Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut on July 18, 1984 · 54
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Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut · 54

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Hartford, Connecticut
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Wednesday, July 18, 1984
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54
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light-Fingered Thief Leaves Torrington Park in the Dark OWEN CANFIELD TORRINGTON Last winter at Fuessenich Park, a thief with a mean streak as wide as the home team's dugout crept in at nighttime and stole or smashed 23 new light bulbs valued at 75 each. The theft and damage was discovered in early spring. You can't call the culprit a cat burglar. No cat in his right mind, even if it knew it had nine lives, would clamber up three swaying, 90-foot-high light poles in the dead of winter to steal something he couldn't sell. City officials and police feel there can be only one motive for the act: vandalism. Torrington takes pride in its athletic programs, which are many and varied and depend heavily on the main ballpark and its lighting system for Park Department and school sports, as well as civic functions. Fuessenich Park is the very soul of sports activity here. "This really set our programs back," said Mike Conway, the city's young mayor. Now the town is racing clock and calendar to repair the lights by July 28 when the annual Pageant of Drums will bring dozens of drum corps to town. The usual turnout of 8,000 to 10,000 people is expected. ' This bit of cracked pottery belongs at the top of anybody's list of hairbrained things to do on a winter's night. If the creep fancies him A SPEiflEl3 LOOK TANK SF&IMAILt ... N 'AUP GGOfGlA WERE OM Ti4E SAME 6IPE IM TriESUlTAGAlKJSr TUE JOCAA WMlOJ FREED IMCWiPUAL COLLEGES fO SELL TV KIGHT& .TO ALLThEIk GAMES... MINUS 18 MILLION .Ratings for Sunday night's USFL championship game between the Philadelphia Stars and Arizona Wranglers on ABC-TV were off 18.5 percent from last year's prime time title game, the network announced Tuesday. The game achieved a rating of 9.7, compared to 11.9 last year, a difference of 18 million viewers. ' . The drop, according to network spokeswoman Cathy Rehl, had a lot to do with the fact that the game wasn't nearly as exciting as last year's championship contest. The Stars manhandled the Wranglers, 23-3, Sunday at Tampa, Fla. In the 1983 title game in Denver, the Michigan Panthers rallied at the end to defeat the Stars, 24-22. OFFICIAL OPINION LAS VEGAS r A majority of members of the National Association of Sports Officials said in a survey that coaches are the greatest obstacle to good sportsmanship in athletics. Of the 250(members attending the group's convention in Las Vegas, 60 percent of those responding said coaches' negative influence outweighs that of parents and fans. And 50 percent said they were disturbed by the actions of coaches and others on the bench during a game. ' "Most of our members feel that the bad example set by some coaches has a disruptive effect on . participants in many sports," Barry Mano, executive director of ' NASO, said in a release. "Coaches can also be a strong force for good sportsmanship if they set a good example for their athletes." On the other hand, officials who have worked both men's and women's competition said by a 3-1 margin that women show better sportsmanship during a game. Of those surveyed, 90 percent said that fans had little or no understanding of the roles of officials. The media came in for similar criticism from 79 percent. In other findings: 54 percent said athletes should be role models. 79 percent said drugs should not be allowed for the purpose of increasing body weight or strength, although only 47 percent called for pre-game testing. 55 percent consider professional sports a mixture of entertainment and competition. The survey was conducted over a 10-hour period with the assistance of four micro-computers, en IV 4 . v; spot d self a big-league daredevil, he'd be better off to hire on at the circus as a human cannonball or high-wire a tap dancer. At least he'd get some recognition. The way it is, he can't go boasting in bars and he'd better be careful that he doesn't talk in his sleep, or he could wind up in the slammer. He's stuck with $1,725 worth of high-powered lightbulbs that he doesn't dare try to unload and probably wouldn't be able to find a buyer for anyway. Vandals are mean-spirited and vindictive, but whoever did this night's work was also one of the world's luckiest creatures. He had to be. Mike Lynch of Thomaston, a cable splicer by trade, is the official pole climber for the private contractor that services the lights at Fuessenich Park. He's a former paratrooper who lost an eye when he "caught a round in the face" in Vietnam. He still is astonished because he knows what it's like to stand atop the stanchions and work on the field lights. "The first thing , I said when I heard about it was, 'I want to meet this guy,' " he said. "I've jumped from airplanes and done a lot of mountaineering, but the first time I went up those lightpoles was the first time in my life I was actually afraid. You know those poles aren't going to go anywhere, but they sway so much, even in the slightest breeze, that when you're up there it feels like they're going to go over. "The first time, I came back down as fast as I could scramble, and walked around, and had a couple of cigarettes, and when I went back up, I had to keep repeating, 'The hell with it, the hell with it,' over and over. It wasn't until late afternoon I finally got over it. by