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Sports '85 in Review : It Wasn't All Agony or Ecstasy; Some of It Was Just Offbeat

January 02, 1986|DICK WAGNER | Times Staff Writer

Some poignant moments from the 1985 Southeast / Long Beach sports scene:

Pearl Shines, Dad Worries

Pearl Sinn, one of the top junior golfers in the country, wrapped up her career at Bellflower High School in the spring. On one afternoon at the Bellflower Golf and Tennis Center, where she has practiced almost daily since she was little, it was easy to see why she is so successful.

She stood out like a gem in gravel next to all the 4 p.m. hackers, her graceful swing sending the ball straight and so far that it became a speck in the sky. Watching her every move was Jay Sinn, her dad, coach and caddy. She is headed for a college and a pro career, which is what Jay wants as her coach, but as her father he finds his happiness tempered.

"If she marries a good guy and has a good family and still plays golf, she will be traveling all the time and going to parties, not like a regular woman," he said. "I worry about that."

A Special Kind of Jockey

Henry Garcia was one of the top riders at Los Alamitos and one hot summer morning, out in the barn area, he was pitching straw into the stall of a horse he rode to victory the night before.

Trainer Caesar Dominguez watched his jockey, who once milked cows at an Artesia dairy, shook his head and said, "All jockeys think they're God except him."

Cisco Kid Revisited

Cisco Andrade, who once was the No. 1 contender for the lightweight championship of the world, broke out his career, which he carried in a cardboard box, on a February day at the Fred C. Nelles School in Whittier before he started his shift at his guard post.

He showed pictures of Frank Sinatra and Desi Arnaz and other movie stars who had been fans of his in the 1950s when he was known as the Cisco Kid. And then he pulled out a black-and-white of his ex-wife, Marty Lou.

"She divorced me," he said. "Here she is at 17. Wasn't she beautiful? I don't know what's wrong with me, I'm still in love with her. . . ."

John Herbold's Baseball Lesson

Coach John Herbold, a short, paunchy man wearing brown slacks and sunglasses, stepped to the plate during a spring practice session at Cal State Los Angeles to give a lesson to his players on how to hit a curve ball to the opposite field.

He lined a ball to right-center and said to second baseman Joe Butler: "Now if you do that you're going to play. But you don't do that. If you can watch a guy 55 do that and then pop it up, then something's wrong with you."

Later, Butler came over to Herbold, who was standing on the other side of the backstop, stuck his fingers through the wire to touch the coach's and said, "Thanks."

An Inspiring Trip Across the Sea

Harry Cordellos, known as the "world's greatest blind athlete," entered the gray water of a sleepy harbor at 6:30 on an August morning and water skied from Catalina Island to the Queen Mary in in 1 hour and 28 minutes.

It was an inspiring sight, Cordellos holding onto the tow rope, churning through the white foam as a school of dolphins frolicked alongside of him and the gleaming dome of the Spruce Goose display came into view.

A Not-So-Grand Race

The Compton-based Kraco racing team had a long day at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April. Driver Kevin Cogan had to pull out of the race when his car hit a wall and the gearbox broke.

Late in the race, Cogan's blue and yellow car, which hours before had been gleaming and screaming with power, sat unglamorously alone in a parking lot, its body scratched, its wing shredded and cigarette butts stuck on its thick tires. In the distance, the crowd roared.

A Dinosaur of the Diamond

Red Meairs, 62, the epitome of an old ballplayer, lugged the bats to Joe Rodgers Field in February and got ready for another season as coach of the Long Beach Nitehawks, a nationally renowned fast-pitch softball team.

Meairs was a dinosaur on the dusty diamond. His old red and black cap was dark with sweat and a chaw of tobacco was in his cheek. He had just finished pitching batting practice despite being hobbled slightly by time and a bad knee.

He sat perspiring and mourned the demise of fast-pitch, which was surpassed in popularity by slow-pitch years ago. He spat a brown stream contemptuously and said of slow-pitch: "No way is that softball. Just young kids and older fellows who love to drink beer. . . . That's all I can figure out."

Firemen Burn Up the Ice

Firefighters from Southern California were practicing hockey one winter morning in the Norwalk Ice Arena. Jerry O'Hagan bolted onto the ice and wrestled a teammate to the boards, his stick finding flesh and causing blood to trickle from an eyelid. The firemen were preparing for a series of games with San Francisco firefighters, the proceeds going to young burn victims.

Later, as the firefighters drank beer and ate french fries at a place next door, they talked of fighting fires and the horror of seeing someone burned.

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