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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

One Dodger Could Be Excused for Choking Up

September 25, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

A lot of people brought attitudes to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. Three minutes into the game, the fans already were booing the Dodgers. Padre and Dodger pitchers took turns throwing at hitters. San Diego's Joey Hamilton was so angry about striking out in the fourth inning that he slammed his bat to the ground.

No matter that it was probably Peter O'Malley's farewell to Dodger Stadium as the team's owner, it was not a night of sweet reflection.

Except for one moment.

In the Dodgers' half of the fifth, Bill Russell sent Brett Butler out to hit for Tom Candiotti. As they had done in a similar situation Sunday, the fans stood and began to applaud. Still involved in a division race, Butler marched dutifully toward the plate.

But then Padre catcher John Flaherty, sensing the occasion, called timeout and walked very slowly to the mound.

"How do you want to go at him?" Hamilton asked.

"First of all," Flaherty said, "let's give this guy some time to soak this in."

They stood on the mound without speaking, listening as the applause swelled.

Finally, Flaherty said, "OK, let's get him out."

By then, the significance had registered on Butler.

"If that's the last thing that happens to me in Dodger Stadium, it's a nice gesture," he said later, knowing the Dodgers aren't likely to return this season, his last as a player.

He repaid it by tipping his cap. The applause grew louder.

Home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt, who knew better than to go by the book at that point and speed the game along, leaned over to Butler and said, "You can tell how much these people love you."

Then Hamilton paid him the ultimate compliment. The Padre pitcher went after Butler like he was Ken Griffey Jr.

Hamilton threw a sinker, away, that Butler grounded to shortstop Chris Gomez.

"It couldn't have worked out any better," Flaherty said. "We gave a great player his moment, and we got him out on the first pitch."

*

After newspaper balloting determined the top 100 moments in New York sports, promoter Steve Rosner said, "The concept has been tried a little bit in Los Angeles . . ." . . .

In fact, New York ripped off L.A. . . .

The Los Angeles Sports Council created the concept in 1995, complete with a televised awards show and a coffee table book. . . .

Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series was No. 1 in Los Angeles. . . .

In New York, it was Joe Namath's guarantee of the Jets' 1969 Super Bowl victory over Baltimore. . . .

"Until New York has two Olympic Games, we're the world's sports capital," says Mark Meyers, spokesman for the L.A. Sports Council. . . .

New York is among Los Angeles' competitors in bidding to become the official U.S. candidate for the 2012 Summer Games. . . .

Los Angeles Business Advisors wrote a check for $150,000 to guarantee this city's bid with the U.S. Olympic Committee. . . .

Need some help with your golf game?. . . .

How about your consciousness?. . . .

Golf guru Mac O'Grady might be able to help during Monday's DIRECTV Joe Regalbuto Meals on Wheels Golf Marathon at Calabasas Country Club. . . .

The opening game of the 2000 season in Las Vegas between USC and Colorado has been canceled. . . .

After restructuring future schedules to fill that date, the Trojans now find themselves needing another opponent in 1999. . . .

May I suggest Texas? . . .

The best matchup in college football Saturday will be California wide receiver Bobby Shaw against whichever USC cornerback he's opposite, Daylon McCutcheon or Brian Kelly. . . .

UCLA will have to contend Saturday with defensive tackle Joe Salave'a, who could become the first man to play twice in the East-West Shrine Game. . . .

Under a new rule, the NCAA granted him an extra year of eligibility because he was a partial qualifier who hit the books hard and graduated in four years. . . .

"One of the reasons I came back to college football from pro football was to be associated with young men like that," Cal Coach Tom Holmoe says. . . .

Drivers preparing for Sunday's Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway in Fontana are expected to reach 230 mph. According to Team Penske, the cars could round the bases four times in the time it takes a Dodger to run from home to first. . . .

Five times if the Dodger is Tom Candiotti.

*

While wondering who in the coaches' poll gave a top-25 vote to USC, I was thinking: Now it's time for the Trojans to earn it, UCLA will win by fewer than 63 points, so will the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Brian Johnson is becoming a pain.

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