TOUTS OR LOUTS?
Beware of sports tout services bearing gifts. Sportswriter Mike DeCourcy found that out when working on a story on touts for The Pittsburgh Press. DeCourcy phoned Regional Sports of Fort Lee, N.J., which offered in an advertisement in the Press to reveal, free of charge to anyone who called, its choice of the winner in an upcoming football game. Greg Torre of Regional Sports tried to sell DeCourcy his firm's entire list of picks for the weekend for $225, but when DeCourcy refused, Torre gave him the one freebie: the New York Jets over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Jets won, and a few days later Torre called DeCourcy back. "We have three games going Sunday that are sure winners," Torre told him. "On two of them, we bought a little inside information. I think they're fixed." The cost was again $225, and DeCourcy declined.
"Let me ask you something," Torre said. "Does your boss know you gamble? I think I might have to let him know. You come in, you get a free pick and you don't want to do any business. It's wrong."
When DeCourcy reminded Torre that the ad said the pick was free, Torre said, "I think I'm going to have to get a little stupid about it. My manager's going to come down on me, and now I'm going to have to come down on you. I don't want to get into anything with the IRS, but I might have to inform the authorities you're a known gambler. You think about it. I'll call you back tomorrow, the next day and every day until Saturday."
Torre denies that he threatened to involve the IRS, and he says his assertion that the game was "fixed" was only tout jargon for a betting line that seems out of whack. He never did call DeCourcy back because, he says, "I figured he was a dead fish." Torre also maintains that DeCourcy called for several free picks. DeCourcy dismisses that accusation, saying, "I didn't make any of it up. I didn't have to."
FOR WASHED-UP ATHLETES
The notion of cleaning and dirtying your clothes at the same time might seem a little strange, but business has been booming ever since Clean and Lean opened five months ago in Vista, Calif., 18 miles north of San Diego. Clean and Lean, believed to be the first Laundromat/fitness center anywhere, is owned and operated by the Trabert family. Lois Trabert, who first had the idea, her husband, Donald, their sons Donald Jr. and Greg, and Greg's wife, Dee, take turns overseeing the cycles—wash, rinse and exercise.
Clean and Lean has 24 washing machines. 11 dryers, 12 aerobic workout sets and 5 stationary bikes, as well as tanning booths and electronic massage boards. "I'd say 50 percent of our customers do both, 25 percent just wash and 25 percent just work out," said Dee while the joint was jumping at 8 a.m. on a recent Saturday. A one-time visit to the fitness center costs $3.50, and you can get a month's pass for $29.90.
Bertie Marah, a 48-year-old artist, works out every day and does laundry twice a week at Clean and Lean. "It's a really neat concept," she says. "It beats sitting in any old Laundromat reading a trashy novel."
Business is so good that the Traberts will begin selling Clean and Lean franchises on Jan. 1, so look for one coming to your neighborhood. And if not a Clean and Lean, maybe a Wash and Squash.
A few days before the Nov. 21 Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park, Joseph Bollero, the 77-year-old trainer of Ms. Margi, who was entered (and would finish fifth) in the $1 million Distaff, was asked if he felt any pressure. "Pressure?" replied Bollero. "Ask me about pressure. When I was a jockey, I rode horses for Al Capone. Now that's pressure."
Bollero wasn't exaggerating. "The horses weren't in Mr. Capone's name," he said. "The first time I won on one of his horses, at Hawthorne Race Course [Cicero, Ill.], Mr. Capone came up to me afterward, peeled five new $100 bills from a wad and handed them to me.
"Telling you this stuff can't get me killed. I'm too old now."
DID YOU KNOW?
Steve Kazor, the special teams and tight ends coach of the Chicago Bears, is the great-grandson of a cousin of Pope John Paul II's mother.
Washington and Jefferson College defeated host Allegheny 23-17 on Nov. 21 in overtime of an NCAA Division III South Regional semifinal that recalled the heyday of their 90-year-old rivalry. In fact baseball owes a debt of gratitude to the enmity between these two football teams.
Once upon a time—for two seasons, 1904 and '05—the football coach at Allegheny was Wesley Branch Rickey, a baseball catcher with major league aspirations. According to a recent article by John Hanners, a professor at Allegheny, in The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Rickey was a popular coach, as well as a Shakespeare teacher in the college's preparatory school. He worked hard at both fund-raising and recruiting, and his preseason football camps presaged his innovative Vero Beach training complex for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His prize catch of the '05 season was a 215-pound fullback named Marvin Orestus Bridges, and Bridges made the Methodists—as they were known back then—a team to be reckoned with. In those days it was not uncommon for a player to be paid, and Bridges was remunerated, but not well enough. In late October, Washington and Jefferson stole Bridges out from under Allegheny and Rickey by offering him more money. The defection so disillusioned Rickey that he quit holding practice for the rest of the season, and a month later he resigned.
Rickey would go on to play 119 major league games for the St. Louis Browns and the New York Yankees—he still holds the record for most stolen bases (13) allowed by a catcher in a game. In 1911 he earned a law degree from Michigan and embarked on an illustrious career in baseball management that led to his induction into the Hall of Fame. But he never had anything to do with football after Washington and Jefferson bought his star player.
As of Dec. 1, the public greens fee for playing a Saturday or Sunday round at Pebble Beach got greener—$150, up from $125. When Horace Rawlins won golf's first U.S. Open, in 1895, his first-prize money was $150.
What are the chances that Notre Dame star Tim Brown will win the '87 Heisman Trophy? .Well, at the Dec. 10 Heisman dinner at the New York Marriott, Notre Dame alumnus Don Criqui will introduce guests. The master of ceremonies is '56 Heisman winner Paul Hornung, another Notre Dame man. And the featured speaker is the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, retired president of Notre Dame.
WASHINGTON'S CENTER SLEPT HERE
A king-sized bed is 80 inches long, which is a small problem for Washington Bullets center Manute Bol, who, at 90 inches (7'6"), is the tallest player in the NBA. But a Seattle hotel, the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, came up with the thoughtful—and enterprising—idea of making a special bed for Bol. "We were just looking for a nice amenity," says Linda Anderson, the hotel's sales and marketing director, who's also a big basketball fan. "I'm sure Manute has been cramped up sleeping on the regular king-sized beds for so long." Anderson adds that Washington is the only NBA team that stays at her hotel when visiting Seattle, and she thought the bed might bring in more NBA business.
The mattress—dare we call it the Siesta Bol?—is 96 inches long (and 76 inches wide, standard for a king-sized). Custom-made by the Serta company, it has 114 more coils than a king-sized model (786-672) and provides 20% more surface area.
What did Bol think of the idea, once he had slept on it? "It was really a nice bed," he said after staying at the Crowne Plaza on Nov. 21 and 22. "I had one just like that at home in the Sudan. It was very soft. I slept well. It was very, very nice of them to do that."
Malia Kaiser, a 4'10" hotel employee, appeared minute on Manute's custom-made bed.
THEY SAID IT
•Willie Jeffries, Howard University football coach, on his massive linemen (one weighs more than 400 pounds and six others more than 300): "When we go into a restaurant, we don't look at the menu. We get an estimate."
•Kathy Bosworth, mother of Sea-hawks linebacker Brian Bosworth, on her son's antics while growing up: "It's a good thing Brian was a third child, or he would have been the only one."