DEAD CAN DANCE
Mickey Mantle died nearly three years ago, but in an age when
advertising is far more advanced than medical science, no one
ever really dies. The deceased or, rather, his heirs, just hire
agents and sign endorsement deals. These days dead is in. Dead
is hot. Dead sells. Someone should slap a suicide watch on John
Madden, because today dying only increases your earning potential.
"As the technology evolves, the use of dead celebrities is on
the rise," says Marc Perman of International Creative
Management, the agency hired by Mantle's family to explore
opportunities for the late Yankees legend. Mantle's loved ones
revealed that the Mick may soon be appearing in TV commercials,
much the same way that Fred Astaire and John Wayne are shilling
from the great beyond. Mickey's son David insists that the
family will not allow his old man's image to be used in crass or
tasteless ways. "We want to make sure Dad's not put on a
toothpick," says David. Memo to Ted Williams's image-exploiting
son, John Henry: Toothpicks might be perfect for you when the
Splendid Splinter shuffles off this mortal coil.
What constitutes a classy and tasteful opportunity for a dead
celeb? In his work from beyond the grave, the Duke sells beer,
while the ever-elegant Astaire dances with a vacuum cleaner.
Well, even death has an upside: At least Astaire doesn't have to
see what they've done to him.
May 17, 1998
It would be nice to believe that Mantle's image will be
desecrated with nothing more indelicate than a milk mustache,
but no one expects that to happen. High standards are generally
a lot to ask of people who put their dearly departed up for
bids, so the Mick's life after death is more likely to be filled
with tortilla chips, jock-itch spray and double-bacon
cheeseburgers. "There are a lot of untapped things, and the idea
is to keep Dad's name out there and do a good job with what's at
hand," says David.
Few ex-jocks, never mind dead ones, still fascinate the public
the way Mantle does, and few companies would pass up a chance to
exploit the image of Mantle, especially the image of a young,
wild and innocent Mantle. The Commerce Comet will no doubt bring
new meaning to his old nickname, and we can only wonder how long
his family will hold out before considering offers from the
granddaddy of all male-targeting advertisers, beer companies.
Mantle, who admitted to years of alcohol abuse, died of cancer
two months after a liver transplant, but soon he'll be back,
looking better than ever. It will be a miracle of modern
advertising. It will also remind us that death is sometimes, as
Gore Vidal termed Truman Capote's passing, a "good career move."
Big Loss for the NCAA
A $67 MILLION BLUNDER?
When the NCAA voted in 1991 to limit certain Division I assistant
coaches to an annual salary of $16,000, its lawyers didn't
advise the organization that the cost-cutting measure probably
was a violation of federal antitrust laws. They should have.
Last week a U.S. District Court jury in Kansas City, Kans.,
awarded nearly 1,900 so-called restricted-earnings coaches $67
million in back pay and treble damages, the largest judgment
ever against the NCAA. Although the NCAA said it will appeal (a
process that should take one to three years), the case has
shaken the organization on two fronts:
--Damages. NCAA general counsel Elsa Cole says that if the appeal
fails, some of the payment could come from loans and the NCAA's
$10 million reserve fund, but the bulk likely would be
subtracted over a period of several years from the NCAA's annual
payout to Division I schools ($146 million in the 1997-98
budget), which is a primary source of funding for athletic
programs. The NCAA's final tab--including damages, interest and
more than $10 million in lawyers' fees--would likely exceed $90
With that in mind, should the NCAA cut its losses and ditch the
appeal? The NCAA says no, of course. Cole argues that the court
made "numerous errors," including not allowing the NCAA to
elucidate its intentions in creating the restricted-earnings
rule. Washington State president and NCAA Executive Committee
chair Samuel Smith says that the organization simply can't
justify--"to the student-athletes who won't get scholarships or
the coaches who won't be employed"--dropping the appeal and
paying the damages.
One thing is certain: The NCAA could have settled the
five-year-long case on several occasions for far less. According
to Dennis Cross, a lawyer for the coaches, his clients would
have settled "in the $5 million range" as late as May 1995.
That's why a number of administrators and university presidents
are convinced that the NCAA should give up on its appeal. "This
has been an example of arrogance on the part of the NCAA," says
Kansas State president Jon Wefald, who served on the NCAA
Presidents' Commission from '92 to '94. "When it comes to the
law, arrogance will always get you in trouble."
