Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on August 7, 1990 · Page 23
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 23

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Tuesday, August 7, 1990
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GOODV.ili gtj.:es B Few tuned in, but the Games provided some stirring moments. Page 3D. Tuesday, Aug. 7, 1990 SECTIO'I D III Li) Sports world, Page 2 Baseball, Pages 3, 4 Scoreboard, Page 5 Scores: 1-976-1313, Sports: 222-6660 iW ' Charlie VL I VlKCENT An unlfliowing hero helped miracle happen hilip Smith never really idolized any athlete. Q J Like a lot of us, he followed the games and he knew the names and sometimes he j was able to escape a world that was not perfect by slipping into his television screen and becoming a part of something bigger and better than his real life in Ann Arbor. More often, though, he escaped the imperfect world by falling into a bottle. Ten years ago, Philip Smith's life seemed wasted and without purpose. And then some people who never heard of him came to his rescue. He wrote me about it. "I remember what I was doing the night America beat the USSR in hockey," his letter began, recalling the stunning upset in the Lake Placid Olympics. "I was drinking about a fifth and a half of vodka. It was the same thing I did every night and most days, too. "Reality in February of 1980 was that my liver was blown up and sticking out of my stomach; and my day would begin by spitting up blood for breakfast and end in a heap on the floor on glass or lit cigarettes or whatever I happened to be holding when the vodka put me down. "I was never sure if I would wake up in the morning, or where I would wake up, but I cared about those guys from Michigan and Minnesota and Massachusetts and what they would do to that chunk of rubber. When the last breathless flurry went down and the clock read zero zero zero, I was happy. I cried. It wasn't patriotism or pride, but simply a good feeling coming into a stark world where good . feelings had left a long time ago." The next day, the newspapers were calling it a Miracle on Ice, and Smith remembers seeing the phrase and wishing "this poor SOB could just get a piece of a miracle because I could sure use one. "My friends and my family had tried to get me sober until they gave up on me. I didn't have any more friends and I had not heard from my family in months." Porter 'just a man like me' In high school a counselor had told him he should find work as a laborer because "you're never going . to amount to anything, anyway." He had been kicked out of college and had lost three jobs. Philip Smith's miracle did not come that morning. Or the next. Or the next. No miracle came that winter, or during the first days of spring, either. And Philip Smith was still drinking his daily doses of vodka when he saw a story in the newspaper about Darrell Porter, a catcher with the Kansas City Royals. "He was an alcoholic and took time out during spring training to 'take the cure.' This was a big deal. This was an athlete who publicly said he had an alcohol problem before making this kind of admission became in vogue. "As I read more, I made the connection that Porter was just a man like me, and that although his goals and his fortunes were tied up in baseball, his humanity was tied up in addiction, my addiction." Porter left the Royals' training camp in the spring of 1980 and entered an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center in Arizona. Earlier this year he celebrated his 10th anniversary of sobriety. Last month, Philip Smith celebrated his. He is proud of what he has done, and he is thankful for the help of a man he never met. And he wonders sometimes why the horror stories of drug and alcohol abuse still fill our sports pages and our newscasts. "Is anyone paying attention?" he asked in his letter. "Quite frankly, except for a passing interest, I'm not paying much attention. I don't have to. I don't because I know what I am and what I must do about it, but there was a time when some guy named Darrell Porter decided to tell us what he was when he wasn't behind the plate or swinging a bat, and I listened." A life was saved Most athletes don't ask to be role models. Most don't want us to examine their private lives. Most don't want always to have to be aware that kids are inspired by the things they do by the good and by the bad. I wanted Darrell Porter to know, though, that by admitting his weaknesses a decade ago, he might have saved the life of a man in Ann Arbor. I called Dean