" Augie Donatelli is an ancient umpire who has forgotten more baseball than I'll ever see."
" Gaylord Perry is so greasy, the mound should be altered with grappling hooks to hold him down."
"I was extremely upset to see the cutesy-poo tactics Henry Aaron used at the plate, stepping out of the box, calling time-out and looking bored by it all."
These are only a few pronouncements on the grand old pastime from the pages of Fun In Houston
magazine, a monthly entertainment periodical published in Houston that is co-owned by a brown-haired, lollipop-cheeked conglomerate by the name of Anita Martini. No kidding.
Martini, a baseball expert, offered those opinions in her regular column. Her partner, Nelda Pena, a basketball expert, is more subtle. She once mentioned in her column that Cliff Meely of the Houston Rockets hadn't learned team play. "Cliff hasn't shown me much," wrote Pena, "beyond suiting out for three years."
In addition to Fun, Martini and Pena run a public relations business, Creative Concepts, that has handled the promotion of everything from energy-crisis seminars to motorcycle races to the opening of the Adam's Apple restaurant. In the past year Martini has been the major-domo in the promotion of four Southwestern Athletic Conference football games. She has appeared regularly on Sports Feedback, a phone-in program on KPRC radio. She has done film reports as well as three half-hour sports specials, one of them entitled Martini Time, on KPRC-TV. A fourth special on baseball is in the works. She has pioneered the use of live-camera remote interviews during hockey and basketball games. She served as color commentator on the Houston- Tulsa college football game. And she does live radio spots nightly from Houston for a New England station, and will be a regular on the Astros' radio and television pre-game shows this season.
"I make mistakes," she says. "My voice is awful. I ask long, convoluted questions in interviews. I can't make any money and I despair of going anywhere. All I know is, if the networks or somebody give me a chance, I can handle it. I've got it up here." She points to her temple. "I can think."
When Leo Durocher managed the Astros, he was fond of saying, "I'd lead off with Anita if I thought it would win games."
Baseball has been in Martini's blood since she was a tyke in Galveston, an asthma-ridden girl who read voraciously and listened to the Yankees on the radio during her shut-in periods. Her affluent family owned the old Martini Theatre, and Anita got to meet Sophie Tucker, Chill (the Voice of Francis the Talking Mule) Wills and that gang. On her 12th birthday her father presented her with a trip to anywhere she wished. Martini chose Yankee Stadium.
After graduation from Stephens College, Martini worked as a window dresser, secretary and sportswear buyer. She married a European, moved to Houston and got divorced. In 1967 she joined Fun magazine as an editorial assistant. Four years later she owned it.