WATT STEPS DOWN
The ill-considered remark that led to Interior Secretary James Watt's resignation on Sunday wasn't an isolated phenomenon. Watt's offensive reference to the commission he appointed to review his coal-leasing program as consisting of "a black...a woman, two Jews and a cripple" was, like his many other insensitive utterances, a product of the same atrocious judgment he displayed in making public policy. One of Watt's most ardent champions, Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson, tried to explain away the crack as simply an example of Watt's lead-balloon sense of humor. But a man who doesn't know what's funny may also have trouble discerning what's serious, and Watt made a joke of his office with his often unseemly eagerness to develop or dispose of the public lands in his trust. It would be unfortunate if history records that Watt left office merely because of an intemperate remark. He was guilty of worse.
CONFUSION ON ICE
Just when we thought we had the new conference alignments in Eastern college hockey all figured out, they went and shook things up again. Last time we looked (SCORECARD, Oct. 3), the six hockey-playing Ivy League schools had decided to split off from the Eastern College Athletic Conference and join with Vermont, RPI and Colgate to form a new Division I conference. The Ivy League Six had become, you might say, the Elite Nine. The ECAC's eight remaining Division I teams—Boston University, Boston College, Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Providence, Northeastern, New Hampshire and Maine—were meanwhile planning to band together to form what was immediately called the Super Eight. Out in the cold was the East's newest Division I team, the University of Lowell (Mass.), which neither the Elite Nine nor the Super Eight seemed to want. Lowell was very much the Lonesome One.
Well, now you can forget all that. In an apparent stroke of conscience, the Super Eight ultimately decided to admit Lowell after all, thereby eliminating the Lonesome One and creating the Super Nine. In actions evidently unrelated to the admission of Lowell, St. Lawrence and Clarkson elected at about the same time to defect and join the other conference. That turned the Elite Nine, heretofore the Ivy League Six, into the Crowded Eleven and shrank the Super Nine, previously the Super Eight, into what was informally dubbed The Magnificent Seven.
October 16, 1983
We hope you have all that straight, because we're not repeating it.
A JONESIAN DEED
When Barry McDermott wrote a month ago that golfer Jay Sigel was "as close...to [Bobby] Jones as a man can get" (SI, Sept. 12), he didn't know how right he was. Sigel, who had just won his second straight U.S. Amateur, last week became the first man since Jones to win two USGA national titles in the same year. Of course, when Jones pulled off his double in 1930, the victories came in the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur (he also won the British versions of both events that year), whereas Sigel added the Mid-Amateur, played in Englewood, Colo., to his Amateur title.
But what on earth is the Mid-Amateur? It's a tournament especially created for true amateurs like Sigel, a 39-year-old insurance salesman from Berwyn, Pa. With the Open long since given over to the pros and with the Amateur increasingly dominated by PGA-bound hot-shots on scholarships at Sun Belt colleges, the USGA three years ago devised the Mid-Amateur for amateurs 25 and older. "The working man's amateur," as the USGA likes to call it, runs from Saturday through Thursday, thereby enabling working stiffs to play in the first two days' qualifying rounds and still make it back to the office Monday morning if they miss the cut. "During the later rounds, it's not unusual for a player to stop and call his office after nine holes," says John Morris of the USGA.
In the final, Sigel beat Randy Sonnier one-up, then dashed to the Denver airport to catch a 3 p.m. flight to Philadelphia so he could be back at his office Friday. But first he picked up his prize—the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy.
Lightweight Isidro (Gino) Perez died in New York last week of injuries he suffered when he was knocked out in a Madison Square Garden fight six days earlier by Juan Ramon Cruz. Adding embarrassment to tragedy, the promoters of the fight were still having difficulty figuring out Perez' record. Garden officials listed it as 13-1-1 going into the Cruz bout but said that didn't include fights they suspected but couldn't confirm that Perez might have had in his native Mexico. Perez' manager, Al Certo, at first said his boxer's record was 17-1-1 or 18-1-1, but later allowed that he wasn't sure. Records compiled by The Ring indicated that Perez' record was 18-4-2, but Certo, the Garden and the New York State Athletic Commission all agreed that the magazine had mistakenly included several fights that actually involved another boxer with a similar name.
New York authorities said that Perez passed a rigorous physical exam last July to obtain his license in that state. Still, the confusion over his record left open the question of whether he might have suffered injuries in some previous fight that contributed to his death; if authorities don't know where and when a boxer has fought, it follows that they don't know where and when he might have been hurt.
