The Portland (Ore.) Mavericks are a 1½-season-old Class A team with an 84-game schedule, tricolor bases, a manager named Frank (The Flake) Peters and a Northwest League record of 184 stolen bases in 80 games.
The Mavericks came into being just when the Pacific Coast League and its Triple A Beavers abandoned the city for reasons of increasing debt and declining attendance. Maverick Owner Bing Russell, a TV actor with steady, if minor, credits, rounded up sandlotters from Los Angeles to New Hampshire for a 10-day tryout camp in Portland, promising $300 a month to anyone who made the club. He dressed the survivors in "streetwalker red," painted the bases red, white and blue and turned his team loose to play the game as the spirit moved them.
In a recent, typical doubleheader:
August 4, 1974
•The Mavericks stole seven bases in the first inning of the first game.
•The Mavericks were involved in a fight that was a bench emptier and a discussion about having another fight that was also a bench emptier.
•The Mavericks made a trade with the visiting team between games and the traded players went back to the dressing room and swapped uniforms before the start of the second game.
Once-disaffected Portland fans are eating it all up. Last season the Mavericks drew 84,397 for 36 home dates, a record for Class A teams with short seasons; this year 51,593 have paid to see the first 17 home games.
Through last week the Mavericks stood second in the Western Division of the Northwest League, a game and a half out. And they continue to add to their legend. Recently an outfielder, unhappy because he was not in the lineup, popped Manager Peters in the mouth. The next day the outfielder started.
Russell bought his team its own bus this year and hired a sign painter to inscribe PORTLAND MAVERICKS BASEBALL TEAM on its side. The painter botched it somehow and the sign came out PORT-LANDS MAVERICK BASEBALL. RuSSell let it go, saying, "What the hell, I think he's right."
SOCCER TO ME
If you have never heard of Helmut Sch√∂n or Rinus Michels, chances are you have also never heard of Dettmar Cramer. All three are world-famous soccer coaches—Sch√∂n for West Germany, Michels for Holland and Cramer for America.
Cramer, a small, intense, 48-year-old German from Dortmund, was hired last week by the U.S. Soccer Federation as this country's first national soccer coach, a major step in the federation's announced effort to field a competitive team at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and in the 1978 World Cup in Buenos Aires.
Cramer's four-year contract calls for $100,000 a year in salary and expenses and is an indication of his stature in Europe. He was assistant coach for the West German team that won the World Cup in 1954 and of the runner-up German team in 1966. For the past seven years he has been coach for the FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, and on its behalf has taught soccer in more than 70 countries.
In accepting the USSF job, Cramer said, "I cannot promise miracles. I cannot promise instant success. I can only promise very, very honest and hard work. We need a youth program all over the country and we need to improve coaching and refereeing. We must develop the game on every level."
It sounds to us as though the goals of Dettmar Cramer are more realistic than those of his new employers. But on the other hand, overreaching is an American specialty, even if soccer isn't yet.
Rosie Manning, the Atlanta Falcons' 6'4", 265-pound defensive tackle, looked around the dining room of the Falcons' training camp in Greenville. S.C. one day and realized something was missing. The other veterans.
Outside, Manning joined the picket line, explaining, "I live in Las Vegas, you know, and I never read the papers."
FOR THE BIRDS
A visitor to San Francisco, arriving by ship recently, was surprised to hear the foghorn on the lonely Farallon Islands, 40 miles offshore, sounding its deep-throated warning on a sparkling clear day. Being a nosy sort, the visitor wrote the Coast Guard, which operates the Farallon light, for an explanation. An electronics officer replied, "Over the years thousands of seabirds have become so accustomed to the Farallon foghorn that we're worried they may be disturbed if it sounds only intermittently."
The nosy visitor went home heartened.
With grandiose intentions and a roster of owners whose names sound as though they belong on a brass plaque, World Team Boxing threw itself into the entrepreneurial ring last week, promising "to give the great game a shot in the arm."
The new league proposes 48 franchises at $10,000 each, eight divisions. 10 fighters to a team, two in each of five weight classes and a taxi squad to back up injured boxers. A 30-week schedule of five-bout evenings, six rounds to a match, would begin in February, with each fighter competing every other week and everyone paid on a contractual basis. The winners would share 30%, of the net gate.
WTB's trimmings are impressive. Jersey Joe Walcott is commissioner, former world champions Carmen Basilio, Sandy Saddler, Ike Williams, Willie Pep, Tony Zale and Joey Giardello own six of the franchises. But so far the substance is missing, specifically, the boxers. Co-founder Wayne Nelson says, "We don't want the Jerry Quarrys, the Joe Fraziers, because they'd dominate the league. It's the balanced competition which makes the excitement." True, one might reply, except that imbalance beats no balance at all.
