Perhaps you noticed Pat McSorley, a peewee soccer player from Virginia Beach, Va., when SI's FACES IN THE CROWD cited him two years ago for his Chinaglian goal-scoring ability. A New York ad agency did, and this year decided he was just the kid to cast in a TV commercial for Tropicana orange juice. Pat, 9, would be shown deftly controlling a soccer ball and then, upon identifying himself, would join Bruce Jenner in a pitch for the OJ. Pat's mother, Jeanne, made plans to accompany him to Los Angeles for the late-summer shoot; his father, Bill, a naval officer, is on a seven-month cruise.
Then came the days without sunshine. Anthony Shor, a vice-president with MCA, Tropicana's ad agency, phoned Mrs. McSorley on Aug. 16 to offer an increase in the standard talent rate ($300 a day plus residuals) he'd promised Pat, because, as Jeanne quotes Shor, "there'd be a risk to his amateur status involved." He also said he'd do anything he could to satisfy the NCAA.
Curious, Jeanne phoned the NCAA, which confirmed her fears that Pat wouldn't be able to play college soccer if he were paid for appearing in the ad. According to the NCAA's John Leavens, you forfeit amateur standing in a sport the moment you display the skills of that sport for compensation. It didn't matter that Pat was nine. "It's a cradle-to-grave situation," Leavens says. Pat could pass up the money and his status would go unaffected, provided the ad was no longer running when he entered college. But the plane ticket to L.A. alone would constitute payment.
So Pat didn't go. "He helped decide it wasn't worth the risk," says Jeanne. "He was less disappointed than I thought he would be." In fact, last Sunday he was busy scoring two goals, including one with :05 left that gave Virginia Beach's select youth team a 3-3 tie with Hampton.
Mrs. McSorley feels the NCAA is lax about publicizing its rules, rules that have no provisions to redress damage to a youngster's amateur status done by greedy moms and dads who might have exploited their athletically talented offspring. Better still, why doesn't the NCAA, which has enough trouble regulating its member institutions, simply give up jurisdiction and leave elementary school student-athletes to the lunchtime monitors—and their parents? Given the current rules, Pat is lucky that his mother acted so responsibly.
Still smarting from its 25-20 loss to Cal last fall on The (Five-Lateral) Play in The Big Game, the Stanford athletic department placed an order with Pacific Telephone for the toll-free number 800-BEATCAL. But the Cardinal didn't count on the order being taken by a Cal alum, who promptly called the folks in Berkeley, who just as promptly ordered a number of their own: 800-GOBEARS.
HOW'RE THEY SPITIN'?
The movement to save the imperiled striped bass (SCORECARD, Aug. 22) received a perverse boost on Sept. 6 when Rhode Island's Marine Fisheries Council banned the taking or possession of the fish in that state for one year. There has been pressure on the East Coast to raise the legal size limit from 16 inches to 24 to protect the striper, whose numbers have dwindled perilously in its Chesapeake Bay spawning grounds and along migratory routes. But the Rhode Island council, which is dominated by the interests of commercial trap-net fishermen afraid that so drastic an increase would threaten their livelihood, had resisted any change, though Massachusetts and Connecticut had raised their minimums. The council finally acted, but only after Rhode Island's conflict-of-interest commission had admonished two of the trap-net representatives to keep their vote from smelling fishy. Faced with that warning—and the alternative of giving up the right to catch and sell the lucrative smaller fish—the council voted 4-3 to keep anyone from catching any bass.
Reaction was swift and strident. The Boston Globe, in an editorial entitled "Captains Outrageous," likened the trap-net reps to "petulant children who flounce off with the marbles when the game isn't going their way." The Providence Journal feared for the Ocean State's reputation as a sport-fishing paradise. Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor J. Joseph Garrahy, concerned with the measure, has called for the council to reconvene and reconsider its decision before Jan. 1, when the ban is to take effect. But even if the order is rescinded, the council's rash action has already polarized recreational fishermen against their commercial brethren and trivialized what should be serious concern for balancing the interests of sport, the striper and the industry.
SHE MISSED THE CALL
To herald the birth of their daughter Karla Lee, Henry DeVries, a San Diego public relations man, and his wife, Vikki, sent out announcements with a horseracing theme. Karla was identified as the entry of "DeVries Stables," the "post time" was given as 12:51 a.m. on Aug. 10, and Mom and Dad were referred to as jockey and trainer, respectively. All very cute, but also rather puzzling to a friend of Karla's paternal grandmother. After receiving the announcement, she called to express surprise that Henry and Vikki had bought a racehorse.
NO BUCKS IN THAT BRONCO
Normally, Bill Braman wouldn't be caught dead with a bumper sticker on his car, a Celica he calls Red. "Bumper stickers are too tacky," he says. But Braman, 31, operations manager for a Denver closet manufacturer, didn't figure on so many people in the Mile High City apparently feeling exactly the same way. And now he'd do well to ask his employer for a good deal on a closet—one big enough to store exactly 2,492 orange-and-black START ELWAY bumper stickers that he's stuck with.