The discrepancies in Perez' record prompted New York State Athletic Commission Chairman John Branca to renew an appeal that he and others have previously made for creation of a clearinghouse that would keep track of every boxer's fights and medical history. "We need to know more about his previous fights, how he fought, if he was hurt," said Branca. Going even further, New Jersey Deputy Athletic Commissioner Bob Lee called for adoption of procedures to have "inspectors" routinely check for injuries inflicted in gyms. "Some of the worst injuries happen in the gym," said Lee. "You hear things like, 'This guy was knocked out cold in a gym early in the week.' How can he be allowed to fight the following Friday?"
It's hard to imagine how either a comprehensive clearinghouse or an effective gym-inspection system can be created without federal regulation of the sport. Such regulation might well be expected to reduce the number of abuses not only in the U.S. but also, in certain cases, abroad. A Danish promoter named Mogens Palle certainly could have used better information from the U.S. when he booked Boston heavyweight Al Brooks to fight Anders Eklund last week in Copenhagen. Palle said he'd been told by an American matchmaker that Brooks was 29 years old and had won eight of 13 pro fights, including two victories this year. But, Palle said, Brooks admitted upon arrival in Copenhagen that he was actually 39 and hadn't fought in more than a year. Palle sent Brooks home and replaced him with an Italian fighter.
An outdoor writer of our acquaintance was alarmed by this headline in The New York Times, which was on a story having to do, it turned out, with alleged suppression of free speech in a foreign land:
INSTITUTE SAYS TURKEY
IS HARASSING A WRITER
SPOOFED INTO A NEW JOB
Inspired by the outpouring of tributes lavished on retiring Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski, the producers of The Sports Huddle, a phone-in show on Boston radio station WHDH, figured it was time for some satirical relief. For their show on Sunday, Oct. 2, the last day of the regular season, they decided to find and lionize an obscure baseball person who also planned to hang up his cleats. The retiree they settled on was Vera Rapp, 55, who never played in the big leagues but managed the St. Louis Cardinals in 1977 and part of 1978 and who was now stepping down after five years as first-base coach of the Montreal Expos.
The tribute to Rapp was mostly tongue in cheek. A mock telethon was staged, in which phone callers were invited to pledge money to a retirement fund for Rapp. Substantial sums were pledged. The show's hosts strained to relate Rapp anecdotes, of which, it developed, they had virtually none, and the executive producer, Bruce Cornblatt, warbled a song he wrote to the tune of Bye Bye Birdie:
Bye Bye Vern Rapp, please tell us it ain't so.
Bye Bye Vern Rapp, hate to see you go.
We'll miss your bunting signs,
The way you tugged your belt.
Vern, would you still have left,
If you knew how we felt?
The program wasn't all spoof, though. Cardinal broadcaster Mike Shannon spoke admiringly of the man, and Rapp, reached by telephone in Montreal, was choked up by the whole affair. As things turned out, Rapp had even more reason to be pleased than he realized at the time. WHDH also conducted a telephone interview with Sheldon Bender, vice-president of player personnel for the Cincinnati Reds, in whose farm system Rapp had managed from 1969 to 1975. Until the station called, Bender hadn't known that Rapp was leaving the Expos, and he brought up Rapp's name at a meeting the next day at which the Reds' bosses were discussing whether to fire Manager Russ Nixon. One thing led to another, and it was decided that Nixon would indeed be sacked and that he would be replaced by, yes...Vern Rapp.
Although Bender stopped short of giving WHDH all the credit for the selection of Rapp as the Reds' new manager, he did concede that "Vern wasn't a candidate for the job until the station called." As for Rapp, he decided that becoming the Reds' skipper was worth unretiring for. And WHDH said it would be glad to send him the cassette recording he requested of what, for him, turned out to be a most momentous broadcast.
BAITING THE BULL
Because the designated hitter was not to be used in this year's World Series, White Sox DH Greg Luzinski continued to practice at first base during the American League playoffs, just as he had during the final days of the regular season (SI, Oct. 3). The Bull had to learn to handle not only ground balls but also teammates' barbs about his fielding. For example, before the playoff opener in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, Luzinski was complaining in the clubhouse about the seats that had been set aside for the wives of the Chicago players. "Terrible," he howled. "The Orioles gave them lousy tickets. They'll all be out in leftfield."
The other players listened to Luzinski's tirade for a while before one of them shouted back, "Better the wives in left-field than you."
THEY SAID IT
•Howard Schnellenberger, University of Miami football coach, asked whether he'd consider jumping to the USFL if he were offered a $1 million-a-year deal: "You mean you want me to take a pay cut just because we lost to Florida?"
•Bum Phillips, New Orleans Saints coach: "There are two ways to build a team. You either get better players or get the players you've got to play better."
•David Archer, quarterback for 2-3 Iowa State: "If we don't get the killer instinct, somebody is going to get killed."
•Paul Owens, Phillies manager: "The toughest thing about managing is standing up for nine innings."