THE MICHIGAN DAIL'Y
Wednesdoy, August 3, 1977
Page Twelve THE MICHIGAN DAILY Wednesday August 3, 977
HOMERS EXCITE FANS
Pro spftball a 'smashing' success
By GARY KICINSKI
Special To The natty
EAST DETROIT--What do the Goofy's,
the Bourbons, the Suds and the Caesars
have in common?
They're not the names of Disney char-
acters or of local intramural teams. But
they are members of the new American
Professional Slo-Pitch League, which is
enjoying a measurable amount of success
in its inaugural season-especially here
at Memorial Field, the home of the De-
YOU MAY HAVE heard all the cliches
about slo-pitch softball. You may have
heard a 28-21 victory described as "win-
ning by a touchdown" or a 12-11 game
reported as a "pitcher's duel."'
But the pun-makers who call the con-
tests "fHome Run Derbys" because of
the proliferation of long ball blasts can-
not ignore the fact that pro softball is
drawing and is drawing well.
Thanks to some excellent signings by
Caesar's owner Mike Ilitch, the fans be-
gan pouring into Memorial Field in ca-
pacity droves. The early-season demand
for tickets prompted the building of addi-
tional bleacher seats around the outfield
to up the seating capacity from 3,500 to
nearly 9,000. They have been averaging
about 5,500 fans per night, about 1,000
more than they figured they needed to
titch's master plan called for the sign-
ing of mostly local amateur stars whom
he felt would be more likely to attract
fans. He also signed ex-Detroit Tigers
Norm Cash and Jim Northrup, whose
names themselves were good for pub-
THE itFFORT to promote pro softball
as "the people's game" is obvious. In a
welcoming statement to the fans, litch
wrote, "Slo-pitch is a people's game.
Action is close to the fans who will quick-
ly form close ties with the players."
Ilitch's plan seems to have worked. The
relaxed, informal atmosphere at the sta-
dium seems to have made it easier for
thd fans to relate to the players.
"You look at some of these guys with
their guts drooping over their belts, and
it's not too hard to imagine yourself out
there on the field too," said one fan.
The Detroit Caesars play their
home games at East Detroit's Me-
morial Field, located at 10 Mile
and Flowers. They have two home
series left this season-this Friday
and Saturday with the Chicago
Storm, and on August 26 and 27
against the Cincinnati Suds. Double-
headers are scheduled each night.
Tickets are $2 and game time is
7:30 on Friday and 7:00 on Satur-
The availability of the players in con-
trast to security precautions taken at
major league games may be another ap-
pealing aspect. The players often stroll
around the stands before a game, signing
autographs and fraternizing with the
fans. They occasionally toss a ball over
the fence for the spectators. Opposing
outfielders have been known to carry on
conversations with the bleacher fans dur-
ing a ballgame.
The Caesars even take a leak in the
same john the fans use. How's that for
forming close ties?
IN- FACT, the aura of professionalism
seems to be totally lacking, save for the
playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
But it is probably this very informality,
this "Sunday picnic" atmosphere, that
the fans come out to enjoy.
The crowd seems to encompass people
of all ages and from all areas. The truly
'bona fide fans sit along the. first base
side behind the Caesars dugout. Most of
these fans are season ticket holders who
followed one or more of the Caesars dur-
ing their amateur careers in Detroit.
Along the third base side sit the re-
maining fans who are interested in seeing
a good ball game from a good seat..
And then there are the ball-hungry
fans who reside in the outfield bleachers.
Many of them come equipped with gloves
in the fervent hope that a souvenir soft-
ball will wing its way toward them.
THE BATTLE for the privilege of own-
ing a Caesars softball is another exciting
aspect to the game. A group of ,young-
sters ranging in number from 20 to 50
and in age from 7 to about 27 congregate
beyond the outfield bleachers, waiting for
one of the fairly frequent tape-measure
blasts. At the crack of the bat, they
jockey for position and eye the sky for
-the spherical objeyt. Once the ball has
been spotted, the crowd races en masse
after it, and a pileup usually results like
you haven't seen snee a fumble at the
Super Bowl. In at least one instance, the
youngster on the bottom has required
The people come from all over to see
the Caesars play. Many of the ballhawks
in the outfield are neighborhood kids, but
some fans come from as far away as
Livonia, Westland and Southgate to see
pro softball. Beer and pizza sales con-
tribute to the good-time atmosphere, and
a lot of teenagers say it's not a bad way
to spend a Friday or Saturday night.
Opinions vary among the fans as to
whether the abundance of home runs
might hurt the sport. On one night back
in June when the wind was blowing out,
the Caesars smacked six consecutive cir-
cuit clouts on their way to a 44-12 victory
over the Minnesota Goofy's. When the
next hitter drilled a pitch into left and
was held to only a single, the crowd
sarcastically booed him.
"IT DOES TEND to get a little boring
when there are a lot of homers," said a
28 year-old man from Roseville. "Maybe
if they moved the fences back about 30
feet it would put more defense in the
But many of .the fans enjoy the power
display. Especially the kids in the out-
The Caesars make sure that the fans
who like home runs get to see enough
of them. They lead the league in team
home runs by a wide margin, and sport
the league's biggest belter in Ronnie
Ford, who has over 65 home runs and
140 RBI's in lit'le more than 170 at-bats.
His .631 average is second only to fan-
favorite Mike Nye's .647 on the team.
