FRIENDS OF THE COLLECTION
Every year some 300,000 people ooh and ooh over the collection of antique, vintage and classic cars put together by 'the late Bill Harrah, the hotel-casino owner who died in 1978. The collection, the world's largest of its kind, is in an assortment of 13 rented buildings in Sparks, Nev., next to Reno. The cars date back to 1892, and among the gems are the 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the 1908 New York-to-Paris Race, a 16-cylinder 1933 Cadillac Phaeton that belonged to Al Jolson, 18 Duesenbergs and a rich representation of Franklins, Fords and Packards. The most valuable cars are a pair of 1931 Bugatti Royales that would probably sell for $1 million each. Only six exist, and one of the two in the Harrah collection was built for King Carol II of Romania.
Last year after Holiday Inns, Inc. bought Harrah's operation, there was local worry about possible changes in the organization, especially any that would affect the car collection, which came as part of the deal. Last week the concern was renewed when word leaked out that Holiday Inns wants to dispose of the cars on the grounds that it can't afford a "non-income" venture. Leon Mandel, a Reno resident, a senior editor of Motor Trend and author of a forthcoming biography, The Life and Times of William Fisk Harrah, Gambling Magnate, quickly joined with a group that included former Reno mayor Sam Dibitonto, technical adviser to the Maserati Information Exchange; former city planner George Charchalis, a Rolls-Royce buff; and state Senator William Raggio—"a car cuckoo, too," says Mandel—to form Friends of the Collection. In the space of a few days, the Friends got Holiday Inns to postpone any sale while they attempt to raise $30 million to buy the collection and keep it intact and in Nevada. As a first step, Governor Robert List has offered the Friends the assistance of the state's Economic Development Agency.
"We can't have a Louvre to express what we are," says Mandel, "but we can have the car collection. Our options include selling economic development bonds and having a national membership for Friends of the Collection. Americans have always been car-crazy, and this collection shows the historical evolution of the automobile, from dead ends to break-throughs. Its value as a collection is as a collection. It should be saved. At this point I'd say our chances are fair to good."
June 28, 1981
THE FEEL FROM KHEEL
Baffled by the baseball strike? Are you wondering why the players and owners aren't sending out for sandwiches and negotiating around the clock? Is more happening than meets the eye? Listen to the insights of Theodore W. Kheel, a New York lawyer who specializes in labor negotiations, has mediated and arbitrated numerous disputes, and has advised both hired hands and tycoons, including the NFL owners. Kheel isn't involved in the baseball negotiations, but he recognizes some common themes.
"It's basically a very simple dispute," he says. "What's at issue isn't free agency or compensation, but how much compensation there should be. At present the dispute has entered the 'range of indeterminacy,' which means deciding what point in the range the compensation should fall in.
"Both sides are feeling each other out to determine how long each can hold out. That's why there's not much visible negotiating. The tactic is to show that you're not hurting, or that you're hurting less than the other guy. Any eagerness on either side to accept around-the-clock negotiations would be a sign of weakness.
"But even though they're not meeting, the chemistry is at work. I don't know what private conversations are going on, but I can just about guarantee that Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey are talking. You have to keep your lines of communication open. Usually more gets done privately than at the table.
"I'm not surprised that the dispute dragged on a year and a half before the strike. There wasn't much force being applied. When they went out, both sides had to let off some steam. But now the pressures to reach an agreement are tremendous; they're concerned about how much they are hurting themselves. I believe the pressures will produce an agreement within a reasonable amount of time. Say, one to four weeks."
LLOYD'S OF LOSERS
Kheel's prediction aside, if the track record of Lloyd's of London is any indication, the strike could last a long time. Well before it began the owners paid Lloyd's and other underwriters an estimated $2 million for strike insurance that would yield $100,000 for each game not played up to 500 games—or $50 million. The insurance goes into effect after 153 games are missed, which means the owners begin receiving their payout on June 25. If the strike persists for the duration of the policy, which would run out on Aug. 8 as things stand now, Lloyd's, as the major underwriter, would have to pay the lion's share of the $50 million. The bad omen here: In the past few years Lloyd's has had an exceptionally bad time of it, paying out huge sums on one disastrous policy after another. Consider the following:
Butter Mountain, the nickname given a Dutch warehouse that contained $14 million worth of butter, burned down in 1977, making the small town of Elst in which it was located look like a giant pancake, while Lloyd's, which hadn't realized that all that butter was under one roof, wound up with egg on its face. Lloyd's has recently had to pay out almost $23 million for fire-insurance claims in Canada and the U.S., much of it for buildings that suddenly went up in flames—oh, I say, old chaps, what rotten luck—in the South Bronx. Lloyd's charged NBC $2 million to help insure TV coverage of the 1980 Olympics, but then reportedly had to pay out $45 million when the U.S. boycotted the Games. Itel Corporation of San Francisco got a $340 million settlement from Lloyd's to cover losses incurred when computer-lease contracts were canceled after IBM put out a new model. In July 1979 a $45 million tanker, Atlantic Empress, carrying $40 million in naphthalene, and insured by Lloyd's, sank in the Caribbean. She went down after colliding with the Aegean Captain, another—you guessed it—Lloyd's policyholder. Three liquid natural gas tankers under construction in Louisiana turned out to be defective, and last October an insurance syndicate headed by Lloyd's had to pay out some $300 million. An RCA satellite insured by Lloyd's for $75 million got lost in space. The San Diego Clippers have collected $1.25 million from Lloyd's because Bill Walton's left foot wouldn't come round. And just last April, a British court ordered Lloyd's to pay Shell International Petroleum $25.5 million for the loss of the tanker Salem, which allegedly was scuttled at sea by her crew after the oil was secretly sold in Durban, South Africa.
