Riding the Monster
The new seats atop Fenway Park's leftfield wall give life to a
not-always-jolly green giant
The Green Monster spoke for the first time last Saturday night in
Boston. He stood in his familiar spot, back toward Lansdowne
Street and the parking garages and nightclubs, front toward the
green carpet of Fenway Park, and broke his 91-year silence by
talking to Orioles leftfielder B.J. Surhoff.
"B.J.," the Green Monster said, "You're a loosah."
The Orioles were in the midst of a 13-6 win over the Red Sox in
the twice-postponed local home opener, so there was an obvious
misstatement of fact--a problem, alas, long associated with other
voices from other parts of Fenway, usually concerning the dietary
choices and sexual habits of the imperial Yankees--but the words
were filled with unmistakable local passion and touched by
unmistakable local dialect. The Monster finally fit in with the
rest of the old ballpark.
April 20, 2003
"B.J. ... B.J. ... B.J. ... ," shouted one of two young
ironworkers, again and again, face red, muscle in his neck
bulging, beers spread across the newly installed shelf in front
of one of the 280 newly installed seats atop the 37-foot-tall
famous leftfield wall. "You're a loosah!" his friend occasionally
The view from the new seats was terrific. Built as part of a $20
million stadium renovation and part of an ongoing process to find
every revenue opportunity to make Fenway (capacity 34,898)
financially feasible in the 21st century, the cantilevered
addition yields a perspective close to what the centerfield
camera gives TV viewers. What could be better than watching a
ball game from a short porch?
Fans in the first of three rows hang over the action, sitting
closer to home plate than outfielders stand in most ballparks.
The activities of the leftfielder are obscured in the last two
rows, and the row of standing room, which gives those fans a
will-it, won't-it drama with each fly ball to left, as they wait
to see if the ball will land among the paying customers, be
caught or clank into play.
The seats, $50 apiece and sold out for the year, weren't
scheduled to be used until April 29, but around-the-clock
construction had them ready for Opening Day. "We worked seven
days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day, for 20 straight weeks,"
construction supervisor Peter Leyden says of his more than 220
workers. "It was a brutal winter. Driving the pilings 55 feet
into the ground, if the gas on the pile driver ran out, water
would come in and freeze the hole in the time it took to replace
"Guys who liked baseball were really into it," carpenter Mike
Twomey says. "Even the guys who don't were talking about Nomar
this and Nomar that. We'd say, 'Shut up.'"
On Saturday the construction crews, who'd been honored on the
field before the game, had tickets in the new section--a gift
from the Red Sox, who also provided commemorative sweatshirts (I
BUILT THE GREEN MONSTER SEATS), free food and beer. The
construction workers provided the new voice. "I could hear them,"
Surhoff said after the game. "Sure, I could hear them."
In the 1950s the Red Sox sometimes closed off the seats along the
leftfield line when the temperamental Ted Williams played so he
wouldn't have to hear the nasty voices directed at him. What
would he have done with this new voice from behind and over his
head? What will current multimillionaire leftfielder Manny
Ramirez hear in the likely event that he doesn't run out a ground
ball or two? What will the long succession of visiting
leftfielders after Mr. Surhoff hear?
Gone is the 23-foot-tall screen that once hung atop the wall and
quietly, sadly caught the home run hit by the Yankees' Bucky Dent
in the 1978 playoff game that is a part of the Red Sox' 84-year
run without a world championship. People now inhabit this land of
The Monster speaks. Watch your ears. --Leigh Montville
A former SI senior writer, Montville is writing a book on Ted
Thanks to Dean Smith, Roy Williams is not in Kansas anymore
Even though Roy Williams's Kansas team was playing at the Final
Four in New Orleans two weeks ago, that didn't keep him from
holding to a Tar Heel-related tradition. Every year, Williams
goes out of his way to pick up Dean Smith's package of tickets,
the better for "Coach Smith," as Williams still calls him, to
avoid a five-minute-long wait in line. "You don't have to keep
doing that," Smith always protests. "You're no longer my
"I just call it respect," Williams says. "If there's any way I
can make Coach Smith's life a little bit easier...."
