MY SON, THE BALLPLAYER
Ken Griffey Sr. says he knows what Junior needs for Father's Day
My first memory of Ken Jr.--J.R., I sometimes call him--is that
he was a big kid, seven pounds, 10 ounces at birth, but solid
muscle. He had no baby fat on him. Most newborns have fat legs,
but his legs had definition even then.
He was an uncoordinated kid because he grew so fast and his
knees always hurt, but he loved to watch me hit. When I was
playing minor league ball in Canada and Junior was about three,
he'd play Wiffle Ball under the outfield stands. When he heard
my name announced, he'd climb a ledge to watch. All I could see
was this little head peeking over the fence in the rightfield
On days when we had a father-son game, he'd be so excited he
would wake up at 6 a.m. to put on his little Reds uniform. It
would be dirty by 8. My wife, Birdie, might have to wash that
uniform three times before the game started at 5 or 6 p.m.
Before long he was starring in those games, but no more so than
than his younger brother, Craig, or Eduardo Perez--Tony's
kid--or Pedro Borbon Jr.
June 20, 1999
Every Father's Day I gave Craig and Junior $5 each to buy me a
gift. They'd spend $3 on themselves and $2 on me, which is how
it should be, and for about 11 years in a row I got underwear
from Craig and Old Spice aftershave from Junior. I never could
stand the smell of Old Spice! I guess that's why I found seven
unopened bottles of the stuff in a closet last year. Some were
empty--the after-shave had evaporated over the years.
Birdie was the disciplinarian in the Griffey house. When J.R.
started coming of age and doing things he shouldn't--like the
time he "borrowed" his grandmother's car while she was
asleep--he'd get sent to me. I'd give him a good talking-to,
then take him under the stands at Yankee Stadium and throw him
batting practice. That's where he really learned to play the game.
I don't feel overshadowed by him. He had shortcuts--like my
teaching him how to hit, how to turn on the ball, how to stay
out of slumps--and while my career may not get me into the Hall
of Fame, how many guys can say they hit .296 over 19 years and
played on two World Series winners? I wouldn't trade my career
Now that I'm the Reds' bench coach, I catch Junior's games on
the satellite dish. If he's doing something wrong, I'll call the
Mariners' clubhouse and have one of the guys there tell him what
to do. Then I'll watch and see him change his swing the next
I know he'll call me this Sunday. He has never forgotten to call
on Father's Day. We'll talk about the grandkids--his kids, Trey
and Taryn. I don't expect a Father's Day gift, though. Now that
he's a dad, it's his day. But I will make sure that Junior gets
a present. I'm telling Trey and Taryn to get him some Old Spice.
Besides Wiffy Cox, Bobby Cruickshank and Steve Spray, the most
angst-inducing name in golf belongs to T.C. Chen, whose initials
have stood for Two Chip since a disastrous double-hit triggered
Chen's collapse at the 1985 U.S. Open. There may be a whole new
generation of T.C.'s at this year's Open, which is being held at
Pinehurst's devilishly tricky No. 2 course. With its tightly
mowed humps, bumps and hollows surrounding elevated turtleback
greens, No. 2 demands more from a golfer's short game than any
other course in the world. This week the pros will be as likely
to two-chip as to three-putt, and we'll see more than one player
watch helplessly as his ball rolls back to him or slips past the
pin and disappears over the far edge of the green, gathering
speed as it goes.
