THE EVERT RECORD
Starting on page 72 of this week's issue, Chris Evert explains why she will retire from tennis after the U.S. Open. It seemed appropriate to let her achievements speak for themselves:
•She has won 157 singles championships, the most in the history of tennis.
•Her career record is 1,300-144. She has defeated 356 different opponents.
•Since 1975 she has been No. 1 in the year-end world rankings five times and has never been lower than third.
•She has won 18 Grand Slam singles crowns, third on the alltime list behind Margaret Court and Helen Wills Moody. She won at least one Grand Slam singles title a year for 13 straight years (1974-86), a feat unequaled by any other player in modern history.
Evert has earned nearly $9 million in her 17 years on the pro tour, yet somehow we're the ones who feel enriched by her long and glorious career.
A BROKEN COMEBACK
The most worrisome medical news last week was that San Francisco Giants lefthander Dave Dravecky, who fractured his pitching arm in a game in Montreal, could suffer a recurrence of cancer as a result of the injury. "If there are tumor cells around, they could be stimulated by the fracture," said Dr. George Muschler, who removed a malignant tumor—and half of the deltoid muscle surrounding it—from Dravecky's arm last October.
Dravecky's seemingly miraculous comeback (SI, Aug. 21) from that surgery ended suddenly. As he delivered a fastball to the Expos' Tim Raines in the sixth inning of a 3-2 Giants win on Aug. 15, the humerus bone in his left upper arm snapped with a loud pop. Dravecky crumpled to the ground.
He knew his arm was broken. Doctors had warned him that the surgery had weakened his humerus and that it might not withstand the strain of pitching full-bore. During the operation, the humerus had been frozen with liquid nitrogen, which kills cancer cells but also kills healthy bone cells. Somehow the humerus had held up through three minor league games Dravecky pitched as rehabilitation and through his big league return on Aug. 10, in which he went eight innings and beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.
Dravecky also picked up the win against the Expos, but afterward several of his teammates were near tears. Medical opinion is mixed on whether Dravecky should try to pitch again—the fractured humerus might be stronger after healing, or it might break again under similar stress, thereby increasing the risk of a recurrence of cancer. Dravecky says he will try another comeback. If anyone can succeed in such circumstances, he can.
The Southwest can be a blast furnace in the summer, with temperatures reaching 120°. Only the hardiest souls—or the foolhardiest—venture out into such heat for a daytime run or round of golf.
That may soon change. Steve Utter, a Chandler, Ariz., landscaper and inventor, has come up with a personal air-conditioning device that he says allows people to enjoy outdoor sports in hot weather. Utter's invention, the Misty Mate, is a tiny evaporative cooler. Like the much larger evaporative machines used to cool patios outside many desert homes, it emits a fine, cool mist, which displaces the warm air and rapidly evaporates, lowering the temperature by as much as 25°.
Utter is marketing a seven-pound, $149 Misty Mate that athletes can strap onto their backs and a larger, $319 unit for golf carts. Early reports indicate that Misty Mates, if a tad cumbersome for serious athletes, do work.
Utter hasn't overlooked the spectator market. He is talking to officials at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe about renting Misty Mates to fans for Arizona State and NFL Cardinals games.
Bicycling magazine recently polled its readers on the topic of cycling and sex. It found that while biking, men are more likely than women to think of sex. While having sex, women are more likely than men to think about going bicycling.
THE BERRY TRAGEDY
It's quite possible that if Sacramento Kings guard Ricky Berry hadn't owned a handgun, he might not have committed suicide on Aug. 14. Berry, 24, shot himself with 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol (which he used for target shooting) about two hours after his wife, Valerie, with whom he had been arguing, left their new $370,000 house in Carmichael, Calif., to spend the evening with a friend. Valerie apparently was upset that her husband had invited friends over for pizza and video games without asking her.
No one knows what went through Berry's mind after she left. He wrote a suicide note that, according to one source, said Valerie didn't love him and was taking advantage of him. But none of Berry's friends had noticed any changes in his behavior. He seemed as happy as ever. He was a rising NBA star in the second year of a three-year, $1 million contract. And he was eagerly preparing for training camp, lifting weights to build up his wispy physique.
