One dealer, Wes Parker, the former Dodger first baseman, would've been able to sell his own uniform had he chosen to do so. Now a broadcaster, Parker said that he had made back the $50 table-rental fee in the first hour, selling baseball cards. As a boy in affluent Brentwood, where he lived up the street from Gary Cooper and Cesar Romero, Parker collected baseball cards and Donald Duck and Little Lulu comic books. He also followed the old Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League with a passion. In high school he lost interest in collecting, but the spark returned. Parker said, "the minute I quit baseball with the Dodgers. I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and ran into one of those secondhand bookshops selling baseball cards and comic books. That's when I realized the old cards and books I had were now very valuable. My mom went up and pulled them all out of the attic."
Parker added, "I was fortunate. The key to saving your cards from when you were a kid is your mom. Talk to any of these guys buying. They tell me, 'I had all those cards you're selling, but my mother threw them away.' "
Parker attended the convention not only to sell duplicate cards from his own collection but also to spread the word that he collects anything pertaining to the Hollywood Stars, a team that was disbanded when the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958. To advertise his interest, he wore a Stars road jersey that he got from the Dodger equipment man, Nobe Kawano, who once held the same job with the Stars. The shirt, in fact, is the only Hollywood item in Parker's collection, and he is so eager to acquire more material that he plans to run a want ad in the Los Angeles Times. "Somebody out there must have some mementos of the old Hollywood Stars," Parker said. "Playing for the Stars was my dream. I'd have given up my entire major league career to have worn a Stars uniform."
Did Soviet athletes do well in the Olympics because they took a drug extracted from a thorny, creeping plant? "Undoubtedly," says Dr. Stephen Fulder, a gerontologist, writing in the respected British weekly New Scientist, which bills his story on its cover as "The mystery herb that won the Olympics."
The drug, reports Fulder, both in New Scientist and his new book The Root of Being, comes from a shrub related to ginseng and known scientifically as Eleutherococcus senticosus. "Despite its extensive use in the Soviet Union for 20 years, authorities in the West know almost nothing about it," Fulder writes, even though it is now sold in U.S. health-food stores, drugstores and supermarkets as Eleutherococcus or "Siberian ginseng." And what does the drug do? According to Fulder, the Soviets believe it increases stamina and improves performance. The Soviets ran across Eleutherococcus while testing Far Eastern plants for medicinal properties. They gave it to mice that were then forced to swim to the point of exhaustion. The drug reportedly prolonged swimming time by up to 44%. Next, Fulder writes. Professor Israel Brekhman, director of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biologically Active Substances in Vladivostok, gave the drug to a large group of runners before a 10-km. race. Those who took it supposedly performed better than those given a placebo. This prompted Professor A.V. Korobkov to experiment with 1,500 athletes at the Lesgraft Institute of Physical Culture and Sports in Moscow; according to Fulder's article, Korobkov found that the drug "could increase endurance as well as reflexes and concentration, particularly in the longer events. It was especially useful at increasing the amount of training that the athlete could tolerate without harm."
Fulder's article and book are bound to arouse interest, but one U.S. researcher who has worked with Eleutherococcus, Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, a psychopharmacologist with the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA Medical Center, says, "One should be very cautious about coming to strong conclusions about its effectiveness. Much of the preclinical and clinical research in the Soviet Union is based on poorly controlled studies with nonstandardized preparations." Siegel says that persons in this country who have taken the drug extract and whom he has examined say they feel stimulated. They also report feeling an increase in both energy and psychomotor efficiency. However, Siegel points out, everyone who took it showed an increase in blood pressure and nervousness, and those who took Eleutherococcus in large doses over a period of time also suffered from hypertension, skin eruptions, edema, nervousness, sleeplessness and morning diarrhea.
NOT QUITE CRICKET
Readers of The Times of London were doubtless surprised last week by the story on the "floodlit baseball international" played in Hull between Great Britain and France. Beneath a subhead that read, "One corner of an English field that is forever foreign," Keith Macklin reported, "The weather played a vile trick.... It poured with rain all day and the crowd was reduced from an expected 5,000 to 1,500. Nor was this the only blow for baseball in Britain. France won 13-1 after going seven up in the first two innings."
The British were handicapped from the start because their star pitcher, Peter Darnell, an office worker, was unable to play because of a broken leg. "He was hurt in a league game a week before when he slid too desperately and too hard into a base," Macklin noted. To make matters worse, " Great Britain were guilty of several fielding errors in the early stages of the match; when they tightened up their game it was too late. Some consolation was gained on Sunday when a Humberside team took on the French at Burton Constable, an attractive village site, and narrowed the margin to 5-3.