The race began, and most of the challengers got a three-yard jump as Hodge, fearing injury, started slowly. But then he came on and 10 yards from the tape he had overhauled all but Willie. Hodge narrowed the margin even more: two steps, one, a half. As they hit the tape, Hodge leaned as 15 years of experience taught. And so did Willie.
"Willie by a lash," said a friend of Hodge's.
Willie told Larrabee he wore size 11s. "Only got a 10," said Larrabee, "but you can trade them in for an 11 at any sporting-goods store."
"That's cool," said Willie, who turned out to be a former hurdler at Crenshaw High School.
FM ON ICE
Sports impresario Charlie Finley, who is having a hard time connecting with holdout pitcher Vida Blue, also struck out in hockey when he failed to land a radio broadcasting contract for his California Golden Seals hockey team.
Enter Consciousness III Frequency Modulation. Perhaps in desperation, Finley granted permission for a listener-sponsored FM station in Berkeley, Calif., KPFA-FM, to broadcast a Seals game with the Chicago Black Hawks.
In the past, KPFA-FM had concentrated on oratory by Allen Ginsberg and Black Panthers and live coverage of riots more than it had on sports. But the station took its job seriously and even came up with innovations. Its stereo signal gave an echo-chamber effect to the rendition of the national anthem, and you haven't heard anything until you listen to the sound of an ice sweeper machine coming through two speakers. There also was an interview with a lonely fan stuck in the farthest reaches of the arena. "They told me that since I was a single, I shouldn't have too bad a location," observed the hapless consumer.
"We're hockey freaks," the KPFA-FM program director said. "This broadcast helped bridge the gap between our station and our first-world brothers and sisters who dig hockey."
Now, about this pitching problem, Charlie....