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In other words, Wolfe had good stuff but not the right stuff.
SPARE THE ASTERISKS, PLEASE
An article in a newsletter called The SABR Bulletin may make baseball fans feel ever so slightly better about the strike-ravaged 1981 major league season. Published by the Society for American Baseball Research, an organization of baseball historians and figger filberts, the Bulletin notes that while the '81 season consisted of only 103 to 111 games, depending on the team, performances of the season's statistical leaders were, with few exceptions, better than some full-season leaders of the past.
Probably the most notable stat this year belongs to rookie Tim Raines, who was sidelined by injuries as well as the strike and played only 88 games, yet stole 71 bases, far more than the champions in many full National League seasons. Similarly, Fernando Valenzuela's eight shutouts and 180 strikeouts would have led the league in several other seasons. A rundown of other comparisons between 1981 National League leaders and selected statistical champions of past years: Mike Schmidt, 31 home runs (Ralph Kiner, 23, 1946); Schmidt, 91 RBIs (Hal Chase, 84, 1916); Craig Reynolds and Gene Richards, 12 triples (Ralph Garr, 11, 1975); and Bill Buckner, 35 doubles (Henry Aaron, 34, 1956). Comparisons in the American League: Rickey Henderson, 89 runs (Ray Chapman, 84, 1918); Cecil Cooper, 35 doubles (Sal Bando and Pedro Garcia [tie], 32, 1973); John Castino, nine triples (Del Unser, eight, 1969); Rick Langford, 18 complete games (Frank Lary, 15, 1960; Dean Chance, 15, 1964); and Rollie Fingers, 28 saves (Goose Gossage, 26, 1975).
Feel better? Good. Just try not to think of how much more impressive those '81 statistics might have been.
THE WINNER—AT LAST
It's official. Finally. Barry Lee Weisberg, the Brooklynite who failed in his quest to finish dead last in the two preceding New York City Marathons (SI, Oct. 26), succeeded in bringing up the rear in this year's race. In 1980 Weisberg had been proclaimed the unofficial last-place finisher, only to be stripped of the title when a previously undetected rival straggled across the finish line a few minutes after he'd done so. This year Weisberg finished 13, 360th and last in 7 hours, 34 minutes, 13 seconds by outwitting, 275-pound Alfredo Sardinas Jr., another aspirant to last-place honors, who was wearing a beeper to keep in touch with his eight-months-pregnant wife and who briefly dropped back to challenge Weisberg at about the eight-mile mark. We pick up the action at that point, on Flat-bush Avenue in Brooklyn, with Weisberg dressed in his trusty Santa Claus hat and King Kong (another notable Gotham loser) T shirt. Weisberg's account:
"Alfredo and I shook hands in a sort of may-the-best-man-lose gesture. At nine miles, I stopped at a marathon party on Lafayette Avenue and had a cup of coffee and a bagel. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alfredo go by. He didn't see me when I snuck in behind him a few blocks later. By 17 miles I figured I was pretty safe. To make sure, I stopped at a bar to change into some fresh clothes I was carrying in a bag. Down the road I phoned my parents and told them to meet me downtown for dinner. It was their 41st anniversary. After a while, Alfredo and another guy came across the line, holding hands as a sign of victory. But they'd forgotten about me. A few minutes later, I came in—the real 'winner.' "
Weisberg said he was determined to defend his last-place title next year, adding that he didn't plan to run, if that's the word, anywhere other than in New York. The Boston Marathon, he noted, "has a qualifying time to keep the kooks and weirdos out."