It's impossible to overstate how deferential Williams remains
toward the man he assisted for 10 years at North Carolina
(1978-88), which helps explain why Williams left Kansas on Monday
to take over the reeling program in Chapel Hill. Three years
after Williams had turned down the Carolina job, one week after
his Jayhawks had lost to Syracuse in the national title game, Ol'
Roy was going home.
The announcement concluded a bizarre courting ritual in which two
venerable basketball schools took turns whacking their putative
leaders--Kansas athletic director Al Bohl and UNC coach Matt
Doherty--in a Darwinian battle for Williams's allegiance.
Jayhawks fans will be understandably bitter. Wasn't this the same
Williams who told them in July 2000 that he would leave Lawrence
only if he was fired or retired? Yet one could also follow the
thought process of Williams, who felt he had betrayed Smith and
the Carolina family when he declined their job offer that same
month. Asked last year if he had repaired the damage done by that
decision, Williams said, "I'm not sure that I ever can."
Williams, 52, left a secure place for one fraught with
challenges. Can he restore order to a program whose talented but
petulant freshmen--led by Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton and Sean
May--orchestrated a coup against Doherty? Can he work with an
athletic director, Dick Baddour, whose timing in the removal of
Doherty turned Williams's own Final Four into a nightmare of
questions about North Carolina? Most important, can Williams win
his long-awaited national title in Smith's shadow, in front of
Tar Heels faithful who will expect nothing less?
Clearly, North Carolina has the talent to be a top 10 team next
season. Whether or not Williams can make it Blue Heaven again,
he'll give everything trying. After all, Dean Smith will be
watching. --Grant Wahl
10 Teams for which Yankees third baseman Todd Zeile has homered,
a major league record.
1:53 Time, in minutes and seconds, by which Great Britain's Paula
Radcliffe lowered her own women's world record by winning the
London Marathon in 2:15:25 on Sunday.
9 Straight losses to open the season for the Tigers, who began
the 2002 season 0-12, making them the first team in major league
history to open consecutive seasons with losing streaks of at
least nine games.
63 Shots stopped by Mighty Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere in
a 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Game 1 of their opening round
playoff series, an NHL record for saves in a postseason debut.
$849 million Value of the Yankees, as assessed by Forbes magazine.
$10 million Amount George Steinbrenner and his partners paid for
the team in 1973.
$113 million Value of the Devil Rays, as assessed by Forbes.
$130 million Expansion fee Vince Naimoli paid for the team in 1994.
FOR THE RECORD
REFUSED To sign autographs in Toronto for fear of contracting
SARS, Red Sox pitcher John Burkett. Sox officials had advised
players to minimize contact with locals during last week's trip
to Ontario, where 223 cases of SARS (and 13 SARS-related deaths)
have been reported, much more than in any other region of North
America. Burkett and his teammates stayed close to their hotel
when not at the park. Most other Red Sox, however, signed
autographs before games against the Blue Jays. "I understand
there's still a very slim chance of anything happening, but why
expose yourself?" said Burkett. "It's not that important to me to
go out and mingle."
WON The Hobey Baker Award, by Colorado College junior left wing
Peter Sejna, the first European to win it. Sejna, a Slovakian,
led the NCAA with 82 points (36 goals, 46 assists) in 42 games
and helped the Tigers go 30-7-5. He signed a two-year contract
with the Blues on April 6 and in his first NHL game scored a goal
against the Avalanche in Denver before many of his college fans.
"[Winning the Hobey] makes me hope more European players will
come play college hockey here," says Sejna, 23. The 5'11"
200-pounder wasn't eligible for the Blues' postseason roster and
has gone home, aiming to play for Slovakia in the world
DISSED Braves ace Greg Maddux, by the Marlins' marketing
department, which took out an ad in several Florida papers last
weekend inviting fans to COME SEE BATTING PRACTICE WITH GREG
MADDUX AND THE BRAVES. At the time Maddux was 0-3 with an 11.05
ERA. "Somebody who would [take out the ad] probably couldn't
catch a ball if you tossed it to him underhand," Braves general
manager John Schuerholz said. Maddux responded by saying, simply,
"Oh, lovely." Then he threw six innings of two-hit ball on Sunday
as Atlanta beat Florida 7-1.
