SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff and Christian Stone
June 05, 1995
Just Build It, Baby
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June 05, 1995


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Hot Pants Night-mares and Other Horrors
Last week's 30-minute brawl between the Class A Durham Bulls and Winston-Salem Warthogs (above) took place on Strike Out Domestic Violence Night at Durham Athletic Park. The set-to wasn't the first instance of an apparently benign baseball promotion going awry.


Unforeseen Occurrence

Ladies Day

Cincinnati Red Stockings at Washington Senators, 1897

Parasol-wielding women, ticked off in part because handsome Senator pitcher Win Mercer had been tossed for criticizing limp by handing him glasses, first storm field, then hurl bricks and stones at arbiter barricaded in club offices.

Hot Pants Night

Kansas City Royals at Oakland A's, 1971

Female fans in short shorts willing to parade on field are to be rewarded with tickets to future A's games. Club expects 500 to scale railing; when 5,000 do, A's owner Charlie Finley has to cough up almost 10,000 ducats.

Ten-Cent Beer Night

Texas Rangers at Cleveland Indians, 1974

Crowd of 25,000 quaffs 60,000 10-ounce beers, and some 500 fans--a few armed with knives--attack Ranger Jeff Burroughs, who had refused to surrender glove to fan who ran onto field. Only joint counterattack by both teams, with bats, keeps mob at bay.

Reggie Bar Day

Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, 1978

Each of 40,000 fans showing up for Yankee home opener is given Reggie bar, thousands of which are flung onto field after Jackson whacks three-run homer. Says Chisox skipper Bob Lemon: "Must be a great tasting candy bar if they throw it instead of eat it."

Disco Demolition Night

Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox, 1979

At height of antidisco backlash, fans donate dance records to be blown up between games of doubleheader. After explosion, hundreds of frenzied fans pour onto field and touch off literal disco inferno; riot and fire force cancellation of nightcap.

Just Build It, Baby

The NFL has somehow confused Hollywood Park, which virtually sits on an active runway at Los Angeles International Airport, with an Iowa cornfield. The league's owners, meeting in Jacksonville last week, must have mistaken those race horses for farm animals and those seedy touts for hired hands when they decided to offer Los Angeles Raider owner Al Davis a sweetheart deal if he were to agree to keep his team in L.A. In its desperation to retain at least one franchise in the nation's second-largest TV market, the NFL is buying into a fantasy that owes a lot more to Field of Dreams than to what passes for real life, even in Los Angeles.

If you build it, they will come? Good luck, gentlemen. Under the deal offered to him, Davis would have to cough up only $20 million toward construction of a $200 million stadium on the grounds of the Inglewood racetrack. Plus, the NFL would guarantee him that two Super Bowls would be played at his stadium between 2000 and 2006 and give him control of 10,000 tickets to each of those extravaganzas. All Davis would have to do is pledge not to light out for another city—and agree to accept another NFL team as a cotenant.

Yet the one thing the league can't guarantee with all its blandishments is that the football will be any good. When the Rams boarded up their windows in Anaheim and slunk back eastward earlier this year, there was much more resignation than outcry. Building a new stadium in Inglewood sounds swell, but it could be a hollow enterprise unless at least one of its tenants is a winner.

Rare Bird Bashed
Hours after the publication of last week's SI, in which San Antonio Spur forward Dennis Rodman made frank comments on a number of subjects, including his sexual fantasies, someone used shoe polish to scrawl the word fag on Rodman's distinctive, widely recognized pink-and-white truck. The following night his truck's tires were slashed while the vehicle sat in a parking lot outside a San Antonio gay bar. The two incidents are sobering reminders that even celebrity is no hedge against hate.

League Gone South

Say this for Marcel Aubut: At least he sold his franchise to only one bidder. Aubut, the president of the Quebec Nordiques and the man who once traded Eric Lindros to two clubs in the same morning, last Thursday pawned off his financially woebegone franchise to Denver-based COMSAT Video Enterprises for $75 million, thus ending the club's 23-year residence in la vieille cité and raising the question: Is this the end of the World Hockey Association?

With the Nordiques' departure, only three survivors from the WHA's 1979 merger with the NHL remain in the same cities. Despite the deal struck last week to keep the Jets in Winnipeg, and similar arrangements made over the past two years to allow the Hartford Whalers and the Edmonton Oilers to stay put, all three could meet a fate similar to the Nordiques' unless their financial fortunes dramatically improve before the end of this millennium. Alas, only sentimentalists will likely mourn their passing from an NHL that now values franchises for the size of their markets and the opulence of their palaces. It was only a year ago that Gary Davidson, the WHA's founding father, remarked when apprised of the financial struggles of his hockey spawn, "You mean, they're still around?" He wasn't joking.

Garish outfit though it may have been, the WHA opened up hockey to cities that previously weren't considered major league. Davidson and WHA cofounder Don Regan like to recall the June afternoon in 1972 when Regan chartered a small plane at Winnipeg Airport and asked the pilot to fly it to the nearest U.S. airfield. Two hours later they touched down at a small airstrip outside Fargo, N.Dak. Out of the plane emerged Regan, Bobby Hull, Hull's agent Harvey Wineberg and Jets owner Ben Hatskin, and there, on the otherwise empty tarmac, Hull, then the star of the Chicago Blackhawks, signed an unprecedented $1.75 million contract. "I remember it as if it were yesterday," says Regan. "We couldn't sign the contract in Winnipeg because of the tax consequences, and we couldn't do it in Chicago because a judge had a restraining order that would've prevented Bobby from leaving the Black-hawks. But what I remember most is that, as we were leaving Winnipeg, we understood a league was born. That's how I prefer to remember the WHA."

Ruland Ruling
Last week a federal jury dismissed former Philadelphia 76er center Jeff Ruland's lawsuit against the Boston Celtics. Ruland, who spent four years of his career going up against human battering ram Rick Mahorn in practice, claimed he was so fragile that his career was cut short when a Celtic ballboy inadvertently hit him in the back of the right leg with a basketball rack during a game at Boston Garden in January 1992. Having lost his bid to recover a potential $3.8 million in lost wages, Ruland might do better by heading to McDonald's and spilling some coffee on himself.

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