--Liability. If the restricted-earnings rule was a violation of
antitrust laws, potential antitrust suits based on other NCAA
regulations--such as limits on the number of games a school can
play or restrictions on income from part-time jobs for
scholarship athletes--could signal doomsday for the
organization, says Gary Roberts, director of Tulane's sports-law
program. "Every athlete could claim that he could have had a
part-time job paying $10,000 a year," Roberts says. "If there
are thousands of other athletes each claiming $10,000 a year,
you're looking at another $100 million judgment. A $100 million
judgment here and another there, and you're talking serious
Some college athletic officials are already speaking as if the
NCAA might not survive in its current form. Ohio State athletic
director Andy Geiger is talking about a new "super division" of
college sports that would not be under the NCAA's purview.
"We're poised to lead in a new direction," says Big Ten
commissioner Jim Delany. "We have a number of regulatory issues
to address, whether we're in the old NCAA, the restructured NCAA
or some other organization."
On Saturday night at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield,
Mass., Navy forward Hassan Booker will be presented with the
second annual Chip Hilton Award, an event of soul-stirring
significance to a small group of fanatics. Almost two decades
ago I wrote an article (SI, Jan. 7, 1980) about my childhood
fascination with the Hilton series of sports books, by Clair
Bee, the legendary basketball coach at Long Island University.
Not a year has gone by without the story's being brought up to
me in some manner, perhaps in a note from a Hiltonite looking
for an elusive copy of Hungry Hurler or from a professor working
on an academic article about juvenile sports fiction.
The award will be presented by Chip Hilton Sports, an
association founded two years ago by Bee's daughter, Cindy
Farley, and her husband, Randy, to "promote positive character
in the sport of basketball." It sounds so hopelessly quaint,
doesn't it, an advocacy group named after a fictional character
whose athletic prowess and Dudley Do-Right virtuousness strained
credulity even in the we'll-believe-anything 1950s. But there's
something about the world of Chip that sticks with you, perhaps
a longing to know if real-life Chip Hiltons exist.
Hassan Booker would hardly seem to be one. Chip grew up in the
small town of Valley Falls, where you could practically smell
apple pies cooling on window ledges; Booker tiptoed around drug
dealers in South Central L.A. Chip's mother, Mary, was a saintly
sort who would not even be detained for an interview at the
gates of heaven; Booker's mother had a substance-abuse problem,
as well as four children by four men. But if Bee were writing
today, Booker, an African-American, would be an excellent
replacement for the blond Hilton. As an undersized forward, the
6'2 1/2" Booker was a gutsy player who invariably went against
He got good grades, and in two weeks he will graduate on
schedule with a degree in computer science. He was a role model
on and off the court, and by all accounts he'll make an
excellent officer. Says Navy coach Don DeVoe, who knew Bee well,
"Hassan epitomizes the character Clair created."
As much as I cherish the books, I've never spent much time
lamenting the loss of Hiltonesque innocence in today's sports
world, perhaps because I've spent too much time in my job
looking for the warts on that world. It's gratifying to know
that Hassan Booker, who had never heard of Chip Hilton until he
won the eponymous award, is a lot like him. --J.M.
High School Baseball
PUT ME IN, COACH!
On several occasions this season, Eatonville (Wash.) High's
rookie baseball coach, 20-year-old Corey Harmon, was mistaken
for a player. "He looks like he's about 16," says Rusty Trudeau,
who coaches Nisqually League rival Foster High in Tukwila. "When
we played them, I went up to him and asked where his coach was."
On April 30, Harmon got a little confused himself. Looking, he
says, to rest his overworked pitching staff, he trotted himself
in from the bullpen, handed himself the ball and started the
second game of a doubleheader against North Mason High. "I knew
it was against the rules," says Harmon, a pitcher and third
baseman for Eatonville before he graduated two years ago, "but
it was a nonleague, totally pointless game. I didn't think it
was that big a deal."
Turns out it was. The bizarre move went unnoticed during the
game--perhaps because Harmon checked in under an assumed name,
perhaps because he was shelled for 15 runs in North Mason's
mercy-rule-shortened, four-inning, 15-4 win. But an Eatonville
player's parent recognized Harmon and complained to athletic
director Donna Hosley, who fired Harmon and assistant coach
Jayson Numsen the next day. She also canceled the Cruisers' two
Harmon, whose letter of apology appeared in the Eatonville
Dispatch last week, was the only applicant for the Eatonville
job when longtime coach Jack Headlee retired last year. After
being granted an under-21 waiver by the Washington
Interscholastic Activities Association, he took over just a week
before the Cruisers' first game. The Cruisers finished 3-15, but
those three wins equaled the school's total for the previous two
seasons. Now the Nisqually League is likely to place
Eatonville's program on probation for a year, and Harmon's
coaching career may be over. "I was given a really good
opportunity for someone my age," says Harmon, a part-time
college student. "I guess I let my youth and inexperience get to
Hosley, meanwhile, has already begun the search for a new coach.
