FATHERS TED AND ED
Sometime in June, two priests will set off from South Bend in a recreational vehicle to see the country. The Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame, and the Reverend Edmund P. Joyce, Notre Dame's executive vice-president, are retiring from their posts this week, and they can embark on their travels secure in the knowledge that they leave behind one of America's great universities. Thanks to them, Notre Dame excels in fields other—and far more important—than football.
Shortly after Hesburgh, 70, took over as president 35 years ago, he was asked to pose centering a football. "I am not the football coach," said Hesburgh indignantly. The message was clear, and as Notre Dame's endowment grew from $9 million in 1952 to $350 million last year, 40 buildings went up on campus, only one of which was for athletics. Hesburgh also became renowned as a staunch advocate for civil rights and nuclear disarmament. He visited more than 100 nations, yet he always belonged to Notre Dame. "Look at the Dome and see Hesburgh's face," says law professor Fernand Dutile. "Look at Hesburgh and see the Dome."
Joyce, who was Hesburgh's right-hand man from the start, oversaw the athletic department, in addition to many other duties. Although he made a curious choice or two for football coach, Joyce saw to it that the program was simon-pure and that athletes did not neglect their studies. Notre Dame regularly graduates 98% of its athletes, and it remains a major power in football and basketball.
May 24, 1987
Hesburgh once said. "Athletes are first and foremost students. There should be only one inducement for them to come to college: the opportunity to get a fine education. Our many successful former student-athletes are the evidence that sports and a good education are completely compatible."
What better evidence can Hesburgh have than the fact that his successor, the Reverend Edward A. (Monk) Malloy, played on the Notre Dame basketball team from 1960 to 1963?
THEY GIVE A HOOT
The Marathon (Fla.) High football team was 6-2 last year, and eyeing the upcoming season, coach Bill Sympson says, "We're as big as we've ever been and as fast as we've ever been." But during spring practice, the Dolphins are afraid to get down in the trenches with some 9-inch, 5-ounce Speotyto cunicularia floridana or, as they're better known, Florida burrowing owls. It seems that in March, the owls dug themselves a home on the 12-yard line of the football field. When Sympson discovered the owls, he wisely contacted wildlife authorities, who told him that the birds were a species of special concern. The players and owls now keep a watchful eye on one another. "They just kind of sit on top of their hole and look around," says junior linebacker Sky ("My mom had a sense of humor, I guess") Rockett.
Julie Hovis, a biologist for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, says school officials must apply for a permit from the commission to fill in the burrow. "The problem with just filling in the hole is that the birds chose that particular site for some reason, and they're likely to come right back and dig in—maybe at the 50-yard line," says Hovis.
She suggests that the school find another site on the property where the owls could be tolerated: "They should dig a hole that simulates an owl's nest and place a burrowing owl perch at the entrance to the burrow, then try to lure the birds to the new site." That might seem complicated, but anything less would be unsportsmanlike conduct.
In an interview on New York's Madison Square Garden Network last week, Sports Forum host Greg Gumbel asked NHL president John Ziegler if he thought that the fighting in hockey should be eliminated. Ziegler replied, "It doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is providing a product that people enjoy and want to go see...because I am in the entertainment business, and the measure to me is, Are people going to pay money to go see this entertainment? And they are saying yes to it...so, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
The next night, the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens "entertained" the fans in Montreal's Forum with a 15-minute free-for-all before the sixth game of their Stanley Cup semifinal. The slugfest started when the Flyers tried to thwart Canadien Claude Lemieux's silly pregame ritual of shooting the puck into the opponent's net at the end of the warmups. Philadelphia's Ed Hospodar, a player to whom the word "goon" is sometimes applied, punched Lemieux repeatedly, and soon most of the other players returned to the ice to join in the brawl. No penalties were handed out on the spot, because, said NHL officials, the league has no regulations covering pregame fighting. Yet when a similar incident occurred in the American Hockey League playoffs on April 11, AHL officials assessed nine game-misconduct penalties.
