Courier-Post from Camden, New Jersey on July 28, 1989 · Page 46
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Courier-Post from Camden, New Jersey · Page 46

Camden, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Friday, July 28, 1989
Page 46
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Cuunnn-ruj i , r nuay, JUiy B, 1 83 FOCUS 0E1: Billy Thompson Former Camden, Louisville star a story of unfulfilled potential Tllfit Itefpn t-A tha Hoot kraoo a rrv.m I Srs , "'14. I J ftVMf , f Hf :. - ; By SCOTT KORZENOWSKI Gannett News Service . NAPLES, Fla. Billy Thompson strolled into the ballroom, looking for all the world like the superstar he was one day supposed to become. A shiny pair of wire rims gave him the distinguished look of a Dr. J. A perfectly tailored $2,000 suit gave him the GQ look of a Magic Johnson. And a tall almost imperial presence gave him the appearance of a multi-million-dollar NBA conglomerate. But in reality, the Billy Thompson that walked into the ballroom of the Registry Hotel here was none of those things. When he was a senior at Camden High School, he was the most highly recruited high school basketball player in 1982, a sleek and smooth forward tabbed for the game's pinnacle. Yet today, the former Louisville star appears headed only toward the bench, and not just any bench, but the bench of the Miami Heat. The Heat recently drafted Glen Rice, another sleek smoothy who appears ready to fulfill his destiny. and tearing much of the cartilage. He hasn't been the same since. He sat out most of the 1987-88 season, and spent much of last year readjusting to the game. "I had to work on building my strength back up," Thompson said. That's mental as well as physical strength. Physically, he had trouble moving laterally. Mentally, he had trouble convincing himself that he could create offense. The result was an up and down season that originally found Thompson in the doghouse and now finds him, perhaps, on the way out. Thompson won't admit this. He points to a two-year contract he signed a year ago. He points to his experience and willingness to meet this most recent and most threatening of challenges head on. "I know that it's going to take some hard work," he said. "He plays my position, so I'll have to turn it up a notch or two. "I feel I'm going to be starting. He has to come in and earn it." The Heat, a team that has made a policy of building almost exclusively through the draft, took a chance on Thompson only because it thought he might recover enough to return to the form he often showed at Louisville. Still young enough at 25, he figured to be the type of player Miami could build around but only if he could develop and develop quickly. By now it's apparent that isn't going to happen. Hence, the Heat is pretty much forced to look elsewhere. And that elsewhere, undoubtedly, is Rice. So where does that leave Thompson? Fighting, as so many other fallen hopefuls have before him, for a table scrap. Maybe he can score a few points here and there. Maybe he can even hang on for a few years. It may not be the kind of ending Thompson envisioned for himself only a few short years ago, but it seems the only option remaining. For Thompson, potential greatness once seemed vast. But now that Glen Rice stands fully in the way, his potential is likely to remain unfulfilled. enthralled with its newest millionaire-to-be. Coach Ron Rothstein: "Now we have a player the defense can never forget about." ( General Partner Billy Cunningham: "One of the best shooters I have ever seen." None of that, of course, bodes well for Thompson. Claimed by the Heat from the Los Angeles Lakers in the expansion draft a year ago, he was given every opportunity to establish himself as the team's foremost scorer. That he ended up with only 58 starts and a scoring average of just 10.8 points, pretty much indicates he didn't take advantage of that opportunity. Not that it was entirely his fault. Remember, his knee cap all but exploded during the 1987 playoffs. The Lakers were playing against Denver, and Thompson was flying through the air en route to a fast-break-finishing slam dunk. Unfortunately, Denver's Maurice Martin terminated the flight. The 6-foot-7 Thompson came crashing down on his left leg, cracking the patella BILLY THOMPSON . career fading '.. : ' "TBStSS si5?; ., -"- www v1 Carlton set to join Ashburn, Roberts m ,T tl . - ;M f Minnesota, he relaxed his policy. But he still refuses most requests. "I don't like to drag out the skeletons," he said, avoiding specifics of why he stopped talking. -t - ; When he walks to the mound tomorrow night with his wife apd sons Scott, 20, and Stevent 22," lie said he will have no flashbacks..