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Is It Time to Bid or Bid Adieu?

October 31, 1987|Dave Distel

Once again, ladeez and gentlemen, it is time for The Great Celebrity Sports Auction.

Yes, Steve Garvey is going to take time off from playing in celebrity golf tournaments to stage this affair Sunday night at Neiman-Marcus in Fashion Valley. And no, proceeds will not go toward getting Eric Dickerson out of the poorhouse and back into uniform, but rather Garvey's Career Development Center for athletes seeking a job work after the games are over.

Step right up and bid on a zinc-oxide-stained T-shirt worn by Dennis Conner while he was burying the Aussies Down Under. Or maybe a top hat worn by Magic Johnson in a game against the Boston Celtics. Or a round of golf with Dan Fouts, who stops the clock every time he goes out of bounds and thus plays 18 holes in 26 minutes. Or hitting lessons from Tony Gwynn . . .

Hold it. Hitting lessons from Tony Gwynn?

If I'm Joan Kroc, I bring my checkbook, and I sit in the first row. I'm not going to let this one get away. I'm going to ante up and buy them for the whole team. If she doesn't do it, you know George Steinbrenner will.

Let's see, memorabilia also will be auctioned from such luminaries as Joe DiMaggio, undoubtedly a coffee maker or a Simon and Garfunkel tape; O.J. Simpson, probably an orange juice squeezer or a rented car; Rolf Benirschke, possibly a visit to the zoo; Bob Lanier, probably a tennis shoe that also can be raced as a 12-meter, and Juli Veee, who may be selling a vowel.

These are some of the touted personalities, but this auction seems to fall just a little bit short of being all that it could be. Some other items could elevate this occasion from fun to functional.

Let's take a look at what more might be up for bid.

The Garv himself. Of course. He is all but officially untied from the Padres, unless he wants to undergo the ignominy of going to spring training as a . . . ugh . . . non-roster player. After all, this guy is no Kurt Bevacqua.

Garvey's choices, it would seem, will be to file for free agency within 15 days of the end of the World Series, which would be a week from Monday, or sit around and wait for the Padres to offer a contract by the Dec. 20 deadline, or maybe even retire.

Since he has insisted all along that he wants to continue playing, Garv should invite honchos from baseball's other 25 teams to the auction, open the proceedings by declaring himself a free agent and then announce that bidding will open at a bargain-basement $300,000.

I mean, someone is likely to come away with a first baseman/statesman for a mere $500,000.

Don't you think Ted Turner would go for it?

And now, on with what could or should be up for auction . . .

Tony Gwynn.

Bidding will begin at: Never mind. Ty Cobb's not alive.

Benito Santiago.

Opening bid: Skip this one, too. Johnny Bench is alive, but the Padres don't need a broadcaster.

Jim Gorsek.

Opening bid: A forward. The Sockers really don't have such an animal, and the season starts a week from today. They seem to have the same situation with midfielders that the Padres have had with first basemen. They collect them.

Carmelo Martinez.

Opening bid: A starting second baseman. That's where the Padres feel they need help the most, assuming Chris Brown can stay out of the training room long enough to play 150 games at third base. Another bid the Padres might consider would be a starting pitcher, just in case the auction includes . . .

Eric Show.

Opening bid. A starting second baseman, just in case an acceptable starting pitcher is obtained for Martinez. The sweetener in this bidding would be the inclusion of a pinch-hitter with some punch.

Chip Banks.

Opening bid: The state of Ohio. The Cleveland Browns let him get away, and the Chargers will not make the same mistake. Come to think of it, Ohio for Chip Banks would not be very even. The Chargers should ask for an opening bid of Ohio and Hawaii.

Todd Santos.

Opening bid: Oklahoma's defense. Actually, almost any defense would be an improvement for San Diego State's football team. In truth, the Aztecs' defense may not be scored upon until 9:35 or maybe 9:40 tonight. Of course, they're playing in Hawaii.

Jack McKeon.

Opening bid: Wait a minute, Trader Jack on the auction block? He's not on the market, is he? No, but if the Chicago Tribune calls and asks if he would like to be director of baseball operations for its National League sports department, a.k.a. the Cubbies, McKeon will pay attention.

Jim Brandenburg.

Opening bid: Wyoming's basketball team. What? He already had that . . . and now he's coaching at San Diego State? What do you think the Aztecs must have bid to get him? Sunshine?

Ah, Garv, you can see how meaningful your auction could be. It's probably a little late to put it all together this year, but mark it down for the future. If you're going to have a celebrity auction, then auction celebrities. Leave the tennis shoes and T-shirts for the swap meet.

Hold on, that gives me another idea . . .

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