Braman's rear-end collision with the law of supply and demand began shortly after John Elway's triumphant off-the-bench debut in the Broncos' preseason opener against Seattle on Aug. 5. Braman phoned a local printer with his idea to put on the backs of cars what was on the tips of Denverites' tongues. "He started jumping up and down on the other end of the line," Braman says. "I decided to go for it."
But he knew not what he'd gone for. Braman anted up $700 for 2,500 stickers, hoping to sell them for $1 each. He considered putting in an application for a vendor's license, only to discover it would take days to process, by which time Elway could already be first-string. So, with three licensed hawkers hired and ready to take a big cut of potential profits, Braman unveiled his wares at the Broncos' Aug. 20 preseason game with Cleveland. "People walked past and saw the stickers and said, 'Yeah, great idea, start Elway,' " he says. "But no one bought them."
Actually, eight people did. The next day Braman took the rest of the inventory to a flea market, slashed his price to 50 cents—and sold no stickers. When a policeman asked to see tax forms, which Braman couldn't produce, the officer reevaluated Braman's stock, took pity on him and walked away. The next morning Bronco Coach Dan Reeves named Elway as his starting quarterback.
"I started Elway and I got sacked," says Braman. "I got hit with the $700 loss." Even Elway's recent misfortunes—he played poorly before suffering injuries in his first two regular season games and had to give way to erstwhile starter Steve DeBerg—haven't convinced Braman that his idea deserves another chance to pan out. "I just moved into a new apartment," he says. "I think I'll wallpaper my bathroom."
DEBT AMORTIZATION, PHILLY STYLE
After failing to win an expected NBA championship in the 1976-77 season, the Philadelphia 76ers adopted the slogan "We Owe You One." These instantly famous words brought the Sixers a lot of ridicule when they went on to endure five more title-less campaigns. But now, after the team's all-conquering '82-83 season, Philly fans in considerable numbers are displaying a poster indicating that such derision is a thing of the past. The poster shows Moses Malone and Julius Erving and bears the inscription PAID IN FULL.
RICH WOMAN, POOR WOMAN
Merrie Rich said she was a believer in miracles when KABC, Los Angeles' No. 1 radio station, announced last spring that she had won its fiercely promoted Sportstalk Talent Search (SI, April 25). The 38-year-old New Yorker, who used to sing the National Anthem before Knicks and Rangers games at Madison Square Garden, was selected from more than 1,800 applicants to become a commentator on KABC's three-hour, afternoon call-in sports talk show. But the miracle has hardly materialized. On May 5, just four weeks after Rich was hired, KABC General Manager George Green fired her, citing "philosophical differences." She, in turn, has sued the station, asking $10,000 for breach of contract and another $10,000 in damages.
Rich recently told SI's Armen Keteyian that Green felt threatened by a "savvy, sophisticated New York woman" and that her firing stemmed from her refusal to act as a flack for the Dodgers, whose games KABC broadcasts. She also said Green didn't take her role as a sports commentator or her professional ambitions seriously, and KABC management "resented the fact that I...resisted becoming a member of their 'family.' "
Green, in effect, agrees. "The fact is, she wasn't a very nice person around the station," he says. "She didn't fit into the team." He says she offended management with, among other things, "an abrasive, self-centered attitude."
Enter Rich's replacement, Lisa Bowman, 30, a former actress and dancer who was the contest runner-up. She is, according to Green, "a team player." Bowman's current duties as Sportstalk's $25,000-a-year distaff voice include emceeing a baseball joke contest in which winners read their funnies over the air.
The Talent Search may have been a publicity gimmick gone sour, but Sportstalk's ratings jumped dramatically during Rich's month on the job, and they're continuing apace under Bowman. In the meantime, Rich, so set on serious broadcasting, is eyeing TV. "Please, God," she says. "I hope something happens."
Detroit Tigers Pitcher Jack Morris has been scouring the real-estate listings for some time, now that he has a $3.2 million contract, not to mention a wife and two kids. But when a real-estate broker recently escorted him through prospective digs in one of suburban Motown's tonier neighborhoods, Morris balked upon spotting a picture of Carl Yastrzemski on a wall. "I could never live here," he said. "I'd have nightmares."
THEY SAID IT
•USC basketball player Cheryl Miller, on why she didn't worry about drug tests at the Pan Am Games: "I don't use steroids. I don't want to wake up some morning with a beard."
•Rangers Outfielder Mickey Rivers, after hearing Paul Mirabella, a former teammate, extol the virtues of being traded to the Orioles' organization: "I've got to get me one of them transactions."
•Rangers Pitcher John Butcher, after a one-hitter: "I threw about 90 percent fastballs and sliders, 50 percent fastballs, 50 percent sliders...wait, I'm starting to sound like Mickey Rivers."
•Kansas State Quarterback Doug Bogue, on why he changed his major from veterinary medicine to petroleum geology: "I didn't want any telephone calls at 4 a.m. from people saying, 'Fifi is throwing up.' "