HARVEY KUENN, 1930-1988
Harvey Kuenn died on Sunday at the age of 57. A former infielder and outfielder, Kuenn finished his 15-year career in 1966 with a .303 average. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in '53 and the league's batting champion in '59 with a .353 average. He went from the Detroit Tigers to the Cleveland Indians on April 17, 1960, for reigning home run champ Rocky Colavito in one of the most talked-about trades ever. Later in life, when he was the batting coach of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kuenn underwent heart bypass surgery and suffered the loss of his right leg due to a circulation problem. Despite those difficulties, he was asked to manage the Brewers in June of '82, and he promptly led "Harvey's Wallbangers" into the World Series.
Kuenn, born in Milwaukee, was a working man's ballplayer and manager. He and his second wife, Audrey, used to run a tavern-boardinghouse called Cesar's Inn, which was located two miles from County Stadium. The joint was jumping in the fall of 1982. You could walk in, drink a beer with centerfielder Gorman Thomas and wave to Harvey through the top half of the Dutch door that led from the taproom to the Kuenns' five-room apartment.
Upon hearing of Kuenn's death, Roger Angell, the baseball writer for The New Yorker, recalled the scene at Cesar's: "It was a great place. Harvey would discuss his choice for starting pitcher with some of the patrons, and then he'd be off to manage a game in the World Series. Audrey stayed behind to talk baseball. She was a great fan, but she had never seen Harvey in his playing days. She once asked me what he was like as a player, and I described the way he hit line drives all over the field, and the way he always ran hard to first, his batting helmet bobbing on his head. When I finished, Audrey said, 'He must have been something.' He was."
MAKING A PITCH
The following ad appeared under POSITION WANTED among the Feb. 23-25 classifieds in USA Today: HAVE FASTBALL WILL TRAVEL. UNEMPLOYED RH RELIEVER SEEKS OPP. TO SHOW HE STILL HAS WHAT IT TAKES. 4½ YEARS MLS. PETE LADD.
Ladd also supplied a Milwaukee phone number, but as of Monday he hadn't received any calls from major league teams. Ladd, who pitched for Kuenn in the '82 Series and saved 25 games for the Brewers in 1983, spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple A team in Albuquerque, where he was 4-2 with a 6.42 ERA and four saves. He underwent right-shoulder surgery in the off-season, but Ladd says his arm and fastball are now 100%.
His ad was an unorthodox approach to finding major league employment, but then Ladd has always done things differently. For five off-seasons he was a corrections officer in Maine. He spent this winter rehabilitating his shoulder and hunting for a pitching job. "I've got nothing to lose," says Ladd, who paid $270 for the three-day ad. "I just want one more opportunity, and I feel great. My agent, Davis Burke, called almost every club but had no luck. I figure things might loosen up once spring training starts and teams realize they don't have enough pitching. I want them to know I'm still out there."
WANT ADD II
This one was found under the heading LOST, ARTICLES in the Feb. 4 edition of the Rocky Mountain News: LOST IN SAN DIEGO! APPROXIMATELY 2ND QUARTER. 1 FOOTBALL TEAM WEARING ORANGE & WHITE.
No return address was provided in the ad.
In the middle of an interview last week with Larry Siddons of the Associated Press, Juan Antonio Samaranch apparently forgot that he was the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). When the subject of hockey came up, Samaranch said, "It is a pity the Americans are so weak. They are good players, but they have no cohesion. They have no coordination between them. Everyone is playing his own game. When they have the puck, never, never, never do they hit the puck to one another. They run and shoot, run and shoot."
A long time ago, the 67-year-old Samaranch was a goalie on Spanish national roller hockey teams. That experience may have made him feel qualified to criticize the American hockey team, but Samaranch—aside from being wrong in his analysis of the U.S. squad, which was strong and cohesive on offense and woefully weak on defense—was also nibbling at the hand that feeds the Olympics. Without the Americans' Miracle On Ice in the 1980 Games, the IOC would not have obtained anywhere close to the $309 million it got from ABC for the U.S. rights to televise the Calgary Olympics.