Nye is a 5-9 180-pound outfielder from
Jacksonville, Fta. who would make Cin-
cinnati fans forget all about Pete Rose if
he played there. The left-handed speed-
ster draws the loudest cheers of all the
Caesars (including Cash and Northrup).
Nye can pick a wallop when he wants to
(he has 25 homers), but the fans get
more of a thrill watching him turn a
routine single into a routine double or
make a spectacular, fence-scaling catch
than seeing even the most mamwmIth
home run blast.
THIS MAY BE an idication that the
future of pro softball lies it the signing
of players like Nye as opposed to the big
brutes who crunch a ball out of sight and
waddle around the bases. But for the
present, nobody can argue with the suc-
cess enjoyed by pro softball it terms of
No indication has been given yet tht
the league may undergo, the financial
woes of the ABA or WFI,. But the league
is by no means trying to compete tvith
major league baseball.
And the final yardstick as a measuiie
of success lies in the fact that a Detroit
television station plans to televise some
future Caesars' road games back to the
It's not exactly a pilot for "Mutunday
Night Softball" but it's a step in the
right direction .. .
Cubs pop Reds; Phils fall to SD
By The Associated Press
wald drilled a pinch-hit, two-run
single to cap a five-run eighth-
inning rally and give the Chi-
cago Cubs a 5-2 victory over the
Cincinnati Reds last night.
Rookie Mario Soto, 1-1, a 21-
year-old right-hander making his
second major league start, fired
72/3 innings of shutout ball be-
fore the Cubs' outburst. Willie
Hernandez, 5-3, picked up the
victory in relief of starter Bill
man slammed a two-run homer
and rookie Bob Owchinko and
reliever Rollie Fingers checked who had tripled, for a 2-0
the Philadelphia Phillies on six Padres lead in the third off
hits last night as the San Diego loser Jim Kaat, 4-7.
Padres beat the Phillies 4-2. San Diego made it 3-0 in the
Kingman's 15th home run of fourth on a leadoff double by
the season scored Bill Almon, Mike Ivie and Tucker Ashford's
two-out s i n g I e. The Phiies
reached Owchinko for a run in
the fourth on a double by Jerry
Martin, Mike Schmidt's single
and Greg Luzinski's sacritice
Major Leagie Standiigs
AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL I EAGUE
W L Pet. GB W L Pet. GB
Baltimore 60 44 .577 - Chicago 61 42 .592 -
Boston 58 43 .574 '.4 Philadelphia 59 44 .573 2
Newt Yort 58 46 .558 2 Pittsburgh 60 45 .571 2
Detroit 46 55 .455 1it. St. Lotis 58 48 .547 4'-
Cleveland 45 56 .445 131.. Montreal 49 55 .471 1t's
Milwaukee 46 59 .437 141., New York 44 59 .427 17
Toronto 36 66 .353 3 West
West Los Angeles 67 39 .632 -
Chicano 6? 39 .614 - Cincinnati 52 52 .500 14
Minnesota 60 46 .566 4.. louston 49 58 .458 18'
Kansas City 56 44 .560 5'1 San Francisco 48 59 .449 19',
Texas 55 45 .550 61, San Diego 46 62 .46 1T
California 48 53 .475 14 Atlanta 37 67 .356 29
Seattle 46 61 .430 19 Yesterday's Results
Oakland 42 61 .408 21 Montreal 10, San Francisco 2
San Diego 4. Philadelphia 2
Yesterday's Results St. Louis 6, Atlanta 4
Cleveland 9, Miwatkeet? Los Angeles7, New York 2
Today's Games Chicago 5, Cincinnatig
Toronto (G4rvin, 7-10) at Kansas Pittsburgh 6, Houston 3
City (Splittorff, 8-5), n Today's Games
Texas (Ellis, 5-8) at Chicago (Bar- Los Angeles (Ran, 12-2) at New
rios, 11-4), n. York (Matlack, 6-12).
Cleveland (nibby, 9-7) at Milwau- San Francisco (Barr, 10-7) at
kee (Haas, 7-7), n. Montreal (J. Brown, 7-8), n.
Detroit (Arroyo, 6-9) at Minne- San Diego (Shirley, 6-1) at Phila-
sota (Schueler, 4-5), n. delphia (Carlton, 14-6), n,
Boston (Paxton, 3-2) at Seattle St. Louis (Rasmussen, 8-10) at
(Wheelock, 5-6), n. Atlanta (Ruthven, 3-7), n.
Baltimore (Flanagan, 8-8) at Oak- Chicagg (R. -Reuschel, 15-3) at
land (Langford, 7-12), n. Cincinnati (Moskau, 2-Z), n
New York (Guidry, 8-5) at Cali- Pittsburgh (Kison, 6-4) at Hous-
fornia (Ityan, 14-10), n. ton (J .Niekro, 6-3), n.
Houston Astros' Enos Cabell almost gets his block knocked off while being tagged hard by Pitts
burgh catcher Ed Ott during their game last night at Houston.