GOOD AS GOLD
Among the many letters of sympathy U.S. Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen received last winter was one from Mark Arrowood of Doylestown, Pa. It read, in part:
"Dear Dan, I watched you on TV. I'm sorry that you fell 2 times. I am in Special Olympics. I won a gold medal at Pa. State Summer Olympics right after my Dad died seven years ago.... Before we start the games we have a saying that goes like this. 'Let me win but if I can't win let me be brave in the attempt.'...I want to share one of my gold medals with you because I don't like to see you not get one. Try again in four more years."
Inside the envelope, the 30-year-old Arrowood had enclosed a gold medal, won in a track and field event. Jansen wrote Arrowood a letter of gratitude, and last week in Philadelphia he thanked him in person. Said Jansen, who has helped with the Special Olympics in the past, "I've seen the work that these kids put in. As far as they're concerned, they're training just as hard as we do for our Olympics.... I can't even begin to describe the feeling that I get when I see them win a medal. And when I received the letter from Mark, along with the medal, after knowing what these medals mean to these special people, it really touched me."
THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Coach Larry Brown has always been something of a basketball gypsy, so it should not have come as much of a shock last week when he announced that he was leaving Kansas, which he had led to the 1988 NCAA championship, for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Still, his latest move makes Brown's words of April 8, when he decided not to take a job offered by UCLA, sound very hollow. "I'm committed to these kids and I'm staying," he said then. "Like Dorothy said, 'There's no place like home.' I don't want to do anything to take anything away from this championship."
Readers of The Wizard of Oz may also recall that when Kansan Dorothy and her cohorts returned to the Emerald City and asked the Wizard to live up to his promise, the Great Oz said, "What promise?"
When the only nesting beach for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle was discovered near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, in 1947, some 40,000 females were nesting there. But because of poachers (the eggs are considered by some to be an aphrodisiac), fishermen, offshore drilling and such natural predators as coyotes and sharks, the number of female turtles on the beach has dropped to approximately 500. For more than 10 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service laboratory in Galveston, Texas, has been raising the endangered sea turtles in captivity. Every year, 2,000 yearlings are released into the sea from a protected beach on North Padre Island off the Texas coast, in hopes that they will someday return there to nest. Since a ridley turtle takes 10 to 15 years to reach sexual maturity, it's still too early to tell if the "head start" program is working.
This year, to give their charges more of a chance in the wild, the marine biologists are undertaking a pilot program in which 60 of the 2,000 turtles being raised at the laboratory will be exercised regularly. No, Jane Fonda has not been brought in to work with the turtles. What happens is that water is pumped into a tank to force a turtle to use its instinctive swimming abilities. The flow of the water can be controlled so that the turtle's stamina can be gradually increased. "We're very excited about this," says Dr. Edward F. Klima, director of the laboratory. "We feel that a better-conditioned turtle will have a better chance of survival."
Greg Norman had to withdraw from last week's U.S. Open because of a hand injury (page 14), but he did make his Wednesday practice round memorable for one spectator. In the rough near the 14th green of The Country Club's main course, Norman hit a wedge shot 20 feet from the pin. Someone from the gallery said, "That shot wasn't so hard," to which Norman replied, "Come out here, expert."
The expert turned out to be Bruce Charles, 37, a six handicapper from West Peabody, Mass. He took the wedge and put a ball five feet from the pin. Norman gave Charles a high five and the ball as a souvenir.
UP AGAINST WALL
In a story on the U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Trials in our May 30 issue, Alexander Wolff wrote that an employee of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) had found it "appalling" that Bill Wall, executive director of the Amateur Basketball Association of the U.S.A., had severely restricted the presence of the media at the trials. Wolff also quoted North Carolina coach Dean Smith, a member of the ABAUSA games committee, as saying, "I was shocked when I was told the media wouldn't be allowed."
In a recent interview with Volney Meece of the Daily Oklahoman, Wall said of Smith's quote—which SI stands by—"I haven't talked to Dean, but let's put it this way: That's not a Dean Smith quote. Some of the things in that [article] didn't happen that way." As for the unattributed "appalling" quote, Wall said, "If I find out who said that, he will be fired.... I'm a member of the executive committee [board] of the U.S. Olympic Committee. I have [sent] a memo to [USOC] president [Robert] Helmick and [USOC executive director] Baaron Pittenger that if I find that SOB, he's dead."
It's frightening to think that this man represents U.S. amateur basketball to the world.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams, who was named one of SI's eight 1987 Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year for the help he has given to the hearing impaired, will be sworn in this week as a member of the Cincinnati City Council. Williams was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Arn Bortz, who resigned. Said Bortz of Williams, "He's a natural leader and will be an excellent council member." The Bengals also gave their blessing, even though the team and the council both meet on Wednesday afternoons.
Williams, a Dartmouth graduate who was the NFL Man of the Year in 1986, doesn't think he will have any difficulty with the dual role. "When I'm on the football field, football will be my priority," said the 12-year veteran. "When I'm in City Hall, council will be my priority."
ISIAH GOT THE WIN
How bad are the Baltimore Orioles? Well, on June 9, the Reading (Pa.) Times ran this line score:
Detroit Pistons 200 208 000—12
Baltimore Orioles 010 111 000—4
A BIG HAND FOR A GRIPPING PERFORMANCE
On page 24 of the new Guinness Sports Record Book, there's a picture with a caption that reads: "Most baseballs held in one hand (8), Bobby Link of Ocala, Fla." Link is a 25-year-old reliever with the Glens Falls Tigers, a Detroit affiliate in the Double A Eastern League, and he hopes that holding eight baseballs in his huge right hand won't be his only claim to fame. But until he makes the majors, he'll settle for breaking the mark of seven previously held by future Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench.
"I first did it when I was a freshman at Saint Leo College [in Fla.]," says Link, a 6'2", 200-pound righthander. "I was gifted with big hands-my father's are even bigger than mine. Basically, what I do is hold one ball between each of my fingers, two in the palm of my hand, one using my pinky and one using the top of my forefinger. Guinness wanted documentation, so I sent a videotape and affidavits signed by eight witnesses and a notary public."
One would assume that Link throws a mean split-fingered fastball, but his best pitch is a screwball taught to him by his college coach, former major league pitcher Mike Marshall. Link, who was signed by Cleveland in 1985, asked for his release this spring because he wasn't progressing in the organization, and the Indians granted him his wish. The Tigers signed him soon thereafter, and at week's end, he had eight saves and a 1.26 ERA in 22 appearances for Glens Falls. So he can do more than just hold baseballs.
JOHN D. HANLON
Behind the eight balls: the record-holding Link.
THEY SAID IT
•Willie Pep, former featherweight champion, on reports of his death: "Naw, I'm not dead. I ain't even been out of the house."
•Jody Conradt, University of Texas women's basketball coach, on whether she has any interest in coaching the less successful men's team: "I don't need a demotion."
•Marv Dunphy, coach of the U.S. Olympic men's volleyball team, on the new international mandate that players—not ball boys—must wipe sweat off the floor during play: "You didn't see Pelè mowing the lawn."