The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on June 23, 1990 · Page 7
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 7

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Nashville, Tennessee
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Saturday, June 23, 1990
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Page 7
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3CC0LLEGES SECTION 4CMAJ0R LEAGUE BASEBALL c 7C ALITOR RACING The tennessean SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 1990 Weary Thompson turns down Nuggets' offer WASHINGTON (AP) Georgetown coach John Thompson made the "extremely painful" decision yesterday to reject an offer worth at least $6 million to become general manager of the NBA Denver Nuggets. Thompson agonized over the of fer from the troubled franchise, the first black-owned team in professional sports, for five days. Clearly weary as he appeared at a campus news confer- ence, he said, "I talked with an awful lot of peo ple who mean an awful lot to me. Then I gave Olympians light up Sportsfest GREG DOWNS Staff Writer Framed by the Parthenon's massive columns and with ominous rain clouds behind them, two great athletes combined their heritage as Tennesseans and Olympians last night, ceremonially opening the first Sportsfest. Olympic gold medalists Ralph Boston and Tracy Caulkins brought together the torch runs that had begun in Bristol, Term., and Memphis as they ran the last few hundred yards together and lit the Sportsfest flame. "It was fun," said Aaron Greer, 11, whose Morristown Panthers are playing in the Tennessee Sportsfest's soccer competition. "Watching the people light the flame was the best." While the night tried to bring everyone and everything together, the rain clouds threatened to pull everyone apart. Gov. Ned McWherter calmed the crowd of approximately 1,500 people and promised the rain would not come, but some left early because it seemed sure to storm. The good weather held out, however, and the flame and participants' enthusiasm remained undampened. Before the ceremony got into full swing, early-arriving spectators were treated to Hardaway displays greatness in making DAVID CLIMER Sports Writer The king is on his court A dribble here, a dunk there, all of it carried off with the smooth self-assurance of a young man who seems secure in his own greatness. 5 Not cocky, mind you. Just secure. And great "You dont have to watch him play for very long," says his AAU coach, "before you realize how good he is. You can see it in his eyes." Anfernee Hardaway, an exploding super nova in the basketball universe, plays the game at a level i which is easy to appreciate but al-: most impossible to duplicate. He has been christened a younger version of Magic Johnson, a 6-foot-8 point guard with a special gift for getting the basketball from Point A to Point B with a bit of flair. Regarded as one of the nation's top recruits among high school seniors last winter, Hardaway brought his considerable basketball skills to town yesterday as the Memphis YMCA team played in the Tennessee Sportsfest After helping his team beat East Knoxville 121-100, the 50 or so people who happened by Hunters Lane's gym on this hot summer afternoon would certainly attest to Hardaway's talent It is seldom that so much talent is seen by so few. In Memphis, a couple of hundred people will gather to watch Hardaway play in a pickup Breakdowns in bullpen . The Nashville Sounds-Denver baseball game was still in progress at press time. LARRY TAFT Sports Writer Though the Nashville Sounds are just two games off of the American Association Eastern Division lead, two of their last three losses have been suffered by relief pitchers. Kip Gross was the loser Monday night at Buffalo when Nashville lost a 3-2 lead and fell 4-3. Keith Brown lost Thursday night's game with a lOth-inning home run to Denver's Mario Monica myself a day of reflection. And I have decided to remain at Georgetown." Thompson, who took Georgetown to the NCAA title in 1 984, has been among the nation's coaching giants for nearly two decades and has been the target of several NBA offers. He called the Denver opportunity "the most serious by far." "The timing was just not the best," Thompson said. "I looked at the total package and said, "The time is not right'" He did not elaborate. Rex Perry Staff Gov. Ned McWherter opens the Tennessee Sportsfest while Olympians Ralph Boston and Tracy Caulkins hold the Sportsfest torches in front of the Parthenon at Centennial Park. country-rock sounds of George Hamilton V, a flag presentation by the Al Menah Legion of Honor and three skydivers landing among them. The night brought together modern Tennessee and ancient Greece as the festivities attempted to recreate the spirit of the ancient game on the playground. His appearances in summer league games often draw 2,500 