The list of athletes linked to the use of cocaine keeps getting longer. In Phoenix, three Suns basketball players (James Edwards, Jay Humphries and Grant Gondrezick) and two former players (Garfield Heard and Mike Bratz) were indicted last week for alleged involvement with the drug (page 24); yet another Sun, Walter Davis, underwent rehabilitation for cocaine abuse for a second time. Meanwhile, San Francisco Giants outfielder Eddie Milner checked into a rehab clinic after admitting he had a drug problem.
The indictment of the present and former Suns besmirched a sport in which such stars as Micheal Ray Richardson, John Lucas, Mitchell Wiggins, John Drew and Lewis Lloyd have previously been identified as having been involved with cocaine. Baseball has seen three of its Cy Young winners (Vida Blue, LaMarr Hoyt and Dwight Gooden) and four of its batting champs (Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Willie Wilson and Keith Hernandez) get into trouble because of drug use. The list of cocaine abusers in the NFL includes such past or present stars as Chuck Muncie, Pete Johnson, Ross Browner and last year's MVP, Lawrence Taylor. All this, of course, is on top of the cocaine-related deaths of Len Bias and Don Rogers.
Not too many years ago, if an athlete like Milner had acknowledged a drug problem, it would have been big news. However, coming on the heels of the Phoenix bust, which came on the heels of the Gooden episode, which came on the heels of the Wiggins-Lloyd disclosures, and so on, ad nauseam, the Milner case caused hardly a ripple. Sadly, shockingly, the news that an ordinary athlete has been using drugs no longer seems to be a big deal.
April 26, 1987
THE VANNA WORKOUT
In an interview with Pacific Southwest's in-flight magazine, Vanna White detailed the requirements of her letter-spinning job on TV's Wheel of Fortune: "You should know the entire alphabet, be yourself, be poised and be in shape. I walk miles and miles every day on the set. You have to do a lot of walking in high heels.... Walking back and forth in them is not as easy as it sounds."
THE LONG HAUL
After nine innings of a recent game in Bradenton, Fla., Hillsborough Community College and Manatee J.C. were tied 2-2. By the 20th inning the score was 3-3, the lights were on and fans were shivering in the evening chill. In the 23rd inning, Hillsborough assistant coach Rick Bernaldo climbed a tree to retrieve a foul and vowed to stay there until the game was over. In the 30th inning, with the score 4-4, Bernaldo came down because he was too cold. He never found the foul ball.
Fans retreated to their cars to watch the game and honked horns by way of applauding. So much coffee was sold at the concession stand that somebody hung a sign: OVER 2 MILLION SOLD. Finally, in the 32nd inning, 7½ hours and four stapled-together official score sheets after the opening pitch, Hillsborough sealed a 6-4 victory on a diving catch by centerfielder Matt Ulvenes with two men on base. It's believed no one junior college game had ever lasted that long. "It went on so long one of our guys slid into second base in the first inning, and his scab had healed by the end," said Bernaldo.
Players on both teams got the next day off.
BUILDING A BRIDGE
On May 29, 1985, at a stadium in Brussels, English soccer fans rioted during the European Cup final between Liverpool and Turin, Italy. Thirty-eight spectators were killed in the melee. Shortly thereafter English soccer teams were banned from European competition.
On Easter Sunday a team from Liverpool played a national team from Belgium on English soil. Five hundred people came to Liverpool's Kirkby Sports Center to watch two Special Olympics squads compete. Liverpool won 9-1, but both teams went out to celebrate together. Special Olympics, which sponsors athletic events for the mentally retarded and has staged Arab-Israeli and Northern Ireland-Irish Republic soccer games, called this one the Leading-the-Way-Back Match.
Now that Tampa Bay has signed Vinny Testaverde to a reported six-year, $8.2 million contract preparatory to making him the No. 1 pick in next week's NFL draft, it's worth noting a bit of draft trivia. Of the 16 quarterbacks who have been the No. 1 selection in the draft, only one—Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers—has led the team that picked him to an NFL championship. Two others, Bill Wade and Jim Plunkett, led teams other than the ones that drafted them to NFL titles, and Paul Hornung, the No. 1 choice in the 1957 draft, helped the Green Bay Packers to five championships after being switched from quarterback to running back.
