Hall of Famer Ted Williams suffered a minor stroke recently but is recovering nicely at his Florida home, friends said yesterday.
"In a general conversation I had with him yesterday, he said he had a little stroke," said a friend who asked not to be identified. "I asked him what the results were. He said, 'It didn't amount to anything.' "
"He said he was going to have some treatment where they would open the artery. He had a clogged artery. He wasn't concerned about it at all. Apparently he had no effect from it."
The friend said he didn't know exactly when Williams, 73, suffered the stroke but said it happened more than a week ago.
Williams, a former Boston Red Sox star outfielder, had lost some weight but was "very healthy," the friend said.
Another friend, Florida Keys fishing guide George Hommell, said that he "heard it through the grapevine" of Williams' friends and associates that Williams had suffered a stroke, but added that he hadn't spoken to Williams himself.
"It was evidently very, very minor," he said.
Williams was in Boston on Dec. 20 for an appearance on behalf of the Jimmy Fund, which benefits children's cancer research through the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Several copies of LeRoy Neiman's painting, "Williams at Bat," were sold to help raise funds.
Williams, 50 years ago this year, became the last major-league player to bat better than .400 in a season, finishing at .406.
* Federal prosecutors are considering expanding the misdemeanor drug charge against New York Yankees pitcher Steve Howe to a felony, a Montana law enforcement official said.
Ben Yarbrough, the chief of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in Montana, said that the case could be widened from possession of cocaine to "conspiracy to be involved in a drug scheme."
Howe was arrested on Dec. 19 in a parking lot on Meridian Road in Kalispell, Mont. The DEA's criminal complaint said Howe paid $100 to buy a gram of cocaine from a law enforcement informant. Howe, according to the complaint, drove up in a pickup, which later was confiscated.
Pat Sherlock, Howe's attorney, said yesterday that he knew of no charges pending other than the original one of possession.
* YANKEES: If George Steinbrenner is moving back toward active management of the club, he wasn't talking about it.
Steinbrenner said in a phone interview from his Tampa, Fla., office that a meeting of team partners "could be held sometime later this year." But he said he could not discuss any management plans at this point.
Steinbrenner was expected to nominate himself to succeed Robert Nederlander, who resigned as managing partner effective Dec. 31, a "source close to Yankee management" told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.
But Steinbrenner said no news conference was planned. Asked when the partners will be meeting, he responded that he "can't tell when that will be."
The partners must consider Nederlander's successor. Nederlander resigned to devote more attention to his main interest, his Broadway theater holdings.
"If George nominates anyone other than himself, it will be a shock,"the source told the newspaper.
Nederlander took over active management of the team Sept. 13, 1990, after commissioner Fay Vincent barred Steinbrenner from being involved in the Yankees' day-to-day operations because of his association with a gambler. Steinbrenner has a 55 percent interest in the team.
Vincent has said he will not consider reinstating Steinbrenner unless lawsuits stemming from Steinbrenner's suspension are dropped.
Steinbrenner's plan is to nominate himself, then get the remaining lawsuits dropped, then meet with the commissioner, the source said.
* TIGERS: Legislation to let Wayne County, Mich., voters decide whether they want to raise taxes to build a ballpark for the club was signed into law by Gov. John Engler.