--not about the 27-10 season of '72, the 241 victories with the Phillies or all the other records. - ; - "I'll think about the game in general," he said. , 4. "It was a science. I loved every place I pitched, every time I got the ball. There was nothing I didn't like about what I was doing. It's the only way you succeed at a high level to throw yourself totally into something. It's sort of a Zen mentality. "As soon as I had won or lost a game, I forgot about it. I was on to my next thing. I blocked out mile stones. Yes, winning No. 300 was important because it was an obstacle. I wanted to get to it so I could put it behind. I wanted to go .fun ther." ,:, Only eight pitchers have won more games than Carlton; and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn is the only left-hander with more victories (363). Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher to have struck out more batters than Carlton's 4,136. Continued from Page 1C "You mean if the world's still here? Oh, yeah. But I think we have to change some things environmentally if we're going to be around in 1994. We're killing our planet and it's sad. Very sad." During most of his years in Philadelphia, Carlton refused to grant interviews. He had adversarial relationships with certain reporters, but once he made his decision to stop talking completely, he was consistent. After being released by the Phils on June 24, 1986, during stops at San Francisco, the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland and Federal judge postpones trial for Rose housemate CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal judge yesterday agreed to postpone for nearly a month the start of trial on drug and tax charges for Thomas Gioiosa, a former housemate of Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose. U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel issued the order to give Gioiosa's new lawyers time to prepare for trial, said Marianne Kuhn, an aide in Spiegel's chambers. Gioiosa's trial was to have started today, but now is postponed until Aug. 24 in Spiegel's Cincinnati courtroom. Earlier, Spiegel had denied Gioiosa's request to have the trial moved out of Cincinnati. Gioiosa, 31, of New Bedford, Mass., wanted the trial shifted to Massachusetts. But Spiegel wrote in an order filed yesterday: "Without a greater showing of inconvenience to the parties, we see no reason to transfer this matter to Massachusetts." Gioiosa, a former associate of Rose who lived in Rose's suburban Cincinnati home, was indicted in April on federal charges alleging that he participated in smuggling cocaine from south Florida to the Cincinnati area and that he evaded federal income taxes by not reporting his income from the alleged drug trafficking. Gioiosa has pleaded innocent. , 4 - ? - A " i 1 rgrM Courier-Post photo by Chris Eld On the dotted line: Phillies pitcher Terry Mulholland signs an Philadelphia Chapter of ALS, better known as Lou Gehria's Dis. autograph at the Phillies Wives' charity to benefit the Greater ease, last night at Veterans Stadium. 9 Flood opened gates for big bucks Phillies complete deal ' NEW YORK - Minor league' pitcher Tom Edens became the Phillies' player-to-be-named-later Wednesday night when he was obtained from the New York Mets, completing the deal that sent Juan Samuel to New York. Samuel was acquired by the Mets on June 18 for outfielder Len Dykstra and reliever Roger McDowell. - Edens, a right-hander, was 1-5 with a 5.26 earned-run average for Class AAA Tidewater of the International League. . ; He will join the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Red Barons of the same league this weekend, the Phillies said. Commentary By MIKE RAPPAPORT Gannett News Service ' Some people drift through their existence, spectators in their own Jives. , Others take charge and sometimes manage to change the world in the process. It might be difficult for anyone under the age of 30 to remember, but athletes weren't always paid the kings' ransoms they earn now. Jim Bouton won 21 games for the New York Yankees in 1963 and then had to fight for a $20,000 salary for the next season. He lost the battle. Of course, all that was before Curt Flood decided he wanted , some say as to where he played. ' He was a multitalented outfielder for the great St. Louis teams of the 1960s. The Cardinals won pennants in 1964, 1967 and 1968 and the World Series in '64 and '68. ' Flood was something special. He was the premier defensive center fielder of his time six Gold Gloves and he had a .293 lifetime average when St. Louis made him part of a trade to get slugger Richie Allen from the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1969 season. W.C. Fields to the contrary, he decided that on the whole he'd rather not be in Philadelphia. He refused to report. No one Flood included could have imagined the effect that refusal would have on the history of sports in America. Uptil