Believe it or not, Brooks is happy to be off tube

April 07, 1994|By Bill Tanton

Some things just don't figure, like what's going on at Camden Yards these days and nights.

You read the results of a poll commissioned by the Times Mirror Co., which publishes this newspaper, and you're told that most Americans believe the country is stuck either in a recession or depression.

Pessimism over the economy, we see, is highest in the East.

At the same time, we learn that the cost of taking a family of four to an Orioles game is up $104.96. Last year -- and all I heard then were complaints about high prices -- the cost was $102.96.

You don't have to be an economist to know that price increases in a time of public pessimism and anxiety should be fatal to an enterprise. Yet, any time the Orioles open for business there's a sellout, even though they're the sixth most expensive team in the major leagues. And you can't get much further east than Baltimore.

The only problem is buying Orioles tickets. Selling them is no problem. The club this year expects to top the attendance record of 3,644,965 it set last year.

It just doesn't add up.

Then there is Brooks Robinson.

Does everyone realize that this year, for the first time in Orioles history, every game is being televised -- and that Brooks will appear on none of the broadcasts?

Brooks Robinson. Hall of Famer. The most popular player the Orioles have ever had. After 16 years of doing color commentary on TV, Brooks is out?

It doesn't figure.

But don't worry. This was Brooks' idea.

With their four children grown, Brooks and his wife of 33 years, Connie, are spending a lot of time in California. Travel for TV commentary just didn't work satisfactorily into their schedule.

"I've never been happier," Brooks says, which pleases his legion of admirers.

Then take Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams, who was at Camden Yards last night to throw out the ceremonial first ball.

Gary seems to have it all going. He took his young team to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, which is why the Orioles invited him to toe the rubber.

But Gary is having trouble getting commitments from recruits. It doesn't add up.

The Maryland program is on the rise. Williams is an outstanding coach. Cole Field House, like Camden Yards, sells out for every game. Who wouldn't want to play there?

And why is every other Atlantic Coast Conference team signing more recruits than Maryland?

The problem is the very thing that makes the Terps' future look so bright. The team is so young that prospects fear they won't get enough playing time here. Nobody is going to beat out Joe Smith and Keith Booth for a while.

Insiders aren't worried, though. Gary's an old pro who has been through the recruiting wars many times. He's expected to come up with two or three players who can help right away.

He had better. A Maryland weakness was depth. Look for the Terps to sign a good junior college guard soon.

And what about the basketball coaching situation at Loyola College?

Skip Prosser comes here as coach on April 1 of '93. Loyola loves him. He loves Loyola. The team has the biggest turnaround in the country -- from 2-25 to the college's first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.

A year later, Prosser quits. It doesn't figure.

Once again, it makes sense to insiders. Prosser came from Xavier, where he was the No. 1 assistant. It was printed in this column before the NCAA's that if Pete Gillen left Xavier, Prosser would go back there and succeed him.

That was such common knowledge within the coaching fraternity that even before it was announced that Gillen was going to Providence, Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan began getting calls from applicants for Prosser's job. Twenty-four hours after Gillen took Providence, Prosser signed with Xavier.

What's the big deal about Xavier? It's a step up in every way, including financially. Prosser made $70,000 at Loyola. At Xavier, counting shoe contract, coach's show, etc., he'll double that.

There's no panic at Loyola. Boylan is a basketball man. He's utterly overwhelmed by the number of people applying for the coaching job.

Boylan picked one good coach in Prosser. In about ten days, he'll hire another good one. Don't look for it to be either Pat Dennis (Citadel) or old Boylan pal Tom Young, both of whom were given serious consideration a year ago.

Here's something else that doesn't figure:

At the Final Four in Charlotte last weekend, Bill Nelson, the successful basketball coach at Johns Hopkins, turned down an offer of $6,500 for his two tickets. That's an awful lot of money for a coach in Division III, where there are no shoe contracts or coach's shows.

So do you think Nelson sat in the stands and enjoyed the games? He did not. He gave the tickets to his wife and 14-year-old daughter. He watched on TV from their hotel room.

Nelson shrugs off the $6,500. He's a rich man in other ways.

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