On Sept. 1 in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh the Pirates started an all-black team in a game against the Phillies. Dock Ellis pitched, Manny Sanguillen caught, Al Oliver was at first, Rennie Stennett at second, Jackie Hernandez at short and Dave Cash at third; Willie Stargell, Gene Clines and Roberto Clemente were in the outfield.
Clines thought the Pirates had started nine blacks once before, but Stargell corrected him. "We had eight brothers on the field in 1967 in Philadelphia, when Harry Walker was managing," Stargell said. "The only white was Denny Ribant, a pitcher." Cash said the reason there were nine blacks in the starting lineups was because "some of the whites were hurt—guys like Bob Robertson and Richie Hebner. But it doesn't make any difference on this team."
Black solidarity was broken when Ellis could not go all the way and Luke Walker, a white relief pitcher, got credit for the win. Walker did not feel it was especially significant. "All I saw on the field were eight men and myself," he said. "I think all the guys on this team feel the same way." Manager Danny Murtaugh said it had not occurred to him that all the players were black when he made out the lineup. "I'm colorblind," Murtaugh said, "and my athletes know it."
A 49-year-old man named Shirley Dye was driving through an underpass in Champaign, Ill. the other day when he saw a golf ball rolling along the read. With admirable ambition and no small respect for his own coordination, Dye slowed his car, opened the door, leaned over and tried to scoop up the ball on the gallop, so to speak. However, he lost his balance and fell out.
The car, riderless, veered to the right, hit the wall of the underpass, ricocheted back across the median barrier and banged into the far side, where it stopped. Dye, unhurt except for his feelings, got a $15 ticket for careless driving, a dent in his bumper and one beat-up golf ball he should mount and put on display.
Easygoing Norm Van Brocklin, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, invited sportswriters covering the club to join himself and his assistant coaches at a night spot in Greenville, S.C., where the Falcons train at Furman University. Among the writers was Frank Hyland of The Atlanta Journal, a new man on the beat. As the evening wore on, one thing led to another and eventually Van Brocklin called Hyland a "whore writer," a term Norm uses for writers whose prose displeases him. Hyland said he wasn't either and Van Brocklin reached across the table and grabbed him by the necktie. An assistant coach separated them. Hyland said, "When I write, I'm a winner. You are a loser." Van Brocklin said, "I am not." Hyland said, "Check your record." There was nothing else to do but repair to a hallway where Van Brocklin swung and missed and Hyland swung and missed. The only damage done was to Hyland's coat, which was torn in three places.
The next morning Van Brocklin apologized to everybody.
"We just got started smart-alecking around," he said. "I initiated the physical part of it, I'm sorry to say. As far as I'm concerned, it's all over. I feel nothing but remorse."