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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Braves Aren't Touching Home With Fan Base

May 31, 2000|MIKE TERRY

Atlanta's population is 68% black, yet more than 95% of the people who buy tickets for Brave games are white. The Braves acknowledged that of the 10 million fans who have attended games at Turner Field the last three years, less than 5% were black.

Home run king Henry Aaron, a Brave vice president and one of the highest-ranking black officials in the major leagues, says the club isn't interested in attracting black fans. "They don't need the dollar from the black community," Aaron told Bill Zack of Morris Communications. "Blacks aren't wanted on the field or in the stands, and that's the gospel truth."

The Braves' ticket prices are among the highest in the majors, but neighboring DeKalb County is one of the most affluent black communities in the country.

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More Atlanta: Brave outfielder Brian Jordan notes the local African American sports ticket-buyer "doesn't have a problem going to basketball or football games--they go in droves. Baseball is not really a sport that causes excitement. You have to have a mind-set for baseball.

"Most [black] people who come up to me say, 'Baseball is boring. There's no way I'm sitting through nine innings.' But if you go to a white family, they say, 'Hey, we enjoy it.' It bothers me as an African American baseball player not to see more African Americans out in the stands watching, but that's just the way it is."

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Trivia time: This year's Stanley Cup finals mark the first time two transplanted franchises are meeting for the NHL championship. Where did the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars originate?

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Rough rider: Troy Aikman usually has enough prying eyes from rabid Cowboy fans and intense Dallas media. Now others have their doubts.

"No player in the NFL is more on the spot this season than Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman," writes Joel Buchsbaum of Pro Football Weekly. "He got the coach he wanted, the offensive coordinator he wanted and the receivers he wanted, and the head coach he didn't want was fired. He has a great offensive line in front of him and still has a top running back in Emmitt Smith. It's up to Aikman to show that he still has it and isn't a fading star who is pulling the team down instead of pushing it up as he used to."

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Long drive: Mike Langella, a 26-year-old industrial glue salesman from New Jersey, was to begin play Tuesday night on the Ultimate Par-3 Course--a 49-hole track that covers 9,003 yards, four time zones and just under 11,000 road miles.

Langella, a 2-handicapper, will play one par-three hole in 48 states and the District of Columbia. He was scheduled to begin with the 165-yard, ninth hole at the Arizona Biltmore CC in Phoenix and will finish June 14 in San Francisco at the Lincoln Park Golf Course's 240-yard 17th.

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Looking back: On this day in 1942, Sam Snead won the PGA Championship, beating Jim Turnesa in the final round, 2 and 1. He would repeat the feat exactly seven years later, beating Johnny Palmer in the final round, 3 and 2.

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Trivia answer: The Devils moved to New Jersey for the 1982-83 season from Colorado after starting in Kansas City. The Stars came to Texas from Minnesota after the 1992-93 season.

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And finally: From Mark Kreidler in the Sacramento Bee: "Already-rich former star player Larry Bird's decision to direct the Indiana Pacers for three--and only three--seasons has such a ring of sense about it that you wonder if it won't be the blueprint for future coaches in the NBA. Assuming, of course, they are not named Don Nelson."

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