Television is also missing so far, and new sporting propositions do not survive without TV these days. There was a time, the halcyon days of the old Friday Night Fights, when the ratings indicated that one out of every five home sets was tuned to the fights, and that did not take into account all the saloons in America. By the late '50s, though, the ratings had dropped and in 1964 the series was finally discontinued.
Who knows? Maybe the time is right again. Imagine, for the fun of it, the look on the face of a disenfranchised fight fan, who has been staring gloomily into his beer because the bartender has had the set tuned to tennis, if suddenly the familiar voice of Don Dunphy were to break through and pronounce again those unforgettable, words: "To look sharp...."
In an interview with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED this spring, Yvan Dubois, director-general of the 1976 Olympic Village in Montreal, said of his plans, "I do not want barriers between the men's and women's dormitories in the Olympic Village—they should be able to mingle, to be together, to love and have fun. This is the 1970s."
Last week Dubois made it official. "To adjust Olympic Village life to the needs and tastes of youth," he announced to the press, the traditional fence between the male and female athletes' quarters will be eliminated at Montreal. "Discrimination," he went on, "is distasteful and inconsistent with the organizing committee's plan to eliminate the physical and psychological barrier between the sexes."
It's a brave new world, all right, until you get to the fine print. The women's section of the Village will be off limits to male athletes.
ALL ABOUT YVES
Whoever said the old college try is dead had not heard about French decathlon star Yves Le Roy and everything he suffered in a recent meet against Italy. Le Roy was leading the competition when he injured his back severely trying to clear 16'5" in the pole vault. With two events to go, France stood to lose the meet if Le Roy were to forfeit his points by dropping out. So before he could be sent off to the hospital, Le Roy dragged himself back onto the field, lobbed the javelin a pitiable 13'9", made a token appearance in the 1,500 meters and saved the day for France. Vive Le Roy! And a locomotive for dear old état.
The most nearly useless object on the face of the earth is a losing pari-mutuel ticket. It can't be made into a lamp or crocheted into an afghan, and a rumpus room papered with them would only be depressing. They might be all right as bookmarks, but who needs a bookmark for the Racing Form?
It took an ingenious pair of Cincinnati horseplayers to bring an end to decades of waste. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lutz, having read somewhere that old newspapers make good mulch because of the minerals in the ink, decided the same would apply to mutuel tickets and planted their losers in among the vegetables. Now the Lutzes have a sizable crop of squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, parsley and watercress and a sense of well-being, too. As citizens they are ecologically sound; as horseplayers they taste revenge with every bite.
Medieval as it may sound, the University of Washington track team has been rent by religious schism. The division was revealed last month with the resignation of Assistant Coach Dan Ghormley, 32, who arrived at the Seattle campus six years ago along with Head Coach Ken Shannon.
According to freshman Russ Daggatt, a middle-distance runner who says he is transferring to Colorado, "All season either you were on the side of 'God' or you weren't. And if you weren't, that meant you were on the outs with the head coach. On one side were Shannon's men, the Christians; and on the other was everybody else—most of the distance runners, all the blacks, plus a few others. Those people stood beside Ghormley."
The "God Squad" was the name Coach Shannon gave the Christian activists on his team, many of whom were residents of the campus Baptist Student Union. The group segregated itself on the road and held special meetings following team meetings that had the blessing of Shannon and often his attendance. Dave Martin, a long-jump and relay man who was graduated last month, says, "Sometimes I would use God's name in vain, just to make them mad."
One member of the God Squad was sophomore Greg Gibson, the first Husky miler to break four minutes. "The purpose of our faith should have been to learn to associate with other guys," he says. "Instead it split us. I feel badly about this."
Says Coach Shannon, "There're going to be differences on any team. I think everybody's happy."
Says Ghormley, "I still can't believe I'm not going to be here next year."
THEY SAID IT
•Muhammad Ali, told that an Amish man in Pennsylvania had never heard of him: "Tell me where he's at. I'll buy his town and have him deported."
•Gary Player: "The ideal build for a golfer would be strong hands, big forearms, thin neck, big thighs and a flat chest. He'd look like Popeye."
•Red Grange: "No player is worth a million dollars, I can understand why a player would have an agent; I couldn't keep from laughing if I went in and demanded a million dollars from an owner."
•Claudell Washington, 19-year-old Oakland A's rookie, asked why he went out for high school track: "Because the track coach was the biology teacher, and I had trouble with biology. I'm not crazy."
•Robyn Dummett, touring pro, on the rolling contours of the Speidel Course, site of LPGA Wheeling (W. Va.) Ladies Classic: "When you get to your ball you're too tired to hit it."
•Casey Stengel on Dodger Pitcher Mike Marshall: "He has wonderful stuff and wonderful control and throws strikes, which shows he's educated. But then, say you're educated and you can't throw strikes. Then they don't leave you in too long."