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"It's sad that a man who's done so much for tennis got such a raw deal," says veteran Open-watcher Dick Savitt, who was the Wimbledon champion in 1951. "The ball boys and ball girls Mr. Rooney has trained have been absolutely fabulous." Indeed, by all accounts Rooney's crack cadre of ball kids is the best-armed and most efficient in the world.
"He's a wonderful man, and his work was excellent," says J. Randolph Gregson, president of the USTA. "But we felt he was running down. It was time for a younger man to get involved."
"Gregson can't find one flaw in my work," counters Rooney, whose responsibilities are now in fact being handled by two younger men. "As for physical or mental acuity, I still do 10,000 other things in my life." Besides overseeing ball chasers at the Virginia Slims Championship, Rooney coaches the women's college and boys' prep teams at Fordham.
Gregson says he won't reinstate Rooney. "I suppose we've handled this all very badly," he concedes. "We've wound up with egg on our face."
TALKIN' TRASH IN BEANTOWN
Everybody complains about the trash-sports that increasingly litter the landscape, but few would object to last week's National Grime Fighter Games in Boston. More than 200 teenagers with summer conservation and cleanup jobs around the country swept into the city to get down and dirty in such events as the 100-meter push-broom relay, the 50-meter shovel carry and the four-way bag-fill. It was the world's biggest pickup game.
The host state champs, Massachusetts Department of Public Works, copped the coveted Golden Broom Award for the second straight year. Afterward, all the contestants cleaned up City Hall Plaza, site of the competition. "What a waste!" muttered one civil servant. "Too bad these kids can't go and clean up what's inside City Hall."
HERE'S A REAL BLAST FROM THE PAST
In his day, Early Wynn was so cantankerous that he once said he would knock his mother on her behind if she crowded the plate. He swore he wouldn't quit baseball until he won his 300th game, which he did in 1963 in his 23rd season. He was 43. But Wynn says his latter-day counterparts are meaner than he ever was.