NOW PITCHING FOR THE FARMERS
Former major league pitcher Gaylord Perry has joined the many casualties of the nation's farm crisis. Last week Perry announced that his farm in Martin County, N.C, had failed and that he was broke. Perry's lawyer, in filing for Chapter 7 protection under North Carolina's bankruptcy laws, said Perry had $1,145,600 in assets and $1,244,850 in debts. Perry, a 300-game winner who ran the 500-acre corn, soybean, tobacco and peanut farm even during his playing career, said simply, "It's a farm situation."
Other sports figures have taken the farm situation to heart. Richard Petty recently joined 10 other NASCAR drivers at the start of a convoy leaving North Carolina's Charlotte Motor Speedway. Their vehicles—not stock cars but huge semitrailers—were driven to Columbus, Ohio, where they were loaded with 25,000 bales of hay for drought-plagued farmers in the Southeast.
Further west, Milwaukee Bucks coach Don Nelson just finished Nellie's Tractor Drive, a nine-day, 250-mile fund-raising effort in Wisconsin on behalf of farmers facing financial ruin because of dismal market conditions. Driving a $45,000 tractor that was donated at trail's end to beleaguered farmers in Wausau, Nelson stopped at fairgrounds and corn roasts from Menomonee Falls to Oshkosh. His tractor pulled a flatbed carrying a 9�-foot-long piggy bank, a round mound that Nelson called " Charles Barkley." By Monday, $240,000 had been contributed to the Barkley bank. Nelson is soliciting further contributions through a personal weight-loss campaign. He has pledges of $1,500 for each pound he drops; this summer he has gone from 272 pounds to 235.
What prompted Nelson's concern for the farmer? The memories of a previous bleak harvest. Thirty years ago hog prices tumbled in Illinois and the Nelsons, like the Perrys of 1986, had to sell the family farm.
WAS IT A DERBY OR A DARBY?
The Durham (N.C.) Bulls of the Class A Carolina League designate one inning at each home game as the Home Run for the Money derby. A program number is drawn at random for each batter, and the fan holding the program wins a jackpot if that batter hits a home run. On Aug. 8, when Durham shortstop Jeff Blauser came to bat in the derby inning (the sixth), the number drawn belonged to David Huffey, an Englishman now living in the U.S. Blauser promptly homered, winning Huffey a built-up jackpot of $100.
The next batter was leftfielder Jeff Wetherby. As luck would have it, the next number was that of Huffey's son, Lee, who was visiting from England. When Wetherby, too, homered, Lee, who according to his father was attending "his first baseball match," took home $50.
"It's baseball," noted Bulls owner Miles Wolff later, "but it was also very cricket."
FOOTBALL IN OLDEN TIMES
At DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., public relations director Patrick Aikman has been digging though the archives to put together a history of the school, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. In the course of his excavation, Aikman has unearthed some curiosities about DePauw's football program. For one thing, it got off to a rocky start. The school newspaper account of the Tigers' first game, played against Butler in 1884, told of DePauw losing "by four touchdowns, causing the team to decide to sell its football." A new pigskin presumably wasn't purchased until 1889, when DePauw lost its second game to Purdue and then beat Indiana for a .500 season. DePauw has played football ever since, but not without further incident. For example, after a 45-0 loss to Illinois in 1924, the paper reported, "Coach Ashmore was granted a leave of absence after the game." That would appear to be jazz-age wording for today's "resigned under pressure."