OPENING TO THE EAST
The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres announced last week that they will open the 1980 season with a three-game series on March 28, 29 and 30 in Japan. The teams plan to conclude their preseason schedule with two exhibition games in Honolulu and two more in Japan before playing the season-opening series in Japan. Then they will return to the U.S. for three days of rest before resuming their 162-game schedule. Other major league clubs will start their season in early April as usual.
The transplanted opener is being underwritten by a Tokyo newspaper, Sports Nippon. Although the trip to Japan appears all set, Giant players plan to vote on it and to raise the matter with the Baseball Players Association. They complain that it can be cold in Japan in late March, an argument that if taken seriously might apply equally to early-season games in Minnesota, Cleveland, Montreal, Boston, et al. Some San Diego fans may also be unhappy about the departure from tradition since the three games otherwise would have been played in San Diego Stadium.
Padre Executive Vice-President Ballard Smith defends the Japanese opener as "a first step toward what we hope will someday lead to a global World Series." Since major league teams have been playing exhibitions in Japan for more than 40 years—and often against Japanese teams—it may be stretching things to call a series between two National League clubs, no matter where played, any kind of first step. Yet a World Series that is truly a World Series is a worthwhile goal, and anything that gets people even thinking about it is welcome.
COLOR THEM SPECIAL
A horse of a very different color is living in Barn 44 at New York's Belmont Park. His name is Clarence Stewart, and the 2-year-old is only the fourth thoroughbred—and first thoroughbred colt—to be registered as white by The Jockey Club. There have been roughly 750,000 thoroughbreds foaled in North America since 1803, which makes Clarence Stewart a genetic 187,500-to-1 shot. He is not an albino—his eyes are dark—and his sire and dam are brown and bay, respectively. Clarence Stewart is an oddity.
So is the man he's named after, his trainer. Clarence Stewart is one of a handful of black trainers in thoroughbred racing. Unusual though his namesake is, the trainer is not about to put the horse in a sideshow. "I've been in this game 31 years, so I think I should know a good horse when I see one," says Clarence Stewart, the man. "This looks like a good one. And he's the most beautiful horse I've ever seen."
Clarence Stewart, the horse, was born on March 24, 1977 in Montauk, N.Y., and his groom, Mark Hubley, was there. "His legs came out and they were white," says Hubley. "Then his nose came out and that was white. And then the whole foal came out. He looked like a quart of milk. We couldn't believe it." Neither could Jockey Club officials, who conducted blood tests on the foal to make sure of his pedigree.
Clarence Stewart plans to run Clarence Stewart this summer. In the meantime, Stewart and Hubley are working to overcome two problems. The colt sunburns easily, so he must be kept indoors a lot. And, as anyone with a white suit might guess, he is a chore to keep clean.
Authorities at the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond wouldn't have dreamed of issuing a hacksaw or a ladder to any of their inmates, and certainly not to Michael Cross, a convicted murderer whose record included an unsuccessful escape attempt. But they did let Cross take up running and that may have been just as ill-advised. Cross trained hard and last October completed a marathon—running more than 100 laps around the small prison yard. A month ago Cross somehow cut through a metal air vent, crawled across a rooftop and lowered himself by a rope to the street. Then he outran guards who chased him on foot. He is still at large.