Judge on Trial
The stench surrounding the Pernell Whitaker- Julio C�sar Ch�vez decision grew even more malodorous last week because of comments attributed to Mickey Vann, one of the two judges who robbed Whitaker by calling his Sept. 10 WBC welterweight championship fight against Ch�vez a draw. First Vann was quoted by the London Daily Star as saying he had deducted a point from Whitaker for a low blow in the sixth round. Next he was quoted by Texas boxing coordinator Rick Valdes as saying he hadn't deducted a point and, in fact, "never spoke to any reporter—he's willing to testify to that."
The question of whether Vann took away a point for a low blow is significant because judges are allowed to do so only if instructed by the referee; in the Whitaker-Ch�vez fight, ref Joe Cortez issued no such instructions. A one-point deduction by Vann would have meant the difference between a draw and the victory Whitaker deserved. So did Vann deduct a point? We can't say for sure, but we can address the assertion that he never spoke to a reporter. The Star's Ken Gorman says he talked to Vann and has notes of the interview. Moreover, on the morning after the fight Vann spoke at length to an SI reporter.
Vann's credibility is at issue and so, more than ever, is the fishy decision.
In 1972 a fan who ran onto the field during an NFL game in Baltimore was leveled by Colt linebacker Mike Curtis, who upended the interloper with such ferocity that the poor sap later couldn't recall having landed. Over the years countless other louts have interrupted sports events with uninvited intrusions, but they remained largely indistinguishable one from the other. That is, until last Saturday in New York, where a 15-year-old boy's foray onto the Yankee Stadium infield changed the outcome of a game.
Seconds before the Boston Red Sox's Greg Harris delivered a pitch to Yankee batter Mike Stanley, with two outs in the ninth and the Sox leading 3-1, third base umpire Tim Welke spotted the boy running onto the field. Welke called time, then Stanley hit a fly to left, which was caught, apparently ending the game. Welke's timeout—the correct call, for sure—stood. The Yankees rallied to win 4-3, conveying folk hero status on the fan. "We were all trying to get the kid back here to thank him," said Stanley. That was the wrong thing to say, especially at Yankee Stadium, where 14 crazies ran onto the field during the four-game series against the Sox.
Who knows what forces compel fans to try to shake hands with third basemen and chat up linebackers during a game. Booze is a frequent contributor, though evidently not in the case of the 15-year-old, a member of a church group visiting the stadium from Pleasantville, N.Y. But such acts are always stupid. Apart from the obvious dangers involved, it would be sad if Saturday's incident affects the American League East race, which as of Monday had the Yanks four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
Short of surrounding fields with barbed wire, there is little teams can do to stop these clods. Though we don't suggest that players should handle crowd security, one wonders what would have happened had a Mike Curtis been playing when the first of those 14 fans ran onto the field last week. Would the other 13 have followed?
In a recent tournament at Cincinnati's Miami Whitewater Golf Course, John Hacker of Winton Woods High met T.J. Shank of Northwest High. Shank beat Hacker on the last hole.