fans. The fact that he chose hometown school Memphis State over Arkansas at the end of a laborious, heated recruiting war only served to heighten his legend. "You can't believe how big he is in Memphis," says Lynn Zinser, who covers Memphis State for the Memphis Commercial Appeal "People call the office all the time wanting to know if we've heard anything about his test scores, whether he's going to be eligible, things like that He's probably the biggest sports figure in Memphis right now." Such great expectations hang heavy around Hardaway's skinny neck, yet he seems unaffected. Again, there is such extraordinary self-assurance here that he seldom flinches when confronted with the words of others. Tm always having to live up to somebody's expectations,'' he says. "Everywhere I go, people expect me to do things. There's more pressure in Memphis, but at least the people there have seen me play enough that they know what I can do. I don't have to prove anything else to them." For anyone who has heard the comments and built the expectations, seeing is believing. He really is that good. 9 Turn to PAGE 6C, Column 1 tFWWfr 0 'vA,Ss Tonight's gasse Luis Vasquez will try to break a personal three-game losing streak tonight when he faces the Denver Zephyrs at 7:35. The Sounds' right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.55 earned run average. Denver will sent right-hander Jim Hunter (2-3, 424) to the mound. With the exception of now-departed Bob Sebra, traded to the Milwaukee on June 9, the Sounds bullpen has struggled somewhat when it comes to holding a lead. Of the 21 saves Nashville pitchers have recorded, Sebra had 11 Earlier in the week, Thompson appeared to be leaning the Nuggets' way, pronouncing himself "excited as hell" over the offer, particularly since it involved a 4 interest in the team as well as a salary near $700,000 a year for five years. Thompson makes more than $500,000 annually at Georgetown, including a salary of more than $317,000, a shoe contract worth $200,000, and other outside payments. In deciding to stay, Thompson embraced the example of his friend and coaching colleague, F 'J - Olympic Games in front of the Parthenon, injected with special Tennessee pride. "This contest is more special for the children because it is just for Tennesseans," said Kathleen Mays, who has two youngsters participating in the swimming competition. The Sportsfest, a project of the Governor's igt J y -.jus" George Walker IV Staff Anfernee Hardaway slams a basket during yesterday's Sportsfeat competition. hurt Sounds' hopes Nashville Manager Pete Mackanin is not hitting the panic button, however, despite the problems in the pen. "Bob earned the closer's role for us and did a good job. Since he's been gone, we've been searching," Mackanin said. "Kip has pitched well at times out of the bullpen, but it has been an adjustment for him. And Keith has pitched well, too, even though he took the loss on Thursday. We're still trying to find the right combination out of the pen, but I think we have people than can do the job for us. It's justamatter of puttuig everything together." Mike Krzyzewski, who recently spurned a similarly lucrative offer from the Boston Celtics to remain at Duke. On the other hand, he made . the opposite choice of one of his best friends and confidants former Big East Commissioner David Gavitt, who just became general manager and vice president of the Celtics. After taking over a team which was a woeful 4-23 in 1971, Thompson has amassed a 423-142 mark at Georgetown. He has taken the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament 14 times. ft f m; mam mil , m r Council on Physical Fitness and Health, also brought together Tennessee's separate regions. "It reaches people all across the state," McWherter said before the event. "It will bring a lot of people together." 9 Turn to PAGE 6C, Column 6 HIGHLIGHTS TODAY Multi-sport girl faces double duty ANTHONY COLEMAN Sports Writer Today is the busiest day of the Sportsfest with 20 sports underway across middle Tennessee, but no one is likely to be busier than 14-year-old Brittney Ezell. The incoming Franklin High freshman plays in the 16-under girls Softball tournament at 9 am at Music City Park, then scurries to McGavock High to play in the 15-un-der girls basketball tournament at 1 1:30 am "Sometimes I get pretty tired," said Ezell. "But I love both sports so much that I wouldn't want to quit either." She made her basketball debut yesterday, scoring 22 points as Cheatham County defeated the Oak Ridge Stars H 76-62 in a first round game of the AAU tournament Since both the softball and basketball tournaments are double-elimination, Ezell could shuttle between Music City Park and McGavock more than once today. Tve talked to both of my coaches (in the Sportsfest) and they both have been understanding," explained Ezell. "I know I'll have to go from one place to another place, and that means I might end up being late for a game sometimes." On the run: Former University of Tennessee football star Jeff Powell is among the track and field athletes in today's competition that opens at 8 am at Tennessee Prep School. Physically-challenged events: wheelchair, blind and amputee athletes compete on the track at Tennessee Prep and wheelchair athletes compete in racquetball at Vanderbilt. Today's schedule, 6C Yesterday's results, 7C - ?ta it V ilk f0mf mv illli i M'WXm: 111 llilllliil II Roster full: Nashville's roster reache its 23-man limit Thursday when switch-hittin outfielder Jerome Nelson was called up frim Chattanooga. 