SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff And Christian Stone
July 31, 1995
Tarnished Silver Anniversary
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July 31, 1995


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20,000 Leagues over the Land

No, that's not inveterate league-founder Gary Davidson littering North America with such outfits as the Professional Bicycling League, which debuted earlier this month in the Shea Stadium parking lot with free beer for spectators and a promise to make cycling "more of a contact sport." But countless other entrepreneurs are doing their part to uphold the Davidson legacy by starting up leagues of their own.




Major League Soccer

March 1996

Un-American sport, un-American concept: League will own all franchises and player contracts.

A summer pro basketball league

Summer 1996

Proposed by Global Sports, firm of former NCAA honcho Dick Schultz, who has finally found way to pay players legally.

Major League Football

Fall 1996

Real estate developer Howard Milstein hopes to have 10 teams and deal with CBS (Can't Buy Sports) lined up.

Women's Major Basketball League

Fall 1996

Better not make mistake ill-fated Liberty Basketball Association made of issuing players demeaning unitards.

Professional Gladiators Team Wrestling

This month

Founded by ex-pro wrestler who was likely victim of one too many suplexes; promises to permit "proper" choke holds.

Women's Baseball Association

September 1995

Optimistically promising players "revenue sharing"; not to be confused with rival U.S. Women's Baseball League.

United Baseball League

Spring 1996

Just what fans are pining for: even more baseball.

Tarnished Silver Anniversary

The New York Yankees celebrated Old-Timers' Day last Saturday, and once again they did so without Jim Bouton. The author of Ball Four, which was published 25 years ago, has been persona non grata in the Bronx ever since he broke the clubhouse code of silence with his unvarnished musings on the game. "The ballplayers said, 'If he comes, we don't,' " says Yankee Alumni Association director Jim Ogle, a former New York sports-writer whom Bouton rips in the book and whose surname describes a favorite Yankee pastime.

Ball Four identified Peeping Toms, let the public in on Seattle Pilot manager Joe Schultz's crudely limited vocabulary and described Yankee first baseman Joe Pepitone's grotesque use of a piece of popcorn. But Bouton also threw light on racism in the game well in advance of Al Campanis and Marge Schott. He also prepared the public to be more indulgent of the humanity of baseball's greats long before the lives of Pete Rose, Mickey Mantle and Darryl Strawberry (who appears to be more than welcome in Yankee Stadium despite his many lapses) took their regrettable turns. With the U.S. government having forgiven Vietnam, it's well past time for those other Yanks to welcome home their literary prodigal son.

Fallen Heroes

Current major leaguers have had to bear a collective bad rap for their misconduct of late, but old-timers aren't faring too well in the image derby, either. Talkin' Baseball recording artist Terry (Better Report All That) Cashman may have to re-record his feel-good ditty. Sixteen years ago the first third of the "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" troika, Willie Mays, ran afoul of the baseball establishment by working as a greeter at an Atlantic City casino. Then Mickey Mantle went public with his liver cancer caused by years of heavy drinking. Now comes last Thursday's news that Duke Snider himself and another Willie, former Mays teammate Willie McCovey, have pleaded guilty to federal charges of failing to report $100,000 and $70,000, respectively, that they received in cash for appearances at memorabilia shows.

Others at a 1989 show in Atlantic City that's believed to have been the starting point for the IRS investigation include former Philadelphia Phillie Mike Schmidt, who's set to go into the Hall of Fame on July 30. His agent, Arthur Rosenberg, says Schmidt expects only to be inducted next week, not indicted. Eddie Mathews and, through a representative, Reggie Jackson say much the same thing—that those stars had been contacted but weren't currently targets of any probe. But the tenuous position in which so many of baseball's erstwhile greats find themselves seemed to be underscored by a call we placed to Ernie Banks's toll-free number, 1-800-677-MRCUB. "The 800-number dialed," a recorded voice said, "is not in service at this time."

Voters, Get Your Ballots

Among the latest crop of nominees for induction into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame are swimmer Shirley Babashoff, golfer Sandra Haynie, marathoner Grete Waitz and a trapshooter named Annie Oakley. Yes, that Annie Oakley—the 19th-century frontierswoman from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

The first three nominees are all in the "contemporary" category. In Oakley's case, the Women's Sports Foundation, administrator of the Hall, seems to be taking the "pioneer" category literally.

The State of De-Union

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