Here we go again: Tennis is at war with itself again. The Grand Prix circuit, with Colgate-Palmolive as its new angel, is going head to head against Lamar Hunt's World Championship of Tennis. Hunt has signed up such players as Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase and Manuel Orantes for extravagant sums of money. But Donald Dell, the former Davis Cup captain who is counsel for the Association of Tennis Professionals and manager of many top U.S. stars, has pulled some of his aces—Arthur Ashe. Roscoe Tanner, Stan Smith, Bob Lutz—out of WCT. Dell is closely aligned with Jack Kramer of the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, which administers the Grand Prix. Kramer is also a longtime rival of Hunt. "It is war," says Mike Davies, WCT executive director. Meanwhile, the best players of all persuasions have increasingly taken to picking up guaranteed big money in special all-star events. These exhibitions (usually with four players) skim the cream of the talent and threaten the existence of tournaments, which are the base of the game. The tournament directors are talking revolt.
Jimmy Connors revived this vaudeville star-turn aspect of tennis with his TV-oriented "Heavyweight Championship" matches from Las Vegas and said recently he would defend his "title" on CBS-TV against the winner of a Bjorn Borg-Ilie Nastase match. Connors was figuring Borg—his patsy—would win. But Nastase, the one player who can consistently beat Connors, came out on top, and now Jimmy is waffling.
If the match does take place, Connors' former manager, Bill Riordan, will handle Nastase. Riordan is in the process of suing Jimmy. Nastase, once Connors' closest big-name tennis friend, is also mad at his old buddy. Russia has been suspended from Davis Cup competition for refusing to play Chile. In Italy there is mounting political pressure to keep that country from playing Chile in the Cup finals. In the U.S., Renee Richards is talking about suing the Women's Tennis Association.
November 15, 1976
It's nice to have everything back to normal in the sport.
CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT
Baseball held another of its expansion drafts last week (the others were in 1960, 1961 and 1968) and, as always, pickings were slim. Seattle and Toronto, the new American League clubs, were not permitted to bid in the free-agent draft held the day before and, in selecting from the existing rosters of the 12 established AL clubs, had to contend with arcane restrictions fully understood only by baseball executives—and not by all of them. For instance, each of the old clubs could "protect" 15 players; after an unprotected player was chosen, a team could add three more to the protected list—and so on. And, as though to rub the newcomers' noses in the dirt, when the older clubs heard through the grapevine that Seattle and Toronto were going to emphasize youth in their selections, they protected as many young prospects as they could and left veterans somewhat long in the tooth out in the open.
Under such circumstances, it is to the credit of the new clubs that they pretty much resisted the temptation to go for superannuated players, particularly since history shows it is an ineffective practice. The newborn 1962 New York Mets splurged on veterans and took seven years to recover. The class-of-1969 Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers (né Seattle Pilots) still haven't recovered. The 1961 California Angels showed good early foot but then sagged, and the Angels have been rebuilding since.
The best picks by any of the eight previous expansion clubs were those of the 1969 Kansas City Royals, whose draft was conducted by Cedric Tallis, now a New York Yankee executive. "In the first few rounds you've got to go for youth," says Tallis. "Then you can fill in with a few veterans." The average age of the 60 players tapped by Seattle and Toronto was 25.
One of the few veterans picked—by Toronto—was 30-year-old Al Fitzmorris of Kansas City, a 15-game winner who was a Royal draftee back in 1968. The Blue Jays immediately turned around and traded Fitzmorris to the Cleveland Indians for 25-year-old Alan Ashby, an experienced young catcher. "Fitzmorris is a good pitcher," explained Toronto General Manager Peter Bavasi, "but he has always needed runs, and we wouldn't be able to give him enough."
A lot of the draftees were players Toronto and Seattle fans have never heard of. We recommend patience and a long look ahead to 1984. Judging from history, that's about the time the Blue Jays and the Mariners will meet in the American League playoffs.
Hunting in Utah has a tendency to be a little out of the ordinary. For instance, Barry Saunders of Salt Lake City says you don't have to be a marksman to be a successful duck hunter. "All you need is a good dog," he says. To prove his point, Saunders took his 18-month-old Labrador retriever, Charcoal, with him on opening day of the hunting season and got his limit of seven ducks without firing a shot. In fact, even though he is an avid hunter. Saunders didn't take a gun along, saying he wanted to see if Charcoal could do it all alone.
"I got the idea last year," he says. "With all the shooting on opening day, a lot of ducks get hit but are never recovered. Charcoal began bringing back ducks that other hunters had shot but couldn't locate. This year I thought it might be fun to see if he could get a limit by himself. It was no trouble at all."
A couple of other Utah hunters, Steve and Alice Haskins of Kearns, a Salt Lake City suburb, had a somewhat different experience. They went off to the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah looking for deer and came back with a baby boy.
Mrs. Haskins, seven months pregnant, was well up in the hills when she realized the baby was coming. It took almost two hours to get out of the woods and into a hospital in the small city of Vernal, where their son was born. The Haskins named him William Steven, but said they would always call him Bucky.
