Last of the Best
This is an article from the May 3, 1993 issue
Mark Koenig, who died last week in California at the age of 90, was the last survivor of the fabulous 1927 New York Yankees, the team generally regarded even now, 66 seasons later, as the greatest in baseball history. Babe Ruth hit 60 homers for those Yanks, Lou Gehrig 47. Eye-opening figures even today, but in the '20s those stats were overwhelming. The third-highest home run total in the American League in '27 was only 18, and it belonged to another Yankee, second baseman Tony Lazzeri. As a team the Yankees hit almost three times as many homers as any other club in the league.
And their superiority didn't manifest itself in home runs alone. Centerfielder Earle Combs led the league in triples. Gehrig led it in doubles. Ruth, Gehrig and Combs were 1-2-3 in runs scored. Gehrig had 175 runs batted in, Ruth 164; the third man in the league was 44 RBIs behind the Babe. Gehrig, Ruth and Combs were 1-2-3 in total bases. Leftfielder Bob Meusel missed 23 games and still batted in 103 runs.
The Yankees also were formidable on the mound. Their pitchers led the league in shutouts, with 11, and allowed 109 fewer runs than any other staff. Wiley Moore (19 wins, seven losses) led the league with a 2.28 earned run average, Waite Hoyt (22-7) was second at 2.63, Urban Shocker (18-6) was third at 2.84, and Herb Pen-nock (19-8) was seventh at 3.00.
New York was in first place all season. It won 110 games (in a 154-game season), finished 19 games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Athletics, who had seven future Hall of Famers—ironically, only five members of the '27 Yankees would make it to Cooperstown—and beat Pittsburgh in four straight games in the World Series, outscoring the Pirates 23 to 10. Ruth batted .400 in that Series but still hit well below the Series-leading .500 turned in by New York's young shortstop, Mark Koenig.
Easing concerns that he was going the way of George Bush on environmental issues, President Clinton said last week that the U.S. would combat global warming by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and that he would sign an international treaty protecting endangered species of plants and animals. While these assurances were certainly welcome—both measures had been opposed by Bush when he was president—Clinton's resolve in protecting the environment will continue to be tested. This is especially true of his pledge to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, something that can be accomplished only through rigorous measures to limit the burning of fossil fuels.
Greenhouse gases—like the windows of a greenhouse, they trap heat from the sun—have been building up in the atmosphere over the last two centuries as the result of industrialization and deforestation. The global temperature is about one degree Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the 19th century, and if carbon dioxide emissions are left unchecked, it could be another three degrees warmer by 2025. Such increases would result in coastal flooding, drought conditions and the loss of forests, plants and animals.
Clinton said he would take measures that by the year 2000 would reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels. He said he would announce a plan by August; in the meantime, he said he would sign executive orders committing the government to buy thousands of U.S.-made vehicles that would run on electricity, natural gas, methanol and ethanol. But the environmental benefits of these energy alternatives—methanol and ethanol, in particular—are questionable. Moreover, although Clinton said the U.S. would return emissions to 1990 levels, he didn't say he would keep them there or reduce them further. Representatives of environmental organizations had pressed for adoption of this second step, but the White House would only go halfway.
As if baseball didn't have enough to worry about (page 14), Anheuser-Busch, the biggest advertiser on major league TV and radio broadcasts, is cutting back on its sponsorships. Five years ago the St. Louis-based brewer, which owns the Cardinals, poured $100 million into baseball advertising. Its 1993 baseball budget calls for an outlay of only $75 million. Local telecasters and regional cable outlets are feeling most of the pinch. Anheuser-Busch has reduced its average load of 30-second commercials per game from 10 to as few as four. It has also dropped exclusive contracts with some teams and is now willing to share sponsorship of their games with competitors.
"We're not walking away from baseball, but we are looking to stretch our advertising dollars," says Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch's vice-president of corporate media and sports marketing. But Ponturo is concerned about the slump in baseball's TV ratings and by indications that the game's appeal to the young has slipped. He also notes that sports advertising has taken a hit generally. "Ten years ago 90 percent of beer advertising for 21-to-30-year-old males went into sports," says Ponturo. "Today that number has fallen to 70 percent, with most of the rest going into entertainment."
The French cheered last week when a countryman, Bruno Peyron, skippered an 86-foot catamaran, Commodore Explorer, into a Brittany harbor to complete an around-the-world journey in 79 days, six hours, 15 minutes and 56 seconds. Peyron's team received a $150,000 prize that Paris promoters had offered to the first boat that could outdo the 80-day circumnavigation by Jules Verne's fictional hero Phileas Fogg. The luster of the feat was dimmed not a soup‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√ºon by the fact that the cooking aboard Commodore Explorer had been left to the lone foreigner in its four-man crew, Cameron Lewis, an American. A spokesman for Peyron explained that Lewis handled the chef's chores because "he likes doing it." Another source noted that the meals consisted of bland, freeze-dried fare, "so the margin of culinary error was limited."
Next fall the NFL will reveal which two cities will receive expansion franchises beginning with the 1995 season. For now, fans in the five contending cities can ponder the possible names of the teams that they hope to be rooting for. The NFL has registered this list of likely names with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:
Baltimore: Bombers or Cobras.
Jacksonville: Jaguars or Sharks.
Memphis: Bombers, Hound Dogs or Showboats.
St. Louis: Archers, Rivermen, Scouts, Stallions or Stokers.
One observation: In light of the terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center and last week's explosion in London's financial district, one hopes that should Baltimore and/or Memphis join the league, they'll jettison the Bombers.
Shaq Got Clocked
The Orlando Magic's season ended last Saturday, but workmen may be sweeping up after Shaquille O'Neal for weeks. The 7'1", 300-pound O'Neal put an emphatic exclamation point on his rookie season (23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks a game) with a particularly ferocious dunk during a 119-116 win over the New Jersey Nets at the Meadowlands last Friday night. The slam sheared the backboard's brace supports, sending the hoop and the 24-second clock crashing down on O'Neal (above) and delaying the game for 46 minutes, until the backboard assembly could be replaced. In two seasons at LSU and one in the NBA, Shaq now has broken three rims, shattered two backboards and torn down two standards.
After the game Shaq shrugged off his encounter with the 90-pound clock, saying, "It hurt a little bit, but not that much. And what had been Shaq's initial reaction to the devastation he had wrought? "I said, 'Damn, the kid is strong.' "
They Wrote It
•Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle, lamenting the departure of a Bay Area icon to the Kansas City Chiefs: "Joe Montana [above], who is to quarterbacking what the Golden Gate is to bridges and what the cable cars are to public transportation, is gone."
The 1994 budget presented to the Ann Arbor, Mich., city council last week provides for 1,200 fewer overtime hours for police than were budgeted for this year, resulting in a projected savings of $35,000. The way city administrator Alfred Gatta sees it, University of Michigan fab soph Chris Webber is a virtual lock to jump to the NBA, a development that would spare Ann Arbor the sort of destructive demonstrations next spring that have accompanied the Wolverines' three Final Four appearances in the last five years.
When a bench-clearing brawl broke out between Germany and France last week at the World Hockey Championships in Dortmund, Germany, the tournament's penguin-attired mascot tried to separate the combatants only to be hit on the head with a stick by a player. Said an uninjured Sven Kielmann, the fellow in the well-padded penguin get-up (right, about to enter the fray): "I'm glad it wasn't my own head."
They Said It
•Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboy quarterback, on his reaction to being named one of PEOPLE'S 50 Most Beautiful People: "I thought, Well, they don't know that many people."