Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on July 27, 1980 · Page 15
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 15

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 27, 1980
Page 15
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Today's television highlights: CBS 3:00 p.m. Sports Spectacular: Powerlifting . CBS 4:00 p.m. Golf: Greater Hartford Open NBC 4:00 p.m. Boxing: O'Grady vs. Montellano WXYZ 5:00 p.m. Senior Olympics Sunday, luly 27, 1980 SPORTS PEOPLE 2 rN BASEBALL AVERAGES 8 I O ) HORSE RACING LJ DETROIT FREE PRESS OUTDOORS the scoreboard Complete sports rundown. Page 4. mm OOP too white? Blacks shun summer game; the question is why Tigers In the stories on blacks and baseball, Free Press staff writer Joe Lapointe was assisted by researcher and freelance writer Ted Talbert. This is the first of a series. Jim aivliins John Hiller Hiller's anonymous now, and he loves every minute DULUTH, Minn. A couple of weeks worth of black whiskers sprouted from both cheeks and his chin. His feet were bare. Of course, he was wearing blue jeans. Oh boy, I thought to myself, if Sparky Anderson could only see John Hiller now. In the front yard, a small stream slowly trickled beneath a rickety wooden foot bridge. Out back, in the garden, his corn and peas and beets and pumpkins were dutifully maturing. For the first time since 1962, when he signed his first professional contract with the Tigers, John Hiller is enjoying a summer vacation. "Of course, I miss baseball," he readily admitted when I stopped by to visit, "but I'm enjoying the heck out of what I'm doing. Seeing how much fun my kids are having, and how much happier my wife is, I know I made the right decision." Now it's his kid's turn For the first time, the Tigers' long-time lefthanded relief ace is able to watch his 1 1-year-old son, Joey, play Little League baseball. "He was never able to play before," explained Hiller, who stunned his teammates and his family with his decision to retire May 30. "We were always moving from Duluth to Detroit back to Duluth in the summer." On weekendsv while his former teammates are living it up in some of the finest hotels in the country, the greatest reliever the Tigers have ever employed retreats to his cabin in the woods. To discourage guests from dropping in, the cabin comes complete with an outhouse. Drinking water is obtained directly from the lake. For the first time since he bought the place three years ago, Hiller is able to swim in the lake. "In the past there was always snow on the ground when I left for spring training," he sighed. "And the leaves would be off the trees when I'd get back home in the fall." Later this summer, he plans to spend a couple of weeks driving leisurely around Lake Superior. Eventually, he hopes to open a Little Caesar's pizza franchise in Duluth. "But," he confessed with a sheepish grin, "my mind's not running in that vein yet." Of course, it helps to know the Tigers generously gave him all but $16,000 of his $160,000 salary before he departed. ' Hiller purposely maintains a low profile. Many of his neighbors are not even aware he is a former big league star. Most of his buddies are blue collar workers. Few are baseball fans. "I don't want people saying, 'There goes Hiller, the big shot,' " he explained. 1 He keeps his plaques and trophies and pictures well-hidden in a hot, cluttered room on the third floor of the house. Only his baseball cards, each encased in a small frame, remain downstairs to remind visitors of the fact that John Hiller, the high school dropout from Toronto, spent all or part of 15 seasons in the big leagues. He's in leftfield now At the urging of friends, he joined a slow-pitch softball team shortly after he retired. He became the leftfielder for the Medical Arts Pharmacy nine. In his second game, he cracked a bone in his wrist, striking out. "They wanted me to wear a uniform," said Hiller. "But I wouldn't put one on. I couldn't. I put one on too many years for work." He thought about driving to Minneapolis when the Tigers performed there last month, but decided against it. "I decided I probably couldn't handle it," he confessed. However, he remains a Tiger at heart. He has watched a couple of games on cable TV and occasionally he is able to pick up WJR on the radio and listen to Ernie Harwell at