Berry once described himself as "impulsive." His suicide—so baffling to those who knew him—may have been the impulsive act of a suddenly distraught young man with a handgun at his disposal. "Anybody who is a high achiever and wants to become the best at something might blow things out of perspective," says Julie Perlman, executive officer of the American Association of Suicidology in Denver. Clearly, something had happened to Berry that, in Perlman's words, "put him beyond the limits of feeling that he could handle his life anymore."
In the days before his death, Berry put on a basketball camp for underprivileged kids and was honored at the state capitol for his work in the community. "Ricky did more than just teach the kids how to play basketball," says Derrell Roberts, director of the Sacramento Urban League. "He would talk to the kids—really talk to them—not just as a basketball player but as a young person who could relate to what they were going through."
KING OF THE K'S
Going into his scheduled start on Tuesday night against the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan had struck out 4,994 batters. Just to whet your appetite for the complete list of his victims beginning on page 30—a list painstakingly put together by Rangers assistant media relations director Larry Kelly—consider some of the trivia it contains:
•Ryan has fanned 13 players named Davis (Alvin, Bob, Brock, Chili, Dick, Eric, Jody, Mark, Mike, Ron, Tommy, Trench and Willie).
•He has struck out 42 MVPs and 17 Hall of Famers (but couldn't fan Willie Mays the three times he faced him).
•His victims include six father-son combinations (the Alomars, Bondses, Franconas, Griffeys, Schofields and Willses) and 10 brother combos (all three Alous and the Bretts, Browns, Cruzes, Gwynns, Mays, Murrays, Nettleses, Niekros and Ripkens).
•He struck out Rangers general manager Tom Grieve eight times but never fanned manager Bobby Valentine.
Who do you think went down on strikes more often against Ryan: Hank Aaron or Danny Ainge? Answer: He got them both four times.
So much for the much-discussed demise of American swimming. On Sunday in Tokyo's Yoyogi pool, four U.S. swimmers smashed world records in a span of six hours. Only a few times in history—and never in this decade—have four swimmers from a single country set individual world records on the same day.
Mike Barrowman led Sunday's barrage with a 2:12.89 in his midday qualifying heat of the 200-meter breast. Barrowman was fired up by the news that two days earlier at the European Championships in Bonn. Nick Gillingham of England had equaled Barrowman's 17-day-old world record of 2:12.90. Janet Evans opened the late-afternoon finals by lowering her world mark in the 800 free by nearly a second, to 8:16.22. Dave Wharton then completed the 200 individual medley in 2:00.11 to shave .06 off the record held by Tamàs Darnyi of Hungary. Moments later, Tom Jager scorched the 50 free in 22.12, clipping .02 off Matt Biondi's world mark.
Wharton and Jager were trying to atone for disappointing showings at the Seoul Olympics. All four record-setters plan to stick around for the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Said U.S. team spokesman Jeff Dimond after the record binge, "We've been faxing all our results over to Bonn. I guarantee you the European swimmers will be studying these puppies pretty closely."
K.C. TO SEATTLE
Back in May of 1988, K.C. Jones resigned as coach of the Boston Celtics—under pressure, insiders said—to clear the way for the team to promote highly touted assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers. Last week, in what would seem to be a huge step down for a man who so recently coached the Celts, Jones accepted a job as an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics.
The move wasn't as surprising as it might first appear. After a year as Boston's vice-president of basketball operations. Jones, 57, yearned to get back into coaching—but he wasn't exactly a hot property. Although in eight seasons as an NBA coach (five with the Celtics and three with the Bullets) Jones led his teams to seven division titles and four league championships, he had a reputation for undercoaching.
Seattle wanted him anyway. Jones's friendship with Sonics coach Bernie Bickerstaff dates back to 1972, when Jones coached the ABA San Diego Conquistadors, and Bickerstaff the University of San Diego. When Jones became head coach of the Bullets in 1973, he hired Bickerstaff as an assistant. Now Bickerstaff hopes that Jones, who earned 10 championship rings as a Celtic player and coach, can bring his winning touch to the Sonics.
Jones also gives Seattle an insurance policy. At one point last season Bickerstaff, 45, was hospitalized with an ulcer, and his top assistant, Bob Kloppenburg, 62, was in bed with arthritis, leaving less experienced assistant Tom Newell and team president Bob Whitsitt as acting head coaches. In Bickerstaff's absence, Seattle went 1-5.
