Orioles err in giving young Riley September test

September 12, 1999|By John Steadman

NOTEworthy Day:

Adding Matt Riley to the late-season Orioles roster was a mistake, the result of an abrupt change in thinking by the front office that came out of left field, or from the general manager. Riley is only 20, and next year will mean a full opportunity rather than a September walk-on that could damage his confidence. And for what?

WJZ blundered big-time with the firing of Chris Ely, weekend sportscaster who had a deep knowledge of what he was talking about and conveyed such a friendly presence. And while in the sphere of TV, it's unfortunate that "Braase, Donovan & Fans," anchored by Tom Davis, won't be around this season. When Hank Greenberg's little brother Joe played third base for the Orioles in 1938, he batted .286 and had six home runs, a fact uncovered by historian Dave Howell. Bitterness still prevails in Cleveland, as this paragraph from columnist Bill Livingston in the Plain Dealer suggests: "You could lock Art Modell in a strongbox and put him in the bottom of Chesapeake Bay (a pleasant thought, admittedly) and I would still hear him prattling on about `all my years in football' " We keep hearing if a major-league club comes to Washington or Northern Virginia that Larry Lucchino, president of the San Diego Padres, will be a vital part of any such franchise. The Carolina Panthers' pickup of veteran Eric Metcalf should help them. In naming the top 10 golf courses, Golf magazine listed Baltimore Country Club's East Course at No. 61 but made no mention of Bulle Rock or Caves Valley, which makes the survey suspect.

The new chief of the Washington Redskins, one Daniel Snyder, fits the early profile of so many new owners in sports -- a potential disaster. Gene Woodling, one of the best of Orioles hitters and a coach on the 1966 World Series team, suffered a severe stroke, so a card or letter to him at 926 Remsen Rd., Medina, Ohio, 44256, would do much to lift his spirits. Stacie Kleinhen Barlow, a graduate of Dulaney High and the University of North Carolina, has been the team trainer for the past eight years for the Cape Cod League Wareham Gatemen, and her husband, Andy, is an assistant coach. Golfers at the Country Club of Maryland deserve encouragement for putting their own group together in an effort to buy the course, but 70 new members are needed to solidify the deal. If you're in Denmark, S.C., and see a man resembling ex-Colt Alex Hawkins, well, there's a 100 percent chance it is ex-Colt Alex Hawkins. You-can't-always-be-right department about future Hall of Famers: Paul Richards said Nolan Ryan didn't have the chest structure to be a professional pitcher, and Ty Cobb once told Carl Hubbell he'd never make the grade.

When Tina Barrett, Perry Hall's gift to the LPGA Tour, was leading a St. Louis tournament, two uninformed ESPN announcers, Linda Cohn and Mary Bryan, gave her scant credit and provided almost zero background for her career. A bit of irony that Hunter Wendelstedt and Bryan Ryan, sons of two hard-line union umpires, are in the National League among replacements as replacements for the "retirees." Robin List, daughter of Tom, the Ocean City Golf & Yacht Club superintendent, earned a $1,500 scholarship from the Golf Course Superintendents Association, and plans to attend Goucher.

They don't make sportswriters like they used to, as we're reminded by the death of Harold Rosenthal at age 85. He was a much-respected veteran of the New York newspaper game. The professionalism of managing editor Rick Vaughn and editor Mike Flanagan, a Mount St. Joseph alumnus, give the Tampa Bay Devil Rays far and away the league lead in quality of team publications. John Urbanski, once a member of the Baltimore Colts' pre-game jazz ensemble, is back making music after doctors cared for a heart problem. In 1942, the year before most of the great hitters went off to war, Ted Lyons, had a 14-6 record with the Chicago White Sox but, more significantly, started 20 games, completed every one and led the American League with a 2.10 ERA.

Not a single son of old Maryland has qualified for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the Baseball Hall numbers seven natives, Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Al Kaline, Judy Johnson, Jimmie Foxx and Vic Willis. The new president of the Oldtimers' Baseball Association, Dick Clarke, succeeds, in the chain of command, Fred Huber. In Naples, Fla., Greg Norman designed a golf course called the Tiburon, which, we're told, is Spanish for shark. Bad taste: The TV commercial (Coors) that used a beer salesman in a takeoff of the eloquent and endearing speech Lou Gehrig made in his dying baseball farewell when he said he was "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." Catcher Josh Stein of Friends School, bringing a strong throwing arm with him, accepted a baseball scholarship to Muhlenberg.

The best-presented sports event in America, bar none, with an awesome 400,000 looking on, is the Indianapolis 500 -- where patriotism, pressure, prayer before the race and a moving sentimental song, "Back Home Again In Indiana," sets the stage for a true spectacular. Ex-Oriole Jack Brandt had his second hole-in-one; what he'd like is a shot at the senior golf tour. Larry Coffman, from 3,000 miles away, now publisher of the highly successful Marketing trade paper in Seattle, offered a moving editorial tribute to Cal Ripken Sr., his friend and former teammate at Aberdeen High. Brooks Robinson's knee replacement operation was so successful, he may soon start taking ground balls as part of his rehabilitation. You're getting to be a "young old-timer" if you remember when the minor leagues were designated AA, A, B, C, D and E before they were re-alphabetized AAA, AA, A and Rookie.

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