Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley has called for an ordinance prohibiting price gouging by the city's hotels and motels during the Summer Olympics, but L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee President Peter Ueberroth opposes such a move. Ueberroth points out that 82 southern California hotels, including some of the area's largest, have signed an agreement with the LAOOC promising to hold down rates during the Olympics. Although several smaller nonsignatory hostelries have indicated that they intend to raise rates to exploitative levels—from a normal daily rate of $52 to $200 in one case—Ueberroth argues that an antigouging ordinance would create the "blatantly unfair" impression that such practices were an across-the-board problem.
Ueberroth may have had another reason to leave well enough alone; an Olympic organizing committee that's charging up to $200 a ticket for opening ceremonies and $95 for first-day swimming finals (compared with $40 and $24 for the 1976 Montreal Games) that figure to involve less than ten minutes of actual swimming—that day's program includes the women's 100-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley and the men's 100 breaststroke and 200 freestyle—probably shouldn't question the prices charged by other entrepreneurs. Ueberroth certainly was in a less vulnerable position than Jim Steeg, the NFL's director of special events, who complained about the fact that a Holiday Inn near Tampa Stadium was planning to sock Super Bowl guests $100 a night—with a five-night minimum—instead of its regular rates of $62 to $74. "We apparently underestimated individual greed," Steeg wrote to Jim Manconi, the hotel manager.
Manconi minced no words in replying. Noting that whereas tickets to Tampa Bay Buccaneer games cost $5 to $15, the NFL was charging $60 a ticket for the Super Bowl, Manconi demanded in a return letter, "Who is it that is gouging? Who is it that has the greed?...They're making a buck off Tampa, so why shouldn't Tampa make a buck off them?"
Seven gallant survivors of many a browbeating gathered Friday night in the Diamond Club of Shea Stadium in New York to be honored by the New York Baseball Writers' Association. These proud gents all served, at various times, as public relations director of the Yankees under George Steinbrenner. They had many things in common, one being that none of them was ever fired by Steinbrenner. They all quit.
Each man's place at the dais was marked by a cardboard tombstone with R.I.P. inscriptions: Bob Fishel 1973-74, Marty Appel 1974-76, Mickey Morabito 1977-79, Larry Wahl 1980, Dave Szen 1981, Irv Kaze 1982 and Ken Nigro 1983. Described by one kibitzer as "the ghosts of Steinbrenner past," the publicists swapped war stories such as the one about the time Steinbrenner, learning that Billy Martin had made some injudicious comments to the press, warned Morabito that if one word got into the papers, Morabito was fired. Fortunately for Morabito, the next day the New York City newspapers went on strike, and his job was saved. Appel told of how he won a small role in an upcoming Woody Allen movie after writing the casting director that his sole qualification for acting was that he used to be Steinbrenner's spokesman and that he once had to announce at a news conference that "no more underprivileged kids would be allowed into the Stadium for the rest of the season."
The audience at the affair was brought up-to-date on Yankee p.r.-men records, such as "Most Lunches Called Back From—53, Irv Kaze," and somebody read aloud a mock press release from Steinbrenner, who wasn't present, pledging the "continued growth" of the Yankee PR Men Alumni Association. The ex-publicists were showered with gifts, including a cartoon by the New York Daily News' Bill Gallo showing their letters of resignation on the spike of a Prussian helmet belonging to a Gallo character known as General Von Steingrabber. There was another gift all of them will surely cherish: a dart board with a certain familiar visage in the center.
FARR, THE CAR STAR
Trying to come up with a phone number in Detroit for former Lions running back Mel Farr, whose son, Mel Jr., is a FACES IN THE CROWD selection this week (page 71), SI reporter Sandy Keenan encountered a most congenial directory assistance operator. "You mean Mel Farr Superstar?" the operator asked with a chuckle before providing the number.