SI Vault
Edited by Steve Wulf
July 27, 1987
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July 27, 1987


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The struggle for golf's U.S. Open ended last month when Tom Watson's putt stopped three inches short on the 18th, but the struggle over the tournament's host, San Francisco's staid Olympic Club, was just heating up. The publicity generated by the Open brought to light the fact that none of the club's approximately 8,000 members is black or female.

What's more, it turns out that three of the holes—13, 14 and 15—on the Lakeside Golf Course (one of Olympic's two courses and the one on which the Open was played) are on property owned by the city of San Francisco and leased to the club. City attorney Louise Renne threatened legal action to take back the land if the club did not alter its membership policy. "We're going to tell the Olympic Club to change its policy or start playing on a 15-hole golf course instead of an 18-hole course," said Renne, whose husband, Paul, is a member of the club.

Olympic president Scott Loring reacted to the threat by saying, "We have other property out there where we can reconfigure the course. I'm sure no one wants to do it, but it's an option." Loring also said, "There's nothing in our bylaws that restricts based on race, creed or color."

The initial hostilities have since subsided, and Renne and club officials are now holding talks in hope of resolving the matter out of court. In the meantime, Renne is running for mayor, and one of her slogans is: "She's not one of the Boys."

The Baseball Writers Association of America, the organization that handles the game's major awards, deserves some applause all its own. Last week at the All-Star Game, the writers voted overwhelmingly to name the Rookie of the Year awards after Jackie Robinson. This gesture, first proposed at the 1986 winter meetings, is a meaningful way to honor the man who broke baseball's color line 40 years ago, when he was the very first Rookie of the Year.


The sports match of the year will take place Saturday in Chicago. Heavyweight contender Henry Tillman, a gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics and the last man to beat Mike Tyson, will face...Gina Hemphill, granddaughter of Jesse Owens, in an exchange of vows, not blows. The two met at the Games in Los Angeles—Gina carried the torch in the opening ceremonies—and they started to date a year later. Hemphill, whom Tillman describes as "a knockout," worked as a production assistant on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Winfrey will give a reading at the wedding.

Attending the groom will be five other professional boxers: best man Calvin Meeks and ushers Mark Breland, Paul Gonzales, Frank Tate and Evander Holyfield. Boxing fans will recall that Holyfield was the better man in his WBA junior heavyweight title fight with Tillman in February, knocking out his good friend in the seventh round. As a result, Holyfield was able to tell Tillman, "You better not have that wedding without me in it." With all the pugilists on hand, Hemphill says, "We don't expect any guests to step out of line."

There is already considerable excitement about the future progeny of Tillman and Hemphill, what with gold medal genes on both sides. The 6'3" Tillman kiddingly says, "We're both pretty tall—I'd like to have a basketball team." Taking 'em one at a time, the 5'10" Hemphill says, "We'll probably have a girl astronaut."

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