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Morning Briefing

Batting Cleanup: Mr. Ed

October 30, 1985

Larry Wilde, in "The Official Sports Maniac Joke Book," tells the one about Leo Durocher trying to find enough able bodies to field a team in Brooklyn during World War II.

One day, a big, good-looking horse comes up to Durocher and says: "Understand you need ballplayers. Can you use a .480 hitter?"

"You kiddin'?" Durocher says. "Grab a stick."

The horse goes to the plate, and Durocher goes to the mound. Leo serves up five pitches and the horse wallops all five over the fence.

"Great," Durocher says. "What else can you do?"

"I'm a great shortstop," the horse says.

Durocher gives him a glove, sends him to short and hits him five ground balls. The horse fields all five flawlessly.

"Great," Durocher says. "Now, go around the bases. I want to see if you can run."

"Run?" the horse says. "If I could run, I wouldn't be here. I'd be in the Kentucky Derby."

South Africa's Harold Henning, winner of the $75,000 first prize in the Seniors Match Play tournament at Phoenix, retired from the regular PGA tour in 1972.

Asked what he had been doing since, he said: "I was doing nothing for a while, but I do that very well."

Trivia Time: What do Bret Saberhagen, John Elway and Anthony Davis have in common? (Answer below.)

Responding to a Morning Briefing item that expressed wonderment over Iowa farm boy Bob Feller driving his dad's car at age 10, Robert C. Franklin of Solana Beach writes: "In the late '20s and '30s every farm kid knew how to drive out of necessity. Come haying time, the youngest drove the tractor while his dad and older brother threw the bales on the wagon.

"In those days, every kid could drive at age 10 and, in Michigan, you could get a full driver's license at age 14."

George Steinbrenner explains why he let New York Yankee executives Woody Woodward and Clyde King tie the can to Billy Martin: "The reason I took myself out of this thing was because I was simply fed up with everything that happened with Billy after the season. The barroom stuff was bad enough, but then he demanded to renegotiate his contract and made it sound like I was ungrateful to him.

"Who else brought him back to manage four times? Who else paid half of his hotel bills that weren't paid? Who else gave him a $200,000 loan to pay his back income taxes? He tried to call my bluff, and this is what has happened. I just got fed up."

Writes Steve Jacobson of Newsday: "The trouble with having a good guy like Lou Piniella managing the Yankees is that he's a good guy. That's no kind of job for a fellow who's always done the decent thing. It's unfair."

For What It's Worth: George Steinbrenner, in 12 years, has made 14 managerial changes. The Dodgers, in 71 years, have made 11 changes. Walter Alston (1954-76) lasted 23 years, Wilbert Robinson (1914-31) survived for 18 years, and Tom Lasorda (1977-85) is heading for his 10th year.

Trivia Answer: All three were players of the year in L.A. City baseball--Saberhagen, Cleveland, pitcher, 1982; Elway, Granada Hills, pitcher-outfielder, 1979; Davis, San Fernando, outfielder, 1971.

Quotebook

Lou Holtz, whose Minnesota football team will play at Michigan State next, asked about playing on the road: "I always play as well on the road as I do at home, but my teams don't."

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