MANAGER FOR THE AGES
Threescore and six years ago, in the riverbank town of
Muscatine, Iowa, a warehouse laborer named George Long founded a
semipro baseball team and became its manager. Those Muscatine
Red Sox are still going strong today, playing in Iowa's
seven-team Blackhawk Valley League and, at 7-1 with 19 games to
play, aiming for a 66th winning season. Long, his lifetime
record a cool 1,222-613, is still the manager. "The players," he
rasps, "they know to listen to me."
He is 90 years old and lean, a vegetarian with a weakness for
chocolate malts and the hit-and-run. With only brief
interruptions Long has spent his years directing the offense
from the third base coach's box. "Just having George shouting
encouragement is an inspiration," says Muscatine coach John
Robinson, 61. "Opposing players come over to shake his hand.
He's a legend."
A high school dropout from Buffalo, Long came to Muscatine in
the late 1920s to take a job building a road along the
Mississippi River. Soon afterward, he went to work at a food
warehouse, and in '31, after the semipro baseball team on which
he was a pitcher and infielder folded, he scrounged together
enough money to form his own. For some 30 years Long played in
addition to managing, and he took the field with several
baseball greats. In the late '30s he had a barnstorming Babe
Ruth in his lineup--"He hit two out for me," Long recalls--and
his teams later played against Hall of Famers such as Dizzy Dean
and Hank Aaron.
Though Long has quieted some from the chatterbox who barked at
his hitters to "find some green" and though he has mellowed from
the animated agitator who sprayed umpires with tobacco juice, he
is at essence the same man for whom Robinson played from 1957 to
'70. "He has an unbelievable devotion to baseball," Robinson
says. "You see him on the field, and you just feel how much he
loves the game."
As recently as last year Long was the team's chief fund-raiser.
He could be seen trundling through the streets of Muscatine
(pop. 23,500) clutching a grocery bag stuffed with the fliers
and programs he sold door-to-door to pay for equipment, umpires
and his players' postgame fare. "All the cheese sandwiches you
can eat," Robinson says, "and always, always on rye." That's not
surprising, since one of Long's signature sayings is, "If you
eat white bread, you're going to be dead."
There's another he uses whenever his Red Sox fall into a rut:
"I've never had a losing season," he likes to remind them, "and
I don't plan to have one now."
LIKE HE SEES 'EM
In his two decades as an NHL player, coach and television
analyst, Mike Milbury was refreshingly brash and candid. And
though many men lie low when they move into the executive suite,
Milbury seems to have retained his to-hell-with-'em spirit, as
well as his sharp tongue, in his position as general manager of
the New York Islanders. Discussing negotiations with Paul Krause
to re-sign forward Zigmund Palffy last week, Milbury, also the
Islanders' coach, told the New York Post: "I think the agent is
EYE OF THE HURRICANES
The more we watch Miami coach Butch Davis, the more sincere he
seems about his my-way-or-the-highway approach to cleaning up
the Hurricanes' football program. Last summer, after linebacker
James Burgess was arrested on charges of battery against a
police officer and resisting arrest, Davis suspended him for two
games. (Burgess was later acquitted.)
Davis also got tough on tardiness last season, which seems
inconsequential until you consider that lax discipline was a big
reason Miami became an outlaw program. The coach benched center
K.C. Jones (then an All-America candidate) and two other players
against Rutgers on Oct. 14 because they arrived late at a team
And last week, after top receiver Jammi German was charged with
burglary and battery in an attack on Miami track star Maxwell
Voce, Davis suspended German for next season. According to Coral
Gables police, Burgess and linebacker Jeffrey Taylor were also
involved in the incident, in which Voce was beaten inside his
house. As of Monday, neither had been charged, but Davis had
suspended both indefinitely.
Suspending German is a bold step. The Hurricanes lack depth as a
result of a three-year NCAA probation for rules violations that
predated Davis; the sanctions took away a total of 24
scholarships for the 1996, '97 and '98 seasons. But Davis has a
more important charge than winning a national championship:
restoring integrity to a tarnished program. So far he's doing it
A TOUGH CALL FOR UNIONS
Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the NFL had complied with
antitrust laws when it paid taxi-squad players a flat
$1,000-per-week salary in 1989. The decision, which upheld a
lower-court ruling that the NFL has the right to impose pay
scales during a bargaining impasse, will have significant impact
on pro sports for years to come.
Because only individuals, not unions, can seek antitrust relief
(i.e, more liberal free-agency rules), the ruling implicitly
forces a players' union to decertify before it can sue a league
on antitrust grounds. This sets the stage for some high-stakes
union gambling. A decertified union may be better able to fight
for greater free agency, but it can neither represent players in
grievances nor administer pensions or other benefits.
Decertification also leaves a union with no legal means for
gathering and distributing salary information to players and
their agents, a crucial factor in individual contract
Yet sometimes decertification is an effective strategy. In 1989
the NFL players decertified, filed a series of antitrust suits
in the name of numerous individual players and won a free-agency
agreement that has lifted total salaries by more than 40%.
"Deciding whether or not to decertify will be a very difficult
decision for any union," says Jeff Pash, who is the general
counsel of the NHL and also represented the NFL in its antitrust
With NBA labor contract negotiations currently deteriorating
(page 40) and some basketball agents already arguing forcefully
for decertification, the NBA players' union may need to resolve
the decertification dilemma within weeks.