that point, the team owners truly owned the players. Athletes were bound to the franchise that originally drafted or signed them by the reserve clause, and they became free only if the team released them. Players were bought and sold like, well, like slaves had been only a century before. "I remember one thing really funny about that," Flood said. "In 1968, the Cardinals were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That was a team that had Lou Brock, Roger Maris, Orlando Cepeda, Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, Julian Javier, Tim McCarver and Red Schoendienst. "They ran a team picture, and they called us the highest-paid team in sports history. The sum of the salaries of the top 10 players on that team was $680,000." Are you listening, Orel jenny taught to be happy with whatever we got. I firmly believe that if someone is paying Orel Hershiser $7 (million) or $8 million, then someone is making money off Orel Hershiser." If Orel Hershiser is smart, he remembers Flood in his prayers every night. So do all the members of baseball's millionaire generation. A guy who never got rich playing ball enriched thousands of ballplayers who followed him. You know what they call players who make $90,000 a year now? Retired. "I've never regretted anything that happened," Flood said. "I didn't set out to sacrifice my career, but . . ." He smiled. Then he spoke of his nephew, Marcel Johnson, who recently was drafted by the New York Mets. "I'll get to see Marcel make a lot of money," Flood said. "A lot of people will make a lot of monev. Ideally, the ballplayers should make a lot, the owners should make a lot and the fans should get to see great baseball. "That's what I wish for baseball. Baseball should always be sunshine and fresh air and fine fans." No bitterness. No regrets. After all, there aren't many people lucky enough actually to see the effect they had on history. Curt Flood, now the commissioner of the new Seniors Baseball League that is scheduled to start play in Florida later this year, sees it every day. The average major league baseball player in 1989 makes nearly half a million dollars a year. In Flood's day, only the very best made $100,000. Curt Flood didn't envision million dollar salaries. He just knew he'd be better off if he could negotiate with more than one team. He filed suit against baseball's reserve clause, which was overturned by arbitration in 1976. Salaries have been climbing ever since. How did all that benefit Flood? It didn't. His career was all but over when he refused to report to the Phillies. He sat out the 1970 season and was traded to Washington for three nobodies the next winter. The Senators in their last season before moving to Texas signed Flood to a $90,000 contract, but he lasted only 13 games before realizing it was over. He hit just .200 in 35 at-bats and decided to quit. "Ted Williams was our manager," Flood said, laughing. "Old Ted thought everybody could hit .400, but we fooled Ted. He'd get mad at us. He'd say we weren't hitting because we weren't trying, but not everyone had Ted's eyes, or his reflexes, or his body." Williams was a great hitter, arguably the best ever to play the game. He didn't affect baseball as much as Flood did, though. Curt Flood changed the game. "We were from the school where we were taught there was no money in baseball," he said. "We were "Dvkstr Cooper's drug use costs him $1 ,500 Get a full color poster of the Phillies centerfielder Sunday in the Courier-Post. Get the action and excitement of your favorite sports stars and ; entertainment celebrities in full-color ' : posters every Sunday in the comic section of the Courier-Post. Each week a different star. Collect them all! Boxing USUNDAYiJi JULY 30 6 PM k commission voted unanimously to approve a settlement announced after closed -door talks between his i;c:KiDpo&;, hM lawyer ana the state Attorney uen- L . PHOENIX (AP) - Heavyweight boxer Bert Cooper agreed yesterday to forego $1,500 of a $17,500 purse and to undergo drug tests for six months at his own expense. Cooper, 21-5, could have had his license revoked and have lost the entire purse. The Philadelphia-based fighter had tested positive for cocaine or other drugs after failing to come out for the third round in a scheduled 10-round fight against 609-4G7-4407 JONES AUTO BODY NIGHT With Team Valvoline "SAY NO TO DRUGS" MODIFIED- SPORTSMAN STREET STOCKS "Oval Dirt Track Racing At It's Vary Bast" 13 Eventa In Ona Night eral's office. Cooper, a former North American Boxing Federation cruiser-weight champion, denied that he had taken illegal drugs and thanked the commissioners for agreeing to a settleent that does not say he did. ' (M Ti George foreman oo June 1. Members of tj state boxing

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