Yet DiMuro seems impervious to intimidation—or custom. In a preseason game, Yakult Swallows pitcher Tetsuhiro Nonaka committed an obvious balk. Japanese umps usually let balks go, especially when the pitcher plays for Yakult manager Katsuya Nomura, a fabled slugger who retired in 1980. But DiMuro, working first base, made the call; Nomura, enraged, raced out of the dugout with an interpreter. "He told me I was going to ruin Japanese baseball," says DiMuro, who speaks only snatches of Japanese. "All four umps saw it, but I was the only one to call it."
Even as Japanese pundits have urged him to "behave himself," DiMuro has gone on enforcing his will. Japanese players like to show their grit by sliding into first base, and when called out by DiMuro on a recent slide into first, a Yokohama BayStars player leaped up to protest. Snapped DiMuro in English, "Don't slide next time and you'll be safe."
DiMuro won't transform the Japanese style of play, but he has already won some grudging respect. Two weeks after the controversial balk call, DiMuro was umping another Yakult game in which Nona-ka was pitching. He balked again, and again DiMuro called it. This time Nomura didn't leave the bench.
His churlishness on the court alienated teammates, his smugness as a TV analyst alienated viewers, and his eagerness to take credit for their ability alienated his four basketball-playing sons. Yet one person believes that Rick Barry is just the man to succeed the fired Rick Adelman and coach the Golden State Warriors back to respectability. Anyone in the Bay Area who flipped on the tube or picked up a paper last week was likely to learn that Rick Barry thought Rick Barry was eminently qualified for the job.
His self-promotional campaign ground on so unremittingly that last week deejays on the Warriors' own flagship radio station, KNBR, played tapes of his blather as background noise, occasionally pausing "to hear a little more from Rick Barry." None of which prevented Barry from going on that station a few hours later and doing a live reiteration of his credentials: his high profile, his knack for developing talent, his skill at communicating. "Everybody seems to have this opinion that I'm this terrible ogre of a person that all the players would hate," said Barry, a Hall of Famer who led Golden State to the NBA title in 1974-75. "People look back at how I was as a player, the way I acted on the court. Heck, I'm 53 now. I'm different."
While the Warriors' brass hasn't scheduled Barry for an interview, it hasn't mocked him either—unlike the Orlando Magic's then general manager Pat Williams, who in 1987 equated a December 7 entreaty from Barry for Orlando's vacant coaching job to another disaster on that date, Pearl Harbor. Barry is not without portfolio. He was 12-4 as coach of the Cedar Rapids Sharpshooters of the Global Basketball Association before that league folded in December 1992. And the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury canned Barry in March '94 after he went 25-46.
Thus far, no one else has taken up the drumbeat for Barry. So he marches on alone, as he so often did during his playing days. "I don't have a great, great ego," he said. "I have a great, great confidence in myself."
The Whole Seven Yards
Last Nov. 2, Waynesburg (Pa.) College could do nothing to stop senior running back A.J. Pittorino of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. In leading the Hawks to a 42-14 win at Waynesburg, Pittorino carried 46 times for 443 yards to set an NCAA all-divisions rushing record. Six months later, however, the Yellowjackets appear to have thrown Pittorino for a loss—of seven crucial yards.