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Scorecard September 15, 1997
Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
September 15, 1997
Fickle Fate of First-At-Bat Homer Hitters...Selecting the U.S. Women's Basketball Team...Robots at Play...Baseball Career Resurrected...Pigskin Pride Sweeps L.A.
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September 15, 1997

Scorecard September 15, 1997

Fickle Fate of First-At-Bat Homer Hitters...Selecting the U.S. Women's Basketball Team...Robots at Play...Baseball Career Resurrected...Pigskin Pride Sweeps L.A.

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It's All Greek to Them

Throughout the 55 minutes allotted to Greece for its final bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, delegation president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki commanded the stage. Smoothly switching from French to English, a small smile playing across her lips, she turned seemingly endless footage of construction sites into riveting theater. While Rome's bidders would bring out tenor Luciano Pavarotti and screen clips from Ben-Hur, Angelopoulos directly carried Greece's case to the IOC, a case she made seem so compelling that Athens was surprisingly—and overwhelmingly—awarded the 2004 Summer Games.

Angelopoulos, 41, is a lawyer, a vice chairwoman at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, a former parliament member, a mother of three and the wife of a steel and shipping tycoon. The first woman to head a successful Olympic bid committee, she donated more than $1 million to Athens's cause, and used equal parts charm, force of will and Athena-like intelligence to make the case for her city. "Gianna did it all by herself," said Craig Reedie, the Scottish IOC member. "For Mrs. Angelopoulos it was a triumph of organization."

At the 1990 IOC vote to determine which city would host the '96 Olympics, Greece had alienated committee members by demanding that the Centennial Games take place where the inaugural ones did, in Athens. The face of the nation's bid, actress Melina Mercouri, further estranged voters with her carping and chain-smoking. This time around Angelopoulos presented a deferential front, stressing that Greece had addressed the objections raised by the IOC in 1990. New metro lines and highways to be built by 2004 should help curb Athens's traffic and pollution, and 72% of the necessary athletic facilities are already completed. In lobbying the IOC's 107 voters, Angelopoulos repeatedly characterized Athens's application as "a new bid from a new city."

With its five-star hotels along the Via Veneto beckoning the IOC delegates, Rome had been considered the favorite among the five finalists (Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Stockholm were the others). Italian IOC member Primo Nebiolo, the president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, track and field's governing body, repeatedly sniped during his sport's World Championships in Athens last month that Greece was incapable of staging the Olympics. But Angelopoulos refused to return fire, and in the end Nebiolo's tactic wounded Rome's hopes: The Ancient City outpolled the Eternal City 66-41 in the final, head-to-head ballot. "The Greeks played their cards extremely well by concentration on the technical aspects," Reedie says. "They said, We listened to you seven years ago."

Calling the Kettle Black?
During Sunday's New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game on NBC, play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, who is facing charges of sexual assault and whose old phone number was found in the black book of a murdered New York City dominatrix, plugged the network's sitcom Men Behaving Badly.

First Time a Charm?

A few hours after swatting a home run in his first major league at bat, on Sept. 2 in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Expos outfielder Brad Fullmer was a dreamy young man. "It was indescribable.... I didn't realize they set off fireworks," he said. "Maybe it even made SportsCenter."

Whether or not he gets hold of a videotape, Fullmer, 22, isn't likely to forget the two-run, pinch-hit tater off Boston Red Sox righthander Bret Saberhagen that made him the 74th player to homer in his first big league at bat. As of Sunday, St. Louis Cardinal Gary Gaetti had hit 330 homers since going deep his first time up, yet that 1981 home run remains especially vivid. "I was using [Minnesota Twins teammate] Tim Laudner's bat, and I yanked the ball down the third base line," Gaetti recalls, "It bounced back on the field. I got it and gave it to my dad."

Gaetti's career total is by far the highest for anyone among the 74—the runner-up is outfielder Earl Averill (238), whose first blast came with the Cleveland Indians in 1929—and Fullmer may be off base in asserting that his debut "has to be a good sign." Of the 73 players who preceded Fullmer, 13 never hit another homer. Only two of the group's members have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Averill and Hoyt Wilhelm, a pitcher.

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