A Helping Hand

Christmas will be a little less bleak for hard-luck American League umpire John Hirschbeck and his wife, Denise, thanks to a fund-raiser held the other day in Chicago. Two of the Hirschbecks' four children, John, 8, and Michael, 6, have contracted ALD, a rare and usually fatal genetic brain disorder, and the following big leaguers (all deserve to be named) showed up for a sports-memorabilia show and $250-a-plate buffet dinner, which raised $265,000 to help defray the Hirschbecks' enormous medical bills: Jose Canseco, Doug Drabek, Dennis Eckersley, Cecil Fielder, Mark Grace, Ozzie Guillen, Bo Jackson, Don Mattingly, Jack McDowell, Mark McGwire, Paul Molitor, Mike Morgan, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Dave Stewart and Robin Yount. Managers Tony La Russa (Oakland A's), Gene Lamont (Chicago White Sox) and Jim Lefebvre (Chicago Cubs) were also on hand, as was former White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce.

The baseball celebs signed autographs for guests, and some joined in the bidding for items donated by other sports stars. Ripken bought a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers for $3,200; Drabek paid $2,500 for a Wayne Gretzky hockey stick and a Joe Montana jersey; and Fielder ponied up $2,200 for a Jackson football helmet. Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and George Brett couldn't make it, but they contributed too: A lunch date with Ryan went for $1,200, Clemens and Brett jerseys for $4,000 and $1,500, respectively.

Most of the off-season baseball news has been about how much players are taking. It's nice to know that some are giving.

Summa Cum Loutish

Former Auburn defensive back Eric Ramsey's secret tapes of conversations indicating illicit payments to Tiger players led to the resignation in November of coach Pat Dye, and that's why, when Ramsey received his sheepskin from the school last week, some of his fellow graduates booed and chanted, "Go to hell, Ramsey, go to hell." Ramsey's wife, Twilitta, who also got her degree, lent even more class to the proceedings by making an obscene gesture to the crowd.

Congratulations, Auburn: You're now rid of the whole bunch—Dye, the Ramseys and those boorish grads.

Tark and Luke
Last week's firing of San Antonio Spur coach Jerry Tarkanian a mere 20 games into his three-year contract was a surprise, as was owner Red McCombs's choice of John Lucas as the new coach. Tarkanian, who was so unaccustomed to losing—he had the best winning percentage (.837) of any big-time college coach—that the Spurs' 9-11 start affected his health, wanted a point guard for Christmas, a gift McCombs didn't think Tarkanian needed. Ironically, as an NBA player Lucas was a fine point guard. Fittingly, given Tark's affinity for players with troubled pasts, Lucas is also a former cocaine abuser who runs a successful drug rehab program. His elevation to an NBA coaching job suggests that his own rehabilitation is coming along very nicely indeed.

Bad Move, Bobby
Bobby Fischer is living in Yugoslavia, and since extradition may be difficult, he may not give a hoot that he was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., for allegedly violating the U.S.'s ban against trafficking with Yugoslavia. But presumably Fischer, who defied the ban by playing (and winning) his recent $5 million chess match with Boris Spassky in that country, would be unhappy about U.S. attorney Jay Stephens's phraseology in announcing the indictment. Stephens accused Fischer of being a "pawn" of Yugoslavia's bloody regime.


They Wrote It

Tony Kornheiser in The Washington Post, commenting on the Green Bay Packers' quarterback: "I mean, really, Brett Favre? The only one in the world who can correctly pronounce this guy's name is Inspector Clouseau [right]. 'I have a bimp on my farrhv.' "

Come Again?

No sooner did we figure out what heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe meant when he said, "I am the man who beat the man who beat the man who beat the man"—Bowe decisioned Evander Holyfield, who stopped Buster Douglas, who KO'd Mike Tyson—than the WBC, reacting to Bowe's refusal to fight No. 1 contender Lennox Lewis (a refusal that Bowe, who retains the WBA and IBF crowns, elucidated by dumping the WBC belt in a trash can), awarded its version of the title to Lewis, which is just as well, since, having whipped Bowe for the Olympic gold medal in 1988, Lewis is the man who beat the man who beat the man who beat the man who beat the man.

Come Again Again?

After pitching the Minnesota Twins to victory in last year's World Series, Jack Morris signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, who won this year's Series behind Dave Winfield (left), who last week signed with the Twins.

They Said It

•Al Albert, sportscaster, after junior welterweight Pernell Whitaker KO'd Ben Baez in 37 seconds of the first round: "Joan Baez would have lasted longer."

•Jim Muldoon, Pac-10 p.r. man, denigrating the record of conference champion Washington's Rose Bowl opponent, Michigan: "Eight-oh-three isn't a record. It's an area code."

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