abling convention delegates to study their collective responses during their meeting. BORG OUSTED STUTTGART, West Germany Henri Leconte of France eliminated Sweden's Bjorn Borg, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round of a 1100,000 Grand Prix tennis tournament. Borg, 28, who is scheduled to play an exhibition against John McEnroe Sept. 12, came out of retirement to play the match, but was unable to show the form that made him a five-time Wimbledon champion. Leconte, seeded seventh, took only 50 minutes to crush Borg. The two last met in Monte Carlo on March 31, 1983, when Leconte defeated Borg, 6-4, 5-7, 6-7. The Swede, winner of 62 Grand Prix tournaments during his career, went into retirement the following month, though he had announced the decision in January 1983. Also on Tuesday, Spain's Jose Higueras beat Alvaro Fillol of Chile 6-4, 7-6, Givaldo Barbosa of Brazil beat West German Rue-diger Benz 6-3, 7-6, Sergio Casal of Spain eliminated Wojtek Fibak of Poland 6-3, 6-1 and Lloyd Bourne of the United States beat fellow American Butch Walts 7-6, 6-1. THREE BAD BREAKS NEW YORK A spokesman for Top Rank Inc, confirmed that three-time world champion Wilfred Benitez broke his ankle in three places in his second-round knockout loss to Davey Moore Saturday night at Monte Carlo. This announcement came one day after the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission required the former three-time champion to undergo "an exhaustive" battery of medical tests to determine his physical and mental condition after recent poor showings in the ring. LITTLE MAC LOSES BROOKLINE, Mass. Stung by a controversial call, Patrick McEnroe, John's brother, failed in his upset bid. Moments earlier, local favorite Mike Leach sprang the biggest upset of the $200,000 U.S. Pro Tennis Championships when $ ( GOT MOW THEY'RE Iv suiue each ori-iGP.y "The bulbs are held in there by four screws, very easy to remove. But, the way this guy did it, he had to lean over the railing up there and smash the Teflon coverings and take them out that way. You gotta be crazy."." . , Conway, is disgusted, angry and frustrated. - "If the motive was theft, well, that's a terrific risk to take for something you can't sell. If it was vandalism, it's pure stupidity and terribly senseless. The guy chose the three poles in left field, where he would be least likely to be seen. And we're assuming it was done at night. What if he had fallen?" he wondered. "The thief was either a pro or a crazy man. Ironically, we had just upgraded the lights. They used to have a yellow cast, but the new bulbs were just dynamite. They turned the park to day. It's costing us five or six thousand dollars to get them right again. We've got to take down the whole bank of lights from each of the three poles and send them to North Carolina for repairs." Conway believes his town is among the best in Connecticut when it comes to sports and recreation. Fuessenich Park is arguably one of the best. "We've been known for sports in our park and rec programs and our school systems," he said. "People have asked what we're going to do about the lights. Well, we're going to fix them, of course, and go on. When somebody breaks a window in a school, you fix it, you don't close the school. "But we've also taken the position that when somebody is caught intentionally destroying city property, they're going to be punished." The bulb thief hasn't been caught. His luck is holding. Jeff Millar & Bill Hinds BOTLI 1LIESOONGRC,AMP ' T(4E 0UUJXCB WAWT TO CHANJGG TME TEAM NAM TO THE "GPEEPMEAPS. he defeated seventh-seed Diego Perez. McEnroe, 18, the second-ranked junior player in the nation, gave Francisco Gonzalez all he could handle before losing to the 28-year-old Paraguayan, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, 6-4, in a first-round match between unseeded foes. AROUND & ABOUT Marc Goldberg, sports anchor of Channel 3's "Eyewitness News Daybreak" telecast, is leaving the Hartford station at the end of this month for a job as weekend sports anchor at WTVJ, Ch. 4, in Miami. ...Veteran Green Bay Packer place kicker Jan Stenerud said he may retire after the Packers traded him to the Minnesota Vikings . for an undisclosed draft choice. ... The Washington Redskins are expected to release details of a two-year extension of quarterback Joe Theismann's contract, expected to be in the neighborhood of $1 million a year. .'. . The NBA champion Boston Celtics announced the hiring of Ed Badger as head scout., ... Second-year New England Patriots defensive end Smiley Creswell tore a ligament inside his left knee in a morning practice drill in pre-season camp and will undergo surgery Friday. . . . A Monterey (Calif.) County Superior Court judge turned down Oakland's eminent domain claim to the ownership of the Raiders NFL franchise because the city conspired with the league to prevent the team's move to Los Angeles. . . . Stu Crum, a place kicker on the reserve list of the New York Jets, has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a future undisclosed draft choice. . . . The Athletics Congress announced that drug 'testing for all members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic track and field team a day earlier turned up negative. ... Former Florida State University lineman Eric Ryan has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. QUOTABLE Astros' Enos Cabell on the 13-3 pounding his team took from the New York Mets Monday night: "They hit the bad ones good and the good ones better. We were so tired from chasing their hits that we couldn't bat" Compiled by Frank Mastrandrea nnniP won? 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