Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on June 8, 1979 · Page 53
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 53

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Detroit, Michigan
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Friday, June 8, 1979
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Page 53
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If ft f y t f ft Friday, f una 8, 1073 'Of! SPORTS PEOPLE Opoitslino That's the number to call for the latest scores and other results. n -1 1 sccce ll w ( 1 QiJ SYLVIA PORTER 10 STOCKS 10-12 COMICS 13-15 V mmi& lJ DETROIT FREE PRESS psgss 0-12 Tigers get their man9 sign L I 3 8 4 . H iV?f v v' I v . y-1;? - ,v. . ; (I llPuscas 1 if CuU 0UjmS0M Larly returns say Leach ,l?r: picked the wrong field ' ;" " g1184 ciil each for 150,000 2d grid star picks baseball The love letters of a sports writer: "I've seen Rick Leach play baseball and he will never make it big with the Tigers." HARRY THOMPSON, Okemos Be fair, pal. A lot of Tigers never make It big, either. "It's a good thing Rick Leach became an outfielder rather than a pitcher because somebody would always intercept his throws." CARL GORING, Saginaw ; Good grief, you're tough on this kid. What Rick always had was a high, hard one, and it scared people including Bo Schembechler. "Level for once and no kidding around. Is there any chance and are the Tigers really serious about meshing maize-and-blue Rick Leach with green-and-white Kirk Gibson in the outfield some day? Do they really need to lean on the football audience all that much?" DAN SMEEKINS, W. Bloomfield They hope to find a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow, Dan. But before the collegians make it to the stadium, the Tigers will have a half-million bucks invested. You know they're serious. first? Not for Moss "Twice, the Tigers have had the winning or tying run on third base with a man on first and only one out in the bottom of the ninth. Twice, Les Moss has had the batters swing instead of executing the safety squeeze bunt. Twice, the batters have hit into double plays and the Tigers lost both games. What's wrong?" . H.F. ROYAL JR., Birmingham Nothing, except what you call safety some regard as next to suicide, particularly with a ball club that can't bunt a lick anyway. "What's happening to Detroit sports fans? They go to the Express soccer game to boo and pick on one player, their only reason being he is the coach's son. It is heartbreaking to see Keith Furphy give his all and people with so little intelligence boo him. He just walks on the field and fans boo him. I would like to know why the fans treat this one player any differently than the rest. Just because he is the coach's son doesn't make him any less of a human being with feelings." SANDRA GORSKI, Redford Ah, but because he is the coach's son, some suspect he is in a favored position. It was no problem a year ago when Keith was ripping the nets, but it all comes home to son and father when the team can't score and does not win. It happens everywhere, even at Ford & Sons. "Sooner or later, the Tigers are going to jell, but by then, the season will be over." BILL STENBACK, Oak Park Go fishing, Bill. The rest of us will root 'em in. "For those who doubt Rusty Staub, notice his walk-to-strikeout ratio, his RBIs, and 'end-of-the-year' statistics compared to other DHs." JOSEPH ZIEMBROSKI, Canton . Nuts to end-of-the-year. Show me something now, today. I suspect Rusty would rather postpone his renegotiating session, due in another week or two, with Jim Campbell. Si love letters ingel is going to dust 'em off "Would you be shocked if I told you Spectacular Bid will ; not win the Belmont Stakes? Angel Cordero and General Assembly are going to do it to him this time. If you're smart, you'll get on board." FATS OBINSKI, St. Clair Shores I haven't really been shocked by anything since I awoke with my first hangover, nor did I get all that smart because of it. But if General Assembly wins this one, I'll buy. "Let's save Mark Fidrych's career by letting someone . else have him. Most of our outcasts end up being stars somewhere else." WILLIAM LOUGH, Grosse Pointe Farms Hold it right there, friend. If we're ever gonna catch a falling star, let this one be it. "I'll quit complaining about the Tigers. I'll quit com-' plaining about the Pistons, the Red Wings and Lions, if you'll only tell me Howard Cosell isn't going to announce any more Monday