By going to the instructional league, Jordan has reaffirmed his commitment to baseball and all but ruled out a return to the NBA this season. Further, a publicity stuntman wouldn't be joining the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League next week for more of the same. At 31, Jordan is still far from being a major league player. However, Terry Francona, who managed him in Birmingham and will manage him in Scottsdale, says, "He's a ton better. By the end of the season he was doing things by instinct. In the late innings, in clutch situations, he was far beyond a .200 hitter. If he dedicates the time, he has a chance to play in the big leagues. Even if he quits tomorrow, this will not have been a hoax. By the end of the year, he was a baseball player."
Which is to say, much more than an outsized Eddie Gaedel.
Call Him Sam
Thailand's Samson Elite-gym, who recently stopped Colin (Kid) Nelson of Australia to win the vacant World Boxing Federation junior bantamweight title in Bangkok, took his last name from the gym where he trains. No wonder. You might look for a new name too, if your real one were Saenmuangnoi Lookchaopormahesak.
Confronted with a mystery straight from the pages of a Dick Francis thriller, the Australian government last week shut down horse racing throughout southeast Queensland. The move came in response to the deaths over a three-day period—Sept. 20 to 22—of 13 thoroughbreds, 12 of them stabled in the yard of nationally known trainer Vic Rail. The horses all died in the same horrific manner: They abruptly stopped eating, their jaws, lips and genitals swelled, their skin broke into a rash, their lungs filled with fluid, and within two days, after massive bleeding from the nose and mouth, they were dead. Even more alarming, Rail collapsed on Sept. 20 and was taken unconscious to Royal Brisbane Hospital, where, as of Monday, he was still in critical condition with what his doctors were calling a bacterial lung infection.
While national health authorities searched for links between the deaths of the horses and the illness of their trainer, Brisbane police said they had received a tip that Rail had recently been the target of death threats and that a bacterial agent had been introduced into his stables.
A 14th horse died on Monday, by which time Queensland health authorities had called in equine-disease experts from the U.S. and Hong Kong. Tests have ruled out such known killers as African horse sickness, equine herpes and equine influenza. Says veterinarian Peter Reid of Brisbane, "All we know is that there has been a catastrophic outbreak in one situation, with no sign of it anywhere else."
Until his death last year, agent Bob Woolf represented such stars as Larry Bird and Joe Montana. Sportscaster Bob Wolff, who has called championship games in the four major sports, will be embarking on his 50th year in TV in November. The Wolves were often mistaken for one another, with each fielding compliments from people impressed that he had distinguished himself in two fields.
The confusion persists. The Basketball Hall of Fame's newsletter recently ran an obituary of Bob Woolf with a photograph of Bob Wolff. And the broadcaster, who is currently the sports anchor at News 12, a Woodbury, N.Y.-based cable channel, has gotten astonished looks over the past few weeks from passersby. "Actually," Wolff told one pedestrian who gave him a double take, "you're watching me on replay."