No matter what kind of season the Orioles have, 1991 is already a great year in the life of one of the club's vice presidents -- Calvin Hill.
Hill's son, Grant, a 6-foot-7 freshman at Duke, was tremendous last night as the Blue Devils beat Kansas, 72-65, to win their first NCAA basketball championship. Young Hill did it all (except make his free throws) -- scoring, rebounding, playing defense, handling the ball. Calvin is his son's biggest supporter. You can bet that nothing the football star dad did at Yale or in the NFL thrilled him more than what Grant did last night.
* The world is learning about Sugar Ray Leonard what I've long believed -- that Leonard, great fighter though he was, is not the man people think he is.
In 1976, when Leonard won the Olympic gold medal in Montreal, we asked him if he would turn pro. "No," he said. "My dream is over. My journey has ended." He told us he'd enter the University of Maryland and study communications. We were enraptured. Of course Ray promptly turned pro.
One of Leonard's worst con jobs came nine years ago when he packed the Baltimore Arena (then Civic Center) simply to announce whether he'd ever fight again. Howard Cosell was there. Marvin Hagler came down from New England, expecting Leonard to announce he'd fight Hagler. But Ray said no, he was retired. No more fighting.
The next day I wrote that Leonard would be back and people told me I was cynical. Today, 15 years after Montreal, nine years after the retirement announcement, the guy is still fighting. In addition to his other now well publicized flaws (abusing drugs, alcohol and his ex-wife), Sugar Ray Leonard is full of stuff.
* Nevada-Las Vegas' failure to repeat as NCAA basketball champion -- despite having what some were calling the best team ever -- only underscores what an extraordinary accomplishment John Wooden achieved at UCLA. His Bruins won seven NCAA titles in a row and nine of 10.
* The Babe Ruth Museum, two weeks into its campaign to raise $3.3 million to add another building, is discovering something encouraging. Says Greg Schwallenberg, the assistant director:
"People see the new ballpark going up, and when we tell them we're going to be two blocks away they light up. You can see how they tie it all together. This is the year for us to raise money. Our target date to open the new building is the All-Star Game here in '93."
* The Maryland Football Coaches Association will induct four outstanding coaches in its Hall of Fame Friday evening at a clinic at College Park. The honorees: Jerry Mears, Arundel and Meade highs; Al Sadusky, Bethesda-Chevy Chase; Vic Woods, Mount St. Joe; and Howdy Myers, St. Paul's.
Myers, who died in 1980, coached St. Paul's from 1935 to 1945, then went on to Johns Hopkins and Hofstra. He'll be honored at the Hopkins-Hofstra lacrosse game at Hempstead May 1 as the father of Long Island lacrosse.
* Debbie Ryan, coach of the University of Virginia's women's basketball team -- 70-67 loser in overtime to Tennessee in the NCAA championship game Sunday -- has strong Baltimore roots.
Debbie's grandfather, Pat Ryan, was once the swimming coach at Mount St. Joe. Her dad, Tommy, one of the biggest Budweiser distributors in the country, grew up here and married one of the Natale girls (Catherine) from Stoneleigh. Another Natale sister, Lena, married Gene Corrigan, now ACC commissioner. Gene, when he was Virginia athletic director, hired Debby Ryan 14 years ago and she has done a magnificent job.
Ryan has four times been named ACC Coach of the Year. Since she took over her players boast a graduation rate of 100 percent. In February she was named Woman of the Year by the Virginia Women's Forum, which recognizes women in business, government and the professions. Quite a woman.
* Here's why I love college sports and always will, no matter how much you hear about all the wrongdoing at so many schools: at Johns Hopkins, swimming coach George Kennedy talks about the kids on his team. Says Kennedy:
"At Hopkins, swimming is a really hard sport to do, academically speaking. There's a lot of training and travel so the team members are tired when they have to study, but I'm proud of the way they stick to the books.
"This year we have the potential for seven or eight Academic All-Americans who qualify for the Nationals and who maintain a grade-point average of 3.5 or better. That's something everyone should be proud of."