night baseball games." JIM ROELOFSON, Detroit How can you complain about Howard when you haven't really been listening? I think Howard is funnier than "The ' Gong Show"; where else can you find a serious-minded guy ! so full of baloney? (Dandies, eh? Those smart, dashing LL lapel pins are gifts to all whose sparkling thoughts appear here. Send your sports beefs or bouquets to Love Letters, Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Mich. 48231.) By JOE LAPOINTE Free Press Sports Writer Twenty-five years ago this month, Dick Leach graduated from the University of Michigan and considered an offer to play catcher for the Detroit Tigers. They sent him a minor-league contract that paid him $5,000, including bonus, for the season. Leach signed it, blossomed into a .220 hitter at Durham and Valdosta, joined the military, gave up baseball, took up teaching and raised a family that included a son named Rick, who did well in sports. THURSDAY AFTERNOON, Dick Leach finally made it to Tiger Stadium. He brought with him son Rick, who also signed a minor-league contract to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers. Including the bonus he got, Rick Leach this year will earn about $145,000 more than his dad did in 1954. "For a guy that can't hit for power and can't throw too well, I didn't do too badly," said Leach, 22, a lefthanded outfielder. He will report to the Tigers' Class A farm club in Lakeland next Monday to await future assignment. "I'm sitting here today a very happy young man," he said. A Former All-American quarterback at the University of Michigan, Leach chose a & IT 1 lies a baseball career despite an offer from the National Football League Denver Broncos because he figured the Tigers must be serious about him if they drafted him on the first round Tuesday. "I thought they would take a pitcher," Leach said. "I was sitting in a pretty good situation. I don't think I was pressurized. The money was a pretty big factor." He signed the contract in the office of Tigers' vice-president Bill Lajoie, who said it is for one year plus six, one-year renewable options. AFTERWARD, Leach posed for pictures wearing a Tigers' jersey with the name "Gibson" on the back. "Gibson" is Kirk Gibson, a former Michigan State Ail-American pass receiver who plays outfield for the Tigers' farm club at Evansville. Leach isn't worried that he and Gibson are both lined up behind Ron LeFlore for the same centerfield job on the major -league roster. "They looked at me in rightfield when we worked out here earlier this week," Leach said. "It's a possibility that may be where I play. I always liked Al Kaline." Gibson has played centerfield and leftfield in the minors. When he signed with the Tigers last spring, Gibson's bonus-contract package was estimated at $200,000. See LEACH, Page 8D winner Gibson happy to be on Leach's side Free Press Photos by ALAN KAMUDA As the Tigers flashed a welcome on their scoreboard Thursday, outfielder Rick Leach posed for photographers with the jersey worn by Kirk Gibson when he signed with Detroit last year. "For a guy that can't hit for power and can't throw too well, I didn't do too badly," said the Ail-American quarterback from Michigan EVANSVILLE Kirk Gibson can see it now: He and Rick Leach, side by side at Tiger Stadium in their Detroit doubleknits . "I'd love to be on the same team with him," Gibson declared Thursday, upon learning that Leach had decided to follow in his footsteps by forsaking a professional football career to sign with the Tigers. "I'm sure he feels the same way. "He's a good athlete. He's a winner. He's gotta be good. That's why he was their No. 1 draft pick." Gibson recalled the day last winter when he went to a University of Michigan basketball game in Ann Arbor with Leach. "We sure raised some eyebrows when we walked in together," the former Michigan State star said with a grin. "Everybody who went to Michigan thought I was a real horse's behind, just like everybody at Michigan State thought he was a horse's behind. But that's just college, you know? "We knew one another when we were in school," continued Gibson, "but we weren't what you would call real good friends. We weren't enemies, but we were opponents. "But ever since the Hula Bowl this winter, we've gotten along great." Now the Tigers are hoping the two will have the opportunity to develop their relationship even further. Jim Hawkins $200,000 CONTRACTS IN COLD STORAGE NFL Cards want you, Gibson! By