The National Multiple Sclerosis Society benefited from "Cadillac Celebrity Polo for MS," given at the new Fairbanks Polo Grounds and co-sponsored by the San Diego County Cadillac Dealers Assn. About 400 budding or confirmed polo enthusiasts attended in the patron category, which earned them prime box seats for the main event, followed by a post-match dinner dance.
For many of the guests, the match between the local boys and the Piaget Chukkers for Charity (a traveling celebrity team that includes "Knot's Landing" stars William Devane and Doug Sheehan) was kind of a crash course in everything they always wanted to know about polo, but had been afraid to ask.
They learned, for instance, that a match is composed of six sets called "chukkers," which are seven-minute bouts waged over a 10-acre course. They also learned that to play properly (and there is \o7 no\f7 other way to play polo), each player needs a fresh mount per chukker. One needn't be a whiz at multiplication to realize that serious players need to own at least six horses, and that ain't hay. On the other hand, it requires a great deal of hay to keep these steeds fueled.
But despite all the galloping and mallet-action, the roar of the horses and the smell of the crowd (and so forth), a lot of the attention under the open-sided patrons' pavilions was turned to socializing. The mood was veddy English at times--Pimm's Cup was a favorite beverage--and event chairman Michele Broekema said that the social aspect was extremely important to the committee's plans.
"We want it to be like it is in Windsor, England (site of the Royal Family's playing grounds), a real social event," said Broekema, adding that the day more than met her expectations. In fact, the public response was such that plans have been made to have a major charity match for MS every year at the onset of August.
San Diego Padre Steve Garvey, as sartorially splendid as ever (polo calls for classy attire, after all), had the honor of tossing out the first ball of the match. His former teammate, Kurt Bevacqua, spent the afternoon watching the play, but announced that he wasn't adding a string of ponies to his shopping list.
"I've seen guys on that field swing at that ball and miss," said Bevacqua. "\o7 I'm\f7 not taking up polo."
Quite a few men are taking up the sport, though, including polo club developers Harry and Chris Collins, both of whom were on the field that day, and U.S. Grant Hotel developer Kit Sickels, who isn't playing yet but who bought his first horse the day before the MS benefit. Among other club members are Willis Allen, Ron Bonaguidi, Ted Gildred, Geoff Palmer, Madison Richardson, Fernando Guttierez and John Hall.
The Cadillac-sponsored team eventually beat the Piaget Chukkers 7-6, in overtime. Applauding the players were Louise Deane, Jim and Jill Brown, Chuck and Linda Owen, Howard and Shirley Campbell, Mike and Alice Cavanaugh, Ernest and Jean Hahn, John and Connie Desha, John and Lucille Lindsay, Dirk Broekema and Liz and Chris McCullah.
LA JOLLA--Earlier the same day, John and Sally Thornton treated 140 friends to an event that was no less social and no less dramatic, but of an entirely different tenor altogether.
The Thorntons, who through their personal charitable foundation provided underwriting for the La Jolla Playhouse production of "Hedda Gabler," invited their pals to a lazy outdoors Sunday brunch at the International Student Center on the UC San Diego campus, followed by the final matinee performance of Henrik Ibsen's play.
It was a day of contrasts, to say the least, since it began with champagne on a sun-drenched terrace, and concluded in a dark theater with a disturbing play about a woman with a soul like a Cuisinart--but everybody enjoyed it.
Sally Thornton said she was taken by "Hedda Gabler" when she first saw it performed at Stephen's College in Columbia, Mo. "When I heard La Jolla Playhouse was planning to present it, I was just delighted, most particularly after meeting director Emily Mann," she said. "Then I knew that John and I had to be involved with it."
"Hedda Gabler's" final exit from the Warren Theater stage was helped along in style. Although the sun beat down with a fierceness rare in these parts, the guests found themselves equal to the extensive buffets, which offered everything from New Orleans \o7 pain perdu \f7 to fancy spinach-leek and chicken-basil sausages.
Among the guests were Ethel and Bert Aginsky, Steven and Dagmar Brezzo, Anne Otterson, John and Martha Culbertson, Ray and Dian Peet, Betty Bass, Dorene Whitney, Neal and Linda Hooberman, Nancy Hewitt, John and Kirk Butler, Irby and Mary Cobb, the Orlan Bullards, and Kate Adams with a friend from Scotland, Sir Ninian Buchan-Hepburn.