For many American players, the Davis Cup has lost much of its luster. Because tournaments and exhibitions pay far better, Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis et al. always seem to be unavailable when it comes time to play for the U.S. John McEnroe, however, has always been committed to the Davis Cup and for the past four years has been the mainstay of the American squad. His performance against Sweden last week in the quarterfinal round of Cup play dramatically underscored both these facts.
Seven days after losing his Wimbledon crown in a five-set, four-hour struggle against Connors, McEnroe found himself facing French Open champion Mats Wilander in the fifth and deciding match in the St. Louis Checkerdome. (Why must a tennis match in July be played indoors, anyway?) Taking on this hungry wunderkind was undoubtedly the last way McEnroe wanted to spend a Sunday evening. Five sets (9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6), 6½ hours and 79 games later, McEnroe had won one of the most memorable matches in Davis Cup—all of tennis?—history. Many players would have called it a day after winning the first two sets and gaining a break in the third—only to lose the marathon set. Many would have given up in the fifth set, when they were dead tired, their opponent was making next to no unforced errors and they weren't playing particularly well to boot. McEnroe didn't. To be sure, McEnroe was his usual irascible self: menacing linemen, badgering the umpire and agonizing over his own blunders. Once, when the net judge called an apparent McEnroe ace a let, McEnroe yelled, "Come on, pal, you're American." Still, as this match reminded us, giving his all in Davis Cup play also is part of McEnroe's usual self.
DOGS OF A FEATHER
The following ad appeared the other day in The New York Times, under the classification of Imported & Sports Cars Wanted:
DELOREAN—will trade 2,000 cases Chinese vodka (in bond value $25,500) for new auto DeLorean or similar exotic. 201-492-0089.
The DeLorean is the gull-wing sports car that came on the U.S. market with a highly publicized splash (and a $26,000 price tag) in 1981. But what in the world is Chinese vodka? Well, it turns out to be the DeLorean of the liquor business. Called Great Wall Vodka, it was described as the most expensive vodka in the world—at more than $10 a bottle—when it arrived in the U.S. in 1976.
Alas, both Great Wall Vodka and DeLorean have more or less sunk since their splashy debuts. John DeLorean's Northern Ireland auto plant is in receivership, the future of his company is in doubt and the car's market value has dropped to around $15,000. As for Great Wall, marketing money dried up and no great demand for the product developed, as David Cookson, the New Jersey import-export dealer who placed the ad, is the first to admit. Still, as all salesmen know, you've got to move the merchandise.
"The vodka was a dog for me," says Cookson, "and I saw that the DeLorean wasn't too easy to move, either. I thought this might be a way for two people with problems to come out whole."
Cookson says if a trade is effected he'll keep the DeLorean and sell the Mustang he now drives. So far, several interested people, both with and without DeLoreans, have phoned him about the vodka, but as of last weekend the Great Wall still had not moved.
People like to swim around New York's Manhattan Island. Well, some people. Tom Hetzel, who has swum the English Channel eight times, has done the Manhattan circuit twice and will attempt it again on July 19. What's different about Hetzel's swim this time is that he'll be accompanied by Drury Gallagher, a national masters swimming champion in the 40-44 age group, and that their attempt will be sponsored by the fledgling Manhattan Island Swimming Association, which intends to establish rules and record standards and get some publicity for a proposed Open Invitation Group Swim around the island on Sept. 14. Gallagher is even putting up a trophy, honoring his son, who died last year, for the winner of the September race.
In short, what's in store is another New York marathon, this one involving lots of determined souls swimming up the East River into the Harlem and down the Hudson to the Battery, then back up the East River to the starting point at East 89th Street. The distance is approximately 27 miles, or slightly longer than a runner's marathon. It takes a top swimmer from six to 10 hours, depending on weather conditions, to go the distance, compared to the slightly more than two hours a crack marathon runner needs.
