Baseball's clumsy method of selecting starting players for the All-Star Game is proving as inequitable as ever. Because the names that appear on the Gillette-sponsored punch-card ballots were decided upon before the season began (SCORECARD, May 31), the ballots fail to reflect on-field performance in 1982. Players not of All-Star caliber this season are on the ballot, while bright rookies and suddenly revived veterans are not. You can write in a player's name on the ballot if he isn't already listed, but he's got about as much chance as a write-in candidate in a presidential election. The names put on the ballot before the season have a lock.
The official tabulation of votes for each league in mid-June (balloting ends July 4) listed the eight leading vote-getters at catcher and the infield positions, the top 16 among outfielders. Of the 112 names thus presented as the best players in the two leagues, every one is on the official ballot. Not one write-in candidate was able to squeeze in, not even at the bottom of the long lists.
This means that such 1982 stars as Ruppert Jones, at that point leading the National League in batting; Barry Bonnell, among the leaders in the American League; Jason Thompson, third in the NL in homers and batting .323; Hal McRae and Andre Thornton, one-two in the AL in RBIs; second basemen Johnny Ray and Damaso Garcia and first basemen Kent Hrbek and Willie Upshaw, four young players having outstanding seasons; Larry Herndon, leading the resurgent Tigers in batting; and veterans Bob Boone and Tim Foli, playing remarkably well for the contending Angels, weren't even mentioned in the mid-June tabulation. None of these admirable performers has a chance to be voted onto an All-Star team.
June 27, 1982
On the other hand, the No. 1 player in the balloting for best American League shortstop was Bucky Dent, a part-time player this year, batting .156. Right behind Dent in the voting was U.L. Washington, another part-time player, batting .182. All-Stars?
There are other inequities, and there will be more again next season unless the commissioner's office gets rid of the facile punch-card system and installs in its place a valid method of honoring baseball's best players.
LOSER AND STILL CHALLENGER
It seems impossible, but the World Boxing Association is still nagging Marvelous Marvin Hagler, the middleweight champion, about Fulgencio Obelmejias, telling him that he must fight the Venezuelan, who is "the leading available contender." Last winter the WBA warned Hagler that he had 15 days to come to terms with Obelmejias, which moved Hagler to vigorous protest (SCORECARD, Feb. 8). He had knocked the Venezuelan three ways to Tuesday in a fight a year earlier, he pointed out, and, as his lawyer said, "Why would anybody pay to see Marvin knock out Fully Obel again?" Besides, Marvin was trying to line up a fight with Thomas Hearns in the spring. Hearns vs. Hagler shaped up as a big-money match, so the WBA backed down for the time being. But then Hagler-Hearns was canceled, and there was the WBA on Marvin's back again. Now the Obelmejias fight is slated for July 15, perhaps in Italy.
Why Obelmejias? Well, the WBA lists him as the No. 1 contender, although the rival WBC has him no better than third and the International Boxing Writers Association ranks him sixth. Hank Kaplan of Miami, who published Boxing Digest and is one of the most knowledgeable observers of the sport, doubts that Obelmejias belongs among the Top 10. "And," says Kaplan, "losing to Hagler so badly in their first fight is hardly the way to earn a second one."
Then why Obelmejias? The WBA points out that the Venezuelan has had several fights since he met Hagler and won them all, including one with Chong-Pal Park of South Korea, at the time the No. 1 contender himself. But Obelmejias' victories, including the one over Park, all came on the friendly home turf of his native Caracas when the rest of the boxing world was paying little attention. And Park achieved his dubious status as top contender by beating a bunch of relative unknowns in Asia.
Why Obelmejias? It could be only coincidence, but his manager, Rafito Cedeino, a promoter and a big man in Venezuelan boxing circles, numbers among his good friends Rodrigo Sanchez, who happens to be president of the WBA. What are friends for?
GOLD MEDALS, TROY-WEIGHT
Until its boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980, the U.S. had the distinction of being the only country in the world whose athletes had won gold medals in every summer Olympics since the start of the modern Games in 1896. Now the longest such "streaks" belong to Great Britain, France, Italy, Sweden and Finland, each of which can claim to have had gold-medal winners at every Summer Games since 1908, and USC, which has had at least one champion at every Olympics since 1912. Wait, did we say USC? What's a university doing in the company of all those nations? And how can an American institution claim a gold medal in a succession of Olympic Games that includes one that was boycotted by Americans?
The answers are provided by Andrew Strenk, a USC alumnus and nonmedalist member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic swim team. Now a lecturer in USC's history department whose specialties include the relationship between sports and international politics, Strenk says that at least 160 Trojans have competed over the years in the Summer Olympics, amassing 61 gold, 27 silver and 19 bronze medals. According to Strenk, the parade of USC Olympic champions began at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, where Fred Kelly, a USC freshman, won the 110-meter hurdles, and Alma Richards, a law student, won the high jump. The list of Trojan gold medalists since then includes such memorable victors as sprinters Charley Paddock (1920), Mel Patton (1948) and Don Quarrie (1976), shotputter Parry O'Brien (1952, 1956), pole vaulter Bob Seagren (1968) and swimmers Buster Crabbe (1932), Murray Rose (1956, 1960) and John Naber (1976).
Strenk's only criterion for inclusion in the roster of Trojan Olympians is that the athlete must have attended USC for at least one semester. Of USC's medal winners, he says, "Some transferred in and others transferred out. Some won their medals after they graduated, others before they came here and some while they were in graduate school." Strenk includes foreigners like Quarrie and Rose, natives of Jamaica and Australia, respectively. Which brings us to swimmer Michele Ford, who, as a 17-year-old schoolgirl, competed at the 1980 Olympics for her native Australia and won the 800-meter freestyle. Ford subsequently enrolled at USC, where she's now going into her sophomore year as a member of the Trojans' women's swim team. Thus it is that USC can lay claim to having a 1980 Olympic champion, even though the U.S. did not compete at Moscow.