In a departure from the U.S. Golf Association's tradition of
growing ankle-deep rough for the Open, the rough at Pinehurst
will be trimmed low enough to allow players to get their
approach shots near the greens. The key word is near, since few
of those low-backspin knucklers emerging from the rough will
stop on No. 2's firm, crowned greens. Result: a big ol' mess of
chipping, which is what architect Donald Ross had in mind when
he devised and tinkered with his masterpiece from 1901 until his
death in '48. "Competitors whose second shots have wandered a
bit will be disturbed by these innocent-appearing slopes," said
Ross in '36, "and by the shots they will have to invent to
Pinehurst will challenge players' composure as severely as it
tests their games. The North Carolina heat might be fierce. All
the players' extra work around the greens will make for rounds
lasting more than five hours, and nothing raises a pro's ire
like playing field hockey with his wedge. This week's edition of
the event the USGA calls the Game's Ultimate Test might be the
Such conditions bode ill for the hot-blooded golfer. That means
that Tiger Woods, coming off victories in his last two
tournaments, will need to call on every Buddhist influence in
his heritage to maximize his chances. Cool veterans with
short-game genius are more likely to prosper at Pinehurst. In
fact, if Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal--the best chipper
in today's game--has a good week, he'll leave No. 2 with two
legs up on a Grand Slam. --Jaime Diaz
THE VANDY PLAN
Will academic scandals like the one at Minnesota (SI, June 14)
spur reform in college sports? Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
hopes so. This month a 29-member NCAA committee is weighing two
measures that Delany recommended for men's Division I
basketball--making freshmen ineligible and giving schools with
high graduation rates an extra scholarship. "I hope the
committee is bold and does what's right for the game," says
The SEC is backing an idea introduced by Vanderbilt athletic
director Todd Turner. Under Turner's plan a university could no
longer reassign the scholarships of athletes who permanently
lose their academic eligibility. If a basketball player flunked
out as a freshman, for instance, his school could not use his
scholarship again until after his class graduated. Turner's
proposal hasn't gotten much support from other SEC athletic
directors, but academics all over the conference support the
idea. Last month the SEC presidents endorsed it by a 9-0 vote.
Florida and Tennessee didn't show up for the vote; Arkansas
The Vandy plan is being reviewed by the NCAA's panel on academic
eligibility, which may announce its recommendations later this
year. "If you value educating student-athletes, you should favor
this," says Turner, who developed the idea with Vanderbilt
chancellor Joe B. Wyatt. "Presidents, chancellors and faculty
will have a hard time arguing against it."
A GOLDEN GIRL'S MELTDOWN
Unsung 26-year-old Michelle Smith de Bruin of Ireland shocked
the swimming world by racing to three gold medals at the Atlanta
Olympics. When critics said Smith de Bruin might be using
illicit drugs, she and her husband--discus thrower and
shot-putter Erik de Bruin, who'd been banned for failing a drug
test--shot back that Michelle had never tested positive for
Last year, however, Smith de Bruin was hit with a four-year ban
by FINA, international swimming's governing body, for spiking a
urine sample (taken in a surprise test at her home in January
'98) with alcohol. She appealed, but this month the Court of
Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, upheld the
ban, and she promptly retired from swimming.
Smith de Bruin has insisted she never used banned drugs. At the
CAS hearing, for the first time, there was hard evidence to the
contrary. Earlier tests had failed to identify any forbidden
substance in her spiked sample, but new results disclosed at the
hearing indicated that she had used androstenedione.
A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical
Association cast doubt on the value of andro--which is legal in
major league baseball but not in most other sports--as a muscle
builder for men. But if Smith de Bruin was on andro when she
sped through the pool in Atlanta, there's reason to think the
stuff might have powerful effects on women.
Sabres' Biggest Fans
"GO DOMINATOR!" YELL DOMINATED
In their battle with the Dallas Stars for the Stanley Cup (page
44), the Buffalo Sabres are carrying more than the hopes of
Buffalo's long-suffering sports fans. They're also playing for
their crosstown brothers, the Bills. "I'm rooting hard for the
Sabres," says Adam Lingner, the long- snapper on Bills teams
that went to four straight Super Bowls from 1991 to '94 and lost
them all. "Part of me says, 'Man, I wish I was the one playing
for a title,' but it's their turn now."
Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly hits the rink in a Sabres
sweater bearing his last name and his old jersey number, 12. "I
told [Sabres enforcer] Rob Ray, 'Do it for yourself and for all
of us, too,'" says Kelly. Even footballers who have shuffled off
from Buffalo are fired up about the Sabres. Kicker Steve
Christie, who lives in Williamsburg, Va., calls these Cup finals
"more important than the Super Bowl." (Yes, he grew up in
Canada.) Retired Bills center Kent Hull planned to drive from
his house in Greenwood, Miss., to Dallas for Thursday's Game 5.
