FOR PEETE'S SAKE
The PGA Tour adopted a new rule last week. The Cal Peete Rule, as it was immediately dubbed, holds that a player must complete every round he starts in order to be eligible for the game's many statistical honors, among them the Vardon Trophy, which goes to the golfer with the lowest scoring average.
Peete won the Vardon in 1984 with a 70.56 average, despite dropping out of several tournaments, including the U.S. Open, in which he collapsed in a bunker from heat exhaustion; other withdrawals seemed to coincide with poor play in a particular round. He's currently second on the money list ($289,030) and fifth in the Vardon averages (70.53). Earlier this year he pulled out of the Sea Pines Heritage Classic following a front-nine 41 and was disqualified at the Tournament of Champions after he hockey-putted—i.e., slapped around a moving ball—on the fifth hole and lost count of his strokes. That fit of temper resulted in a fine and forfeiture of his $5,000 guarantee.
It used to be that if a player failed to finish a round or was disqualified for not signing his card, his score didn't count toward the Vardon standings; expunging a bad day was a simple matter. The new rule is harsh in that it doesn't allow for real injury or illness. But the potential abuses the rule addresses were great; permitting a golfer to erase a bad outing by not signing his scorecard is like letting a baseball player throw out some of his less fruitful at bats to improve his batting average. As for Peete, he sounded properly contrite when told of the rule, saying, "I can promise that I'll return a signed scorecard. I'll post a score."
June 2, 1985
THE SCALES OF JUSTICE
A piscatory version of the Bernhard Goetz case is unfolding in rural New York, where a trout farm foreman named Charles Fontana is accused of blasting away at a trio of teenagers to protect his fish. Late one night last month Fontana, who runs the state hatchery in little Debruce, heard a couple of humans in his breeding pens. The alleged trespassers had climbed over the hatchery fence and were spearing seven-to-nine-pound brood trout with a three-pronged frog gig. Fontana, who lives on the grounds, had his wife call the state police. He also grabbed a 16-gauge shotgun and some shells loaded with bird shot.
Police say Fontana got to the scene of the crime and pumped off a couple of rounds at two figures. They scaled an eight-foot fence and fled for the cover of the surrounding woods. A third youth waiting in a car outside the hatchery gunned the motor and shot past Fontana, who allegedly popped off another load. He missed.
Fontana got another chance because the getaway car went down a dead end. He sprayed 16-gauge pellets into the windshield and a headlight. The driver stopped and surrendered.
When state police arrived, they charged the driver with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Two other kids slightly seeded with bird shot were found cowering in the woods. They were charged with criminal trespass, also a misdemeanor, plus violations of the state fish and game regulations that prohibit abuse of trout. All three were released on $1,500 bail.
But the state police also cited Fontana for reckless endangerment and assault, which are felonies. New York takes exception to people who fire at unarmed trout burglars.
Fontana faces trial and a possible jail term after 37 years with the Department of Environmental Conservation. And like the beleaguered subway riders who rallied around Goetz, some New York trout fishermen have proclaimed Fontana a hero and are raising money for his defense.
WOULDN'T HE RATHER HAVE A BUICK?
A narrow victory last week by a horse named Sugar Ray at the U.S. Grand Prix show-jumping competition in Keswick, Va. prompted his rider, Will Simpson, to exclaim: "This horse rides so smooth, it rides like a Cadillac." That assessment may have troubled Sigi Benzel, the colt's owner. Benzel runs a BMW dealership.
K.C, THE PERCEPTIVE
After Boston Celtics guard Ray Williams hurt his left knee during a recent team practice, coach K.C. Jones said, "I really don't like the way Ray looked when he walked off the floor." When reminded that Williams had to be carried off the court, Jones said, "That's right. He didn't walk off, did he? I knew there was something about it I didn't like."
A HUB MAN, BY GEORGE
The late columnist and gadfly George Frazier was so fastidious that he used to bring his own hot dogs to ball games. And he was such a Brahmin, in outlook, if not by birth, that he once wrote an account of a Red Sox-Yankee opener for The Boston Globe in Latin. Frazier seldom tired of scolding fellow Bostonians who regarded that city as "the Hub of the Universe."
Frazier, who died in 1974, would have been endlessly amused by David Owen's cover story on satellite TV in the June issue of The Atlantic, the Boston-based monthly. Owen reports that in 1975 HBO began using the Westar satellite to send programs to cable affiliates. Writes Owen: "The first offering was the 'Thrilla in Manila,' the heavyweight-title fight between Muhammad Ali and George Frazier."