A day after the NHL fight, the league suspended Hospodar for the remainder of the playoffs and handed out fines totaling $24,500. The punishment was a case of too little, too late. Hospodar is hardly a pivotal loss for the Flyers, and the fines were spread out among 36 players. Ziegler refused to comment because, he said, the players have a right to appeal.
Ziegler's contention that he is merely in the entertainment business is twice flawed. First, the NHL has a responsibility to set an example. Far too many college and youth games now resemble the Slap Shot style of hockey that pervades the pro game. One has to believe that if youngsters see the NHL return to a clean, hard-skating type of game, they'll be encouraged to play that kind of hockey. Ziegler's argument is also damaged by television ratings, which show that hockey telecasts are falling in popularity—ESPN's playoff ratings are off 25% from '86.
"We sell 85 percent of all seats," Ziegler told Gumbel. Yes, and pro wrestling's arenas are filled, too.
And then we have those solemn denials by league officials that NHL referees swallow their whistles in the last stages of close games or in overtimes. But The Hockey News reports that the last time there was a power play in the overtime of an NHL playoff game was April 7, 1984. That means that in the past 43 overtime playoff games, covering 352 minutes (the equivalent of almost six games), no NHL ref has called a man-advantage penalty. Just a coincidence, probably.
BY THE WAY...
Last season John Cavanaugh, a 6'11" senior center, led Hamilton College in upstate New York to its third ECAC Division III basketball title in four years. A first-team All-America who averaged 21.5 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, Cavanaugh has an outside chance of being drafted by the NBA. That would be remarkable because only one Hamilton athlete has ever been drafted by a pro team.
What is even more remarkable is that, like Michigan pitcher Jim Abbott (page 28), Cavanaugh has a handicap. Because of a congenital defect, he has only a thumb and half an index finger on his right hand. His coach, Thomas Murphy, says, "On at least two occasions, opposing coaches didn't know he was handicapped until after the game. John doesn't make a big thing out of it—it's all he's ever known. He just feels he can do whatever he wants to." If the NBA doesn't call, Cavanaugh can still choose between pro basketball in Sweden and a job with Salomon Brothers, the Wall Street firm.
HE DIDN'T HEAR THE ROAR
The next time a home plate umpire punches the air with his right hand to indicate a strike, think of William Ellsworth (Dummy) Hoy. Overlooked by Cooperstown, Hoy played in the majors from 1888 to 1902, batted .288, had 2,054 hits and 597 stolen bases, and was the first outfielder to throw three runners out at the plate in the same game. Besides being a magnificent ballplaye, Hoy was a deaf-mute, and it was to accommodate him, legend has it, that umpires first began signaling strikes.
Part of his story is retold in The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy, a play written by Allen Meyer and Michael Nowak and currently running at The Commons Theatre in Chicago. "Naturally, we hope the play moves to Broadway," says Meyer, whose daughter is deaf. "But we also hope to create some momentum for Dummy—the name seems derogatory, but that's what he himself wanted to be called—to get into the Hall of Fame." The play recounts the struggles of Hoy's first year in the minors—in 1886 with Oshkosh. Hoy, who is portrayed by deaf actor Dean Patrick Cannavino, had to deal not only with the isolation of deafness but also with teammates who shunned him. In one powerful scene the audience hears only a low drone—as Dummy would have—as the players exchange banter on the bench.
The final scene takes place in a radio booth before a game in the 1961 World Series, when Hoy, then the oldest ex-major leaguer, at 99, threw out the first pitch. The two announcers struggle to find something, anything, to say about this player who was a hero to thousands of youngsters with similar handicaps. Says Cannavino, who was an outfielder in Little League, "When I played, the umpire always knew I was deaf and made it clear to me what the call was. I had the good fortune to play after Dummy Hoy.
—LISA TWYMAN BESSONE
THEY SAID IT
•Charlie Kerfeld, the reliever recently demoted by the Astros, in a message left on his answering machine: "I ain't here and I ain't going to be here for a while, I guess."
•Golfer Gay Brewer, on the new traveling fitness center on the Senior PGA tour: "Hey, even Billy Casper is in there riding the bicycle. Of course, he took a cart to get there."