WHERE WERE THEY?
Do trainers really train fighters anymore? Lost in all the furor over Roberto Duran's famous bellyache (page 24) are the performances of Ray Arcel and Freddie Brown, whose job it was to get Duran ready for the biggest fight of his career. Where were they when Duran reached for that extra steak, when he gulped his orange juice? How could they have let him go through such a severe weight-reduction regimen so close to fight time and then blow himself up hours before the bell sounded? Where was that steady hand on the wrist...? "No, Roberto, no more...." Once upon a time trainers used to lock themselves in with their warriors for days before a big fight. They'd monitor every morsel of food that crossed the table, every whiff of cigarette smoke that entered the room.
Where was the famous Angelo Dundee when Muhammad Ali was popping all those thyroid pills and burning the weight off so drastically before he went into the Larry Holmes fight a zombie? And how about the first Leon Spinks fight in 1978? Ali admitted he hadn't trained for that one, but you wouldn't have known it from his trainer. At Ali's workout two days before the bout, Dundee could be heard telling a few skeptical writers, "Ali's sharp as a razor for this one. I've never seen him so sharp."
Are the superstars of the ring above training? Or is it just a dying art?
December 8, 1980
It's official: the controversial $54 million Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will open in downtown Minneapolis in time for the 1982 baseball season. But debate over the stadium continues. Will there be enough parking? Will traffic generated by events at the dome overload city streets and prevent emergency vehicles from reaching two nearby medical centers? Will stadium-related development increase land values and run off residents of several nearby low-income neighborhoods? City officials and their critics will have many an inning over the dome before the Minnesota Twins ever come to bat there.
Lately even the stadium's putative beneficiaries, the Twins and Vikings, have been drawn into the fray. One reason the Vikings said they needed a dome was for practice. But this season they unveiled a $6 million complex in suburban Eden Prairie featuring a practice field covered by an inflatable bubble. "We never said we'd have all our practices in the downtown stadium," said Viking publicist Jeff Diamond. "There will be too many other events there to allow that, and we don't want to practice all the time on the Metrodome's artificial turf. But we do expect to be there the day before home games."
That the Vikes will play those home games at the Metrodome is the source of an annoyance to Twins President Calvin Griffith. Because 10,000 movable seats for football (the stadium will seat 65,000 for football and 55,000 for baseball) will be stored under the rightfield stands, a 41-foot fence must be erected in right, where the measurement down the line is 330 feet. Calculating that only a prodigious swat would clear the wall, which will be even higher than Boston's famed Green Monster, Griffith is unhappily downplaying Minnesota's lefthanded power and scouring his farm system for fast feet and strong arms.
Recently, KTCA-TV's Jim Klobuchar asked Griffith if he was excited about moving into the dome. "To tell you the truth, I'm not too thrilled," said Griffith, "because I'm an outdoor man for baseball. I like the natural turf; I like to see the sun out; I like to see the moon coming over the leftfield stands [at soon-to-be-abandoned Metropolitan Stadium, which will net close to $1 million in 1980].... There's just atmosphere out there."
"Are you saying that you were persuaded against your better judgment to go into the dome?" Klobuchar asked.
"Yes," said Griffith.
CARD PRICES REVISITED
A little more than a year ago we mentioned in this space that the price of a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps bubble-gum card had soared to $1,200. We explained that '52 marked Mantle's first appearance on a Topps card and that the number of cards printed was a relatively small one (SCORECARD, Oct. 15, 1979). The price of the '52 Mantle continued to climb, reaching a high of $3,250 in July, according to the magazine Card Prices Update. But apparently there were a few more '52 Mantles collecting dust in attics than anybody thought. Publicity about the high prices has flushed them out, and as a result, the November listed price for the card plummeted to $1,765.
Owing to similar factors and the nation's recession, other "superstar cards" from the 1950s have also declined in value. A mint '53 Topps Willie Mays that would've fetched $1,000 last summer was offered at a show in New York recently for $695. The '54 Bowman Ted Williams dropped from $1,200 to $710. The '54 Topps Henry Aaron went down from $275 to $170. Also off sharply is the '67 Brooks Robinson, which once brought as much as $150. It now commands $97. Having bottomed out, the market is on the upswing.
Cards from the 1970s, particularly so-called rookie cards, went largely untouched by market fluctuations. Topps cards (which usually sell for 25¬¨¬®¬¨¢ for 15 cards and a piece of gum) for Bob Horner and Willie Wilson, both of which first appeared on the market last year, are priced at $2.50 and $1.50, respectively. Rickey Henderson's first card came out this year and is already going for 75¬¨¬®¬¨¢. Then there's George Brett, who debuted on a '75 Topps, a card that could've been picked up for 75¬¨¬®¬¨¢ four months ago. But that was before Brett's run at .400. The card now fetches $7.
