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The Ethiopians proudly filed onto the track and, led by Berhanu Girma, a 21-year-old accountant, sang a slightly stuttering rendition of Ethiopia Kidemi, the new socialist anthem.
He plays the game with great relish, though he never hot-dogs. He may appear clownish at times, but he says he doesn't let the fans get him down, not even when they yell, "Keep your eyes on your fries," as he comes up to bat. The kid deserves a break. His name? Ronald MacDonald, and he plays for the Tidewater Tides, the Mets' Triple A farm team in Norfolk, Va.
"People always ask me how my mother and father could've named me Ronald MacDonald," says the 24-year-old first baseman, who at week's end was batting .262 with seven homers for the Tides. "Well, I was born 10 years before the other Ronald McDonald started hawking hamburgers." Just which Ronald he was came into question recently when he dropped a pop fly with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Columbus Clippers, allowing two runners to score and tie the' game at 7-7. After that the Tides had to play more or less ketchup ball. Few people booed. After all, these are minor league Met fans, and MacDonald may well be the best thing to happen to the organization since Marvelous Marv Throneberry.
"I'm happy to have a name people recognize," says MacDonald. "I'd rather be Ronald MacDonald than John Smith." And why not? While the big-leaguers were out on strike, MacDonald might have reaped a minor McBundle. Tides General Manager Dave Rosenfield has approached one of the club's sponsors to see if it wouldn't like to have Ronald shill for its product. The sponsor was Burger King. The response? Said MacDonald, "They wouldn't bite."
IN SEARCH OF...
Our baseball calendar read "July 14—All-Star Game—Cleveland," so we sent Reporter Franz Lidz to see what he could find there. Here is his report:
Everybody talks about how the fans miss baseball, but the people who are really starving are newspaper editors with five sports pages to fill and TV directors with a six-minute sports news hole. Last Monday, the 13th, hundreds of fans gathered in downtown Cleveland to boo the cancellation of the All-Star Game. A rock band played I Can't Get No (Satisfaction). But the next afternoon the media trooped to Municipal Stadium anyway, where they found a couple of local TV producers hunched over a table at home plate, tossing dice. They were playing Strat-O-Matic, which isn't a vegetable grater sold on late-night TV but a board game with charts and dice that simulates baseball action.
For the average baseball fan that would be about as exciting as dicing carrots, but for the underfed media, it's apparently as scrumptious as free veal piccata. Half a dozen reporters watched, even took notes. A dozen or so photographers and TV cameramen took pictures of rolling dice and cards turning. They reported the action as diligently as they cover each Pete Rose hit that inches him toward Ty Cobb's record. Strat-O-Matic claims to be suitable for everyone "ages 11 & up." "I guess that qualifies us," said one baseball writer, which may or may not have been true.
There were no roaring crowds, no rippling pennants, no Fernando Valenzuela. A teary-eyed Rocco Scotti belted out The Star-Spangled Banner. He wasn't crying over the baseball strike; he just-gets weepy whenever he sings the national anthem. Everything was scaled down, if not out. Instead of an organist, Scotti was accompanied by an accordionist. This was the first All-Star Game that sounded like an Italian wedding.