•Ron LeFlore, the former basestealing champion who was trying to become an umpire (SCORECARD, Feb. 22), failed to finish among those few at the Joe Brinkman Umpiring School who were selected for the Minor League Umpire Development Program. LeFlore says he may now try to find a job in the Korean professional league as a batting coach.
•Last week the New York State Racing and Wagering Board revoked the license of harness driver Henri Filion for "fraudulent acts in racing" as a result of the fourth race at Yonkers Raceway on Nov. 14, in which the payoff on a long-shot triple was suspiciously low (SCORECARD, Dec. 14). In addition, the board upheld the 30-day suspensions of three other drivers: Mike LaChance, Renè Poulin and Joe Marsh Jr. The suspensions of Jimmy Marohn and Jay Randall were overturned because their horses were not considered "strongly competitive."
•Tracy Graham, an Iowa State freshman, was not allowed to compete for the Cyclones' women's volleyball team because she violated NCAA Bylaw 5-1-(j) by taking her ACT test on a date not approved by the NCAA (SCORECARD, Nov. 9). She missed the entire season. However, at the January NCAA convention, a proposal was passed to allow a subcommittee to grant exceptions to Bylaw 5-1-(j) in cases in which a member institution provides "objective evidence" that a student's overall academic record warrants such an exception. The subcommittee will begin hearing appeals on March 8, at which time it is possible that Graham, who is doing well in her courses, could be granted a full four years of eligibility.
BILLY BENZ THE RULES
Gary Ward, one of several New York Yankee outfielders fighting for a spot in the regular lineup, missed his first three spring training workouts in Fort Lauderdale because he stayed in California to certify his Mercedes. He didn't want to leave his wife home with only one car. One would think that such an alibi might upset Yankee manager Billy Martin, but Martin seems much more agreeable his fifth time around.
"Sure, I can understand that," he said. "I mean, when I was playing, I always used to have problems about what to do with my Rolls-Royce, and sometimes I was late because I was mad at my mother for packing too much caviar or because the Dom Pèrignon got too warm."
CASSINI WINS IN STUNNING FASHION
He has dated Jayne Mansfield and Grace Kelly, and he was once married to Gene Tierney. He has dressed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and his creations remain on the best of backs and racks. But fashion designer Oleg Cassini, 74, says the highlight of his life may have come on Feb. 25 in the fourth race at Freehold (N.J.) Raceway, where he drove 10-1 shot Hi Po Bay Myst to a wire-to-wire victory. This wasn't one of those celebrity harness races; this was a race against bona fide drivers. "I must admit that the other drivers did not look happy for me," said Cassini. "I, however, was thrilled beyond words."
Cassini is no stranger to horses. He broke them for the U.S. Army during World War II, and he's an accomplished polo player. He caught the harness-racing bug a few years ago and started competing in celebrity races.
His first day as a licensed harness driver, Feb. 24, was a disaster. In the second race at Freehold, his horse, BJ Button, broke stride and finished last. Before the fourth race, Cassini was thrown to the track by a horse named Slugger, who reared and broke the sulky. Before Cassini's scheduled start in the sixth race, the track doctor examined him and said his blood pressure was too high for him to compete.
But Cassini knew he had to get back on—or behind—a horse right away. So the next day he got into the sulky for two races, including his victory, which earned him $67.50. He'll put that sum toward a fund for the humane treatment of retired standardbreds.
Cassini also has another cause in mind. "I'm afraid my fellow drivers do not dress as well as they should," he says. "My outfit, for instance, was better fitting, more colorful, than theirs. Perhaps I can do something to bring harness silks closer to thoroughbred silks. By the way, I have a new line of clothing coming out called Racing Silks."
THEY SAID IT
•Whitey Herzog, Cardinals manager, upon arriving at a St. Louis banquet right after a flight from Japan: "I should be hungry, but I've already had breakfast and lunch tomorrow."
•Bum Phillips, former NFL coach, on how he's spending his retirement time: "I ain't doing a damn thing, and I don't start until noon."