Cycling devotees in this country, especially those interested in biking as a competitive sport, are permitting themselves some unaccustomed twinges of excitement. One reason is a bold new venture in pro track racing. If all goes well, sponsored teams will compete for prize money next summer in a series of three-day events that would open in Madison Square Garden, continue at seven other arenas—in Hartford, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Maryland's Capital Centre—and return to New York for a grand finale. The racing would be on a 140-meter portable track, with turns banked at a precipitous 55 degrees. Team sponsors would pay salaries and expenses, and there would be purses of $15,000 per city and an additional $50,000 for the finale. Leading U.S. riders would attend a selection camp, at which teams would be stocked under a formula designed to achieve balanced competition. At least two-thirds of a team's roster would be U.S. cyclists. And, oh yes, the promoters will have cable TV cover the racing.
Another positive development for U.S. cycling was an announcement by Renault, the French auto firm, that an American, Jacques Boyer, will ride behind the great French cyclist Bernard Hinault on the Renault-Gitane team in next year's Tour de France. Boyer, 25, of Carmel, Calif., will be the first American to compete in the epic French race, which Hinault won in 1978 and '79. Renault also announced that the Nevada whiz kid, 19-year-old Greg LeMond, who last year became the first American to win cycling's junior men's world road-racing championship, will ride in selected European races for Renault-Gitane. He will be brought along doucement, says Renault.
The most unforgettable play of the football season occurred Nov. 13 in Tucson during a freshman game between Rincon and Salpointe Catholic highs. With Rincon leading 6-0 in the first quarter, a Salpointe ballcarrier apparently crossed the goal line and an official signaled a touchdown. Actually, the runner had only crossed the 5 and the ref quickly reversed himself, but Rincon Coach Andy Rumic didn't observe the change because he had turned to round up his players for the ensuing Salpointe kickoff. When Rumic looked back toward the field, he saw the Salpointe quarterback take the snap at the 3 and fade back. Ah, thought Rumic, they're going for a two-point conversion. Rumic rejoiced when his Danny Lopez intercepted the pass in the end zone.
But Rumic was suddenly confused. Why was Lopez running the ball back? Interceptions on conversions are blown dead. Ever the considerate coach, Rumic corralled Lopez at the Rincon 40 and dragged him off the field. It was only then that someone told Rumic he had prevented one of his players from scoring. Everyone felt bad for Rumic, even the officials, who didn't bother penalizing him.
After the game, won 26-12 by Rincon, Rumic was embarrassed but not tongue-tied. "I told my wife I made the tackle to prevent us from running up the score," he said.
According to the L.A. grapevine, celebrated ladies' man Jerry Buss and frequent companion Karen Demel could be announcing their engagement any day now. But while Buss may be taking himself out of circulation, he seems to have no such plans for his money. The man who paid Jack Kent Cooke $67.5 million in 1979 for the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, The Forum and a 13,000-acre cattle ranch, recently laid out $5.4 million for Pickfair, the fabled estate of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. He also acknowledges that he'd like to help launch a pro tennis league along the lines of World Team Tennis, which he was virtually bankrolling before it went under in 1978.
Buss emphasizes that a new team-tennis circuit would be formed only if other investors were willing to join him in the venture. One report says that in addition to salaries and prize money for team performances, the new circuit would pay prize money for individual performances, something not offered by WTT. The league Buss has in mind would be confined at first to Western cities and would be called National Team Tennis. This name supposedly was chosen when it was realized that leagues whose names contain the word "world" have a way of folding (World Team Tennis, World Football League, World Hockey Association), while those with "national" in their names (National League, NFL, NBA, NHL) survive.
As though all this weren't enough, the freewheeling Buss has also given Marcel Dionne a contract providing the Kings' star with $600,000 a year over six years, making him the highest-paid player in NHL history. Far from flinching at such gaudy salaries, Buss recently told the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Club, "Athletes are entertainers, so if a rock star makes $5 million, who's to say athletes shouldn't make more?" Although his fellow owners probably wish he'd hush up on the subject, Buss believes that salaries of sports superstars may well rise to the $5 million range, with teams still turning a profit. Pay TV would help make this possible. For example, by putting games on pay TV and charging, say, 20¬¨¬®¬¨¢ a TV set, the Lakers could net $70,000 a game, which is about half of what they take in from an average gate.
Downright heretical is Buss' suggestion that skyrocketing salaries won't necessarily result in higher ticket prices. Because of pay TV, he says, just the opposite will happen. "I think stadiums will eventually become TV studios," says Buss. "Spectators may get in for $1 or so."
Alydar became a legend—and a big favorite of the fans—by finishing second in each leg of the 1978 Triple Crown. Well, when it comes to being a runner-up, a 3-year-old thoroughbred named Full Quid has outdone the legend by coming in second in his last 10 races.
Though some horseplayers might find it significant that Full Quid's best buddy and stablemate is a goat, most railbirds have taken to him. "The public has grown to love Full Quid," says the horse's trainer, William (Red) Terrill. "Instead of booing him, they holler things like 'Right on, Full Quid, you're doing your thing.' " And his thing, to be sure, is a thing of joy to his backers. Any bettor prescient enough to have made a $2 place wager on the first of Full Quid's 10 races and to have parlayed the winnings would now be nearly $1,800 ahead.
THEY SAID IT
•George Raveling, Washington State basketball coach: "I understand the TV show That's Incredible! has been filming on the USC campus. They shot 12 football players attending class at the same time."