Now that they've won their fourth championship of the 1990s, the
Chicago Bulls are the new America's Team. That's fine, but don't
forget that four of their top eight players were born outside
the U.S.: Steve Kerr (Lebanon), Toni Kukoc (Yugoslavia), Luc
Longley (Australia) and Bill Wennington (Canada).
Of course, the Bulls do have a few bona fide apple-pie types.
Like Dennis Rodman.
END OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
The enduring images of St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith
are as an acrobat: He is leaping high, spikes tucked to his
bottom to avoid a sliding runner, or he is racing into the
outfield toward a pop fly, his back to the plate, making the
catch and tumbling head over heels. Most indelibly, he is taking
two strides to his left or right and unfurling from his prepitch
crouch into a headlong, glove-first dive. For a moment Smith,
suspended parallel to the earth, seems weightless. Then the
baseball disappears into his glove, and he is suddenly landing,
bouncing to his feet and unleashing the ball on a line to first.
Such images have become increasingly rare as age has limited
Smith's spectacular range and elasticity. And though he retains
a compelling grace at age 41, no one was surprised last week
when Smith announced plans to retire after this season, saying,
"I feel the time is here." Shoulder surgery limited him to 44
games and a .199 batting average last year, and this season he
starts about once every four games for Royce Clayton, a
26-year-old who grew up with posters of Ozzie on his bedroom wall.
Thus, fans have no guarantee they'll get to see Smith, the
greatest defensive shortstop of all time and a certain
first-ballot Hall of Famer, if they turn out for his final stops
in National League cities. But it's worth gambling the price of
admission. Smith--who has won 13 Gold Gloves, made more assists
than any shortstop and led the league in fielding percentage
seven times--is still fit and still capable of saving a game
with his glove. And you never know when, for old time's sake,
he'll take the field with one of those trademark backflips.
"He's not dead yet," says teammate Willie McGee.
While it was Smith's majesty afield that got him labeled the
Wizard of Oz, he was also a rally-starting, switch-hitting
fixture in the Cardinals' lineup. Before last year Smith batted
.273 for St. Louis, which acquired him from San Diego in a trade
for Garry Templeton in 1982. Smith and Honus Wagner share the
alltime record of 16 seasons with more than 20 stolen bases.
"It's been a storybook career," Smith says. "Hopefully I've left
He is, of course, still leaving it. Which is why fans should go
out to see the Cardinals this year, to try to get one last look
at the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Maximum trespassing fine that can be levied against Deion
Sanders, arrested last week for fishing on a restricted lake in
Fort Myers, Fla.
Per-game hike in season-ticket prices announced by the Stanley
Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche, bringing average to $39.08.
Average cost of a ticket to a University of Colorado football
game, $1.33 more than nation's second-highest, at Michigan and
Median annual cost incurred by a family to train a top junior
tennis player, according to a survey of tennis parents.
Cost to the city of Chicago for its largely successful efforts
to prevent celebratory violence after Bulls won the NBA
Amount heavyweight Riddick Bowe says he's willing to wager Mike
Tyson that Tyson can't knock out July 13 foe Bruce Seldon faster
than Bowe's 1:48 KO of Seldon in August 1991.
The Life and Death of Dr. Tom Waddell, by Tom Waddell and Dick
Schaap, Alfred A. Knopf, $23
How much can be said about a decathlete who finished only sixth
in the 1968 Mexico City Games, when the event's history includes
Jim Thorpe, Rafer Johnson, Bob Mathias and Bill Toomey? A
bookful can be said, and Gay Olympian, which alternates between
Schaap's narrative and Waddell's letters to his daughter, is
more than worth a pre-Atlanta read.
Waddell lived a couple of lifetimes in the 49 years he had
before he died of AIDS in 1987. He earned a medical degree,
became an expert in infectious diseases, excelled in one of
sports' most grueling tests, created the Gay Games and forced
anyone who met him to reconsider his or her notions about
homosexuals. One such man was '68 gold medalist Toomey, who
admitted to feelings of homophobia before he was reunited with
his rival early in '87. Said Toomey when the meeting was over:
"He's a very valuable person to this planet."
Not everyone agreed with that, least of all the USOC. After
Waddell announced plans to found the Gay Olympic Games in 1982,
the USOC got an injunction that forced him to drop the word
Olympic from the title of what became known as the Gay Games.
Fourteen years earlier in Mexico City, Waddell, an Army captain,
angered the USOC by supporting Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who
had raised black-gloved hands during the national anthem.
Waddell, who was serving as U.S. team physician even as he
pursued a decathlon medal, said the protesters "have been
discredited by the flag more often than they have discredited it."
Those and other comments led to a threatened court-martial by
Col. Don Miller, later executive director of the USOC. Miller
never followed through, perhaps because Waddell performed so
well, losing a chance at a medal only because he was a
relatively poor runner.
That's ironic because Waddell never stopped running. He was not
perfect--his high-risk promiscuity is chronicled in the
book--but he was unique, a Renaissance man who, as Schaap says,
found success in the event designed for the Renaissance athlete.
This Week's Sign That The Apocalyse Is Upon Us
Tampa Stadium, long known affectionately as The Big Sombrero,
will be renamed Houlihan's Stadium after the restaurant chain
owned by Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer.
The co-owner of Georgia's largest nudist retreat, on the rash of
visitor bookings for this summer: "The Olympics are going to be
the biggest thing that happened to us since sunscreen."