RELEASED After 11 months in Florida's Gainesville Correctional
Institution, eight-time All-Star Darryl Strawberry. The slugger,
imprisoned for violating probation on 1999 cocaine-possession
charges, returned to his home in Lutz, Fla., where he lives with
his wife, Charisse, and their three children, and then went to
California to visit relatives. Strawberry, whose colon cancer is
in remission, has been voluntarily attending 12-step programs and
has committed his Sundays to Without Walls International Church
in Tampa. "He told me the incarceration was the best thing that
happened because it made him look within," says Randy White, the
church's pastor. "Darryl is working extremely hard on his
sobriety and is out to prove himself to his family and friends."
DIED Of complications from lung cancer, Chargers general manager
John Butler. Before joining San Diego in January 2001, Butler,
56, spent 14 years in the Bills' front office--first as personnel
director and then as G.M.--during which time he assembled the
team that won four straight AFC titles. Butler, a gruff 6'4",
300-pound ex-Marine, was regarded as one of the top talent
evaluators in the league. When he took over the Chargers, they
were coming off a 1-15 season, but last year they contended for a
playoff spot and finished 8-8. Said Chargers coach Marty
Schottenheimer, "We lost a giant."
REMOVED By the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, seven
billboards featuring model Kelly Newton in snapping position,
with the catchphrase GET BEHIND YOUR TEAM. League commissioner
David Baker threatened to fine the team $10,000 for every three
days the billboards remained up. "We believe that every fan is
entitled to a wholesome environment," said Baker. (In 2000
Orlando erected billboards picturing a model's enormous cleavage
and the slogan, FAKE LEFT--FAKE RIGHT.) Predators president Brett
Bouchy said he abided by Baker's mandate out of "respect for the
league," but fans did get a glimpse of Newton at Orlando's home
game last Friday when she was on hand to distribute 10,000
posters of herself in a Predators jersey. Orlando drew a
season-high crowd of 15,016.
Back on His Feet
ATTENDED The Merrimack College hockey team banquet and his senior
formal, Joe Exter, the Merrimack goalie and captain who suffered
a severe skull fracture in a Hockey East playoff game on March 7
(SI, March 24). Exter's recovery from his near-fatal collision
with Boston College's Patrick Eaves (who was not badly injured)
has been little short of miraculous. The impact caused Exter, 24,
to lose his mask and helmet. He hit his head on the ice and went
into respiratory arrest; medical staff got him breathing by
inserting a tracheal tube down his throat. A fracture extending
from above his left ear to the base of his skull led to swelling
of the brain, and doctors at Boston's Deaconess-Beth Israel
Hospital put Exter into a medically induced coma and inserted a
catheter to drain excess fluid. After 10 days doctors began
taking him off sedatives, and he started moving his eyebrows in
response to questions from relatives and friends who had kept a
round-the-clock bedside vigil.
On March 27 Exter was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation
Center in Boston, where he worked to regain his ability to speak
and swallow. On April 4 he went home to Cranston, R.I. "I'm
blessed," Exter told SI, speaking clearly. "I'm thankful for my
girlfriend, Erin, and my family, my teammates, my coaches, my
doctors. Without those people, trying to come back from this
would be like trying to play goal without a team in front of
you." Exter smiled often at last weekend's banquet and danced
with Erin at the formal. A political science major, he is to
graduate with his class on May 18. He is under orders to rest but
has no lasting physical damage. "As far as when I can skate
again, that decision won't be made for a long while," Exter says.
"But I will be back. I'm either going to coach or play, and
that's it. My future is in hockey." --E.M. Swift
An ex-USOC official says some athletes were allowed to bend the
As the USOC's director of drug control administration from 1991
to 2000, Dr. Wade Exum worked behind the curtain that separates
fact from rumor in the world of drug testing. He started the job
as a crusader, but he left it embittered and disillusioned. He
also left with 30,000 pages of documents that he says prove that
the USOC ran an ineffective testing program and encouraged the
use of performance-enhancing drugs by not punishing those who
Exum planned to enter the documents in his racial discrimination
and wrongful termination suit against the USOC, but last week the
case was dismissed in federal court because of lack of evidence.
