KNEPPER'S WILD PITCH
Did God intend women to be umpires? Not in the opinion of Houston Astro pitcher Bob Knepper, who said last week that Pam Postema (SI, March 14) has no business trying to become the major leagues' first female ump.
"This is not an occupation a woman should be in," said Knepper, a born-again Christian, after pitching five innings with Postema behind the plate in a 5-0 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. "In God's society, woman was created in a role of submission to the husband. It's not that woman is inferior, but I don't believe women should be in a leadership role." Knepper said he would exclude women from such careers as umpiring, sportswriting—he refuses to grant interviews anytime a woman reporter is in the locker room—and serving in high government office.
Knepper is entitled to the free expression of his beliefs, but we're equally free to call them patronizing and offensive. If he had made the same remarks about blacks, he would have been rightly condemned as a racist—yet would his message have been any more bigoted? It was heartening to hear other big leaguers, including other Astros, distance themselves from Knepper's narrow-minded view. They seem to feel that Postema, who's competing for one of the two openings on the National League umpiring staff, should be judged on her abilities. And that's how it should be. Even Knepper said, after watching Postema call his pitches for five innings, "She did a great job back there today."
If Knepper's comments last week were disturbing, WBC middleweight champ Thomas Hearns's were downright irrational. At a press conference announcing his June 6 fight with Iran Barkley, Hearns not only called himself "the best fighter who ever lived" but also labeled Marvelous Marvin Hagler "a has-been" and Sugar Ray Leonard "overrated."
"If Leonard and Hagler were here today, I would walk up to them and slap them in the face," said the Motown Motor Mouth. "They deserve to be hit as if they were women—to make them think, 'Am I a man or a woman?' If they are men, they don't fight like men."
Come again, Thomas? They deserve to be hit as if they were women? To a civilized person, that means not at all. And by the way: Didn't the unmanly Leonard take you out in 14 rounds in Las Vegas back in 1981? Didn't that sissy Hagler put you on the canvas in three rounds in Vegas in '85?
SWIMMING IN CIRCLES
"They're coming around the final buoy now, and Pablo Morales of the U.S. is out in front. But here comes Michael Gross of West Germany on the outside. He's closing fast down the homestretch. They're stroking side by side now. Morales, Gross, it's... Gross."
If that sounds as though someone were turning the 100-meter butterfly at the 1984 Olympics into an aquatic Kentucky Derby, well, that's just what Norman Sarsfield, honorary secretary of the European Swimming Federation (LEN), wants to do to many swimming races. At next week's LEN meeting in Malta, Sarsfield will propose that in the future swimmers race around buoys 10 meters from the sides of the pool in much the same pattern as horses galloping around a track. He claims that the change will make swimming more marketable on television and thereby encourage both increased corporate sponsorship of the sport and greater participation among youngsters.
When asked for his reaction to the proposal, Britain's world-class breast-stroker Adrian Moorhouse said, "It's a very bad idea, very silly indeed. You have to laugh. It's the only possible reaction. If the guy is serious about it, then he should try swimming round in a circle.... I don't train 20 hours a week to swim round in circles."
FIRST THINGS FIRST
FBI representatives have been touring baseball spring training camps in Florida to lecture players about the dangers of gamblers and gambling. Last week the FBI men were in Vero Beach to address the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their lecture had to be delayed 15 minutes, however, so the L.A. players could finish making their choices in the team's NCAA basketball tournament pool.
RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
Michael Dukakis is a Democrat from way back. Owen Canfield of The Hartford Courant found a 1954 yearbook from Swarthmore (Pa.) College, the presidential candidate's alma mater. In it was a picture of the cross-country team with this caption: "Swarthmore harriers Chuck Loucks, Frank Irish, captain George Hastings and Mike Dukakis, who runs as if he was being chased by a Republican."
NO MORE, PLEASE
It would have been the joke of the week if it hadn't been so pathetic: In a 10-round fight in Nashville, Randall (Tex) Cobb, 33, who fought Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title in 1982 and lost in 15 rounds, met former heavyweight champ Leon Spinks, 34. Both were sadly out of shape. Cobb, who lately has been concentrating on his acting career, won a narrow decision but afterward had to be hospitalized overnight for a concussion and exhaustion. Spinks was weary and bleeding from the mouth as early as the fourth round; in the sixth, his well-worn trunks lost their elasticity, and he had to fight the rest of the bout with duct tape around his waistband.
Summed up NBC commentator Dr. Ferdie Pacheco: "It was an endurance contest to see who could make it to the final bell, and they both lost."
HOOPSTERS WITH HEART
A special St. Louis University Medical Center basketball team took the floor to play a halftime exhibition at a recent St. Louis U home game. All 14 of the team's players were heart transplant patients. "These people want to show that you can live a normal life after a transplant," said coach and cardiologist Dr. Leslie Miller. "They can run and play hard."
Miller also allowed that the exhibition had an ulterior purpose. "More doctors are recommending patients for transplants every day, and we simply need more organs," he said. The 5,412 fans at Kiel Auditorium were handed donor cards at the door.
THE HEROINE OF THE 13TH HOLE
Mary Bea Porter, A 15th-year LPGA pro with under $50,000 I in career earnings, was trying to qualify for the Standard Register Turquoise Classic last Wednesday at the Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix when she saved a life. She was playing the 13th hole when, beyond a seven-foot wrought-iron fence lining the fairway, she saw a man in Amish attire leap into a swimming pool. Bewildered, Porter looked closer and saw a small child floating facedown in the water. She took off toward the pool.
Porter, 38, who has a five-year-old son of her own, reached the fence and attempted unsuccessfully to scale it. Then she beckoned madly to her caddie, Wayne Sharpe, who was standing 60 yards away near the green, for help. When he arrived, Porter clasped her hands and offered to boost him over the fence. Sharpe is 6'4" and 235 pounds: Porter is 5'7" and 150. He lifted her over the fence instead.
By now the Amish man, Christian Smucker, had pulled his three-year-old son, Jonathan, out of the pool and was holding him by the ankles, shaking him and swinging him in the air. Smucker seemed confused and helpless. As soon as he saw Porter, he thrust the child into her arms. "He kept apologizing, saying he was just a farmer visiting from Pennsylvania," says Sharpe.
Porter, who has no CPR training but "knew a little from watching TV," laid the boy down and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She worked like a veteran paramedic. Suddenly the child's chest heaved with breath. "His heart started like an engine," Porter recalls. Emergency vehicles arrived, and Jonathan was taken to the hospital, where he was found to be frightened but unhurt.
Porter, shaken, returned to the course. Not surprisingly, her game fell apart. She finished with a 76 and failed to qualify by three strokes.
The next day more than 90 pros playing at another LPGA event, in Tucson, signed a petition requesting that Porter be given a qualifying exemption for the Phoenix tournament, which takes place this week. LPGA commissioner John Laupheimer agreed and granted the exemption, citing Porter's "exemplary heroism."
"I'll always feel a bond to that child," says Porter. "This whole thing has put life in a new perspective." She plans to take a CPR class in the near future and teach the technique to other women on the tour.
THEY SAID IT
•Ulf Dahlen, a center from Sweden who's with the New York Rangers, when asked about the possibility of Soviet players joining the NHL next season: "I don't like it. We can't let foreigners take our jobs."
•Rocky Bridges, a longtime minor league manager, on his home in Idaho: "I'm so far out in the country that I have to go toward town to hunt."