U MUST BE CAREFUL
The University of Louisville last week renamed a residence hall, until now called simply Dormitory No. 4, in honor of old grad Johnny Unitas, a freshman walk-on who wound up having a pretty fair quarterbacking career. The dorm will be known henceforth as Unitas Tower, school officials having considered and rejected Unitas Hall. Reason? Not only is the 11-story building the tallest on campus, but there were fears that students might make the place sound like a vehicle rental firm. "U-Hall," get it?
CAUTION: RADAR AHEAD
Baltimore Pitcher Ross Grimsley's fastball travels 82 mph and his changeup 62 mph. Teammate Ken Singleton rifles the ball from right field at an 86-mph clip. This intelligence comes from Oriole Manager Earl Weaver, who gleaned it in turn from a battery-powered "radar gun" that gauges the speed of a thrown baseball—or almost any other moving object. Weaver believes the gizmo, which he tried out in spring training, could revolutionize the game.
Certainly it is an improvement over the techniques used in the past to measure the high hard ones of Bob Feller and other noted fastballers. Such exercises involved throwing the ball past a stationary electronic "eye," then translating elapsed time into a miles-per-hour figure. The 2�-pound radar gun, an adaptation of the radar units police use to nab speeders, is portable and instantaneous. You just point it and pull the trigger. The ball can be moving either toward the radar beam or away from it, and the speed is registered on a dial.
Weaver welcomes the device as a long-overdue way of grading throwing arms at every position. "You see a ball die on the infield, and everybody thinks the outfielder has a weak arm," he says, "but the radar gun tells you the ball's speed before it hits the ground. Maybe a soft infield was the problem." The Baltimore manager also sees the gun as a potential scouting aid. "A kid throws a fastball at 85 but dips to 80 the next year. If he's losing velocity at an early age, maybe he's not such a good prospect. Also, it's tough to tell a pitcher he's losing his fastball and should start using breaking balls. With this machine, it's right there in black and white."
The manufacturer, Oregon's JoPaul Industries, Inc., is showing the gun—the price is $1,325—to other big-league clubs, and applications in tennis and soccer are possible. The Orioles are checking out other radar units before buying, but the development has already lent a new dimension to Weaver's managerial thinking. " Grimsley has a good change-up," he says. "We could get all our pitchers to try for a 20-mph difference between fastballs and changeups."