The court battle between the San Diego Yacht Club, defender of the America's Cup, and its New Zealand challenger took an unexpected turn on Monday when New York State Supreme Court Justice Carmen B. Ciparick ordered the competition to begin on Sept. 19 off San Diego. The judge rejected the New Zealanders' petition to hold the defender in contempt of court if it entered a catamaran, a design that sailing experts regard as clearly faster than the 133-foot monohull the challengers have built and plan to sail. "Nothing in this decision should be interpreted as indicating that multihulled boats are either permitted or barred under the America's Cup Deed of Gift," said Judge Ciparick, who added that any more complaints between the two parties could be brought to the court after the race.
The decision was hailed as a victory by Tom Ehman, chief operating officer of Sail America,' which is handling SDYC's defense. "The judge is saying, 'Go race the race, boys.' " said Ehman, "and she's also telling [New Zealand challenger] Michael Fay, 'You don't know what kind of boat San Diego is showing up with until the day of the race, and San Diego doesn't have to tell you.' " A spokesman for the New Zealand syndicate, Peter Debreceny, said, "If it's a mismatch, it will destroy the future of the America's Cup.... But the judge has ordered us to sail, and we are ready to sail, mismatch or not."
When Fay, citing the 1887 Deed of Gift, first won the right to compete for the America's Cup this year in boats twice as large as the traditional 12-meter yachts, there was genuine excitement in the sailing world—the prospect of a return to yachts the size and grandeur of those in the J-boat era. But after months of litigation and the decision by the San Diego Yacht Club to employ a catamaran, it seemed that the contest had more to do with spitting than with sailing. The judge was saying, in effect. Behave like the gentlemen you're supposed to be; get out of court and settle this at sea.
THE GIRLS OF SUMMER
There's a baseball league in Glenview, Ill., with a difference. It's the two-team American Women's Baseball Association (AWBA), and though the pitcher's mound is only 50 feet from home plate and the bases are 80 feet apart, real women are playing real hardball on Saturday mornings this summer.
The AWBA was founded by Darlene Mehrer, a 44-year-old free-lance editor in Glenview, a suburb of Chicago. Mehrer, an avid Chicago Cub fan who also puts out a newsletter called Base Woman, had attended a fantasy camp run by former Cub catcher Randy Hundley last year and wanted to pursue her interest in the game even further. "I couldn't find a league, so I started one," she says. Her league has 34 players, ranging in age from 17 to 55 and in occupation from bookkeeper to veterinarian. The only other concessions the league makes to gender besides the shorter distances are seven-inning games and a ban on stealing. "If I could throw runners out, we might have had stealing," says Mehrer, a catcher for the Gators.
The spiritual foremother of the new league is the All American Girls Baseball League, a four-team loop that was started in 1943 by Cub owner Phil Wrigley and that survived until 1954. Seven alumnae of that league were among the 100 spectators at the official debut of the AWBA on July 16 at Elm Park in Glenview. In the first game the Daredevils defeated the Gators 11-6. The heroine of the day was Daredevils shortstop Kathy Landeweer, a 29-year-old house painter from Arlington Heights, Ill., who hit a three-run homer. Mehrer was disappointed in her own performance—she was fanned all three times up—but she says, "Everybody had a great time."
SOCK IT TO EM
Marty Noble, who covers the New York Mets for Newsday, walked into their clubhouse the other day and noticed that relief pitcher Randy Myers was wearing argyle socks.
"How come you're wearing argyles?" Noble asked Myers, pointing toward the pitcher's feet.
"I'm not," said Myers. "I got these at Woolworth's."
STRETCHING THE TRUTH
The new World Basketball League is limited to players under 6'5", a requirement that has resulted in a number of stars owning up suddenly to their real height after years of claiming to be taller. Take the top three rebounders in the WBL as of last week. The No. 1 rebounder, David Boone of the Calgary 88's, was supposedly 6'6" when he played at Marquette. Alfredrick Hughes of the Chicago Express, No. 3 in rebounds, was a 6'5" guard for Loyola of Chicago. Both are now listed as 6'4". But the tallest tale belongs to Andre Patterson, who was released last week by the Vancouver Nighthawks, despite ranking second in the league in rebounds and fifth in scoring. When Patterson was playing in the Continental Basketball Association, his height was listed as 6'8", but when he was officially measured before the start of the WBL season, he came in at 6'4‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àöœÄ". Before the 13-24 Nighthawks released him in a general shake-up, Patterson was known in Vancouver as the Incredible Shrinking Man. Now he's totally invisible.
DON'T GO OVERBOARD
What is the most dangerous sport? Well, according to the Ontario Medical Association, it's fishing. In a survey of sporting deaths in 1986, the association found that 21 people had died in the province while fishing—most of them by drowning—the highest mortality rate for any sport in Ontario. Said Dr. Charles Tator, who is codirector of the Canadian Sports Spine and Head Injuries Research Centre in Toronto, "One of the most dangerous things one can do is stand up in a boat to pee over the side in rough water."
It's a good thing to keep in mind this summer that standing in a boat, no matter the conditions or the reason, is a bad idea.
The Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis has been featuring a one-man show entitled Calvinisms, based on the life of Calvin Griffith, the former Minnesota Twins owner. Griffith himself went to the play on opening night, accompanied by Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse. As the curtain comes up, a corpulent man. stretched out in a chair, is lightly snoring, with a half-eaten hot dog, literally dripping with mustard, in his hand.
The real-life Griffith nudged Reusse and said, "That's me!"
A FORMER LINEMAN TACKLES A NEW ROLE
What do Walter Matthau, Jack Klugman, Rita Moreno, Demond Wilson and former Dallas Cowboy defensive end Harvey Martin have in common? Well, each of them has played the role of the messy one in The Odd Couple. Two weeks ago, when a production of Neil Simon's classic comedy opened at the Gaslight Playhouse, a dinner theater in Dallas, Martin became the latest, and undoubtedly the largest (6'5", 250 pounds), in the long line of actors who have portrayed sportswriter Oscar Madison.
The many quarterbacks Martin sacked during his 11 years with the Cowboys may be shocked to learn that lurking beneath that fearsome exterior was a thespian. But Martin won over the critics. Harless Wade of The Dallas Morning News called him "a surprising delight" and wrote that Martin's "stage work as the sloppy Oscar...seems as natural to him as his past role with the Cowboys." Martin has been packing them into the Gaslight, drawing such celebrities as Cowboy defensive end Ed (Too Tall) Jones and country singer Charley Pride.
Martin is not a total novice on the stage. In 1983 he played Applegate in the same theater's production of Damn Yankees. Since retiring from football in '84, he has also acted in such movies as Amazing Grace and Chuck and No Safe Haven, portraying a football player in each.
Martin says that preparing for The Odd Couple was "the toughest thing I've had to do since football." He took the part of Oscar so seriously that he hung out with journalists at a Dallas bar called Louie's to "try to get into the sportswriter's mentality." In fact, Martin may have worked too diligently at adopting Madison's persona. "I turned into a total slob," he says.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Bradley, U.S. Senator from New Jersey and former New York Knick, in a speech at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta last week: "This is the first time I've been in the Omni wearing long pants."
•Mitch Webster, outfielder formerly with the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays, on being traded by the Expos to the Chicago Cubs: "It'll be great not to have to listen to two different national anthems."