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Everyone had high hopes for the first World Baseball Classic (SCORECARD, Sept. 4), an ambitious attempt to determine by round-robin tournament the best minor league baseball team in the world. Played over 10 days in Honolulu, it was also supposed to be a kind of trial balloon for Hawaii's future as a major league city and the key link in an eventual worldwide baseball circuit that would include Tokyo. "I will forecast," said Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, "that this is the start of baseball's future."
Alas. The World Baseball Classic was a world classic flop. The 10 nights of competition had a total attendance of 10,923. The championship game between the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League and a team of Venezuelan All-Stars drew 922 people. Most Little League games do better than that.
The players were supposed to split 30% of the gate receipts. If the promoters had stuck to that idea, each member of the winning team would have received $9.72 as his winner's share. Kodak, which sponsored the tournament, hurriedly set up a $32,000 pot, which let the players take home shares ranging up to a maximum of $350.
O.K., Bowie, back to the drawing board. The future is still ahead.
THE HAIRSTON RACKETS
The Houston Rockets of the NBA had phoned ahead for reservations at an El Paso hotel and were naturally pleased, when they arrived in that city, to find their reservations were in order. Except for a certain variation in the spelling of their names. Coach Tex Winter found his name listed as Tex Weimer. Jimmy Walker had become Jimmy Rocker. Jack Marin was Jack Moran, Dick Vandervoort Dick Vanderbilt, Cliff Meely Cliff Neely and Mike Newlin Mike Neiland. John Egan was respelled Egen, and Roy Patterson had become Ray. Rudy Tomjanovich had changed only slightly, to Rudy Tomjanovice, but John Vallely had metamorphosed into John Bulley. Only Don and Greg Smith had no problem.
"When I called in," said Vandervoort, who functions as trainer and traveling secretary, "the guy told me to hold it, he'd get his secretary to take down the names because she knew shorthand. I started again and she never once asked me to respell a name. She didn't even flinch when I said Tomjanovich. I thought, 'Man, this girl must be sharp.' "