Jones, whose winning percentage as an NBA coach is .706, surely could do better than that.
NOW 34 AND NUNN
IBF middleweight champion Michael Nunn might have vaulted to star status with an impressive win over Iran Barkley on Aug. 14 in Reno. Instead, Nunn forsook his usual ferocious style and danced through an unexciting 12-round decision to improve to 34-0. Promoter Bob Arum later grumbled that he had given Nunn a $1.25 million paycheck for a 99-cent performance.
Nunn performed better than the judges gave him credit for. One called the fight a draw; the other two thought Nunn won by only two and three points. But according to SI's Pat Putnam, who was at the bout, Barkley deserved to win three rounds at most. Judges and fans alike simply wanted to see a more savage Nunn.
Nunn may benefit from his less-than-sparkling showing. The big names—Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns—will now be more inclined to fight him. "We are not going to wait around for the winner of the Leonard-Duran fight to decide Tommy's future," says Hearns's manager, Emanuel Steward. "I told Tommy our best move was to fight Nunn, and he said go get him."
All Nunn needs to do now is leave his dancing shoes at home.
THE BIG STORY
To determine the most-written-about baseball topics of the 1980s, Nexis, the computer-accessed information service, recently scanned the 650 newspapers, magazines and wire services it carries. Its findings will depress baseball purists. Here are the sport's top 10 stories of the '80s:
1) Drug abuse. It was the subject of 6,071 stories. Dave Parker was the player mentioned most often—655 times—in these pieces.
2) Contract disputes and salary arbitration (2,459 stories).
3) Player strikes (2,196).
4) On-the-field rules violations, including doctored bats and balls (1,601).
5) George Steinbrenner (1,592). The Boss may have moved into fourth place after firing Yankee manager Dallas Green last week.
6) Racism (1,381).
7) The Pete Rose gambling case (1,364 and rising).
8) Bo Jackson (1,083).
9) The installation of lights at Wrigley Field (773).
10) Rose breaking Ty Cobb's career hit record (578).
We would keep going, but the list gets worse. We will tell you that stories number 11 and 12 are Steve Garvey and his women (522—that's stories, not women) and Wade Boggs and his affair with Margo Adams (303).
A SANCTUARY NO MORE
For more than 20 years the summer basketball program at the St. Cecilia church recreation center on Detroit's West Side was seen as a safe harbor from the drugs and crime that pervade the neighborhood. Three weeks ago that notion was shattered. The program was shut down following the shooting of a coach and amid fears that drug dealers were sponsoring teams and betting on games.
The St. Cecilia program was founded to give kids an escape from the tensions that caused Detroit's 1967 riots. Such future pro greats as Magic Johnson and Spencer Haywood played in the league at Ceciliaville, as the recreation center is known, and the program had grown to 85 teams and 850 players. But on Aug. 5, during a game between two college-level teams, Steve's Big Shots and Players, a fight broke out on the court. When fans joined in, league director Ron Washington called the game and cleared the gym.
The fracas continued in the parking lot, where Steven Dale Goodwin, the coach of Steve's Big Shots, began arguing with another man—reportedly over a $37,000 bet Goodwin and the man had with each other. The man shot Goodwin twice. Goodwin, who is recovering, refused to discuss the incident, even with police, and no arrests have been made.
Ceciliaville's directors were distressed to learn Goodwin had been convicted of armed robbery and carrying a concealed handgun, and had had three charges of intent to deliver cocaine dismissed. "I'd say 99 percent of the guys who come in here are trustworthy," said church pastor Thomas Finnigan. "But you have that element around St. Cecilia's now—drugs, alcoholism and poverty."
The drug element may be well established. Gym regulars say that drug dealers routinely put up the $500 fee to sponsor a team, pay college standouts to play for them and place large wagers on games. A league referee told the Detroit Free Press that he heard men raising bets by $5,000 during games.
Washington says the program will reopen next year and that every effort will be made to keep drug dealers out. He might check the parking lot. One coach pulled his teenaged team out of the league early this summer after noticing the suspicious number of fancy cars parked outside Ceciliaville.
Finnigan's gym couldn't shut out drugs.
THEY SAID IT
•Dan Freiburger, freshman quarterback at SMU, upon seeing the Mustangs' newly refurbished locker room: "Look at this place. They treat us like pros here."