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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

At Third Base Was a Wolf in Umpire's Clothing

April 20, 2001|HOUSTON MITCHELL

Umpire Jim Wolf got to watch his brother pitch from up close.

Jim Wolf, a minor league umpire working his first big-league games of the season, worked third base Wednesday while brother Randy pitched the second game of the Philadelphia Phillies' doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"It's special for me and my brother," said Randy Wolf, who dropped to 0-3 with the 5-3 loss to the Cubs. "We both dreamed about being in the big leagues on the same field at the same time."

It's only the second time in big league history that there has been an umpire-player brother combination.

In 1972, Bill Haller worked a game his brother Tom, a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, was playing.

The Wolf brothers, who grew up in West Hills, played baseball at El Camino Real High. Jim also played at Pierce College, Randy at Pepperdine.

Jim Wolf was first called up in September 1999, and major league officials said then they'd make sure he didn't work the plate in games his brother was scheduled to start.

Wolf, an umpire in the Pacific Coast League, worked eight games in 1999 and 29 last season.

"It probably shouldn't happen," Cub Manager Don Baylor said of Jim Wolf working games involving his brother's team.

But his brother doesn't choose his schedule, Randy Wolf said.

"It's not his decision to make," Randy Wolf said. "He's a professional and knows how to handle it. He's a good umpire."

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Trivia time: Who are the four starting pitchers (minimum 1,500 innings) to hold opponents to a batting average under .210 in their career?

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The not-so-greatest: Laila Ali, daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali, followed her father into the ring. Now she's taking up another skill of his: entertaining.

Laila Ali is in Chuluota, Fla., this week, acting in the television show "Sheena." She's playing a role close to real life, as a boxer whose father was a top fighter.

"It's been great," Ali said, not long after shooting a scene in an oak-forested ranch near Orlando. "I've been having a lot of fun doing this, more fun than I thought I'd have. I get to beat up the bad guys, I get to box, and that's always fun."

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SuperSonic rant: Seattle fan Jim Ratt, when asked by Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times exactly why he blames SuperSonic part-owner and General Manager Wally Walker for the team's problems:

"Jim McIlvaine. Firing George Karl. Olden Polynice. Billy Owens. Vladimir Stepania. Want me to go on? Paralyzing the salary cap with Vin Baker's salary. Nixing good trades Karl wanted to make. And, oh yes, Paul Westphal, Paul Westphal, Paul Westphal."

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More SuperSonics: Ratt on Patrick Ewing: "They promised he'd be rested for the playoffs. Now he's going to be resting for the playoffs."

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League of nations: At one point in the second quarter of Wednesday's 120-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves the Dallas Mavericks had players from five countries on the court: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Steve Nash (Canada), Eduardo Najera (Mexico), Wang Zhizhi (China) and Vernon Maxwell (United States).

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On the road again: Country-music star Willie Nelson, who led the first Farm Aid benefit concert 15 years ago, will lend his name to another charity event.

The Willie Nelson 10K for Farm Aid will be held Oct. 21 at Austin, Texas.

"I'm excited," Nelson said. "If the Austin race is successful, maybe we should go to other parts of the world with it."

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Trivia answer: Nolan Ryan (.204), Sandy Koufax (.205), Randy Johnson (.208) and Sid Fernandez (.209).

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And finally: New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre, on being ejected from Tuesday's game for arguing with an umpire: "I said something wrong, and I didn't mean to say something wrong. I meant to say 'If you see the replay you're either going to look like a fool or feel like a fool,' and I wound up calling him a fool, and he threw me out for that."

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