Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on August 20, 1980 · Page 42
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 42

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Wednesday, August 20, 1980
Page 42
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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1980 the scoreboard For the complete sports rundown. Page 4. SPORTS PEOPLE HORSE RACING 00 11-13 I Li DETROIT FREE PRESS ENTERTAINMENT COMICS nicarda's job in danger: Lion kicker Benny Ricardo, who has been a holdout since early in training camp, may have already lost his position to rookie Ed Murray. Details are on page 3D. BED Tigers' Gibson decides to face knife By BRIAN BRAGG Free Press Sports Writer Tiger outfielder Kirk Gibson has agreed, as expected, to undergo surgery on his injured left wrist. Even if successful, the operation will keep him out of action well into the 1981 season. Gibson will go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Wednesday for surgery Friday by orthopedist Dr. James Dobyns, one of the country's foremost experts on the human wrist. The Tigers' orthopedics consultant, Dr. Robert Teitge, who will be in charge of Gibson's rehabilitation program, will also be present. After the surgery to repair torn cartilage, Gibson's left arm will be placed in a cast to immobilize the Outfielder's future remains in doubt repaired area for three months. Then a splint will be placed on the wrist probably for another three months. After the splint is removed, Gibson faces a gradual rehabilitation period to strengthen the arm and regain mobility. A knowledgeable source said Tuesday that this period, which would include throwing baseballs and swinging the bat, could be months. . GIBSON FIRST HURT the wrist June 7 in Milwaukee when he fouled a pitch off the end of his bat, apparently causing the wrist to twist unnaturally. He returned to action sporadically for a few days, but on June 18 he was officially placed on the disabled list. The injured wrist was immobilized in a cast for several weeks, but it was reinjured when Gibson began taking batting practice again early this month. If the surgery is successful and Gibson encounters no further problems, the outfielder might be ready to play again next June, the source said. Doctors still warn, though, that there is no way to predict the eventual success of the operation. Dobyns confirmed the cartilage tear in tests last week, but the surgeon won't know the actual extent of tissue damage until he opens the wrist to visual inspection. "I don't think there's any point in speculating on how this will affect Gibson's baseball career," said one doctor who has been involved in the extensive consultations about the case. "There's no way to know. Whether or not there are arthritic changes is going to make a difference, and no X-ray or arthroscope can show that." Gibson's college football career at Michigan State has led to speculation that he might turn to pro football if the surgery and rehabilitation fail. I ' J' See GIBSON, Page 7D Kirk Gibson rW George J I za llPiiscas Gibson's still big and fleet and gridiron still calls Hey there, Kirk Gibson. Wake up, it's not too late for you, kid. There's room on almost any team and guys are anxious and waiting for you in pro football. Ironic isn't it? that the Michigan State All-America football flanker of 1978 turned to baseball because it was "safer," and now finds his future dark-clouded by a freak wrist injury. He will have innovative surgery Friday, but medics at Mayo Clinic guarantee nothing except that Gibson will miss at least part of the 1981 season. Actually, it means more than that. Even if all goes well, he still has a long wait before returning to the Tiger lineup still not having proved he can hit major league pitching. A talented young guy with multiple skills ought to think about that. I think about it a lot because I always figured Kirk Gibson made a mistake anyway when he chcse baseball over football. He had the certain makings of superstardom in football, and limited, unproven skills in baseball. Others agree. "We'd love to have him," says Russ Thomas, general manager of the Lions. When Jim Campbell hears that, he will scream bloody murder at his old Ohio State classmate. "I haven't talked to Campbell about Gibson recently," says Thomas, "but I used to tease him when Kirk was trying to decide between baseball or football. "When he finally signed with the Tigers, I told Campbell, 'If the kid can't hit a curve, let me know." JJe's still unproven at plate Campbell never let him know. It has yet to be proved whether Gibson can hit a curve or anything .consistently enough to play in the major leagues. The Tigers installed him in center field last spring, as you must know, to mask the shame of their Ron LeFlore trade. Gibson had been drafted by the football St. Louis Cardinals in the spring of 1979, even though the Tigers already had signed him for baseball. Kirk reasoned life is safer, careers longer, in a game where blisters supposedly are the major danger. "The Cardinals had not done their homework," says Thomas. D T. "we knew tnere was no way Russ Thomas . . . . . . . for him to escape his baseball contract, so the Lions didn't draft him." No team bothered to draft Gibson for football last spring either, and now, says Thomas, Kirk is able to sign with any NFL team, if he wants. He would have to be a bit devious to escape his baseball commitment, like refusing surgery and remaining an invalid. The same injury, though, would not particularly handicap him in football. Anybody could use him. Talk about dream pass receivers, Kirk Gibson is one who juices the imagination. Doggone, he just didn't seem to know how great he could be on the professional gridiron. He is far bigger and as fast as any of the flying snatchers of today or any other day. He's 4.5 seconds for the 40-yard sprint, which is incredible for a 230-pounder. When he runs he makes noise, swoosh! . .'