A Cup for the Sabres would mean revenge against Buffalo fans'
least favorite city. It was the Cowboys who beat the Bills on
two Super Sundays, and last week Ronald Kirk, Dallas's mayor,
rubbed salt in the wound by rejecting a friendly wager with
Buffalo mayor Anthony Masiello, saying, "Anything worth having
up there, we've already got from the Super Bowl years." (Kirk
later agreed to wear a Sabres jersey and temporary tattoo if
"When I see that star on the Stars' uniform," says Chuck Lester,
a Bills assistant coach since 1987, "I see the one on the
Cowboys helmet, and I don't like it." But Lester and the other
been-there, done-squat Bills aren't advising the Sabres. "They
don't need our advice," says Lingner. "Look what happened in the
Marathon Money Man
THE RICHER PICKER-UPPER
Call him a nickel-and-dimer--Craig Davidson won't disagree.
Davidson, 45, trains for marathons by running along Phoenix's
busy Bell Road, picking up every coin he sees. Since 1981 he has
found more than $5,700. His coin collecting paid for a 1991
Hawaiian vacation for him and his wife, Irene, and at about 70
cents a day he'll collect around $250 this year.
Davidson, who runs every day, says he has brought home at least
some loot from every training run since Easter Sunday 1983, a
stretch of almost 6,000 days. Twice he has found a $100 bill
beside the road, but most of his booty is in pennies, which he
keeps in a box on the TV in his family room. Davidson also
scoops up empty cigarette packs for their bar codes, which he
sends to tobacco companies for prizes. His pride and joy is a
satellite dish he got for 5,000 bar codes, and he has his eye on
a camera, a telescope, a lantern and more. "I've got close to
4,000 packs of Marlboros saved up," he says, "and I'm going to
use them to get Christmas presents."
Summer brings a hazard--the coins lying in Arizona's desert sun
can burn his fingers. Still, Davidson keeps running, bending and
penny-pinching. Why bother collecting a mountain of small
change? Because it's there, he says.
That Larry Dierker gets well soon.
That Chamique becomes a household name.
That NBC comes up with some new NBA playoff music before we all
shoot our TVs.
Amount Albert Belle paid the Devil Rays to replace a locker room
TV after he threw a beer bottle at it.
Bill the Giants sent the A's after pitcher Kenny Rogers
destroyed three phones and a toilet paper dispenser in the
visitors' clubhouse at 3Com Park.
Attendance at Soldier Field in Chicago for the June 9 soccer
match between Mexico and Argentina.
Attendance at RFK Stadium in Washington for the June 13 soccer
match between the U.S. and Argentina.
Last week's world rank of both partners in tennis's premier love
match, Andrei Medvedev and girlfriend Anke Huber.
Price for one of the obstructed-view "Uecker Seats" at Miller
Park, the Brewers' stadium scheduled to open next year.
Percent of games in the four-year history of Coors Field in
which at least one team has scored in double figures.
Sit-ups senior golfer Gary Player, 63, does each day.
do it yourself
Just Dune It
Sandboarding used to be snowboarding's slow-footed cousin. Then
came Formica. Fused to a snowboard's underside, the
Depression-era plastic makes sand as slide-friendly as champagne
powder and has dryriders moving at Olympic-downhill speeds. "In
theory you can ride the new boards up to 100 miles an hour,"
says Lon Beale, who publishes an on-line magazine at
www.sandboard.com. "Picabo Street tried one and said it felt
like she was going 80." Riders can play Picabo at venues from
Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach, Calif., where sanders charge
down a 180-foot hill, to China's Taklimakan Desert, where the
dunes can be 1,000 feet high. "I can see the day when ski
resorts dump a couple of tons of silica on their hills," says
Beale, "and run the lifts all summer."