"It's hard finding qualified people," she says, "but I think
this time we'll look for someone a little older."
IRON MAN GROUNDED OUT
Gerardo Sanchez, an infielder-outfielder known as the Cal Ripken
of Mexico, decided to stay overnight after a Mexican League game
in Tabasco last week rather than leave on the bus with most of
his teammates on the Nuevo Laredo Owls. It was a fateful
decision. The following morning Sanchez and four other Owls were
stranded at the airport in Tabasco because of poor visibility.
As a result Sanchez missed the next game, ending his record
consecutive-game streak at 1,415.
As with most superstars, engagements, professional and personal,
sometimes force Ripken to travel apart from his team. One hopes
that when the Baltimore Orioles iron man finally has to sit
out--his record streak stood at 2,514 as of Monday--it won't be
because his limo had a flat.
Soccer and Sex
WHAT ABOUT A FRIENDLY?
According to a survey conducted by the London-based Media
Business Group, 95% of British men between the ages of 20 and 34
would rather watch World Cup soccer on television than have sex
with "the woman of their dreams." Among those 35 or older,
however, only 60% said they would pass up passion for the
play-by-play. It must be the Viagra.
Around the Horne
LIFE AFTER IRON MIKE
If you remember John Horne at all, it's no doubt from his
meltdown in the moments after last June's Mike Tyson-Evander
Holyfield fight. Then one of Iron Mike's two managers--installed
by promoter Don King--the slender, natty Horne worked himself
into a lather while discussing Tyson's disqualification. With
tears in his eyes, he defended Tyson and accused Holyfield of
"jumping around like a little bitch" after suffering a "nip" in
Now Horne, who, like King, has been canned by Tyson, hopes to
make a more genial impression. A onetime comedian, he's the star
(and, not incidentally, producer) of Unconditional Love, a
romantic thriller currently in production for Silent Touch
Horne, who is in a court battle with Tyson over contractual
matters, says he has mellowed since the Holyfield fiasco. As
some snippets from a recent conversation suggest, however, Horne
doesn't exactly hold back when asked about last June's bout and
--"What I said was the truth. Evander was jumping around like a
bitch. That's exactly what he did."
--"Mike Tyson could never appreciate what we were trying to do.
Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist, a felon, and we made him the
biggest deal in boxing. If he lives for a long time, maybe he'll
understand what an achievement that was."
--"You can work your ass off for Mike, but you can't make him
listen when all he tells you is 'F--- you!' Mike had five fully
furnished mansions. Mike, do you really need another house?
'F--- you! F--- you! F--- you!' Mike, do you really need another
car? 'F--- you! F--- you!' All you can do is try and help. He
did what he wanted to do with his money."
--"Don King is a great man. When you hear people ripping him,
they've never had lunch with him. Don King respects my ability,
and I respect him."
--That Monica Lewinsky show up at a Capitals game so someone in
Washington would get interested in the NHL playoffs.
--That NBA coaches take a hint from Larry Bird and stop calling
timeouts when hopelessly behind.
--That we could, as disgruntled Marlin Gary Sheffield suggests,
walk in his shoes--and even buy a pair with his $10 million
Percent more alcohol consumed on average by college athletes
than by students who aren't athletes, according to a study in
the Journal of American College Health.
Odds of the Broncos' winning the '99 Super Bowl with and without
John Elway, who is still pondering retirement.
Weight, in pounds, of Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton late
Newton's weight, after dieting and strenuous working out, at a
recent Cowboys minicamp.
Percent decline in attendance at the Indiana boys' high school
basketball tournament from 1997, when all schools competed in
one class, to '98, when they were divided into four classes.
Distance from Earth, in miles, of the asteroid Dominikhasek,
which was registered with the International Astronomical Union
by Czech astronomers in honor of the native-son and Sabres goalie.
Average with ump Durwood Merrill behind the plate of .302 hitter
Ken Griffey Jr., who wrote the foreword to Merrill's new book,
You're Out and You're Ugly, Too.
SHOULD THE MAJORS BAN CHEWING TOBACCO?
No one is saying big leaguers shouldn't have the same right as
all citizens to enjoy a chew--and risk various oral cancers--on
their own time. But just because an activity is legal doesn't
mean it's ballpark appropriate. Players over 21 can drink beer,
for example, but not in the dugout. Like it or not, athletes
are role models, and with tobacco's dangers becoming clearer
each day, it's time baseball spit out the chaw. --R.O.