. the same sort of sound you make when you cut the air with a golf swing. That's really moving. ' "He has been out of football for two seasons now," says Thomas. "Normally it would be tough for a player to come back with that long a layoff. But because of the position he plays, it wouldn't be difficult." Hf:i:fiSiK&i:3 Final choice is his alon e Gibson watched the Lions whip the Buffalo Bills, 24-17; at the Silverdome Saturday night. He still loves the game and has all anyone needs to play it except, apparently, the willingness to assume its risk. In the final measure, of course, the choice is his alone. But maybe it will give him comfort to know there are people in two games who still want him. You wish him luck, whatever .... There is, finally, one more bit on the Bubba Baker walkout on the Lions. It turns out the giant defensive end has bargained for three different contract agreements, and now insists on his fourth in three years. Russ Thomas now says Bubba had an original two-year contract, signed last summer for a two-year extension through 1982, then last May 9 sought and was granted still another extension through 1983. Now Bubba wants to start all over. How does that line go . . . "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on ... " Good grief, Bubba! ft-- i v m 4S AP Pnoio Aussics ride wind to victory The yacht Australia (right) enjoys a perfect sailing day and a formidable lead over the Swedish entry. Sverige, Monday in semifinal trials to choose a challenger for the America's Cup on Rhode Island Sound. On Tuesday, the French yacht took its third victory over the British 1 2-meter Lionheart in their best-of-seven series. Story on page 6D. Ironic twist Kirk wasn't hurt as gridder By BILL McGRAW Free Press Sports Writer All-American Kirk Gibson, who caught 112 passes in four full seasons as a Michigan State wide receiver, missed only two football games because of one slight injury. "It was kind of a joke with Mr. (Jim) Campbell," recalled Gibson's mother, Barbara, in a reference to the Tigers' general manager. "He said, 'You ought to play base ball, its a safer game.' "Some joke," she added. Gibson, the Tigers' rookie center-fielder, will undergo surgery Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., that will require several months of rehabilitation and will force him to miss at least part of next season. But Mrs. Gibson said her son has no plans to switch to a pro football career. "He wants to give (baseball) his best shot," she said. THE IRONY of her 23-year-old son's injury in a semi-contact sport was not lost on Mrs. Gibson Tuesday. She laughed, and said Kirk was "apprehensive, but positive" about the surgery. Gibson could not be reached for comment. "He never had any injuries," Mrs. Gibson said. "Plus, you see, in football, you play over a lot of that stuff. That's why it's bothering him, not being able to play over this." A check of medical files at Michigan State showed Gibson sprained his left ankle after catching a first-quarter pass against Indiana in 1977. He sat out the next two games, and that was the extent of his injuries while at State. "Oh, he had any number of smallish stuff in practice or whatever," a MSU spokesman Kirk Gibson's mother says "He wants to give (baseball) his best shot." "Gibby was a tough, durable athlete. It's unusual for someone to play that much and be hurt so little." said. "Finger, hand, toe, shoulder, back, cramps. But Gibby was a tough, durable athlete. It's unusual for someone to play that much and be hurt so little. He was one of our most prolific pass catchers." Mrs. Gibson also recalled a broken nose Kirk suffered while playing football. "That was a funny story, too," she said. The nose healed when it was smashed again during the game. "He broke it and figured he would get it set at halftime," she said. "He was all primed and ready to go through all this pain. But when the doctor looked at it, he said, 'Well, you must have gotten it hit again because it's realigned.' " GIBSON'S MOST recent baseball injury report was received with interest around the NFL. "I read about it on the UPI wire," Cardinals' vice-president Joe Sullivan said Tuesday. Sullivan drafted Gibson in the seventh round in 1979 and then watched the 6-foot-321 5-pound speedster become a football free-agent this spring because he hadn't signed. "I'm still interested, you're always interested in a good player," he said. "But I feel badly about it. He's a tough son-of-a buck. If it can be done, he'll