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WHO HURT J.R.?
Here's an update on J.R. Richard, the gifted Houston Astro pitcher who suffered a career-ending stroke in 1980 and subsequently brought malpractice suits against four Houston doctors who had treated him. SI has been told by sources close to the situation that three of those suits, against Drs. Harold Brelsford, Charles McCollum and Ben Cooper, have been settled out of court for a total of approximately $2 million. Richard's remaining suit, against the fourth doctor, internist Michael Feltovich, is still pending, with the trial scheduled to begin Nov. 11 in Houston.
One source says Richard is likely to be asked in depositions about rumors that he used cocaine during his playing days. Last year Richard admitted in an interview with SI's Armen Keteyian that he did use cocaine. "I done [cocaine] here and there," he said. But he added, "Drugs have not been a large influence on my life. When I did any drugs I didn't do that much, and I never did keep it on me. I wasn't to the point where I had to have drugs, and I never did hang around those guys who did a lot of drugs."
The unanswered question, one that presumably will be explored if the suit against Feltovich proceeds, is whether there was any link between Richard's admitted drug use and the stroke that sidelined him at the age of 30.
SPARING THE ROD
Is the John (Hot Rod) Williams point-shaving case over? Last week in New Orleans, Judge Alvin Oser, who earlier had declared a mistrial because of prosecution misconduct (SCORECARD, Aug. 26), refused a state motion to retry the case and dismissed all charges against Williams, who had been accused of taking part in schemes to shave points in three college basketball games last season. The judge gave the state two weeks to appeal. The NBA said it might wait until all state or federal action is completed before deciding whether Williams will be allowed to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a statement that prompted Williams's attorney, Michael Green, to threaten the NBA with a lawsuit.
In New Orleans, U.S. Attorney John Volz had indicated earlier that he might bring federal charges against Williams if the state's appeal is rejected. Last week, however, Volz wasn't sounding very prosecutorial. He told SI that Justice Department policy generally prohibits dual prosecution and that he would need authorization from higher-ups to bring federal charges. He said he must determine if there's "any compelling federal interest" in prosecuting Williams and whether the case merits the time and money that would be required before he asked for authorization.
How many times has Volz sought such authorization? "Not too many," he said. How many? "Let me put it this way," he said. "I've been here since 1978 and I've never asked for it. Maybe that will give you an idea."
Forty percent of the top books (that's six of 15) on The New York Times's current nonfiction bestseller list are on or related to sports. There are autobiographies by Martina Navratilova and Mickey Mantle, a humorous golf book by Bob Hope, a treatment of Olympic rowing by David Halberstam, a collection of essays on outdoor life by Patrick McManus and Ernest Hemingway's account of a summer of bullfighting.