The Manhattan swim also requires precise timing because of the strong tides. Gallagher explains, "You have to catch the turn at the Battery so that the tide in the East River is in your favor. Otherwise, an outgoing tide will send you across New York Bay."
There are other hazards, too. Like pollution. "I might get a shot beforehand," says Gallagher, thinking of the possibility of infection, but he adds, "At least there are no sharks. There are traffic problems, though, a lot of boats, some debris. Some of the water is really filthy. You just swim around the worst stuff."
A few weeks ago Staff Writer Craig Neff was sitting in the lobby of the Panorama Sommerhotel in Oslo, talking with marathon and distance-running champion Alberto Salazar on the eve of the Bislett track and field games, when a middle-aged American couple invited themselves into the conversation. They didn't know Neff or Salazar, who was to set an American record in the 10,000 meters the next day (SI, July 5). They were just friendly folks on a Scandinavian tour who wanted to chat with a couple of fellow Americans. After the preliminaries the man asked, "So what are two American boys doing over here in—where are we now? Norway?"
"Oslo," said his wife.
"We're here for the track meet," Salazar said.
"You run?" the husband asked Salazar.
"Uh, yes. I'm entered in the 10,000 meters."
The husband squinted. "You must be in pretty good shape, boy."
"Have you ever run in one of those marathons?" the wife asked.
"Yeah, a couple," said Alberto.
The wife was visibly impressed. "And you finished? They're so long."
"You ever run Boston?" interrupted the husband.
"Well, yes, I did this year."
"Oh, we saw some of that on TV," said the wife. "What was that fellow's name who won?"
Alberto tilted his head and feigned a deep mental search. "I think it was some guy named Alberto Salazar," he said.
"That's not it," said the husband.
"Rodgers? Something like that?" offered the wife.
"I believe that's right," said the husband.
"Actually, I think it was Salazar," insisted Alberto.
"Did you get to see him at all?" the wife asked. "He was going very fast."
Alberto smiled slightly. "I was probably too far back."
"Have you ever run in the New York Marathon?" asked the husband.
"My husband saw part of that last year," said the wife. "He got caught at an intersection and all the people were in the way."
"Did you ever see the leaders?" asked Alberto.
"Oh yes," said the husband. "You know, I think it was that Salazar fellow who won that one."
"This is exciting," beamed the 'wife. "Will Salazar be running here?"
"Yes," said Alberto. "I think he's also entered in the 10,000."
"Oh boy," said the wife. "You'll have a tough one. Do you think if we go to the meet tomorrow we'll see him?"
"Maybe," said Alberto.
Texas Stadium, where the Cowboys and SMU play home games, has a problem, maybe a unique one. Too many limousines are using its parking lot. Each of the boxes in the stadium's luxurious Circle Suite is allotted three spaces in the official parking area, but not everybody with a pass to park there can do so. The reason? The limos eat up more than a space apiece. "Over the past several seasons," reads a stadium directive on parking issued in June, "the use of limousines as a means of transportation to Cowboys and/or SMU games has increased dramatically.... We have reached the point where we have fewer stalls than official parking tickets issued."
If you hear a Dallas fan talk about being spaced out, now you'll know exactly what he's talking about.
BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL
Players from the old Negro leagues, which flourished in the 1920s, '30s and '40s before Jackie Robinson broke Organized Baseball's color line, have held annual reunions for the past few years (SI, July 6, 1981), and at this year's session the oldtimers picked an Alltime Negro Leagues All-Star team. Limited to those players who had spent at least six seasons in the leagues (Robinson, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and others who played only a couple of seasons before going to the majors weren't eligible), the black All-Stars, as selected by their peers, are:
Righthanded pitcher. Satchel Paige, Kansas City Monarchs, over teammate Hilton Smith and Martin Dihigo of the Cuban Stars (later called the New York Cubans).
Lefthanded pitcher. Tie between Bill Foster of the Chicago American Giants and Luis Tiant Sr. of the Cuban Stars (El Tiante's father).