JIM HAWKINS Free Press Sports Writer EVANSVILLE Buried beneath the pile of baseball paraphernalia in Kirk Gibson's locker at Evansville's Bosse Field, is an oversized brown envelope from the St. Louis Cardinals. The St. Louis FOOTBALL Cardinals. It contains, in quadruplet, four 1-year contracts in which the Cardinals solemnly promise to pay Gibson a total of $200,000 if he will tell the Tigers to forget it and play pro football this fall instead. The contracts which, believe it or not, were recently mailed to Gibson in care of the Tigers' Evansville subsidiary call for him to receive salaries of $35,000, $45,000, $55,000, and $65,000 for the next four Free Press Photo by Chief Photographer TONY SPINA And No. 23 himself, Kirk Gibson, has the next couple of years all figured out. Will it be the Tigers or the NFL? football seasons. The $200,000 total matches the amount the Tigers gave Gibson last June when he became the biggest bonus baby in Detroit baseball history. And there was a devilish gleam in Gibson's eyes and a grin on his face Thursday, as he proudly displayed the documents that most former college football stars only dream of someday receiving. Don't worry, Jim Campbell. Gibson has no intention of reneging on his promise to play baseball or of signing with the Cardinals. Not right now, anyway. But be forewarned: In a couple of years, if Gibson is still here In Evansville instead of in Detroit, it might be a different story. In fact, Gibson, who is certainly no dummy, already has it all figured out. "If I don't sign with the Cardinals, I go back into the football draft again next year," he explained. "And if I don't sign then, "If I haven't made the major leagues by the time I become a free agent in football, I imagine I will think about it (signing an NFL contract) a little more," said Kirk Gibson. the following year I'll be free agent as far as pro football in concerned." Interesting, huh? "It's hard for me to say now, what my feelings will be then," the 22-year-old former Michigan State star continued. "But if I haven't made the major leagues by the time I become a free agent in football, I imagine I will think about it a little more. Of course, I'll think about it. Anyone who had that opportunity would have to think about it. "But right now I'm not thinking about football at all. I made up my mind last year to play baseball and I don't want to be second-guessing myself. I want to keep my mind on baseball." Oddly enough, Gibson revealed Thursday that the only reason he tried out for the baseball team at Michigan State last spring was to enhance his bargain position when the time came for him to negotiate a pro football contract. "My whole idea was to get more money from football," he admitted. "Darryl Rogers called me in and said, 'Play baseball. It'll give you more bargaining power.' I said, 'Are you sure you want me to do that?' I thought I had to play spring football. "That's why I have so much respect for that man," continued Gibson. "He thinks ahead and he thinks of you. It didn't make any difference to him whether I played pro football or pro baseball, just as long as long as I came back for my senior year of football at Michigan State. That was all he cared about. "But it turned out the other way around. Football gave me more bargaining power to negotiate my baseball contract. See GIBSON, Page5D Magic Man, Kelser form a car pool What can a lot of NBA money-to-come do for you? Well, if you're Earvin (Magic) Johnson, left, or Gregory Kelser of Michigan State, you could always go out and buy a $35,000 Mercedes Benz 450 SEL. And that happens to be just what both kings of the court did. Johnson will probabiy get some mega-bucks from the Los Angeles Lakers, while Special K is being sought by four NBA teams, including newly crowned champion Seattle. UPI Photo mJz W'ti&M i l few- s fiy i Belmont field: Bid, 9 others NEW YORK (AP)-Spectacular Bid is expected to shine in the Belmont Stakes but it was his 19-year-old jockey, Ronnie Franklin, who was in the spotlight Thursday. The major topic of conversation at Belmont Park was Franklin's fight with Angel Cordero Jr. in the jockeys' room after the fourth race Wednesday at Belmont Park. Meanwhile, nine 3-year-olds, suprisingly, were entered against heavily favored Spectacular Bid for Saturday's 1 l2-mile Belmont. They included three colts who chased Bid in the Kentucky See BELMONT, Page 2D

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