1 The 23-year-old Nelson, 64), 185, was bitting .282 with five home runs and 29 RBI for the Lookouts. He also had 13 stolen bases. Looking good: Two former Sounds recently sent to Chattanooa are doing well. Brian Lane is hitting .304 in seven games while Kevin Pearson, in just two games, has a .429 batting average. D ww. uii. n J'' LARRY TAFT Tennessean Sports Writer Benavides climbs back to Triple-A While the major league baseball players, their union negotiators and owners of major league baseball teams were arguing contracts over the winter, players like Nashville Sounds shortstop Freddie Benavides sat and waited. As a member of the Cincinnati Reds 40-man winter roster, Benavides could not report to spring training with other probable minor leaguers. And while Benavides isn't one to complain, he had just as soon the major-leaguers and the owners picked another year to have contract problems. "It was tough on players like me because we went to big-league camp later than the other minor-leaguers reported," Benavides said in recalling the spring training lockout. "I think it hurt me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Spring training didn't last as long as it would have for us, and not everyone got looked at the way they probably would have before." 1 HIS SPRING was not the best of times for Benavides, rated by Baseball America as the fifth best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds' or-ganizatioa Though he had been led to believe he would be in the minor leagues, he spent the winter with the thought that he would be assigned to Nashville, the Reds' Class AAA farm team. His spring training perf orm-ance, changesin the Reds' front office and the lockout all resulted in the Laredo, Texas, native being sent to Chattanooga. "I thought I should have been sent to Nashville. I hit .400 in the instructional league in October. I made progress like I thought I should have, and it was tough to take." It was also tough for his wife Viole-ta, a fashion model who works for the Aim Agency in Nashville and the Kim Dawson Agency in Texas. "She was pretty disappointed when I went back to Chattanooga. Even during the winter, she came into Nashville to work as a model. She was looking forward to coming here. It would have been perfect for us." VIOLETA AND FREDDIE both made it to Nashville last week when Benavides was promoted from Chattanooga. The 24-year-old infield-er had hit .259 with a team-high 28 runs batted in. "I didn't complain about going to Chattanooga. That would have done no good," Benavides said. "I went there, had some at-bats, had pretty good numbers and they called me up." The call-up was a surprise for Benavides, he said, because he wasn't sure of what was happening in Nashville. "I didn't follow who was doing what where each day," he said. "I had enough to worry about down there, so I had no idea that I was about to come here." Benavides spent the last six weeks of the 1 989 season with the Sounds. He hit a less than impressive .170 in 31 games after hitting .250 in 88 games with the Lookouts. That type of performance has led to the label of "all field, no hit" Fortunately, it has not bothered his fielding. "I don't confuse the two. Hitting is something I don't think about when I'm out in the field. I concentrate on making the plays, not on how I've hit," he said. "But I take pride in my hitting. Everyone does. No one wants to be labeled as a player who doesnt hit well." I nTING IS going to be harder in Nashville. Benavides said, be cause of the quality of pitching he will see. "You see a lot more fastballs in Double-VsaidtheformerTexas Christian University standout "Here the pitchers spot their pitches better and are able to change speeds better. That's something you have to adjust to as you go up each level." In the few games he's gotten a chance to see Benavides in action, Nashville Manager Pete Mackanin says the young Texan "has the potential to be a very good shortstop." Benavides, however, knows that he must continue to improve his hitting to make it to the big leagues. Tve got to hit consistently. It's easy to say, not easy to da" B v-;sw

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