Stocking stuffers we'd like to see next to sports tree

BILL TANTON

December 24, 1992|By BILL TANTON

Last-minute Christmas shopping for:

* Boogie Weinglass -- A Baltimore team to call his own. Boogie's the kid who grew up worshipping his hometown Colts and Orioles and then made zillions selling jeans. Now he wants to own either team. How can you not love it?

Our town hasn't exactly been a roaring success with out-of-town FTC sports ownership. What can say good about a man (Bob Irsay) whose own mother calls him "the devil on earth"?

Fans are down on Eli Jacobs because he's reluctant to part with some of the millions his O's are raking in. Sports, if nothing else, should be fun and Jacobs is no fun. Most sports reporters -- including this one -- have never met him.

Jerry Hoffberger, when he owned the Orioles, went through the stands in his red blazer, introducing himself to fans as if he were running for mayor. Boogie would be a lot more like Hoffberger than like Jacobs. Nobody is like the late EBW.

A week ago Boogie and Jacobs were $10 apart. More important than the money to Weinglass was his desire not to be made to look like a chump by Jacobs, as he was when Eli wouldn't accept his calls. Jacobs may have done it to him again.

Bill DeWitt Jr.? It would make a lot of people happy -- including DeWitt, no doubt -- if he just bought his hometown Cincinnati Reds from Marge Schott.

* Baltimore football fans -- A verdict from the NFL. The one the fans deserve is an NFL franchise. Herb Belgrad has worked so hard and the public has waited so long for expansion that this is becoming cruel and unusual punishment.

* Chris Weller -- The first national championship for her University of Maryland women's basketball team. Her Terps teams have been in three Final Fours, finished second once, fourth twice.

Chris once again has an outstanding group of players, ranked No. 6 and capable of beating anybody (No. 1 ranked Tennesse comes to College Park for a tournament Dec. 29-30).

* Lyn Brooks, Jim Gardner, George Acton and the gang at Winner -- The return to Baltimore of the Bud Light Triathlon. For one Sunday every June, it was a beautiful sight, 2,000 superb athletes swimming, pedaling and running to Rash Field in the Inner Harbor. It was a plus for Baltimore. Losing it for one year to Delaware was a minus.

* Bill Ripken -- A job on a big-league club. So Bill's not much of a hitter. He's a great second baseman, especially playing beside brother Cal. I never saw Bob Grich or Davey Johnson make the plays Bill does. Ripken busts his tail every minute he's on the field.

I don't know why Ripken could not have been given a chance in spring training to compete for the backup job behind Harold Reynolds.

Anybody who thinks Cal Jr. will not be affected by seeing his father dumped in October and his brother in December -- right after Cal was locked in for five years -- is misjudging human nature. There hasn't been a word from any of the Ripkens on this. Their silence is deafening.

* Joe Orsulak -- Success with the Mets. It's a sad day when your hometown team feels it has to unload a lunchpail guy like Joe, who is one of its best hitters.

I like Orsulak's approach. He once told me he wouldn't trade places with Cal Ripken, not even for Cal's millions. Said Joe:

"It doesn't matter what city we go to -- kids are always chasing Cal for an autograph or something. Kids see me and they don't even know who I am. I like it that way."

* John Lucas -- Happiness in his new job as coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Through other NBA people I know some details of the personal hell John has been through with drug problems. It makes you feel good inside -- especially at Christmastime -- to see how he has conquered that.

Lucas was always a good guy, smart and friendly. When he played at Maryland, I was hosting a talk show. One night a caller said, "Why doesn't John Lucas get more ink in The Evening Sun?"

Suddenly there was a chuckle and a voice confessing: "Hey, this is John." Lucas was calling from the athletes' dorm. In the background, Len Elmore and Moe Howard were roaring with laughter.

* Kirk Maggio -- A punting job in the NFL. He deserves it because he can outkick a lot of the guys you're now watching on Sundays. Maggio, 25, a Calvert Hall grad, proved himself at UCLA, where he averaged more than 45 yards a punt, and with Birmingham in the World Football League (41-plus). Kirk is back home in Baltimore, waiting for an NFL team to call.

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