Exum--with misgivings, he says--gave SI copies of the documents.
"I never wanted to out athletes," he says. "I never wanted to
name names. Can these names help settle the issue and change the
system? We'll see."
Exum's papers cite more than 100 positive drug tests for U.S.
athletes from 1988 to 2000. In many of these cases, he says, the
athletes were not prevented from competing. Included in the
documents are test results, memos or letters indicating drug
positives for athletes who won 19 Olympic medals from 1984 to
2000 and at least 18 athletes who tested positive in the Olympic
trials and were allowed to compete in the Games. Among the
Carl Lewis--At the 1988 Olympic trials he tested positive three
times for small amounts of banned stimulants found in cold
medications: pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine.
After first disqualifying Lewis from the Olympics, the USOC
accepted his appeal on the basis of inadvertent use. Lewis went
on to win gold at Seoul in the 100 meters and long jump. Lewis
could not be reached, but his longtime manager, Joe Douglas, said
Lewis had not taken anything to enhance his performance.
Joe DeLoach--Lewis's training partner won the 200 at the '88
trials and tested positive for the same three stimulants as
Lewis. He was excused for the same reason and then upset Lewis in
the 200 to win gold in Seoul. DeLoach could not be reached for
Andre Phillips--He tested positive for pseudoephedrine at the '88
track trials, won an appeal and beat Edwin Moses in the 400-meter
hurdles in Seoul. Phillips declined to comment to SI.
Mary Joe Fernandez--The pro tennis player tested positive for
pseudoephedrine before the '92 Olympics, was not disciplined and
won gold and bronze medals at the Games. Reached by SI on Monday,
Fernandez blamed the positive result on cold medication she had
Alexi Lalas--In '92 the soccer star was found to have an elevated
ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, which can indicate
steroid use. Nevertheless, Lalas was allowed to compete at the
'92 Olympics. Though Lalas could not be reached, his agent,
Richard Motzkin, says the positive was "a onetime blip" not
caused by steroid use.
Dave Schultz--The '84 wrestling gold medalist tested positive for
the stimulant phentermine in '93. USA Wrestling issued a letter
of reprimand but let him compete. Schultz was shot to death in
'96 by wrestling benefactor John du Pont.
Exum's records are piecemeal and do not provide a blanket
condemnation of USOC testing. There's no evidence of widespread
steroid use being covered up. Many positives are for substances
found in over-the-counter medications, and other countries'
federations have for years excused drug use by some of their
athletes as accidental. Yet many athletes do get disqualified for
testing positive for the substances that, for example, Lewis and
Fernandez tested positive for. The IOC maintains that athletes
are responsible for any drugs in their system.
The USOC says Exum's allegations are "baseless." In October 2000
it handed over drug-testing responsibilities to a new
organization, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Yet international
critics of the U.S. Olympic system may see significance in Exum's
papers. Says IOC member Johann Olav Koss of Norway, a four-time
speed skating gold medalist and one of the most trusted voices in
the Olympic community, "The reputation is out there,
internationally, that the Americans haven't been clean."
--Tim Layden and Don Yaeger
SEX IN SPORTS
A GAY HIGH SCHOOLER FIGHTS BACK
Last March a group of girls at Coombs Middle School in Banning,
Calif., began teasing eighth-grader Ashly Massey in the locker
room after gym. "Oh, yeah," they shouted, "she's gay!" After the
incident Ashly's gym teacher, Karen Gill, took her out of gym and
for eight days she spent that class period outside the
principal's office. According to Ashly, Gill's reason was that a
lesbian in the locker room made the other girls "uncomfortable."
(Gill declined to comment.) That wasn't the last time Ashly, who
played several sports at the school, got picked on for her sexual
orientation, which she says she first became aware of at age 12.
