Derrel Thomas was fired recently as manager of the Boise Hawks in the rookie Northwest League. His dismissal probably would have gone relatively unnoticed had Thomas not been one of six blacks managing in the minors. His team's record was 9-28; he was making bad field decisions; and he wasn't communicating with his players.
"I guess it's like Al Campanis said," said Thomas. "Maybe I was the type of person he was talking about."
His firing had nothing to do with what the former Dodger vice-president for player personnel said in April on national television—that blacks might not have "the necessities" to manage. Thomas was a curious choice as a manager to begin with, but he was a friend of the man who hired him, Mal Fichman, general manager of the Hawks. As a player, Thomas was something of a flake—he was once discovered washing his car while a game was in progress.
August 9, 1987
No, his dismissal did not bring to mind the words of Campanis, but rather the words of Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. When told that Thomas would be a manager, Lasorda said, "I have lived long enough to see it all."
In the meantime, Tommie Reynolds, a black manager, has Modesto challenging for first in its division of the Class A California League. And Tom Spencer, another black manager, has Geneva leading its division of the Class A New York-Penn League.
TWO IF BY SEA
Of the two Frenchmen who set off across the Atlantic in very different vessels in June (SCORECARD, June 29), one has landed to a hero's welcome. Stephane Peyron journeyed 3,300 nautical miles—from New York City to La Rochelle, France—in 46 days aboard a 24-foot 6-inch sailboard, arriving on July 27. The 26-year-old windsurfer's most harrowing moment came nine days into the voyage when a cargo ship passed within three feet of his board, capsizing it.
The day after he landed, he set sail for his original destination, his hometown of La Baule, 100 miles northwest of La Rochelle. At La Baule, he was escorted to shore by an armada of colorful boats as hundreds waded into the Atlantic to greet him. During the ensuing parade through town, a young girl came up to him, kissed him and handed him a crepe, a regional speciality. Said Peyron, "Now I know I'm home."
Peyron's countryman, 28-year-old Guy Lemonnier, is still far from home. He set off in a rowboat from Cape Cod on June 20. As of Friday, averaging 65 miles a day, he was a little more than halfway across the pond. He needs to make approximately 45 miles a day until Sept. 1 in order to break the transatlantic rowing record. Lemonnier, who does not have a following boat either, has had some rough experiences. In the first week, he was hit by a fishing vessel, which broke one of his oars and badly gashed his hand. That slowed him, and the weather was awful for the first three weeks. But his hand has healed, the weather has cleared, and his spirits received a considerable boost when he ran into—big ocean, small world—the French salvage vessel heading for the Titanic off Newfoundland. Lemonnier spent a few hours with the crew before resuming his arduous journey.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Trainer Sally Bailie couldn't think of a name for a 2-year-old filly she had stabled at Belmont Park. "Then," she says, "one day I saw a headline that quoted Fawn Hall, saying, 'I did it all for Ollie.' "
The name of All For Ollie's sire?
The decision by Kansas City outfielder and 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson to make pro football "a hobby" has, quite naturally, raised a lot of eyebrows. One of the best responses has come from the NFL public relations department, which sent out a press release listing the actual hobbies of a few of its players. Among the hobbyists and their special interests were:
Dave Butz, Redskins defensive tackle: carving duck decoys, wine-making and carpentry.
Reggie White, Eagles nosetackle: doing impressions of, among others, Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood.
Mark Gastineau, Jets defensive end: collecting American Indian artifacts.
Reggie Williams, Bengals linebacker: raising Great Danes.
Garry Cobb, Eagles linebacker: ballet dancing.
Andre Tippett, Patriots linebacker: karate, cooking and target shooting.
If and when these defensive players of such disparate interests face the Raiders after the Royals' baseball season ends, they will share one common pursuit: Bo Jackson.
TAKE ME OUT TO...
A press release also arrived last week from the Atlanta Braves. With three of their National League West rivals—the Astros, Dodgers and Padres—coming into town, the Braves could have trumpeted the talents of Houston pitcher Mike Scott, Los Angeles outfielder Pedro Guerrero or San Diego outfielder Tony Gwynn. But instead the release was headlined: OSCAR MAYER DALE MURPHY POSTER NIGHT, TOYOTA SPORTSBAG NIGHT AND BLACK & DECKER SEAT CUSHION DAY HIGHLIGHT BRAVES' UPCOMING HOME STAND.
THE WOMAN IN BLUE (PART II)
In last week's SCORECARD, we wrote of the baseball establishment's hard-headed attitude toward umpire Pam Postema. Well, on July 27 her attempt to reach the majors got an unexpected boost. NL president A. Bartlett Giamatti requested that Postema be brought in to work behind the plate for the annual Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown. Although she said, "It's just another game," she was being watched not only by the two teams, the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves, but also by Giamatti, AL president Bobby Brown and commissioner Peter Ueberroth.
Said Braves G.M. Bobby Cox, "I honestly don't think she missed a pitch. She was excellent. I don't know how she handles the bases or an argument, but she can handle the strike zone."
MCP OF THE NHL
The Rick Vaive Golf Classic is not exactly a major, but the tournament on Canada's Prince Edward Island did cause a major flap last month. The host, Maple Leaf right wing Rick Vaive, barred Rose Ellen Ghiz, the wife of Prince Edward Island Premier Joe Ghiz, from playing in the tournament because she is a woman.
An invitation had been extended to Joe Ghiz, but he passed it along to his wife, an avid player. Vaive turned her down, saying his charity event had been staged for three years without women, and it was just "common sense" to continue it that way. Vaive also offered the rationale that if he allowed women to play, some of the celebrities' wives might be reluctant to let their husbands out of the house.
"I have nothing against women whatsoever," said Vaive. "I mean, I married one."
Mrs. Vaive has our sympathies.
BEATING THE DRUMS FOR THE CORPS
One of the biggest sporting events of the summer, the Drum Corps International World Championships, will be held in Madison, Wis., Aug. 10-15. If you don't consider drum corps competition to be a major sport, don't tell that to the 10,000 youths who will descend on Madison, the 50,000 fans who will watch them or Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight.
Knight is a big booster of the Star of Indiana corps, which was founded and is largely funded by his friend Bill Cook. Cook, who made his fortune in medical supplies, became enamored of drum corps when his son joined one, and in 1984 he started the Star of Indiana, which is headquartered in an old schoolhouse in Bloomington and attracts high school and college kids from Kentucky and Ohio as well as Indiana. In its first year of competition, the Star of Indiana finished 10th in the world, and last year came in eighth.
"If a basketball team trained as hard as these kids do," says Knight, "it would be unbelievable. I like to take my players over there to show them what they can accomplish with hard work and teamwork. Besides, once they see them practice 12 hours a day, my players think I'm a helluva lot easier."
Drum corps, each of which numbers as many as 128 youths age 14 to 21, are not marching bands, though the two do have things in common: music, uniforms and football fields. Because of the highly competitive nature of the activity, performances tend to be more innovative, precise and entertaining than those of marching bands. The music selections for the 11½-minute performances run from the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz to Enchinda's Arf (Of You) by Zappa, and their choreography can rival that of a Broadway show. At Madison a panel of nine will judge each drum corps for its brass performance, its percussion performance and its visual effect.
This year's defending champions are the Blue Devils from Concord, Calif., who scored 98.4 of a possible 100 last year. The jazz-oriented Blue Devils are a dynasty in their "sport"—they have won six times since 1976.
THEY SAID IT
•Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics forward, on the joys of Cape Cod: "You can even go on a whale watch. Personally, though, I saw enough of Bill Laimbeer during the playoffs."