SI Vault
Edited by Robert Sullivan
October 06, 1986
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October 06, 1986


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The mob's on trial in Manhattan and half of Mayor Edward Koch's administration is on trial in New Haven, but the court case that's generating real heat in the New York area is the one on Long Island. The not-so-civil countersuits by Martina Navratilova and photographer Art Seitz are being heard before Judge Lester E. Gerard and a jury of nine. SI's Joy Duckett Cain reports from the courthouse:

When Navratilova and Seitz tussled shortly after she was upset in the quarter-finals of the 1982 U.S. Open, Navratilova opened Seitz's camera and exposed his film. That much, and that much only, is beyond dispute. Seitz filed a $2 million lawsuit claiming he received injuries and developed tennis elbow because of the encounter; Navratilova countersued for $4 million, charging invasion of privacy.

As riveting a personality as Navratilova is, the stars of the trial-cum-circus in Riverhead are two flamboyant lawyers. Seitz is represented by Marvin Mitchelson, the Southern Californian famous for those palimony suits. Navratilova's attorney is Edward Hart, who seems to have little love for Mitchelson and is given to jokes about L.A. At one point Hart objected to Mitchelson "laughing at the witness," who was, at that time, Navratilova herself. Mitchelson explained to the judge that he wasn't laughing at the witness; then he pointed at Hart and added, "I'm laughing at him."

During the trial Navratilova is often in the gallery, shaking her head scornfully. She was doing this last Tuesday when another photographer, Ron Lopez, took the stand. "Martina was in the middle of the pack, surrounded by her entourage," Lopez testified, claiming he was an eyewitness to the 1982 scrap. "All of a sudden she broke out of the pack.... There was a struggle that looked like a tug-of-war—he [Seitz] pulling, she pulling on what turned out to be a camera." Lopez said the whole thing took 12 to 15 seconds.

It could prove to be a costly few seconds for someone, but not until the jury listens to hours of sometimes tedious and often confusing testimony. At one point, Navratilova was ordered to explain how a tennis match is scored. At another, she was asked to describe her weight-training regimen. Of what relevance is all this? It's not yet clear. Maybe Navratilova herself found a clue in that mystery novel she was reading during a break. Its title: Smokescreen.

Some of the fiercest grid battles these days are being fought on the best-seller lists. On Sunday three books about football debuted in The New York Times' nonfiction Top 15. Jim McMahon's autobiography is 4th in the rankings, Ken Stabler's is 10th, and TV commentator John Madden's second volume of pigskin punditry is 15th. In Chicago four of the Bears are elbowing each other on the lists. McMahon! is the city's hottest book, outselling even Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. Now what would Papa Bear George Halas say about that? Mike Singletary's book is No. 3 on the Chicago Tribune's list; Coach Mike Ditka's is No. 5; and the Refrigerator's, released earlier in the year, has slid off the chart. Another printing from the well-read Ditka is also prized in Chicago. Some 750 posters of the coach promoting U.S. News & World Report magazine have been swiped from the walls of El stations.


It happened 32 years ago last week: The score stood 2-2 in the eighth inning of the first game of the World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. There were no outs and men on first and second when the Indians' Vic Wertz came to the plate. He swung mightily and connected. As the legend has it, Willie Mays turned and started racing for the Polo Grounds fence the second he saw the swing. Four hundred sixty feet from home, Mays made the catch—which quickly became known as The Catch, the most famous in Series history. The Indians didn't score in the 8th but the Giants did in the 10th and then went on to sweep the Series in four straight.

Mays's play has long been immortalized in baseball lore and, since 1984, it has been memorialized in a piece of environmental art called "Willie Mays—The Catch." First displayed in California, Thorn Ross's five-panel sculpture popped up again this summer on a grassy hill in Jackson Hole, Wyo. That's a suitable setting, for only something as grand as the Tetons could match the magnificence of Mays's catch.

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