pull through." Mrs. Gibson said Kirk will return to campus this fall to pursue his degree in physical education at MSU. He has about one year to go, she said. He is also interested in speech, with an eye toward a broadcasting career, she added. "It will keep him occupied," she said, "because the exciting time in East Lansing is when football is going on." 79 CHAMP KH'KS WARWICK HILLS Fought hopes to beat 2d-year slump in Buick By JACK SAYLOR Free Press Sports Writer GRAND BLANC The nomads who follow the sun with the PGA tour began dropping in on Warwick Hills Tuesday to tune up their games for a $250,000 payday this week. Some, like Miller Barber and ex-champion Dave Hill, hadn't seen the place in a long time. Others, like Tom Kite and Bobby Clampett, have never been here before. Another, John Fought, was here just last fall and, oh, boy, is he glad to be back! Fought (rhymes with vote) casts a ballot for Warwick Hills as just about the greatest golf course west of St. Andrew's. And why not? The husky product of Portland, Ore., another in the long line of Brigham Young University shotmakers, came in here as a 25-year-old rookie and won the 1979 Buick-Goodwrench, after a two-hole playoff with Jim Simons. HE ENJOYED it so much he went out to Napa, Calif., the very next week and won another tournament. He banked $ 1 08,427 as a rookie and, wow, what a cupcake! This is easy, a snap, what a life! Ooops. Slips. Fought is now a 26-year-old sophomore. He is a distant 70th mm f " I '"'sNisMi Tom Weiskopf. the 1968 Buick Open winner, is one of five former champs entered in this year's tournament at Warwick Hills, which begins Thursday. on the PGA money list ($44,000, which will just about handle the travel nut) and no wins. "I guess you can call it a sophomore jinx," Fought smiled as he arrived Tuesday afternoon from a Monday pro-am in St. Louis after missing the cut at Westchester. "My problem is and continues to be patience," said the long-hitting six-foot, 190-pounder. "I'm always trying so hard to win or come close I put too much pressure on myself. "I've had some good chances to win the Memorial, Hartford and other places but I shot some bad last rounds. If I hadn't done that, I might have won one by now." FOUGHT WILL find winning a little tougher in this year's BGO. The field is the finest at Warwick since the original Buick Open series ended in 1969. He is only one of five former champions entered. The others are Phil Rodgers ('66), Tom Weiskopf ('68), Hill ('69) and Bobby Cole ('77). Among others in the 156-man field are a passel of former U.S. Open, Masters or PGA champions such as George Archer, Orville Moody, Andy North and Bobby Nichols. Besides Barber and Kite, there are solid campaigners like Rex Caldwell, Tom Purtzer, Bill Kratzert, Ed Sneed, ex-Pine Knobber Tom Shaw, Howard Twitty, Kermit Zarley and Larry Ziegler. But Fought will be in a better frame of mind at Warwick than he has been lately. "I'm really playing pretty good," he said. "Westchester is not one of my favorite golf courses or tournaments, but this is a great course. The BGO opens Wednesday with a pro-am, featuring 50 pros and a diverse collection of amateurs. COACH KiNTKKS 35ih SKASON Plainwell fancies another big year While high school football teams prepare for the fall season, Free Press sports writer Hal Schram is previewing a few dozen Michigan squads. PLAINWELL, Mich. - Perhaps in some future year Jack Streidl won't be ready to answer the football practice bell at Plainwell High, but he told us just Tuesday: "I'm ready for my 35th season here." Streidl, 62, the dean of Michigan high school football coaches, complained of a "poor" season in 1979. "We won only five of nine games. It was my worst season here in 20 years," Streidl said. Football is a way of life in Plainwell, 10 miles north of Kalamazoo. Long ago the field was named after the old coach it's now Streidl Field. In addition to 47 varsity players and 45 junior vartisy players, Streidl had 60 freshmen report to camp this fall. Enthusiasm continues to run high. "Everybody wants to put on the pads and start hitting," says Streidl. Plain-well is a member of the. Wolverine Conference and at one stretch back in the '60s won five titles in a row. There are 24 seniors and 23 juniors on this varsity squad, and Streidl says he'll have a platooned team with about 40 players getting into each game. "I've got an excellent captain this season in Mike Olexia, a nose man on defense and tackle on offense. The quarterback job is really up for grabs with Ron Tran, Aaron Zassau and Steve Buis all having a shot at the position." Streidl says his team has the perfect schedule. "We wind up at home with such traditional rivals as Kalamazoo Hackett and Otsego. If the weatherman is good to us we should have crowds of 5,000 or so for both games." GRAND BLANC A season ago Grand Blanc High featured the state's No. 1 schoolboy quarterback in Steve Smith, now a freshman at the University of Michigan. Smith led the Bobcats to a Big '9' Conference title and a 9-1 season by passing for 26 touchdowns and scoring See STATE BEAT, Page 2D flic state beat ,Caro Grand Blanc Plainwell Free Press Mao bv DOMINIC TRUPIANO

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