A HOMERLESS ODYSSEY
The real suspense in baseball this year is not Pete Rose's assault on Ty Cobb's career-hits record, but Duane Kuiper's inexorable crawl toward 2,000 consecutive at bats without a home run. The San Francisco Giants utility infielder (SI, June 25, 1984) hit his first, last and only round-tripper eight years ago in his 1,382nd time up, and has the lowest ratio of homers to at bats—1 in 3,376—of anybody in major league history with at least 2,500 at bats. Last season he seemed ready to join the somewhat dubious group of non-sluggers with 2,000 straight. But Kuiper batted a meager .200 and was, paradoxically, reduced to pinch-hitting. He finished at 1,992.
The Giants cut the 34-year-old in spring training. However, Kuiper needed 35 days for a 10-year pension, and the team magnanimously put him on the disabled list. On the day of his rerelease, backup shortstop Johnnie LeMaster was traded to Cleveland. "Duane," said Giants manager Jim Davenport, "you'll be suitin' up tonight."
"I don't even have a uniform," Kuiper protested.
He has one now. He's eking out at bats mostly while pinch-hitting for pitchers leading off innings against righthanders—how's that for a specialty? So far, he has a walk, a weak infield single, a sacrifice bunt and a groundout back to the box in four plate appearances. That's two official at bats. He needs six more. But he'd still rather have a homer than a share of baseball immortality.
"If Kipe hits one out," deadpans Giants coach Rocky Bridges, "there'd have to be an investigation."
THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT
Carl Williams may have lost a unanimous decision to Larry Holmes, but he did jab some truth into the 35-year-old heavyweight champ's head. Going into the May 20 fight, the 47-0 Holmes was bent on pursuing Rocky Marciano's record of 49 wins without a loss. "I'm this close," Holmes told SI's Pal Putnam before the bout, "I might as well go ahead and break the record."
Now Holmes isn't so sure. Williams, who had only 16 previous pro fights, took him 15 rounds, slammed shut one eye and scuffed up the other. Holmes could barely lift his right arm. The rest of his 222-pound body just hurt. He skipped a postfight press conference and went straight to his hotel suite to submerge his pain in a hot bath.
"I've never missed a press conference before," Holmes said, "except the night I won the title from Kenny Norton. Then I just ran out and jumped into the pool at Caesars Palace. If I had jumped into a pool after this fight, I'd have drowned." Holmes shook his battered head. "The guys I have to fight, they're too young, too strong," he went on. "It's getting harder and harder. Right now I don't feel Marciano's record is that important. I've paid my dues."
Holmes has been the champ for seven years and 20 title defenses. Only Joe Louis wore the crown longer (12 years) or successfully defended it more often (25 times). And Louis lost three fights. Marciano held the title only three years and defended it just six times: against 39-year-old Jersey Joe Walcott; twice against an ancient Ezzard Charles; and in his final bout, an antediluvian Archie Moore. In between there were a couple of guys named Roland LaStarza and Don Cockell.
And then there was Muhammad Ali, who stayed too long and lost to Holmes at 38, just as Louis hung on and was knocked out by Marciano at 37. The real accomplishment in Marciano's record wasn't the 49; it was that he retired while he still had the zero to put after it. Holmes might be wise to retire while he still has his zero.
CALL ME ISH
Some pitchers sprout mean and menacing mustaches. Others rumble onto the mound as if they're crazies, eyes flipping in their sockets like plums in a slot machine. But nobody's arsenal of discombobulation is quite as disarming as Lisa Ishikawa's. Ish, as the Northwestern ace is known, bamboozles batters with her giggle.
"Giggling relaxes me." says the 26-7 All-America sophomore, whose 469 Ks last season set an NCAA women's record. "Lots of times batters will try to stare me down, and I'll just laugh, or fix a ribbon in my hair, or look down at my fingernail polish." Her coach, Sharon Drysdale, says, "It's frustrating for a very intense hitter to adjust to a pitcher squealing with delight after getting away with a fat pitch."
Ish's pitching coach once asked her to seethe like Goose Gossage. Considering she had three no-hitters, 22 shutouts, an 0.47 ERA in 1985 and hurled the Wildcats to fifth place in last week's College World Series, she did just fine as Daffy Duck.
THEY SAID IT
•Rocky Bridges, coach of the last-place Giants, reflecting on the Candlestick Park scoreboard message that reads, REAL GRASS, REAL SUNSHINE, REAL BASEBALL: "Two out of three ain't bad."
•Rocky Bridges, asked if he really says everything that's attributed to him: "Nah. Somebody will think of something and designate it to a spokee to be named later."