- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
A basketball camp run by Providence University Coach Dave Gavitt opened with an assistant setting up sides. "All right," he said, "you five be shirts and you five be skins." One of the skins was Franny Duffy, 16, the only girl among the 240 attendees. Said Gavitt, "We finally got that squared away."
Jorge Lebron, the 14-year-old Puerto Rican schoolboy signed by Philadelphia and assigned to the Phillies' Class A farm club in Auburn, N.Y., is settling in nicely, encouraging his employers by banging baseballs off the fences in batting practice. General Manager Bill Graney hopes to activate him during Auburn's next home stand, but the media—and the fans—already have made the young infielder a celebrity. While dining at Auburn's Hollywood Restaurant last week Jorge was besieged by autograph seekers. "If he spoke English, he'd understand what's going on," Graney said. "And by now he'd probably be nuts."
The advent of the literate, educated ballplayer can pose problems for the game's executives. Take Bobby Bragan, the Texas League president. Not long ago Bragan received the following communication from a player. "In the course of human events, it sometimes becomes necessary to strike out against adversity, prejudice and poor judgment. My ejection from a game was [caused by] an attempt to right a wrong. In my opinion a called third strike which scrapes the dirt passing the plate is the result of very poor judgment." The writer enclosed a check to cover his fine, adding that if his protest had helped to restore a sense of justice in Texas League umpires, the money was well spent. Not exactly what an oldtime tobacco-chewing player would have done. But Bragan handled it in the time-honored way. He cashed the check.
One sidelight of last week's All-Star Game in Pittsburgh concerns the While Sox' Dick Allen, who did not show for the 8:30 game until 7:45. Just like spring training, people said, recalling the controversial slugger's appearance at camp 50 minutes before the exhibition season began.
But it was not quite the same thing. Actually, Allen ran into a creature whose forebears probably invented the term "stonewall it"—a Three Rivers Stadium guard. Anyone who has ever tried, by reason or cunning, to gain admittance to a major league park without the proper piece of paper, knows the tenacity of a security man. Just because some guy drives up and says he's Dick Allen from Chicago and that he's in a hurry to get dressed for the game, is that supposed to be good enough? No, sir. If he were Dick Allen, he'd have a parking pass.
As the traffic jam grew behind Allen and the guard, Dick told the man to keep the car with the keys and walked on in. Unperturbed by the incident, or by the timing of his arrival, Allen remarked, "On time is game time. I didn't intend to get here any earlier." But American League Manager Dick Williams removed the star after only 2� innings. Then Allen intended to go home, but there was a hitch: he could not remember what he had done with his car keys.
Small wonder that the San Francisco Giants had to make some moves, most notably replacing Charlie Fox with Wes Westrum. They were losing attendance in the most unusual ways. The topper came when China's famed Wushu martial arts troupe arrived in town. The performers were asked if they had any special requests. Yes, they said, they would like to see the Giants play. But U.S. Government officials reasoned that a meagerly filled Candlestick Park would do international public relations no good, so they persuaded the troupe to delay its baseball spectating until it got to New York, where it could watch the Giants play the Mets at certain-to-be-packed Shea Stadium. Subtract another 40 from Giant home attendance, add 40 to the Mets.
Relief Pitcher Tom Hilgendorf of the Cleveland Indians was credited with a save when he dived fully clothed into a swimming pool and rescued 13-year-old Jerry Zaradte. Returning from dinner, Hilgendorf happened to look down and see young Zaradte lying on the bottom of the pool. (He apparently had leg cramps.) It was Hilgendorf's first swim of the summer. Like other Indian players, he is forbidden to swim during the season.
Los Angeles All-Pro Guard Tom Mack quieted speculation that he would jump from the NFL to the Southern California Sun of the WFL, allowing that although the Sun's offer was super-generous, "There are more considerations than just money." One of them might have been his personalized license plates.
They read: RAMS 65.