THE ROYALS GET WRAPPED UP IN A BO
Bo Jackson finally answered the question. He didn't go the Elway, he went the other way, straight to Royals Stadium in Kansas City. To demonstrate how serious he is about making his business in baseball, not football, the NFL's top prospect hit seven home runs last Saturday in his first professional batting practice. Manager Dick Howser was impressed by the mere sight of him out of street clothes. "I have known some first-round draft choices who wouldn't even suit up the first day, they're so nervous." Hal McRae said Bo reminds him of another Jackson, and he didn't mean Ron. After Frank White's eyes followed a Jackson shot that traveled 460 feet into dead center, he said, "Everything about this day is beginning to impress me."
Most observers thought the day would never come. In turning down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offer of $7 million over five years—the largest rookie contract tendered in NFL history—the former Auburn running back became the first Heisman Trophy winner to pass up a career in pro football since Army's Pete Dawkins did so in 1958. "I'm always going to do the opposite of what the public thinks," said the 23-year-old rightfielder. "I did this so people would swallow their Adam's apple." After a 10-day tour of Kansas City, baseball's prize catch will be sent to Double A Memphis or Triple A Omaha. "I'm so happy right now, I wouldn't care if they sent me down to Pee Wee ball," Jackson said.
Team co-owner Avron Fogelman vehemently denies that the Royals offered Jackson, their fourth-round pick, $5 million over five years, but the deal does cover several years and includes substantial real estate investments. Fogelman promises that Jackson will be back with Brett & Co. on Sept. 1 when the roster expands from 24 to 40 players. Said the Royals' general manager, John Schuerholz, "The sports world has to be shocked. Bo Jackson literally left millions of dollars on the table in Tampa." Kirk Gibson of the Tigers was certainly surprised. When Gibson, another football star who chose baseball, was asked if he could explain why a fourth-round choice received a long-term contract while Gibson, a free agent last year, couldn't get one offer from another team, he replied, "I can't, especially...[pause]...how can a team tampering with me during the season turn around and do what they said they couldn't do?"
PUNCHING OUT AN ALL-STAR BALLOT
Voting injustices have always added to the public interest in the All-Star Game. When Rod Carew keeps beating out Eddie Murray or when Luis Aparicio gets hundreds of thousands of votes after he retires, indignant newspaper columns are written and switchboards for radio call-in shows light up. But it is, after all, a game created for the people, so it is right that the teams be selected by the people. No team will ever be perfect. Players think they should decide the starters, but when they did, back in 1965, they elected Felix Mantilla instead of Bobby Richardson. So why get worked up because some fan in Los Angeles punches out Greg Brock's name every day? Just punch along and compare your ballot to this one:
Don Mattingly, Yankees, and Keith Hernandez, Mets. Poor Eddie Murray. He has been one of the dominant players of his time, but Carew almost always led the balloting. Now Carew has retired, but there is Mattingly in New York City and Wally World Joyner in L.A., two major voting areas. Add to them Kent Hrbek, who hit .422 with 13 homers in the 28 games after adopting his new Oscar Gamble-style stance, and the league's first base delegation is the strongest of any position in either league.
Tony Phillips, Oakland, and Ryne Sandberg, Cubs. Sandberg's edge over Johnny Ray and Steve Sax comes in power, RBIs and defense. Phillips gets the nod over Willie Randolph, who has been superb offensively but subpar defensively.
Wade Boggs, Red Sox, and Ray Knight, Mets. With due respect to George Brett and Gary Gaetti, Boggs is having a storybook season. Mike Schmidt's time has been split between third and first, and, anyway, we all like to have one write-in, which the surprising Knight is.
Tony Fernandez, Blue Jays, and Hubie Brooks, Expos. Brooks's production at the plate can't be overlooked, even if Ozzie Smith is hitting .300 and Shawon Dunston is about to become the best in the league.