Although USC has several potential 1984 Olympians, including swimmers Jeff Float, Chris Cavanaugh and Ford, volleyball star Debby Green and hurdlers Milan Stewart and Tonie Campbell, none can be considered a sure bet for a gold medal. But don't count the Trojans out. USC's dormitories will be used as an Olympic village in 1984 and its home facilities as venues for Olympic track and swimming, all of which should provide quite a home-field edge to USC athletes trying to keep the school's remarkable Olympic streak going.
BRAINS, BRAWN AND BRUINS
Well, good for USC, but that's enough about the Trojans. Let's talk about UCLA. A couple of weeks ago in a SCORECARD item called Triumph of Brawn and Brains, we saluted North Carolina's Tar Heels for their well-balanced accomplishment of winning four national championships—in basketball, lacrosse, soccer and the intercollegiate quiz competition known as the College Bowl. Now UCLA wants it known that during the 1981-82 school year the Bruins won five NCAA titles—in swimming, tennis, volleyball, women's Softball and women's track, and a debate team national championship. Argue with that, North Carolina.
You might recall a LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER (SI, Sept. 10, 1979) that described the International Sports and Games Research Collection at Notre Dame. Located in the basement stacks of the university's library, it grew under curator Herb Juliano into an invaluable source of information for sports journalists and scholars. But after a struggle between the curator and Notre Dame higher-ups, the collection is being "integrated" into the school's library system and Juliano is out of a job. Juliano says he was forced to resign, claiming that library administrators resented his "independence" and were jealous of him. "I worked out of this little two-by-four office and got more publicity than the entire library," he says. Anton Masin, head of the library's Department of Special Collections, implies that the collection of half a million sports books, monographs and artifacts was too much of a one-man show under Juliano, who, he says, tended to run it in an "off-the-cuff manner." Masin said the absorption of the sports collection into the overall library system would make the materials more accessible to the public.
SO MUCH FOR CAREER COUNSELING
Former NHL star Dennis Hull, brother of Bobby, played most of his 14-year career (1964-78) with the Black Hawks and returned to Chicago last month for what turned out to be a fateful visit. After having taught history and coached football and hockey for the past two years at Ridley College, an Ontario prep school, Hull, 37, had decided he was ready for "something different" and had made an appointment to undergo career counseling at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. But no sooner did he meet Dr. Jotham Friedland, director of IIT's Institute of Psychological Services, than the counseling took an unexpected turn. Friedland also happened to be a member of a committee searching for a successor to Edward Glancy, who is retiring after 11 years as IIT's athletic director. It quickly occurred to him that this might be just the man for the job. He took Hull around to meet other committee members, who agreed, and four days later Dennis was hired.
Hull is delighted with the position at IIT, an NCAA Division II school that has nine varsity teams (hockey, as it happens, is a club sport). He never did take the psychological tests that attracted him to IIT, and he now says he won't. He explains, "I'm afraid to find out I might not be qualified for the job."
HOLD THE RELISH
The Miami Dolphins' cheerleaders used to be called the Starbrites. Pretty dumb name, right? Don't worry. It's been changed. Under a new five-year marketing agreement, the group will henceforth be known as the Miami Dolphins' Cheerleaders, sponsored by Burger King. Now there's a name with plenty of mustard on it.
WELL, WOULD YOU BELIEVE 75%?
The following press release arrived recently from publicists for Volvo's tennis tournament in North Conway, N.H.:
"Mt. Washington Valley, N.H.—Someone who attended the 1981 Volvo International Tennis Tournament is 'camera shy.'
"An expensive, 35-mm camera, equipped with a telephoto lens, was found in the west stands at the Mt. Cranmore Tennis Club Stadium in North Conway during the quarterfinal round of last year's competition.
"The discovery was made by Miss Amy Walker of Manchester, Massachusetts, who promptly turned the camera equipment over to tournament officials. Since then, they have made a concerted effort to locate the owner, but, thus far, have been unsuccessful.
"Miss Walker believes the camera was forgotten by a woman who occupied a seat in the stands near where she, her sister and two friends viewed the matches.
"A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, the attractive 19-year-old blond will enter her sophomore year at Brown University this fall. Although Amy is currently a General Liberal Arts student, she is considering majoring in psychology.
"When she isn't hitting the books, she spends her time hitting a tennis ball—she's an accomplished social tennis player—or hitting the water as a diver for her college swim team...."
The release goes on to provide additional information about both Walker and the Volvo International and includes a perhaps debatable statement by Tournament Director James E. Westhall. Although Walker's act of honesty was so noteworthy as to warrant its very own press release—and so admirable that she will be an honored guest at this year's tournament—Westhall says unflinchingly, "I'm certain that her response reflects the way 99 percent of us would have acted under similar circumstances."
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Yamin, switch-hitting outfielder for the Pewter Mug Tavern softball team in Watervliet, N.Y., when asked why he didn't switch and try to hit righty after striking out awkwardly three times on nine pitches while batting lefthanded: "I can't hit with power righthanded."
•Doug English, Detroit Lion defensive tackle, on the standard objection to using urinalysis to test pro football players for drug use: "Sure, such tests are dehumanizing. But when you think about it, the game of football is, at times."
•Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Dodger catcher, when asked how he had developed into one of baseball's most formidable plate-blockers: "You don't get a heck of a lot of practice. It's not easy to find guys who'll come out early before games and run into you."
•Bob Griese, announcing his decision to leave the Miami Dolphin coaching staff and enter private business: "If you want to drop off the face of the earth, just be an assistant coach."