Appearances to the contrary, the indictments of seven men on drug trafficking charges last week by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh gave baseball's brass little cause to breathe easier. True, no ballplayers were indicted or named as un-indicted co-conspirators, and players weren't even alluded to in initial court appearances. But the potential for embarrassment to the game is still there. If and when the cases of the seven accused men go to trial, ballplayers may well be called as witnesses. Twenty to 30 players were questioned during the investigation that led to the indictments, and most or all of them got immunity from prosecution in return for their cooperation.
SI has learned details of the government's case against the seven suspected dealers. Investigators turned up evidence that cocaine was sold to ballplayers in virtually every National League city. Law-enforcement officials say drug deals involving ballplayers were so routine that those who cooperated in the investigation often had trouble providing specific information about transactions. They said that in some cases the athletes were able to pin down sales by recalling who the opposing pitcher was on a given date.
Players usually bought cocaine in relatively small quantities, and one source said they deliberately shied away from larger purchases. "They didn't want to be arrested and labeled dealers," the source said. "They know if it's small quantities they won't go to jail and they'll go into some kind of treatment program." But the small, frequent transactions apparently added up. The prosecutors have information that one big league player spent more than $100,000 on drugs in a single year.
June 9, 1985
The super schoolboy basketball team from Baltimore's Dunbar High, everybody's choice as this year's mythical national champion, finally met its match—Dunbar High. Coach Bob Wade pitted his 29-1 Poets in a postseason exhibition against his 31-0 squad of two years ago. He rounded up alumni from Tennessee, Wake Forest, Syracuse and other points. But the crowd packed into the tiny school gym cheered loudest for a couple of short-hop travelers up from Georgetown: David Wingate, who actually graduated in '82, and Reggie Williams.
The postgrad Poets were so packed with power that, to even things out a little, Wingate and UNLV's Gary Graham suited up with the '84-85 team. Led by Terry and Perry Dozier—nearly 14 feet of twin brothers headed for South Carolina next fall—and Western Kentucky recruit Kirk Lee, this season's Poets pushed to an 11-point lead with five minutes to play. But the veterans rallied, and Wake Forest's Tyrone (Muggsy) Bogues sealed the victory for them with a length-of-the-court drive for a basket in the closing seconds. "Fresh," said Muggsy, who has picked up expressions like that in college.
Final score: a pro-style 131-128, suggesting that the "D" is silent in Dunbar.
WATER FOLLIES OF 1985
In undertaking a $100 million rehabilitation of its outdoor swimming pools, New York City has committed the design equivalent of renovating Yankee Stadium and leaving out leftfield. Five of the pools being refurbished were built with WPA funds in the 1930s and were designed to conform to Olympic specs. In the overhaul of three of them, architects added filtration systems that lopped a meter off the regulation 50, making the pools useless for official competition.
"The engineers apparently didn't know there were standards for competition pools," says Joseph Coplan, a local swimming activist. "And the city's parks department didn't inform them." Coplan has waded into the city's bureaucracy and hopes to have work halted on the two sites that have not yet suffered the same "improvements." One is the Astoria Pool in Queens, the site of the U.S. Olympic trials in 1936 and 1964.
To date, more than $20 million has been pumped into facilities at High-bridge, Sunset Park and Crotona. City Comptroller Harrison Goldin, who monitors such projects, has recommended that the remaining pools be restored to their original dimensions. This can be done, says Goldin, without plunging too deeply into the municipal treasury.
LET'S GET POSITIVE
The San Antonio Gunslingers have a 3-12 record, tied for last in the USFL. They're ranked next to last in rushing and dead last in total offense. A travel agency, a hotel and two other parties have filed lawsuits against them seeking payment of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The IRS hit the Gunslingers with a claim for $404,673, and the team may owe another $150,000 in back county and school-district taxes. Players grumble about overdue and bouncing paychecks. Coach Jim Bates has resigned. And now the team has banished a San Antonio Express-News sportswriter from the stadium press box and dressing rooms for, among other things, too much "negative reporting."
When Bernie Kosar comes to terms with the Cleveland Browns, it won't be the first time that someone put a price tag on the former University of Miami quarterback. Two months ago American Sports Underwriters insured him for about $2 million.
