In book of life, Cal Sr. was every inch a winner

April 25, 1999|By John Steadman

Noteworthy Day:

Although he didn't live to see the finished product, Cal Ripken Sr.'s new book, "The Ripken Way," is a fitting legacy to a life and career honorably lived. Before his death, he had a chance to view the cover and read page proofs of the final manuscript.

With so many things going wrong, the Orioles felt more embarrassment when Glen Burnie product Tony Saunders, non-drafted and signed out of a Florida Marlins tryout camp, threw a one-hitter at them. Notre Dame Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Williams, never one to flinch, had hip and knee replacement operations in one visit to the hospital, but the recovery period, as expected, has been longer. Sportswriting lost a gem with the death of Maury White of the Des Moines Register at 80; he had been an outstanding halfback at Drake. How was it that the Indianapolis Colts wanted a first-round draft choice from the Ravens included in any trade for Marshall Faulk, but let him go for second- and fifth-rounders to the Rams?

Batting tip from Jack Brandt: "Keep the feet slow and the hands fast, which was the style of Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson." Walkersville named one of its athletic fields for Harry O. Smith, the grand educator and coach who died at age 90 after a lifetime of helping young people. Tom Condon, the agent for first NFL draft pick Tim Couch, received his law degree from the University of Baltimore while going to school part-time and still playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.

One of the all-time quirks of the pro football draft happened in 1950 when Bob Noppinger of Loyola and Georgetown was picked illegally by the Redskins in the 30th round, but the next year went in the 10th round to the Packers -- advancing an unprecedented 270 places. Jeff Felker, 6 feet 5, a Mount St. Joseph's product, has been moved back to first base from the outfield after two varsity years batting .319 and .283 at Notre Dame. A retired Armco steel engineer, John Considine, still has a relic of the 1944 fire at Oriole Park, a charred baseball he discovered in the ruins.

Ex-jockey Bill Boland, now a placing and patrol judge for the New York Racing Association, was the youngest rider, a mere 16, when he won the Kentucky Derby (1950) aboard Middleground -- a mount Eddie Arcaro declined so he could guide Hill Prince, the second-place finisher. George Feehley, living in Ocean City and once an all-Maryland football end at Patterson High, continues to compete as one of Maryland's most accomplished post-70 age athletes. It took the Orioles only six seasons at Camden Yards to draw 20 million fans, compared to 22 years at Memorial Stadium to hit the same total.

Essex CC coach George Henderson, checking the Orioles' roster, notes only four players on the 25-man list came through their farm system. Chuck Thompson advances what sounds like a good idea, having permanent ball-and-strike umpires, but the umpires themselves say it would be too physically and mentally demanding to work behind the plate game after game. Sammy Sosa would like to have his 12 spring training home runs count for something more than wasted effort now that the regular season is underway.

The St. Louis Browns Fan Club will hold its final reunion May 20 and then closes shop, because old players are fast disappearing, but that doesn't rule out Lou Sleater, Billy Hunter and Vernon Pete Taylor gathering to trade stories about their old baseball alma mater. Mount St. Joseph's, with more than a century of baseball, has had four generations of the Harris family on its varsity, which makes Paul "Knobby" Harris extremely proud. Caddies used to be seen and not heard, strictly anonymous, but Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara both fired their bag-toters, one reason being that they acted as if they were hitting the shots instead of carrying the clubs.

The Lacrosse Hall of Fame, in the veteran category, includes the name of Fred Stieber, and there's no more deserving former player, so Jim McDonald, committee chairman, deserves plaudits for getting Stieber's name on the ballot. For golf enthusiasts: Don't miss reading David Owen's "Making Of The Masters" by Simon & Schuster, with a jacket design that is as elegant as what's inside. Rickey Henderson played for Tom Trebelhorn, the Orioles' director of player development, during his first two years in the minors and says he, more than any other man, influenced the making of his career.

Bill Madden, baseball columnist for the New York Daily News, questions how many of Albert Belle's home runs have been hit with illegally corked bats. In Commerce, Okla., two Mickey Mantle admirers are trying to restore his house to a museum, but some town folks are against it because when they dedicated Mickey Mantle Boulevard he was a no-show. Words for athletes to live by from Wayne Gretzky: "Play because you love it not because you think you can make a lot of money. If you play because you love it, everything else will fall into place."

What Johns Hopkins has learned from this lacrosse season is it hired one tremendous coach in young John Haus, but it got lucky after Towson University passed on his services. Cardinal Gibbons High School will name its baseball field after Baltimore's most famous athlete and personality, Babe Ruth, who learned the game on the exact location when it was St. Mary's Industrial School. You're getting to be a "young old-timer" if you remember when the Baltimore Fire Department had football and baseball teams that played the Quantico Marines on an annual basis -- or until World War II halted such fun and games.

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