It's frightening to think of a baseball ministry of health
telling men what they may not put in their mouths. Today
tobacco; tomorrow pork rinds? Don't legislate; educate. Require
players to attend seminars. Put anti-tobacco signage in every
stadium and youth-targeted PSAs on every broadcast. And no more
stocking the clubhouse: Make the fools who use tobacco spring
for it themselves. --Tom Verducci
Saturday is Pole Day at the Brickyard, the day drivers jockey
for the inside spot on the front row of the May 24 Indianapolis
500. But how much does the pole matter once the green flag
falls? Only 16 of Indy's 81 champs have been pole sitters.
Further, over the last decade the top qualifier has finished out
of the top 10 as often as he has milked his advantage for a
YEAR POLE SITTER/FINISH WINNER/START POSITION
1997 Arie Luyendyk/1 Luyendyk
1996 Tony Stewart/24 Buddy Lazier/5
1995 Scott Brayton/17 Jacques Villeneuve/5
1994 Al Unser Jr./1 Unser
1993 Arie Luyendyk/2 Emerson Fittipaldi/9
1992 Roberto Guerrero/33 Al Unser Jr./12
1991 Rick Mears/1 Mears
1990 Emerson Fittipaldi/3 Arie Luyendyk/3
1989 Rick Mears/23 Emerson Fittipaldi/3
1988 Rick Mears/1 Mears
"IT'S JUST A FLESH WOUND!"
Before Patrick Ewing suited up for Game 2 of the Knicks-Pacers
series, countless scribes evoked the image of another New York
big man's return--Willis Reed's heroic hobble onto the Madison
Square Garden court to help his team beat the Lakers in Game 7
of the 1970 championship series. Here are a few more kings and
queens of pain who took playing hurt to a new level.
1964 STANLEY CUP FINALS, GAME 6 Defenseman Baun broke right
ankle blocking Gordie Howe shot but returned in overtime to
score winning goal for Maple Leafs against Red Wings. Baun also
played Game 7, in which Toronto clinched Cup.
1976 OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS Broke right leg at knee during floor
exercises in team competition. With Japan trailing U.S.S.R.,
Fujimoto completed two more events, including the rings, in
which he nailed dismount to score 9.7. Japan won gold.
1979-80 NFL PLAYOFFS Rams defensive end fractured left fibula
against Dallas in the first half of second-round playoff game,
had it taped and went back in to get sack in second half. Played
in NFC title game and Super Bowl, in which Steelers beat Los
1988 WORLD SERIES GAME 1 With strained left hamstring and
sprained right knee, pinch hitter Gibson hit full-count, two-out
homer in bottom of ninth to give Dodgers 5-4 win over Athletics.
L.A. won Series 4-1.
1996 OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS Believing team gold medal was on the
line, Strug took second vault on badly sprained left ankle and
stuck landing for score of 9.712.
1996 OLYMPIC LONG JUMP A week after dropping out of heptathlon
with severely strained right hamstring, Joyner-Kersee leaped
from fifth to third and bronze in final attempt.
1996 BUD AT THE GLEN Having broken clavicle and sternum in crash
two weeks earlier, Earnhardt, in flak jacket and protective
harness, won pole and finished sixth.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Saying that men and boys want their hair cut where there are "no
strange smells, crazy curlers or female gossip," the owners of
Sports Clips sports-themed barber shops will allow males to
"huddle with their team member [a stylist]" and "hit the showers
for a shampoo."
May and June are to soccer fans what April is to
accountants--the busy time of the year. Major League Soccer is
in full swing in this country, championship cups are being
contested across Europe, and in June the World Cup kicks off in
France. If there aren't enough corner kicks and yellow cards in
your morning paper, let the Web keep you up to date as the
football action around the globe reaches fever pitch.
Aptly billed as The Ultimate Guide to Televised Soccer, this
site tells you which way to turn your satellite dish to see
matches in every major league and competition in the world.
News, standings, statistics and analyses of matches from South
America to Scotland can be found here; you may also weigh in
with your predictions for upcoming games.
Hang out in the World Cup Cafe for news, schedules and previews
for all 32 teams in the world's most watched event, which begins
in Paris on June 10, and let the Cafe's "Regulars" guide you
through Cup history and cybertours of the 10 French cities in
which matches will be played. Vous ne parlez pas francais? No
problema, amigo. Five languages are spoken here.
sites we'd like to see
Home page of the NBA's veteran-dominated All-Defensive team.
Bulletin board for disgruntled fans of underachieving, highly
THEY SAID IT
Lefthanded pitcher for the New York Mets' Triple A club in
Norfolk, Va., on his request to be called up or traded: "What
does it hurt to ask? All they can say is yes or no, and I
already know the answer."