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Oliver May Not Find His Niche Unless He Gets to Cooperstown

March 26, 1985

Richie Ashburn can't understand it. Everywhere Al Oliver goes, he hits. After that, he gets traded.

"This isn't a Humpty Dumpty we're talking about," says Ashburn, a two-time National League batting champion who writes for the Philadelphia Daily News. "In fact there's a good chance that Oliver will someday hit his way into the Hall of Fame. He has 2,676 hits and a .305 average. He is about 2 1/2 seasons from reaching the 3,000-hit plateau, which means a virtual automatic ticket to Cooperstown.

"But he never has had the respect he deserved, not from the Phillies or any other team he has played for."

Ashburn regretted that the Phillies let Oliver go to the Dodgers.

"Al Oliver is a very nice man," he said. "He is intelligent, articulate, considerate and well-liked by his teammates. He is not a troublemaker or a clubhouse lawyer and yet he can't seem to find a team that will have him and hold him.

"It seems to me Al Oliver deserves a little more respect."

Yogi Berra, on a White House dinner he attended in honor of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia: "It was hard to have a conversation with anyone, there were so many people talking."

Quiz Time: What was the last team to beat Georgetown in an NCAA tournament game? (Answer below.)

Add Georgetown: Forward Bill Martin, on the effects of the Hoya press: "You can see them wearing down. They start to loop passes, we touch some of them. You see them at the foul lane bent over, hanging onto their pants. You can see it in their eyes."

If Bernie Kosar fails to make it in the pros, it won't be because of a lack of smarts, or diligence. The New York Times reveals how he will graduate in three years from the University of Miami:

"Because of his outstanding high school academic record at Boardman High School in Boardman, Ohio, he received 12 hours of class credit for math and psychology before entering college and three hours after a proficiency exam in Spanish. These 15 hours, plus 15 hours more in summer-school sessions--combined with a regular course load in fall and spring classes, will give him the 120 hours of credit to graduate."

Note: Kosar won't be the first quarterback to graduate in three years. Norm Van Brocklin did it at the University of Oregon. The Rams were the only club that knew he could come out early and they signed him under the noses of the other NFL clubs in 1949. Two years later, he hit Tom Fears on the 73-yard pass play that gave the Rams a 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns for the Rams' only NFL title.

John Feinstein of the Washington Post, on the NCAA Midwest Regionals: "They easily could have passed for the National Junior College Tournament for all the discipline displayed. The Oklahama-Louisiana Tech tapes should be canned and sent to the Hall of Fame for future use in showing youngsters how not to coach at the end of a game. Oklahoma's Billy Tubbs and Louisiana Tech's Andy Russo matched each other non-thought for non-thought right down to the end when Tech, with two seconds left, successfully threw a pass almost the length of the court and then, instead of calling time out right away, threw another pass before calling time."

Quiz Answer: Memphis State beat Georgetown, 66-57, in the second round of 1982-83 Midwest Regionals. Keith Lee of Memphis State had 28 points and 15 rebounds. Pat Ewing had 24 points and nine rebounds for Georgetown. Ewing missed four dunks in the second half.


Ron Stewart of St. John's, as he rode off the court on the back of 7-foot Bill Wennington Sunday: "He's my horse. We're on our way jo Kentucky."

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