SI Vault
Edited by William Leggett
December 25, 1978
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December 25, 1978


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But the plate was undamaged, and the Goaldiggers, figuring their coach's bite was far worse than his bark, went out and scored five goals to win 9-2. Perhaps more gratifying to-Terrible Ted was the fact that the Goaldiggers got 37 minutes in penalties in the final period compared to two minutes in the first two.


San Francisco's Candlestick Park was the scene last week of an odd sight: the removal of an artificial surface. Candlestick thus became the first stadium housing major league teams in both baseball and football to return to nature—almost. The new surface is called Prescription Athletic Turf and, in essence, is grass growing in pure sand, which enhances drainage. When the AstroTurf was put down in 1970 it was one of the incentives that led the 49ers to move from Kezar Stadium into a refurbished Candlestick. The cost of installing the rug was $399,145, and it will cost an estimated $1,019,600 to convert to PAT, but it seems well worth it.

While the baseball Giants didn't seem to mind the AstroTurf, the football 49ers fought hard to get the stuff taken out because too many serious injuries had occurred on it. For instance, Roman Gabriel of the Rams and Monte Johnson of the Raiders suffered well-publicized concussions at Candlestick, and 49er Wide Receiver Willie McGee had a double leg-break in 1976.

It would be a blessing if more stadiums followed suit. Dr. Robert Kerlan, the renowned orthopedic surgeon who has specialized in treating athletes, was recently asked about artificial turf. "I've grown to hate it," he said. "I don't see how any doctor can like it. Basically, it's an abrasive, hard surface and, in its present state, it's a nightmare for both the athlete and doctor."


In the last year 15 NFL coaches were fired, eight baseball managers bit the dust, and NBA teams slam-dunked seven coaches. But a record for speed in firing in a new league was set last week by the Women's Professional Basketball League.

George Nicodemus lasted just two exhibition games with the Iowa Cornets, oddly enough both of them victories. In preseason play the Cornets defeated the Chicago Hustle 114-105 and 101-100, but last week Iowa management claimed Nicodemus was lazy and not working the "girls" hard enough. General Manager Rod Lein took over and Nicodemus was unemployed—for all of 48 hours.

Because in Milwaukee events were occurring at an equally startling pace. In the WPBL's first game, Chicago beat the Milwaukee Does 92-87. The Does were coached by Candace Klinzing, who was chosen the "Outstanding Young Woman of America" in 1978 for her ability to coach and direct athletes. The Does' program urged: "Give 'em hell, Coach. We're with you all the way."

Well, it turned out that all the way meant one regular-season game and a new league record, because Klinzing was axed following the Does' loss to Chicago. Her successor? Former record-holder George Nicodemus.

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