THE FADING GREEN
For more than 60 years the sports section of the San Francisco Chronicle has been printed on green paper, but on Sept. 14 the "Sporting Green" will fade to black and white, except for a small area of green across the top and down the left-hand side. According to the newspaper, the increasing difficulty of a separate pressrun doomed the Sporting Green. A tradition has fallen victim to the bottom line, and SI senior writer Ron Fimrite is not happy about it. Fimrite, whose column "The Sporting Tiger" appeared in the Chronicle from 1966 to '71, writes:
"The demise of the Green is shocking and appalling and yet another example of the transformation of the Chronicle from an entertaining newspaper into just another dull, gray entity. The Green was the most distinctive sports section in the country and not just because you could find it so easily. When I recall great sportswriters like Will Connolly, who recently died, Ed Hughes, Dick Friendlich, Bill Leiser, Harry B. Smith, Charles McCabe, I see them on green paper. Reading my own words in that color gave them a special, out-of-the-ordinary feeling. After all, green is the background to many of our sports."
When Don Coryell coached the San Diego Chargers, their offense was known as Air Coryell. Now that Al Saunders is the coach, the offense has been renamed El Al.
September 6, 1987
BRAVE NEW WORLD
This month officials of the U.S. Soccer Federation will travel to Zurich, Switzerland, to deliver a document that could change the face of sports in this country. The heavy load of paper they will be carrying to FIFA, the world soccer organization, is a proposal by the U.S. to host the 1994 World Cup.
Considering the fact that the U.S. does not have a major outdoor soccer league, the bid might seem laughable. Indeed, FIFA did laugh at a 1983 U.S. bid. But that was before the Olympics in Los Angeles, where a crowd of 101,799 turned out for the soccer final in the Rose Bowl. U.S.S.F. president Werner Fricker told SI's Clive Gammon, "The L.A. Olympics proved we could put on soccer with style."
The other countries bidding for the '94 World Cup are Brazil, Chile and Morocco, and the decision won't be made until next June, but Fricker says with unbridled optimism, "We are in the pole position." The stakes in the race for the World Cup are enormously high. The '86 Cup in Mexico had a cumulative TV audience of 12.8 billion. On a more spiritual level, fans in the U.S. see a World Cup as the key to establishing soccer in this country.
FIFA president Dr. Joctao Havelange is from Brazil, which might seem to favor that country's presentation, but, as Fricker points out, "Brazil doesn't know if she wants it or not.... And Brazilian stadiums? Well, they were fine in 1950." Moreover, Fricker feels Havelange is leaning toward the U.S. "He is a strong president, and he would like to see the Cup here, because then he would be the man who joined us to the rest of the world."
Contestants and fans of a feather flocked to Deming, N.Mex., two weeks ago for the eighth annual Great American Duck Race, a three-day wingding featuring tortilla tosses, the Duck Queen Ball and lots of duck races. The one duck that proved it was all it was quacked up to be was the topically named Oliver South, a 4-month-old mallard that breasted the tape in the final with a time of 1.23 seconds for the 15-foot course. Oliver is owned and trained by Robert Duck, a distributor of Indian jewelry from Bosque Farms, N.Mex.
Duck—the man, not the web-footed friend—rules the roost when it comes to duck racing. Eight years ago race promoters went to great lengths looking for possible participants named Duck, and this particular one took to racing like, well, a duck to water. He developed a "stable" that now numbers 44 ducks and claims six of the last eight Great American winners.
Six of the eight finalists on Aug. 23 were trained by Duck. For Oliver's performance in the final, Duck walked away with $2,000, not exactly duck feed. "I threatened to put him through the shredder if he didn't win," said Duck.
The NCAA made a curious move last week. Its eligibility committee said that Pitt defensive back Teryl Austin, who had been declared ineligible because he accepted payments from agent Norby Walters, would be suspended for only two games if he returned the money to Walters and proved that he no longer had contractual obligations to the agent. On the heels of that announcement came the NFL's postponement of a supplemental draft for ineligibles Cris Carter of Ohio State and Charles Gladman of Pitt (SCORECARD, Aug. 31).
The NFL was clearly doing a favor for the people who provide it with a free farm system. The colleges want to avoid a supplemental draft that could lead to an NBA-style draft. But is the NCAA so afraid of losing a few underclassmen that it would compromise its principles? By forgiving a player who broke the sacrosanct rule against accepting money, the NCAA left itself wide open to charges of hypocrisy. Not too long ago, the NCAA suspended Indiana basketball star Steve Alford for one game because he posed for a calendar for charity.
The NCAA evidently has an even greater fear that Carter, Gladman and Austin are only the tip of the iceberg. Steve Morgan, the director of enforcement and compliance for the NCAA, told SI's Armen Keteyian that the committee was "mindful of more than the Austin case. They were aware of what's going on with agents."
By giving Austin an out, the NCAA may have been trying to head off a widespread scandal. But in so doing, it undermined its own credibility.
Jerry Lewis, the entertainer and national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, has sent a telegram to this magazine in response to our story on Western Carolina football coach Bob Waters's fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (The Battle of His Life, Aug. 24). "That was a truly superb piece you did on my friend Bob Waters," says Lewis. "But it contained one slip. You said ALS 'has never inspired much fund-raising zeal.' The MDA has been knocking itself out for decades raising funds to beat ALS. Your article also said that if ALS researchers had $25 million, it could be cured. Your readers can help make that happen in one day—Labor Day—through our telethon." Lewis notes that Waters, a vice-president of the association, will appear on the telecast.
OUT OF THEIR (LITTLE) LEAGUE
In 1947 in Williamsport, PA., The first Little League World Series WAS played. Back then a crowd of 2,000 watched the hometown Maynard Little League defeat a team from Lock Haven, N.Y., which was only 25 miles away, by a score of 16-7.
The world was a lot smaller 40 years ago. Last Saturday a national TV audience and a crowd of 35,000, which included 13 members of the original championship team, saw a team from Hua Lin, Taiwan, beat Irvine, Calif., 21-1 in the 1987 Little League World Series, in Williamsport. The win gave the Far East its 17th Series victory in the last 21 years, and Taiwan its 12th in 14 appearances. The 21 runs broke the record for the most runs scored in a championship game, set by that Maynard team 40 years ago.
Pang Yu-Long hit two home runs, including a grand slam, while pitcher Lin Yi-Hung held Irvine to six hits. Poor Aron Garcia. He gave up all 21 runs before Bob Garcia, his father and manager, took him out after 2⅖ innings.
As powerful as Hua Lin seemed, it nearly lost in the semifinals to a team from Moca, Dominican Republic. Thanks to dazzling defensive plays by shortstop Wilkier Pichardo and centerfielder Juan Delos Santos, Moca and Hua Lin were tied 0-0 after seven innings, one inning more than regulation, when play was suspended on Thursday because of darkness. On Friday, though, the Taiwanese came up with four quick runs to win 4-0.
"Things sure have changed since we were here," said Jack Losch, who was a member of the original Little League champs and went on to play in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers. But one thing hadn't changed. Frank Rizzo, 76, the home plate umpire, was behind the plate for Saturday's game, as he was for the final in '47.
THEY SAID IT
•Raul Allegre, New York Giants placekicker, on his new mustache: "It's a lot like a football game. There are 11 hairs on this side, and 11 hairs on that side."
•Mac O'Grady, PGA golfer, on his own intense personality: "I have a killer instinct, and it's killing me."