Lloyd's won't discuss the baseball strike insurance, but Benjamin Lipson, a Boston insurance consultant who has seen a copy of the policy, says that's understandable because "It's the nature of the business. Lloyd's is dealing in large amounts, and it's a private and confidential matter." Lipson, who writes a weekly column on consumer insurance for The Boston Globe, calls the policy "imaginative and creative," adding, "There's a risk involved for Lloyd's, but-unlike most coverages, this one isn't designed to make the policyholder whole. It's a masterpiece of hedging." In sum, Lipson believes that Lloyd's isn't going to be severely hurt by a long strike. So when will the strike end? "My personal feeling is that it'll end within a week," says Lipson.
•Charlie Fox has spent much of his adult life toiling to protect the Letort, the famed trout stream that meanders past his property near Carlisle, Pa. (SI, Jan. 31, 1977). A retired book editor, probation officer and state land acquisition specialist, Fox spread gravel on the bed of the Letort to assist spawning, brought in rock to hold the stream within its banks and cajoled state officials into enforcing strict measures to protect the stream's native brown trout. Last month a highly toxic insecticide, endosulfan, which had been used to spray watercress bogs on a farm near the source of the Letort, flowed downstream, wiping out much of the Letort's brown trout, some of which flopped onto the stream's banks in their death throes. The farm's owners have since been treating the bogs in an effort to hasten the breakdown of the remaining endosulfan, but state officials say that trout fishing in the Letort may not return to normal for another five years, if ever, and Fox, now 72, says, "I don't know if I'll ever see this stream come back to the way it was."
•It has been nearly five years since the Montreal Olympics and nearly one since a three-member commission headed by Quebec Superior Court Justice Albert Malouf blamed the $1 billion deficit resulting from the Games largely on Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau. Drapeau, who has been Montreal's mayor for 25 of the last 27 years, promised to issue an elaborate rebuttal to the Malouf report complete with "quotations, illustrations and charts," and when last heard from on the subject, said he was still working on his reply (SCORECARD, NOV. 17, 1980). The other day Drapeau told a meeting of the Montreal city council that his rebuttal would be completed before the next municipal elections—in November 1982.
The success of Fernando Valenzuela, who relies heavily on the screwball, has prompted the Dodgers to try something unique. Without fanfare, Al Campanis, the team's shrewd vice-president for player personnel, has hired Jim Brewer, 43, former Dodger reliever and screwballer of note, to visit the Dodgers' five farm teams this summer in search of youngsters who can learn to throw the scroogie. "It's not for everyone," says Brewer, who began working with the Lodi, Calif. team last week. "We'll only work with those who are comfortable throwing it. If we find two or three, I think the Dodgers will be satisfied. If we're successful, I expect every organization will be doing it next year. Valenzuela learned it so quickly, over winter ball, that Campanis wonders how many other guys might do the same thing."
Brewer has a reputation as a superb teacher. Dick Williams credited him with turning the young Expos' staff into a big winner when Brewer coached at Montreal from 1977 to 1979, and Montreal ace Steve Rogers was so high on Brewer that he bought a home in Brewer's hometown, Broken Arrow, Okla., to get instruction in the off-season. Two years ago, Brewer, who is president of a land-development company, was Oral Roberts University's volunteer pitching coach; this month ORU Pitcher Mike Moore was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He says Brewer improved his curve and taught him to throw the slider. Previously Moore relied on his fastball.
The screwball wasn't always Brewer's forte. He was a mediocre pitcher who had spent six years in the minors when the Dodgers got him from the Cubs after the 1963 season, and in the spring of 1964 he didn't know how long he'd last before going back to the bushes. He'd tried throwing the scroogie, but his control of it was erratic. On the Dodgers' first trip to Milwaukee that season, he went out to the bullpen. Warren Spahn, screwballer extraordinaire, was leaning against the fence in the adjacent bullpen, so Brewer walked over and said he had a problem in releasing the pitch. "Spahn never said a word," Brewer says. "He just took a baseball out of his pocket, showed me how he held it and how he released it. I was using my thumb wrong. I had mine underneath the ball, and his was on the side." The entire encounter took only 30 seconds, but, says Brewer, who went on to play another 12 years in the majors, "It made my career."
THEY SAID IT
•Pete Rose, answering criticism that he's un-American because he endorses Japanese products: "If there was ever a war, I'd fight for the United States."
•Beano Cook, a publicist for CBS Sports and an ardent football fan, after Bowie Kuhn gave the 52 former hostages lifetime major league baseball passes: "Haven't they suffered enough?"