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The great Bob Feller was set to toss out the ceremonial first dice when a TV news photographer pleaded, "Wait a minute. Bob. My battery just went dead."
"Mine has been dead for years," Feller replied.
The two producers rolled on as if they were at a craps table in Vegas. The centerfield scoreboard flashed statistics and an announcer brayed an echoing play-byplay to 77,000 empty seats. When a mock player got a mock hit, a kind of mock bubble-gum card was moved to a mock first base oh a mock diamond on a real folding card table. It was a mockery. The most heated action of the day came in the seventh inning, when a gust of wind blew Mike Easler's card out of the ersatz stadium and into the real world, where the baseball strike was still on.
The National League won 15-2, a score that prompted one reporter to say, "They ought to take this game back to the drawing board."
Up in the stands, stadium worker James Anderson watched while the media stood around home plate trying to pick an MVP for the fantasy game. Anderson brushed cobwebs from a seat unused for the last 40 days. "You know," he said, shaking his head, "it still don't beat the real thing."
HEEEEERE'S JOHN Y!
John Y. Brown may be better known outside his home state for peddling Kentucky Fried Chicken, folding the ABA Kentucky Colonels, trading the NBA Buffalo Braves to San Diego, severely crippling the Boston Celtics before selling them, and marrying the beauteous Phyllis George, than he is for being governor of Kentucky.
And now the fast-food entrepreneur turned sports-owner turned politician has taken it upon himself to turn around the University of Kentucky football team, which has suffered three straight losing seasons, 12 in the last 15, and 16 in the last 30. Not that losing has been the only thing. Rumors of point-shaving, an NCAA probation, and several instances of players being charged with felonies, have turned the Wildcats into something of a cruel state joke. ("Heard that Kentucky went 3-8 last year? Three convictions and eight acquittals.")
Brown decided the problem was Fran Curci, who has coached the Wildcats since 1973, so he quietly set in motion a scheme to replace him—with George Allen, the up-tempo former Los Angeles Ram and Washington Redskin coach, who now happens to work on CBS' pro football telecasts, as does Phyllis George Brown. It just so happened that Brown's plan didn't sit well with the university's president, Otis Singletary.
In an interview last week with Billy Reed of the Louisville Courier-Journal Brown said that his intrusion into university business was part of his job as governor—ensuring that the state has a positive image in all areas, including football. "A losing team for 30 years isn't good for the state," Brown said. He insisted that his displeasure with Curci has nothing to do with Curci's refusal to support Brown during Brown's 1979 gubernatorial campaign. "I like Fran," said Brown. "I just don't like his program."