Not long after the locker-room taunting she quit playing
basketball after repeatedly being called a dyke on the court.
Ashly, 15, filed suit in federal court last week against her
school district, seeking undisclosed monetary damages for
violation of her civil rights and asking that the school's staff
undergo sensitivity training. She is now a freshman at Beaumont
High, where she plays softball, is planning to try out for
football in the fall and has started a gay-straight alliance
which meets regularly to discuss sensitivity issues. Says Ashly,
"I like telling people how it is so that they can know where I'm
coming from." --Julia Morrill
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
SUNDAY 4/20 > ESPN2 1 PM > WTA Bausch & Lomb Championship Singles
The Williams sisters will skip this one, but many other stars
will be in Amelia Island, Fla. No. 5 Lindsay Davenport makes her
first clay-court appearance since 2000.
SUNDAY 4/20 > ABC 3:30 PM > NBA Playoffs, First Round
The Mavs, T-Wolves and Blazers are watching closely to see where
the Lakers finish. The two-time defending champs are the
first-round foe nobody wants.
SUNDAY 4/20 > ESPN 8 PM > Rangers at Athletics
Alex Rodriguez, the youngest player to belt 300 homers (he has
303 at age 27), takes aim at Oakland's stellar pitching staff.
MONDAY 4/21 > PBS 9 PM > Seabiscuit: An American Legend
The 53-minute documentary on the horse's life includes thrilling
race footage from the '30s and interviews with Laura Hillenbrand,
whose 2001 book helped inspire the film.
WEDNESDAY 4/23 > ESPN 2:30 PM > UEFA Champions League
Quarterfinal, Real Madrid at Manchester United
The second leg of a home-and-home series to determine who goes to
the semifinals. Real Madrid dominated 3-1 on April 8, meaning Man
U must win by at least two goals at Old Trafford to have a chance
>> DON'T MISS
MONDAY 4/21 > ESPN2 11:55 AM
107th Boston Marathon
Should Heartbreak Hill be renamed Mount Kenya? A Kenyan has won
the men's title 11 of the past 12 years. Rodgers Rop and Margaret
Okayo (far right)--yep, both Kenyans--defend their titles against
a group of contenders including blind U.S. runner Marla Runyan.
--Heads in the Sand Trap
The Professional Bull Riders tour is using a time-tested lure to
draw viewers: a big pile of cash. If 5'5", 145-pound cowboy Chris
Shivers can stay on 1,600-pound bull Little Yellow Jacket for
eight seconds this Saturday, he'll win $1 million. The ride will
be carried live on NBC as part of its afternoon coverage of a PBR
competition in Colorado Springs. Drawls Shivers, a Jonesville,
La., native, "It's the biggest eight seconds of my life." This
won't be easy money for Shivers, 24, who has earned about $1.5
million in five years on the tour. Six-year-old Little Yellow
Jacket, the 2002 Bucking Bull of the Year, has been successfully
ridden eight times in 54 attempts, and Shivers has been tossed
all four times he's gone up. NBC is airing six PBR events this
year, up from one in 2002. "This is probably the biggest
milestone in the history of our sport," says PBR CEO Randy
Bernard. "If we want to tap into the mainstream, we need to give
people a reason to watch."
Perhaps fearful of offending Hootie Johnson and the Augusta
pooh-bahs, CBS completely ignored the biggest golf story in
years--the Martha Burk led protest of the club's exclusion of
females--during more than eight hours of coverage last weekend.
"The focus at CBS Sports is on golf," says CBS Sports spokeswoman
Leslie Ann Wade. The ostrich act was insulting to viewers and
journalistically indefensible. When ABC aired the PGA
Championship in 1990 from Shoal Creek in Birmingham, for example,
the network dealt on-air with the controversy over the club's
lack of African-American members. At minimum, CBS could have
handled the story with a news-side reporter or run a brief
segment outlining the issue. (ABC used both techniques in '90.)
Instead it did nothing. --P.M.
"She stopped playing basketball after being called a dyke on the
court." --A GAY HIGH SCHOOLER FIGHTS BACK, PAGE 26