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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Nixon Could Relate to Newsmakers of '98

September 24, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

As the summer of '98 turns to fall, Richard Nixon would have been as absorbed as almost everyone else in the country in our two current obsessions--politics and baseball.

The latter would have brought him great joy, the former none at all.

"It could never be said that President Nixon would be taking pure partisan glee in this," John H. Taylor, executive director of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, said Wednesday of Bill Clinton's tenuous grasp on the presidency.

"He would be filled with a great deal of sadness about the stress placed on the country."

His escape, Taylor said, would be baseball.

Nixon's appreciation for football has been well documented, about how he once drew a play for George Allen's Washington Redskins to use in the Super Bowl and agreed to an interview with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson as long as the subject did not stray from football.

But Taylor said Nixon also was a staunch baseball fan from the time he saw his first major league game in 1939--Joe DiMaggio hit a home run against the Washington Senators.

This weekend, the Nixon Library is offering free admission to its latest presentation, "President Nixon and America's Pastime: A Special Exhibit of Classic Baseball Memorabilia in Honor of McGwire and Sosa."

More than 50 items from Nixon's private collection are on display, including autographed balls from 11 Yankee teams between 1949 and '60, a World Series ring from the Mets' 1969 championship team and Carl Yastrzemski's 1967 MVP trophy.

Mark McGwire's parents contributed memorabilia from his career and the library also managed to collect Sammy Sosa items.

"Right now, President Nixon would have been beside himself," Taylor said. "His Yankees are taken care of. But he would be biting his fingernails about his other favorite teams, the Mets and the Angels."

Taylor, a former Nixon aide, said some of the president's most pleasurable moments in his last years were spent in his New York apartment with grandson Christopher Cox, watching Yankee games on television while listening to the Mets on the radio.

*

So Charlie Blaney was forced out as head of the Dodgers' minor league operations. What's he done for us lately? . . .

The Dodgers had five consecutive rookies of the year but none since 1996. . . .

Of course, Hideo Nomo didn't come through the minor leagues, Todd Hollandsworth has been either injured or in a slump since his rookie year and Mike Piazza was a 62nd-round draft choice whose potential was lost on many within the organization. . . .

Blaney gave 32 good years to the Dodgers, but the cold hard fact is that the minor-league system isn't what it used to be. . . .

At least, I think that's what Tom Lasorda was telling us when he shipped out "prospects" such as Paul Konerko, Dennis Reyes, Peter Bergeron and Ted Lilly. . . .

Piazza is sounding more like Yogi Berra every day. . . .

Attributing his hot September to increased rest, Piazza said, "Basically, I try to sleep when I wake up." . . .

Luc Robitaille is in midseason form, with three goals and two assists in the 8-3 victory over the Ducks on Tuesday night. . . .

So is Duck enforcer Stu Grimson, who was kicked out of the game in the first period. . . .

Brian Hamilton and Darren Eliot, the Duck radio commentators, are trying to start something, dissing Rob Blake. . . .

Both said on the air that the King defenseman didn't deserve to win the Norris Trophy because he was a minus-three in the plus-minus ratings. . . .

They preferred Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom or St. Louis' Sean Pronger. . . .

On his fight against the formidable Ike Quartey on Nov. 21, Oscar De La Hoya says, "I knew that I'd be fighting all the fighters. I was just being very patient about it. It was sometimes frustrating that people in the media weren't as patient as I was." . . .

I don't know why he thinks that, just because a New York writer dubbed him Chicken De La Hoya. . . .

As usual, I spent part of my day Wednesday watching Steve Lyons on television. . . .

Only this wasn't Steve Lyons, the Fox baseball analyst, but Dr. Steve Lyons, the Weather Channel meteorologist. . . .

He offered the most reliable forecast about UCLA's game Saturday at Miami. . . .

The Bruins might be able to beat the Hurricanes, but not a hurricane.

*

While wondering if Lawrence Phillips has to have his picture on a post office wall before the NFL will give up on him, I was thinking: The world is a safer, less confusing place when the Cubs lose the way they did Wednesday, Dusty Baker must be a very good manager, UCLA should schedule Miami of Ohio in the future.

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