WATCHWORD FOR OUR TIMES
With talk of a baseball players' strike in the air and with big salary arbitration awards being announced almost daily, Philadelphia Phillie Slugger Mike Schmidt was probably lucky to get a word in edgewise. Everything considered, he uttered a well-chosen one the other evening at a sports banquet in Wilmington, Del. when Phillie President Ruly Carpenter, acknowledging Schmidt's presence on the dais, rhetorically asked the audience, "What can I say about Mike Schmidt after his being named MVP for both the National League and the World Series?" Whereupon the seated Schmidt shouted, "Renegotiate!"
Massimo Ottolenghi's classmates in Milan were startled to hear him being hailed on TV as a soccer hero. Massimo, 14, had supposedly been the star of a team representing the Internazionale soccer club that had beaten a team from Bolivia to win a tournament in Buenos Aires for boys 14 and under. But Massimo's friends knew he'd been dutifully attending classes while the tournament was taking place. They told their elders, and pretty soon the newspapers got wind of the story and began investigating.
What they uncovered might be called Kiddiescam. The newspapers reported that with the connivance of Massimo, the coach, team officials and the players, a lad who was over the tournament's age limit had performed under Massimo's name, scoring seven goals and being named the tournament MVP. So, how did Massimo wind up being celebrated on Italian TV? Easy. The ringer was identified as 15-year-old Massimo Pellegrini. When the plane carrying the triumphant Internazionale team made a stopover in Rome en route to Milan, he supposedly got off and his place was taken by a waiting Massimo Ottolenghi, who until his classmates blew the whistle on him proceeded to make public appearances as if he had been the star of the big victory in Argentina. Internazionale suspended the coach and two team officials, and the Milan public prosecutor was investigating the possibility that Massimo Pellegrini had traveled abroad on Massimo Ottolenghi's passport.
PORTRAITS IN GOLD
What happens when you take six U.S. Olympic gold medalists, give them paint and canvas and ask them to create works of art through their "athletic medium"? To find out—and to raise funds for the U.S. Olympic Committee—Anheuser-Busch, Inc. recently underwrote just such a project. The resulting paintings will be exhibited starting April 11 in Manhattan's Spectrum Fine Art Gallery, after which they will be auctioned off. Each work will also be reproduced in a signed edition of 1,984 prints. And there are plans to market posters of the paintings, tentatively priced, for the set of six, at $19.84. That number, of course, represents the next Olympic year.
The athletes showed world-class resourcefulness in creating their master-works. Hockey player Mike Eruzione slap-shot paint-doused pucks at a canvas and then put on blades and "skated" a trail of paint across his work. After putting paint to canvas, swimmer John Naber lifted, kinked and tilted it in motions vaguely similar to swimming strokes. Al Oerter tossed discuses at a paint-covered canvas. Sprinter Wilma Rudolph ran through a blob of paint in track shoes and re-created on canvas her "first stride" out of the starting blocks. Bill Russell dribbled a basketball across a paint-covered canvas. And, finally, Marathoner Frank Shorter put a glob of paint on canvas and let it stream across the surface. Shorter explained that he was letting the color "run."
Minnesota Twins Owner Calvin Griffith, 69, is a tightfisted oldtimer whose ability to operate in baseball's current free-wheeling economic climate has been increasingly open to question. While rival owners were lavishing lucrative long-term contracts on their players, Griffith refused to follow suit. As a result, he lost a dozen free agents to other teams, including such notables as Larry Hisle, Lyman Bostock, Bill Campbell, Dave Goltz and Geoff Zahn. Furthermore, when Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven threatened to play out their options, Griffith traded them rather than pay them what they demanded. Owing partly to Griffith's skinflint ways, the Twins last season finished 19� games behind Kansas City in the American League West and drew only 769,206 fans, the lowest attendance in the majors. The Twins' struggles have raised doubts about whether the team will even be around to move as scheduled in 1982 into a new domed stadium now under construction in downtown Minneapolis, a change of venue Griffith has characteristically resisted.
But the idea that the Twins are about to go down the tube is flatly rejected by Griffith's son, Clark, 39, the team's executive vice-president and heir apparent to his father. "The dinosaur lived 140 million years before it became extinct," says the younger Griffith, who is generally credited with a couple of evolutionary adaptations the club has recently made. Faced with the loss of Catcher Butch Wynegar, the Twins startled everybody a month ago by signing him to a five-year contract at $400,000 per, then the richest in the club's history. Last week the Twins eclipsed that record by agreeing to give Shortstop Roy Smalley a four-year, $2.4 million deal. "Calvin wasn't happy about spending so much money," conceded Clark Griffith. "None of us were. But it was either that or lose our catcher and shortstop."