Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? The young viewers of Kid's Choice, a show on the Nickelodeon cable-TV network, selected a male athlete of the year. Their choice was Hulk Hogan.
PETER THE GOOD
Peter Ueberroth announced last week that he will not accept another term as baseball commissioner after his current contract expires on Dec. 31,1989, although he will remain in the post long enough to ensure a smooth transition for his probable successor, National League president Bart Giamatti. "I'm a mountain climber by nature," Ueberroth said, "and I've already climbed this mountain."
Ueberroth joked that his legacy will be: "He, too, failed to settle the designated hitter problem." But, in truth, he will have left the game in much better shape than when he arrived, in October 1984. At that time, 21 of the 26 major league clubs were losing money; today, 22 are at least breaking even. Four years ago, baseball suffered from a staggering drug problem; today, while drugs have not been eliminated from the game, they no longer threaten its integrity.
The Pittsburgh franchise is a microcosm of what has happened in baseball in the last four years. Torn apart by drugs, the Pirates played last-place ball before 735,900 people in 1985; in 1988 the young, hustling Pirates are challenging the first-place New York Mets and are expected to draw close to 1.5 million to Three Rivers Stadium. "The turnaround in Pittsburgh is what pleases me the most about my term," said Ueberroth, who contributed to the change of direction by encouraging local interests to back the Pirates. During his tenure, he has also established strong guidelines for future expansion franchises and has helped to increase minority hirings. While Ueberroth has done some things that we do not like—he has overcommercialized the game to a certain extent—he provided baseball with strong leadership when it was most needed.
ON THE BUTTON
Dick Button, former two-time Olympic gold medalist in figure skating and ABC's resident expert on the sport, recently delivered the commencement address at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. Button touched on a variety of subjects: the Olympic ideal, the virtues of preparation and hard work, the adversary within oneself. At the conclusion of his speech, six faculty members seated in the front row rose and held aloft cards with numbers ranging from 3.5 to 5.9. The audience—and Button—broke up with laughter.
Button said, "The judge who gave me a 5.9 was the most intelligent, sharp, knowledgeable and unbiased in the group. The 3.5 came from someone who was clearly biased and unintelligent, and who was probably the brother-in-law of the speaker who followed me in the program."
Button also had some interesting things to say about the decision last week by the International Skating Union to drop compulsory figures from men's and women's singles in international figure skating starting in July 1990. The move was applauded by most skaters and judges, as well as by officials, who foresee a great reduction in training expenses and in the demand for ice time.