The 3-year-old Boston company specializes in disability coverage for athletes. It insures most major league baseball teams, half the NBA and, increasingly, college stars who want to stay in school without risking potential pro earnings. In January the NCAA made it legal for collegians to borrow money to pay the annual premiums of between $8,000 and $10,000.
This year about three-dozen college athletes took out one-year policies with the firm. Fifteen or 20 others paid as little as $250 for one-day policies insuring them against injury in all-star games or pro camps.
But the protection provided by the policies is generally quite limited. "These policies only insure against total disability," says one NCAA official. "If an All-America fullback blows out a knee and drops from a first-round pick to eighth, his value has dropped, but the policy wouldn't pay off."
He's right. Which may help explain why American Sports Underwriters has never had a collegian make a claim.
BONANZA OF BUCKS
Say this for Spend a Buck: He sure has made a few. By winning the Jersey Derby at Garden State racetrack on Memorial Day, the colt got $600,000 in first-place money plus a $2 million bonus for sweeping that event, the Cherry Hill Mile, the Garden State Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Faster than you can say Conquistador Cielo, the following happened:
•Spend a Buck's career earnings shot to $3,998,509 in 13 races, vaulting him to second on the alltime tote board, behind 10-year-old John Henry, who has won $6,597,947 in 83 races.
•Cam Gambolati, whose stable pretty much stops at Spend a Buck, went from nowhere to second among trainers in '85, gaining on D. Wayne Lukas, whose 100 or so horses have won almost $4 million.
•Laffit Pincay Jr., 38, Spend a Buck's rider in the Jersey Derby, jockeyed himself to within a nose of $100 million in total purses, a milestone first reached earlier this year by Bill Shoemaker, who's 53.
And those big Jersey spenders aren't through yet. Should Spend a Buck win the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 27 and the Pegasus Handicap at the Meadowlands on Sept. 26, he'll get a cool million as well as at least $327,000 in first-place spending bucks.
CATCHING A BUG IN SAN FRANCISCO
Joan Benoit finished only 11th in last week's L'eggs Mini Marathon in New York (page 53), but she made some kind of track history two weeks earlier when she outran an 1,800-pound, 50-foot-long, 26-legged centipede in San Francisco. The Olympic marathon gold medalist finished first among the women in the Bay-to-Breakers race, a cross between an Alice in Wonderland costume ball and a Haight-Ashbury mushroom dream. San Franciscans call the event the world's longest moving block party.
This year's 74th running attracted a field of some 85,000—world-class marathoners Benoit and Rod Dixon, thousands of weekend plodders, Snow White drag queens, Silicon Valley girls clad as computer chips, 40 pairs of Blues Brothers, others decked out as monstrous green tennis shoes, mutant Crayolas and assorted grotesqueries that even Dr. Seuss wouldn't deliver. Cal's marching band strutted through the race, though the tuba section appeared played out at the end.
The feet beneath the Aggie Running Club centipede belonged to some of the strongest male runners in Northern California. "We're gonna squish all the ladies," the outsized chilopod bragged at the start. But Benoit wasn't deterred. "I knew it was just a bunch of fast guys with a cape over their heads and antennae sticking out," she recalls. Benoit says she was more concerned about a guy who ran out of the crowd dragging a mule on a leash.
The Aggie 'pede, which outlegged all centipedes—including one disguised as a lobster—was ahead of her for 6K. But at the summit of Haight Street, it curled up like a woolly bear predicting a cold winter and soon was passed by Benoit. With half a mile to go, well ahead of the other women and centipedes, Benoit pulled on a pair of lobster oven mitts, emblematic of her Maine birthplace. She crossed the finish line waving them like the Pine Tree State flag. "I wanted to join the party," she said.
THEY SAID IT
•John Thompson, Georgetown basketball coach, on the news that graduated Hoya star Patrick Ewing has a 1-year-old son, Patrick Jr.: "We sat down and had a personal discussion about it. I gave him a letter of intent and told him to get the baby's footprint."
•Cliff Stoudt, Birmingham Stallions quarterback, after a 44-7 win over the Los Angeles Express in front of 4,658 fans in the 92,500-seat Coliseum: "It's a little weird when you have to whisper the plays in the huddle."