SI Vault
Edited by Myra Gelband
December 03, 1979
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December 03, 1979


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One reason the racing commissions are taking action is a drug bill that U.S. Representative Bruce F. Vento (D., Minn.) hopes to introduce in January. Vento's legislation would establish federal minimum testing standards and would set civil and criminal penalties for violations, which are now handled internally by racing commissions. Vento has received considerable support for the bill, primarily from well-organized humane societies around the country.

Racetrack officials are strongly opposed to the ban of the drugs and to federal intervention. But it's clear they can't have it both ways. There is general agreement that there are abuses of Bute and Lasix, and unless action is taken by the racing commissions to ban these drugs, Washington seems certain to do so. As William Gross, one of Pennsylvania's racing commissioners, said last week, "Sure, we'll get a lot of flak, but it's time we start to bite the bullet. I wouldn't want to see the commissions being dictated to by the federal government."


You probably thought that California lost to Baltimore in the American League playoffs because the Orioles played better ball. Not so, according to a letter we received from John Robertson of Camarillo, Calif. It wasn't the hitting or the pitching—but the singing that did the Angels in. Robertson is a voice and piano teacher whose principal hobby is singing The Star-Spangled Banner before pro baseball, football, basketball and hockey games. Because Robertson, a tenor, lives just northwest of Los Angeles, most of his appearances are in Southern California.

"In the last 6� years I've sung our national anthem 86 times for the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Kings, Southern California Sun (WFL) and Aztecs," writes Robertson. "I can sing the anthem in seven keys. When I sing in the four lower keys, I'm 60% wins. But in the three highest keys, B to D flat, I'm 95%, with 58 wins and three losses; I'm 37-2, or 95%, in my highest key. I sang at The Forum 20 times last season, 10 for the Lakers and 10 for the Kings, and never lost.

"...I have sung for the Dodgers for six years.... In 1977 the Dodgers lost two World Series home games with celebrity singers. If I had been allowed to sing for one of those games, there probably would have been a seventh game back in New York.

"...I have been singing for the Angels five years and I asked if I could sing in one playoff game. They owed me that on my seniority alone, but I also told them of my winning record in detail. They weren't impressed and said, 'Sorry.' Well, you know what happened in the last playoff game with their backs to the wall. They had pulled out all their stops—except one."

Rejected at home, Robertson then offered his victorious voice to Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver as the "ultimate weapon" against the Pirates in the World Series. Weaver never wrote back. Well, you know what happened in the last Series game. And now you know why.


Something unfunny has happened to the Harlem Globetrotters. They have released one of their most celebrated performers, Marques Haynes, who says he was dropped because of his activities as president of the union representing Globetrotter players, the United Basketball Players Association. According to an unfair-labor-practice charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, the Globetrotters have discharged three other players who were active in the union—John Smith, Ronald Cole and Alan Cunningham. Haynes accuses club management of attempting to interfere with and weaken the union.

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