In April new Dallas owner Jerry Jones swept almost everything out of the Cowboys' front office, including Schramm's authority, so Schramm quit the club he had built and hyped and loved for 30 years. Fortunately for him, and perhaps for the future of his sport, a new opportunity presented itself. Network television officials, who are always seeking reasonably priced non-baseball sports programming in the spring, had asked the NFL in January if the league could begin April-to-June football by 1990. The NFL gave Schramm three months and $1.4 million in seed money to find out if the idea—which included teams based overseas—could work. He thus became president of the World League of American Football (WLAF).
Schramm scouted European cities in late May and early June, and two weeks ago he visited five Sun Belt towns—Birmingham; Orlando, Fla.; Jacksonville; Charlotte, N.C.; and Nashville—in a 48-hour whirlwind tour. He is looking for North American cities willing to host an uncertain entity with no marquee players, rather than for cities looking to use the WLAF as a stepping-stone to the NFL. For that reason, Jacksonville, which has been an NFL bridesmaid several times, and Charlotte, which is particularly eager to join the NFL after the success of its NBA Hornets, are probably too ambitious for the WLAF.
On the other hand, Birmingham showed just the right attitude. A thousand local residents greeted Schramm at the airport and chanted, "We want a team! We want a team!" Orlando and its business community also left a good impression by promising that a WLAF team would get carte blanche treatment. But the best presentation was made by Nashville. Johnny Cash even left his wife June's 60th birthday celebration for two hours to meet Schramm's chartered jet.
The WLAF still needs approval by the NFL owners, TV contracts worth at least $20 million and owners and operators willing to take a risk on teams with rosters of second-line players making an average salary of $40,000. Schramm, however, has no doubts that the league will be ready to play next spring. One possible lineup: WLAF Europe—Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Milan; WLAF East—Birmingham, Montreal, New York, Orlando; WLAF West—Mexico City, Nashville, Sacramento, San Antonio.
AN HONEST KID
Organized youth baseball is all too often ruined by pushy parents and overbearing coaches. But here's a story to restore one's faith.
At a T-ball game in Wellington, Fla., earlier this year, first baseman Tanner Munsey, 7, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first base to second. The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but Tanner immediately approached her and said, "Ma'am, I didn't tag the runner." Benson awarded the runner second base and Tanner's coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.
In a game two weeks later, with Benson again umpiring and Tanner playing shortstop, a similar play occurred. This time Benson thought Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third, and she called the runner safe. Tanner glanced at Benson and, without saying a word, flipped the ball to the catcher and returned to his position. Benson sensed something was wrong. "Did you tag the runner?" she asked Tanner.
"Yes," he replied.
Benson then called the runner out. The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier. Says Benson, "If a kid is that honest, I have to give it to him. T-ball is supposed to be for the kids."