A Helping Hand
Christmas will be a little less bleak for hard-luck American League umpire John Hirschbeck and his wife, Denise, thanks to a fund-raiser held the other day in Chicago. Two of the Hirschbecks' four children, John, 8, and Michael, 6, have contracted ALD, a rare and usually fatal genetic brain disorder, and the following big leaguers (all deserve to be named) showed up for a sports-memorabilia show and $250-a-plate buffet dinner, which raised $265,000 to help defray the Hirschbecks' enormous medical bills: Jose Canseco, Doug Drabek, Dennis Eckersley, Cecil Fielder, Mark Grace, Ozzie Guillen, Bo Jackson, Don Mattingly, Jack McDowell, Mark McGwire, Paul Molitor, Mike Morgan, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Dave Stewart and Robin Yount. Managers Tony La Russa ( Oakland A's), Gene Lamont ( Chicago White Sox) and Jim Lefebvre ( Chicago Cubs) were also on hand, as was former White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce.
The baseball celebs signed autographs for guests, and some joined in the bidding for items donated by other sports stars. Ripken bought a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers for $3,200; Drabek paid $2,500 for a Wayne Gretzky hockey stick and a Joe Montana jersey; and Fielder ponied up $2,200 for a Jackson football helmet. Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and George Brett couldn't make it, but they contributed too: A lunch date with Ryan went for $1,200, Clemens and Brett jerseys for $4,000 and $1,500, respectively.
Most of the off-season baseball news has been about how much players are taking. It's nice to know that some are giving.
Summa Cum Loutish
Former Auburn defensive back Eric Ramsey's secret tapes of conversations indicating illicit payments to Tiger players led to the resignation in November of coach Pat Dye, and that's why, when Ramsey received his sheepskin from the school last week, some of his fellow graduates booed and chanted, "Go to hell, Ramsey, go to hell." Ramsey's wife, Twilitta, who also got her degree, lent even more class to the proceedings by making an obscene gesture to the crowd.
Congratulations, Auburn: You're now rid of the whole bunch—Dye, the Ramseys and those boorish grads.
Tark and Luke
Last week's firing of San Antonio Spur coach Jerry Tarkanian a mere 20 games into his three-year contract was a surprise, as was owner Red McCombs's choice of John Lucas as the new coach. Tarkanian, who was so unaccustomed to losing—he had the best winning percentage (.837) of any big-time college coach—that the Spurs' 9-11 start affected his health, wanted a point guard for Christmas, a gift McCombs didn't think Tarkanian needed. Ironically, as an NBA player Lucas was a fine point guard. Fittingly, given Tark's affinity for players with troubled pasts, Lucas is also a former cocaine abuser who runs a successful drug rehab program. His elevation to an NBA coaching job suggests that his own rehabilitation is coming along very nicely indeed.
Bad Move, Bobby
Bobby Fischer is living in Yugoslavia, and since extradition may be difficult, he may not give a hoot that he was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., for allegedly violating the U.S.'s ban against trafficking with Yugoslavia. But presumably Fischer, who defied the ban by playing (and winning) his recent $5 million chess match with Boris Spassky in that country, would be unhappy about U.S. attorney Jay Stephens's phraseology in announcing the indictment. Stephens accused Fischer of being a "pawn" of Yugoslavia's bloody regime.