Catcher. Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays. An overwhelming choice, but Roy Campanella, the Dodger star who played nine seasons with the Baltimore Elite Giants, got some mention.
First Baseman. Buck Leonard, Grays. More of a runaway choice than any other player, including Paige and Gibson.
Second Baseman. Newt Allen of the Monarchs, who edged out Dickie Seay of the Newark Eagles.
Shortstop. Willie Wells of the Eagles, in a close race with Dick Lundy of the Bacharach Giants, Peewee Butts of the Elite Giants and Artie Wilson of the Birmingham Black Barons.
Third Baseman. Tie between Judy Johnson of the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Ray Dandridge of the Eagles. Johnson was the choice of the older players, Dandridge of the younger ones.
Outfielders. Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston of the Crawfords and Monte Irvin of the Eagles (and later of the New York Giants).
Manager. Rube Foster of the American Giants, a real oldtimer—he helped organize Negro baseball in the early 1920s—in a surprisingly close race with Candy Jim Taylor, who managed the Indianapolis ABC's and other teams.
As always with all-star picks, there'll be arguments—where are John Henry Lloyd, Bullet Rogan, Cannonball Dick Redding, Smoky Joe Williams? But eight of the 13 men selected—Paige, Gibson, Leonard, Johnson, Bell, Charleston, Irvin and Foster—are already in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, as is Dihigo.
Umpire John Kibler looked puzzled a while back when San Diego Pitcher John Montefusco asked him to examine the baseball. Kibler said it looked all right to him, but Montefusco showed him the manufacturer's name: Spalding. Spalding hasn't made a big league baseball since Rawlings took over in 1977.
Kibler tossed the ball to a bat boy. He had recognized it for what it was, one of the old but unused baseballs umpires often carry with them to have autographed for friends and relatives, which somehow had gotten mixed in with the batch of game balls. Moaned the abashed Kibler, "Why couldn't it have been fouled into the stands?"
Archie Manning, the superlative quarterback from the University of Mississippi whose fate in pro football has been to play his entire career with the lowly New Orleans Saints, and Terry Bradshaw, the Louisiana Tech star who quarterbacked the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories, recently appeared together at a football camp for boys 8 to 18 in Alabama. Bradshaw quietly sat to one side as Manning began lecturing the youngsters on no-no's that quarterbacks should avoid:
Manning: "One bad habit is taking a false step forward when you take the snap from center."
Bradshaw: "I do that!"
Manning: "Quarterbacks also tend to look at the ground when they drop back in the pocket."
Bradshaw: "I do that!"
Manning: "Another bad habit is patting the football before throwing a pass."
Bradshaw: "I do that!"
Manning: "So you see, if you have these bad habits, all you'll do is win four Super Bowls. If you don't, maybe you'll go 8-8."
THREESOME FROM BELMONT HEIGHTS
Pitcher Vance Lovelace was a first-round pick—by the Cubs—in last year's major league amateur baseball draft. Pitchers Dwight Gooden and Floyd Youmans were first-and second-round selections, respectively, in this year's draft; both were tapped by the Mets. Astonishingly, Lovelace, Gooden and Youmans all played for a while on the same team at Hillsborough High in Tampa, Fla. Even more astonishingly, they played on the same team—Belmont Heights of Tampa, Fla.—in the 1979 Senior League World Series, an event for youngsters from 13 to 15, in Gary, Ind. You would think that a kids' team with three solid big league pitching prospects would be world-beaters, but Belmont Heights wound up as the tournament runner-up behind Taiwan. No, no Taiwanese were drafted by the big-leaguers.
THEY SAID IT
•Leo Monahan, publicist for the University of Massachusetts at Boston, on the honorary doctor of humane letters degree that the university conferred on the Celtics' Red Auerbach: "Well, there's no question we'll get more mileage out of this than we would with a Bulgarian chemist."
•Perry Tuttle, Buffalo's rookie wide receiver, describing his style of play: "I'm a flashy runner. If I'm open down the sideline, I'll cut across the field to hear the crowd yell."