Vogelaar, the Royals' vice president of public relations, and asked if he could help. "I can call him and ask if he'll call you back," Vogelaar said. "But, frankly, he's not very good at that kind of thing." The call never came. Porter has been out of the game and out of the spotlight for a decade now. Probably he's happy to leave it at that. But he and you should know how much , good a figure as public as a major league ballplayer can do, often without even realizing it. In the past 10 years, Philip Smith's life has changed because of Darrell Porter. "I've graduated from the University of Michigan," he wrote. "I've gotten married and I've lived a life that was never supposed to be. Impossible. "I will never stop believing that a miracle can happen at any moment." Fedorov signing has Soviets seeing red BY JENNIFER FREY Free Press Sports Writer Now that Sergei Fedorov is staying, the Russians might not be coming after all Angered that the Red Wings signed Fedorov last month, the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation has threatened to cancel two exhibition series with NHL teams. Yuri Korolev, vice president of the federation, accused the Wings of "kidnapping" Fedorov, a 20-year-old Soviet star who left his national team July 22 while touring in Portland, Ore., to join the Wings. Fedorov, now living in the Detroit area, signed a five-year contract believed to be worth $250,000 a year. The Soviet hockey team won the Goodwill Games gold medal Sunday at Tacoma, Wash. Exhibition series with NHL in jeopardy Korolev and Igor Dmitriev, assistant coach of the national team, said they would notify the NHL Wednesday that the Soviets would not take part in the exhibition series. The series include a Dec. 26 game between the Red Wings and Central Army at Joe Louis Arena. Three Soviet teams Central Army, Khimik Voskresensk and Dynamo Moscow are scheduled to play seven games each against NHL teams in December and January. The Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota North Stars also are supposed to make preseason visits to the Soviet Union. The NHL has given the Soviet sports ministry until Wednesday to provide written confirmation of its participation in the two series, NHL spokesman Gerry Helper said. The league then will decide Friday whether to call off the series, Helper said. Canadiens general manager Serge Sa-vard said Monday that he thought the possibility of a cancellation was unlikely. "I'd be very surprised if the Russians cancel," Savard said. "Monetarily, it's to their advantage to play." If the contract is canceled, the Red Wings don't think they are to blame, said Bryan Murray, their new coach and general manager. "What we're doing is allowing a young man to play on our hockey team who expressed a desire to do so," Murray said. "I don't think we should feel any guilt" Murray said the NHL had never said anything to him about the Red Wings' signing of Fedorov and that the league had not contacted him about the Soviet threat The Soviet Union allows players over 28 years old to sign with NHL teams. But last season, Alexander Mogilny, also 20, joined the Buffalo Sabres after defecting at the World Championships in Stockholm. Despite Mogilny's defection, the Soviets honored last year's exhibition series contract, including a game in which the Sabres faced Mogilny's former team. Buffalo kept Mogilny out of the game. 1 1 " " y 4 : - w , , r I " V" DAYMON J. HARTLEYDetrott Free Press Running back Barry Sanders, NFL offensive rookie of the year, gets lion's share of the team's fan mail. Lions' appeal spans the globe By Curt Sylvester Free Press Sports Writer For whatever reason and no one is quite sure what it is the ' Lions are big in Bialystok, Poland. "We must have had 50 letters," said Lions public relations intern KirkLowry. "It seemed like they had a clan or something," fellow intern Mike Zar-etti said. "I think it might have been a teaching project." And thanks to the perseverance of Lowry and Zaretti in deciphering the ragged English in the letters, dozens of Lions stickers, team photos and schedules are being circulated today somewhere in Poland. While that type of publicity might Foreign fans writing team not be as helpful to the Lions' image as Barry Sanders photos on the covers of football preview magazines in the United States, it's an aspect of public relations the Lions are not ignoring. "During the season, we get probably 100 or more a week," said Barbara Saliba of the Lions' public relations department. "They want everything from used equipment to