HEY, BIG SPENDER
When Running Back Dick Nalley of Indiana Central University broke the state collegiate record for rushing a couple of Saturdays ago (his 167 yards in 21 carries against Valparaiso gave him 3,461 yards for his four-year career), the 5'10", 190-pound senior did an O. J. Simpson and took the offensive linemen who helped make the record possible out on the town. The only thing is, Nalley doesn't have quite as much bread as O.J., so instead of treating the gang to a meal at a fancy restaurant he took them to a White Castle, where they ate a mess of hamburgers, French fries and Cokes. Nalley's bill was $13.46.
"If I ever make it big like O.J.," he said, "I'll buy steaks."
When the players returned to the campus after their feast, they discovered that the main course at the cafeteria where they usually eat had been steak.
UNIVERSITY OF FINLEY
After pulling off another of his astonishing deals—this time getting Catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Manager Chuck Tanner—Charles O. Finley of the Oakland A's was exultant and typically verbose.
"I run a finishing school for managers," he said. "I get them when they're coarse and rough, and it takes me at least a year to develop them into exceptional managers." Dick Williams, who won a pennant with the Boston Red Sox before switching to Finley's club, and Tanner, who was named Manager of the Year in 1972 when he ran the Chicago White Sox, should enjoy that comment.
"It costs me a lot of time and money to conduct this school," said Finley, "so I should be reimbursed. Or, I should say, indemnified when someone wants to take away the jewel I have created. The Yankees tried a few shenanigans to steal Dick Williams a few years ago, but I wouldn't stand for it. So finally, in order to get him as manager, the cowboy had to pay me $100,000 for him." The cowboy is Gene Autry, owner of the California Angels, who hired and then fired Williams, now managing the Montreal Expos.
"I tell my managers when they leave me to remember what they've learned," Finley continued, "but sometimes they forget and don't do so good. Dick Williams forgot how to win when he worked for the cowboy.
"The Pirates tampered with Tanner, you bet. I don't want to show any disrespect for Tanner—he did a fine job of managing for me—but less than half an hour after he told me several clubs were interested in him, Pittsburgh was on the phone. Their new general manager, Harding Peterson, asked about hiring Tanner, and I said, 'Why, that's an excellent idea. You can have him for $100,000 and Manny Sanguillen.' Peterson said I was putting a gun to his head, but a few days later he was on the phone to offer $100,000—but no catcher. Then a week later he was back to say, 'Well, Finley, you win.'
"Don't worry. I'll get another good manager for my finishing school in 1977."
Speaking of baseball managers, Paul Brown, the famous old football coach who developed the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals into NFL powers, said the other day that one winter in the early 1950s he was offered the job of managing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I had gone to Florida to visit a friend in Fort Myers," Brown said. "The Pirates were going to train there that season, and Branch Rickey, who was running the club, was in the neighborhood to check on the spring training site. He asked to see me and he said, 'The way you run your football team in Cleveland is the way any man should run a team in any sport. I am impressed with your operation. It could fit into baseball, and I am offering you the job of managing the Pirates this season.' "
In those days, baseball was a higher-prestige sport than football, but Brown considered the job only briefly before electing to remain in football.
Gabe Paul—now president of the New York Yankees, but at that time general manager of the Cincinnati Reds—confirms Brown's story, but with a twist. Paul was looking for a new manager for the Reds, and he says Rickey recommended that he hire Brown. Paul told Rickey, "If he's so darned smart, why don't you hire him?" Rickey apparently took Paul's advice—or tried to. After Brown turned him down, Rickey hired Fred Haney, who finished last three straight years with Pittsburgh. Paul hired Rogers Hornsby, who finished sixth twice with the Reds. Brown stayed with the Browns and won seven conference titles and three NFL championships.
What with all the sideline wigwagging of signals in football (page 70), it's nice to know a coach like John Gagliardi still exists. In his 24 years at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., Gagliardi has given his quarterbacks a clear option: they can run a play he sends in, or they can use one of their own choosing. The decision is theirs.
Gagliardi's policy hasn't hurt. His Johnnies have won 11 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and, this year, a No. 1 ranking in the NCAA's Division III. Gagliardi won't even put an assistant in the press box. "I don't go for all these electronic miracles with plays coming down from upstairs," he says. "We're an educational institution. If we can't teach our quarterback to handle himself on the field, we're in the wrong business."
THEY SAID IT
•Dennis Fryzel, Tampa Bay assistant coach, to an official when the Bucs were called for having 12 players on the field: "O.K., which one was it?"
•Blaine Nye, Dallas Cowboy guard, on his football philosophy: "It's not whether you win or lose but who gets the blame."
•Rod Laver, on the old days in professional tennis: "Ken Rosewall and I once played for the championship and got nothing. They'd spent all the gate receipts for advertising."
•Mike Newlin, Houston Rocket guard, after a game his team lost to the New York Nets: "We were the quintessence of athletic atrocity."