night. He would like nothing better than to be invited to return to Lakeland each spring to work for a few weeks with Sparky's pitchers. "How's Wilcox?" he wanted to know. "How's Lopey? "How's Petry? "How's Bird? "I still feel like I'm a part of them," said Hiller. "I always will. I'll always say 'We did this,' and 'We did that.' "I miss the guys," he admitted. "I miss the fun. I miss the heck out of that. I'll miss it forever." "Notice how the team got hot as soon as I quit? Tell Sparky I'll be glad to come back and retire again next ear if he think,jt will help." By JOE LAPOINTE Free Press Sports Writer Sitting behind his imposing desk in the front office of Tiger Stadium on a recent afternoon, Detroit Tigers' president and general manager Jim Campbell responded to the statement that some Detroiters think his team is racist. "There isn't a prejudiced bone in my body or any of the guys who work here," he replied defiantly. "I don't even want to get involved with it. I proved my point about black players. I'll hire any black player that can help this ball club. I don't have to take a back seat to anybody ... I couldn't tell you how many blacks attend our games here. I wouldn't know where to start. . . . May God strike me dead, if we can sign good black ballplayers, if we can nurture them, bring them along to the big leagues, they'll play here." Indeed, when it comes to race relations, the Tigers can point to areas where they lead the league: They hired two black players with prison records, both of whom became stars. And no other team hired two minor-league players from the boatloads of refuges fleeing Fidel Castro's Cuba this spring. On the other hand, extensive Free Press interviews in Detroit indicate that many local black sports fans (and some whites) perceive the Tigers to be a racially prejudiced sports organization operating in a city with a black majority, including a black mayor who is landlord of their city-owned stadium. CONTENDING THAT the Tigers traditionally employ only three or four black players (presently three) on their 25-man roster, the critics also point to: The absence of blacks in the team's front office. The presence of only 21 blacks in the Tigers' five-team The story of blacks and the Detroit Tigers centers around Ozzie Virgil (center), the team's first black, and Willie Horton (left) and Ron LeFlore, both popular with hometown fans but gone in trades. blacks and basoball MOSES HAS WS organization of 147 active players. The absence of black radio and television announcers. Dwindling numbers of black customers in the grandstands. Aside from the players, the most visible black man at Tiger Stadium is a middle-aged member of the grounds crew who dances a soft shoe, waving his hat and smiling, while See BLACKS AND BASEBALL, Page 11B more on blacks and baseball: Point-counterpoint: Home run king Henry Aaron calls baseball "a dying sport among black people," while Monte Irvin, aide to the commissioner of baseball, claims that "progress has been made." Page 10B. O'How much regard do the Tigers show black fans? Not much, five fans claim. Page 11B. Schatzeder blanks A's, 7-0 Free Press Photo bv MARY SCHROEDER Tiger leadoff man Rick Peters goes down after being hit on the foot in the first inning. Peters scored later in the inning. Kenty foresees a dynamic duo By CURT SYLVESTER Free Press Sports Writer Of course Hilmer Kenty is excited about the first defense of his WBA lightweight championship. Naturally, he's enthusiastic about another big payday and supremely confident he'll retain his title. But mostly, he is waiting. Kenty is waiting for his friend and colleague Thomas Hearns to bring Detroit its second world championship in five months. "We've talked about it before," said Kenty, "about how we'll put on our belts and ride around Belle Isle in his Corvette with the T-top down. We kid about it, but we're going to do it." They will be ready for that ride the way Kenty sees It in exactly one week, the day after Hearns' Aug. 2 WBA welterweight title fight with Pipino Cuevas and Kenty's title defense against Korean challenger Yong Ho Oh at Joe Louis Arena. THE IMPORTANT THING is that Hearns joins him as a world champion. Although Detroit has taken him in as one of its own during the past two years he has fought out of Kronk Recreation under Emanuel Steward, Kenty