autographs. They want players to write get-well cards. We get letters from little kids and . . . a lot from men in prison and from people who want the players to be their pen pals. "Now that NFL games are being televised in Europe, we get a lot of requests for even the rules." Most of the foreign mail comes from Canada, Mexico, England and Scotland, but in recent months the Lions have responded to requests from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Italy, France, Australia, Spain, Yugoslavia and other countries. Typical of the correspondence was a letter addressed to club owner William Clay Ford from "your loya-lest and most faithful fan, Garth" in See LIONS, Page 3D Lakers make Perkins among highest-paid by Roger Phillips Knight-Ridder Newspapers INGLEWOOD, Calif. Magic Johnson is paid $3 million a year. Michael Jordan is, too. Sam Perkins? He referred to himself Monday afternoon as a -"marginal player." Where was he when he disparaged himself? At the Forum, where the Los Angeles Lakers announced they had signed the Dallas Mavericks free-agent forward to a contract estimated at six years and $19.2 million more than $3 million a year. See LAKERS, Page 3D ; ",, i-t.' RON LEIFEIDSpecial to the Free Press Tad Berkowitz of Bloomfield Hills, a surprise winner Monday, fires a forehand at the boys tennis championships in Kalamazoo. See 2D. -A 4 Giants' Leach fails drug test, is suspended Free Press Wire Reports SAN FRANCISCO Rick Leach, a former University of Michigan football star who later played for the Tigers, was suspended Monday by baseball commissioner Fay Vincent for failing a drug test. He went on the 60-day disqualified list and agreed to enter drug rehabilitation. Though Leach said he was remorseful about the results of the test, the Major League Baseball Players Association said it would challenge the suspension and force a hearing before arbitrator George Nicolau. "We are going to grieve," Eugene Orza, the union's associate general counsel, said in New York. Leach, 33, disappeared twice from his teams during the last four seasons. He had been ordered to undergo drug counseling after marijuana was found in his hotel room last year. "I'm truly sorry this has happened," Leach said in a prepared statement. "I know I have disappointed my family, ' my teammates and the Giants. ... I hope I can get this behind me and get back to baseball." Leach, a reserve outfielder and first baseman for the San Francisco Giants, homered in back-to-back wins over, the Cincinnati Reds two weeks ago. He was batting .293 with two homers and 16 RBIs and had played a key role in the recent surge by the Giants, who cut the Reds' lead in the See RICK LEACH, Page 4D Hall humbles Palmer, Morgan. Page 3D. fMDM Since the modern major league era began in 1901,. eight teams have finished the season leading their league in both runs scored and runs allowed. The Tigers could be the ninth. None of the previous eight came close to finishing first Here are those eight teams, with runs scored, runs allowed, their record, where they finished and games out of first: TEAM R.S.R.A. REC. FIN. GB '86 Cleveland 831 841 84-78 5th Vt 73 Atlanta 799 774 7685 5th 22Vfe 70 San Francisco 831 826 86-76 3rd 16 '68 Cincinnati 690 673 83-79 4th 14 '59 Cincinnati 764 738 74-80 5th 13 '40 Pittsburgh 809 783 78-76 4th 22Vfe '32 Phillies 844 796 78-76 4th 12 '29Tigers 926 928 70-84 6th 36 -tied for 5th. Detroit runs both extremes Tigers 'totals don add to wins BY JOHN LOWE Free Press Sports Writer TORONTO The Tigers rested their productive bats and ineffective arms Monday. They led the American League in runs as they took the day off in Toronto but they also were leading the leape in runs allowed. , The Tigers have scored 521 runs, two more than Toronto had scored before its game Monday night at Texas. The Tigers have allowed 542 runs, 12 more than Milwaukee. The Tigers have played several slugfests that went down to the final pitch. Then again, they have allowed at least eight runs in 16 games and are 1-15 in those games. Leading the leape in runs scored and runs allowed is not a formula for success. In the 89 years of baseball's modern era (1901 to date), eight teams have led their leape in runs scored and runs allowed. None was a serious contender. I All eight finished at least 10 games out of first place. Like this year's Tigers, most were around .500. That the Tigers aren't at least 10 games out is because they play in baseball's weakest division, the American See TIGERS, Page 4D j

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