Just something to think about, Tampa Bay.
BALLPLAYERS FOR SALE
Have $1,500 to invest on a long shot? Call Miles Wolff, president of the Butte (Mont.) Copper Kings of the rookie Pioneer League. Wolff plans to "sell" the contracts of some of his players for $1,500 each to help defray operational costs. "We don't have a major league affiliation this year," says Wolff, publisher of the tabloid Baseball America. "We have to find some way to meet expenses. Butte isn't a big town."
Investors won't actually own a player's contract, but their $1,500 will pay his salary ($600 a month for a 2½-month season) and possibly bring them a solid return—if the player is picked by a major league organization for the $4,000 Class A draft price. "If big league clubs are interested in two or three of your players, that's as much as you can hope," says Wolff.
The team's roster will be assembled in June, mostly from undrafted college players. Prospective investors will receive scouting reports on each player from Butte's yet-to-be-hired manager. "We'll only sell the contracts of six or eight of our players," says Wolff. "We don't want to sell a utility infielder in the Pioneer League as a prospect." Even at that, he says, investors "shouldn't be looking at this as anything other than fun. If they happen to get their money back, that's just icing on the cake."
For as long as anyone can remember, Mount Everest has been considered the world's highest peak. A Himalayan relative some 900 miles to the northwest, the enigmatically named K2, was thought to be in second place. Now, without really trying any harder, K2 may have taken over the top spot.
Last summer an eight-man team called the American K2 Expedition used sophisticated scientific equipment in hopes of making the first official survey of K2 since the mid-19th century. The earlier effort had placed the summit at 28,250 feet. Although heavy snows prevented the American climbers from reaching the summit, they found that the plain beneath K2 is 900 feet higher than it was thought to be. Theoretically that would make the mountain's summit 29,150 feet, more than 100 feet higher than Everest's 29,028. Further studies will be done this summer to confirm the finding.
"We really did not think that we would find the mountain higher than Everest," says the expedition leader, Dr. Lance Owens, who released the team's findings last week. "But the data we obtained led us to believe that that might be the case. I guess if K2 is one inch higher than Everest, it means that everybody's been climbing the wrong mountain."
A WELL-EARNED PENSION
Northern dancer, a Tiny Bay, was the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 1964. The following year he quit racing. Now, after a second career that established him as the greatest stallion in thoroughbred history, the 26-year-old Northern Dancer is retiring from stud. Windfields Farm of Chesapeake City, Md., announced last week that the legendary horse is receiving his pension after getting only one mare in foal in 25 breeding attempts this year.
To date, Northern Dancer has sired 124 stakes winners, more than any other thoroughbred. He was sire to The Minstrel, El Gran Senor, Snaafi Dancer, Shareef Dancer, Nureyev and Nijinsky II, who won the English Triple Crown in 1970. None of Northern Dancer's feats, either on the track or at stud, was foreseen. Breeder E.P. Taylor raced and then syndicated him only after finding no takers when he offered to sell him as a yearling for $25,000. Once the horse's breeding prowess had been proved though, a single year of stud service was priced at as much as $1 million.
Windfields' announcement did not come as a surprise. Few horses remain fertile until age 26. The farm's general manager, Joe Hickey, said that Northern Dancer would remain at Windfields Farm. "Nothing will change for him," said Hickey, "except that he won't be bred to mares anymore." For this stallion, that will be quite a change.
THEY SAID IT
•Rocky Bridges, manager of the minor league Vancouver Canadians, on hitting .237 in his two seasons with the Dodgers: "The more I played with them, the more I found that no one could take a joke—my batting average."
•Arnold Palmer, on the large crowds that followed him as he shot an 83 and a 77 to miss the cut at the Masters: "People come out to see me now so they can feel better about their own game."