If a busboy at Sizzler refused to wipe down the salad bar, his
manager would probably fire him. So why can't the Orioles dump
Albert Belle (below), who opted not to run out a ground ball
last week? Why can't the Mets can Bobby Bonilla, who refused to
pinch-hit? According to the so-called loyalty clause in big
league contracts, "The player agrees to perform his services
hereunder diligently and faithfully...." Could clubs argue that
loafing or refusing to play breaches the clause and voids a
Forget it, says players' union general counsel Gene Orza. Under
the collective bargaining agreement, says Orza, "any discipline
must be proportional to discipline previously meted out. If
players failing to run out ground balls have been fined $5,000
and suddenly a team tries to discharge a player for the same
thing, that penalty lacks proportionality." In 1987 the Padres
tried to terminate the contract of pitcher LaMarr Hoyt after he
was arrested for trying to smuggle pills into the U.S. from
Mexico, but an arbitrator reinstated Hoyt, calling his
punishment "unparalleled." Apparently baseball's refuseniks are
safe--at least until they look for work in the real world.
What's the Word?
Sports has enriched the language with terms from knockout to
screwball to jeter, a new word for brush-off derived from Yankee
Derek Jeter's reported cold shoulder to Mariah Carey at a party
(page 100). Here's a lineup of neologisms that might catch on.
A-rod (A-rahd) v. To excel. "He didn't just play well--he
borasholic (bor-as-HAHL-ic) adj. Aggressive in financial
dealings. "Scott demanded a $10 million signing bonus? How
clippery (KLIP-e-re) adj. Dreadful, nauseating. "Even for an
Adam Sandler movie, it was clippery."
deion (DE-ahn) n. An element, atomic number 21, notable for its
versatility. "Pure deion is faster than mercury and stickier
dudley (DUD-le) adv. So inaccurate as to be useless. "When the
officer shot his pistol dudley, a pigeon fell from the sky and
the thief escaped."
ew (u) v. To support from afar. "Laid low by injury, the aging
center sat on the sidelines, ewing."
favre (fahrv) adj. Terrible at film acting. "I liked the special
effects, but Keanu's acting was totally favre."
hasek (HA-shik) n. An impenetrable barrier. "He fired, but the
bullet ricocheted off the hasek protecting the display of rare
kournikova (kor-na-KO-va) n. A Russian dessert; a cheesecake or
cupcake. "I'd love to, but that kournikova looks a little too
rich for me."
marvert (MAHR-vert) n. A person with unusual sexual tastes.
"Bite me, you marvert."
mcgwire (ma-GWIR) n. Mythic Celtic figure with fearsome
strength. "The woods were filled with lumb'ring mcgwires/Hacking
down trees and dancing 'round fires." (Yeats)
mullin (MUL-en) n. A short-haired North American mammal, rattus
gymnasius, common in empty structures. "The janitor swept the
floor, ignoring the mullin scurrying over the hardwood."
olbermann (OL-ber-man) n. A smirk. "Wipe that olbermann off your
face, young man."
pippen (PIP-en) n. A subatomic particle that carries an electric
charge only in the presence of more powerfully charged
particles. "A research team in Houston failed to detect the
popovich (POP-e-vich) v. To exercise prudence through inaction.
"When I found myself in a minefield, I popoviched."
riley (RI-le) adj. Suspiciously slick. "The used-car salesman
was so riley he made my skin crawl."
samaranch (SAHM-er-ahn) n. A large estate where all change is
illusory. "At the samaranch in Lausanne, you can check out
anytime you like, but you can never leave."
samprasia (sam-PRA-zha) n. A minor illness or injury. "Petey
won't be coming to school today. He has a touch of samprasia."
selig (SE-lig) adj. Hopelessly out of touch. "You're wearing a
tie with a short-sleeved shirt? That's not retro, that's
shaquette (shak-ET) n. A small brick. "I'll get the lighter
fluid, you bring the shaquettes."
zomo (ZO-mo) n. A replay from Alonzo Mourning's perspective.
"Let's see that block again in zomo."
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
James (Pate) Philip, president of the Illinois state senate,
said he voted against a bill to protect referees and umpires
from assaults because "maybe they deserve a pop once in a while."
They Said It
The world's No. 1 golfer: "I would like to think of myself as an
athlete first, but I don't want to do a disservice to the real