-the-top extravaganza, both for the teams that hang their helmets on it, and for the media that document it down to the last long snapper from Millersville State. It was not always so. Herewith is our comparison of the overproduced and hyperanalyzed event that took place on Sunday and Monday in New York City with the nearly unnoticed first draft, in Philadelphia in 1936.




Number of players drafted



Top pick and estimated salary

Jay Berwanger (above left), $5,000

Dan Wilkinson, $2 million

Number of media types making a full-time living as a "draft expert"


Anyone named Mel KiperJr. (above right)

Number of media credentials granted to cover draft



Number of college players keeping a "draft diary"


A whole lot more than ever kept a regular diary

Hours of live television coverage

Medium not yet perfected

About 15 ½

Number of "mock drafts" held by NFL teams


At least 28

Number of references to "the war room"


More than in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm put together

Number of "war rooms" covered by TV



Approximate number of football execs labeled "draft experts"


Enough to fill a hundred war rooms

Number of "helmet phones" used on-site



Farewell to (Both) Arms

American League president Bobby Brown recently issued a confidential memo to the league's general managers, managers and umpires outlining a seven-pronged plan to thwart one of the gravest threats to the integrity of the game today, namely the possibility of Boston Red Sox righthanded reliever Greg Harris—or anyone else, for that matter—trying to pitch with both arms. So what if Harris, who is ambidextrous, has never thrown a single lefthanded pitch in his 11-year major league career? And so what if no pitcher has attempted a dual delivery in a major league game since Elton (Icebox) Chamberlain did so in '88? (That's 1888, by the way.) In the memo, Regulations for an Ambidextrous Pitcher, Brown says the new rules will "protect against unusual liberties being taken thus creating an intolerable situation on the mound and at the plate." His arms-control agreement includes the following stipulations:

The pitcher must indicate to the hitter-runner the arm he intends to use.

The pitcher may change arms on the next hitter but must indicate the arm to be used.

There will be no warmup pitches between the change of arms.

If an arm is injured, the pitcher may change arms and the umpire is notified of the injury. The injured arm could not be used again in that game.

Says one team exec of the memo: "I threw it directly in the garbage."

But what about Harris? Isn't it enough that he pitches in the shadow of the Green Monster, that home runs in the majors are up 100% from last year and that the strike zone is shrinking as if it were 100% cotton? Isn't it enough that at week's end his ERA was 4.50 and that some observers say he isn't even the best pitcher named Greg Harris, that Colorado's Greg Harris (no relation) leads in the Harris poll? Now Brown won't even let the guy try switch-pitching without taking all the fun out of it. "I'm a little baffled about the timing," says Harris, who has been more successful against lefties than righties in his career. "The Red Sox aren't going to let me pitch lefthanded anyway."

Says Red Sox G.M. Dan Duquette, "We pay Greg to pitch righthanded."

On the other hand....

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