knows full well whose town it is. "This is Thomas Hearns town," Kenty said. "It's been that way since I've been here in Detroit, it's been a Thomas Hearns town for quite a few years." And Kenty, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, doesn't seem to mind in the least. As he explained after climbing out of bed at his Pontchartrain Hotel headquarters Saturday morning, he is anxious to see Hearns win a title. "I'm very happy Thomas is getting his shot," said Kenty, grinning in anticipation. "I feel I'm as excited as he is. "He's been waiting a year and a half and I don't think he's going to have any problems. Cuevas gets hit too much and when you take blows from a guy like Thomas Hearns, you can't stand up to it too long. "Cuevas is going to get hit and he telegraphs all his blows, so he's not going to hurt Thomas." KENTY IS JUST AS confident of his own ability to defend the lightweight title he won from Ernesto Espana five months ago in Louis Arena. See KENTY, Page 8B Elusive poet comes home to surprise: Two $500 seats By KATY WILLIAMS Free Press Sports Writer The way Jerry Czarnecki figured it, his entries In the Free Press contest to find a poem for Thomas Hearns were little more the winner The showdown in Motown Will go down in history As the night that Pipino Got a lesson in fistory. Jerry Czarnecki, Livonia The runner-up poems and a sampling of the more than 10,000 entries can be perused on Page 6B. ,H than dabbles in verse. So he sent them in, gathered his kids and left for vacation. When his family began the three-hour drive home from their cottage at Houghton Lake Saturday morning, the poems came up in conversation. "I wondered when the winner would be announced," Czarnecki said Saturday. "I said I'd like to see what the winning poem was." The poem, it turns out, was Czarnecki's. His prize is a pair of $500 ringside seats when Hearns goes after Pipino Cuevas' WBA welterweight title Aug. 2 at Joe Louis Arena. "I've never won anything in my life," said Czarnecki, a 41-year-old department manager for Ford Motor Credit Co. from Livonia. "1 figured my entries had a one in a million chance." More precisely, Czarnecki's poem was tee WINNER, Page 6B , dg3 VtTV ,i Jr AJi J - L Free Press Photo bv Richard LEE Poet Jerry Czarnecki happily waves his pair of $500 tickets for thb Aug. 2 Hearns-Cuevas fight. By BRIAN BRAGG Free Press Sports Writer Signed, sealed and attested by 39,758 witnesses: Dan Schatzeder has arrived in Detroit. The personable lefthander spun a masterful, five-hit shutout Saturday afternoon as the Tigers clubbed the Oakland A's, 7-0, and climbed back to 1 0 games over the .500 mark for the season. Schatzeder's gem fulfilled some of the promises that the Tigers had made for him , when they obtained him last winter in the controversial trade that sent Ron LeFlore to Montreal. He was superb almost untouchable. He struck out six enemy hitters and didn't issue a walk. Most important to Schatzeder, manager Sparky Anderson and pitching coach Roger Craig was the fact that it was Schatzeder's second consecutive complete game victory since he returned to the starting rotation. SATURDAY'S effort proved to one and all that the first a win over Seattle last weekend was no fluke. "This was really the test," said the 25-year-old southpaw, icing down his shoulder after the successful outing in the stadium's steambath atmosphere. "The last time I threw in the bullpen at Anaheim, I thought I had it. But now I'm sure. It's back." Anderson confidently declared: "I'm not worried about him any more. He's going to pitch like this the rest of the year. There are not too many clubs going to beat him unless we don't get any runs for him. We get him some runs, he's going to win." It was only the second career shutout for Schatzeder. His first occurred on Sept. 27, 1977, in his second major league start with Montreal. He beat the St. Louis Cardinals that day. See TIGERS, Page 9B elsewhere . . . Britain's Steve Ovett out-duels countryman Sebastian Coe in the Olympic Games' 800-meter race. Page 2B Brion Carlson of Saginaw captures the Golf Association of Michigan championship. Page 3B. The birthplace of the national pastime and home of baseball's Hall of Fame is a double play for travelers. Travel Section, Page 90l

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