The long wait us over. ..
... Motown teams are back
LOWLY BUT SURELY, Detroit's professional sports are coming
around. It wasn't long ago that are sports enthusiasts were suffering
through what seemed to be an endless draught, as far as championship
teams were concerned.
The Pistons would struggle through a .500 season, with more excitement
off the court than on. The Red Wings were in such sorry shape that the club
couldn't give away tickets to its games.
The Lions just couldn't keep up with other NFL teams, scrapping each
season to stay at the .500 mark-aiM displaying a genuinely boring brand of
football in the process.
And of course the Tigers-an occasional spark to ignite some interest,
but rarely any lasting excitement.
The entire sporting environment taxed the loyalty of many a fan. They
were torn between accusations of being a fair weather friend and a disin-
terest in going out to the stadium or arena night after night, not only to see
the home town team lose, but lose with little excitement.
The city of Detroit, which had long been considered the best spprting,
town in America, was in a coma-and death was a definite possibility if a
cure wasn't found quickly.
Well, I think the cure has arrived, and it isn't just the early season show
of the Tigers. There is a new air in the professional sports scene, and almost
every club is contributing to it.
Of course the Tigers have to be singled out as a main force in the
revitalization. The years of promises about great young farm club players,
which led many to accuse the top brass of simply being too cheap to buy
some winners, now seem to be coming true.
And furthermore the Tigers are sustaining interest without one Mark
Fydrich. The Sykes, Thompsons, Whitakers and others have earned the in-
terest of Motown baseball fans. And to prove it, the fans are flocking to Tiger
Stadium. This weekend's series with the Red So should average over 40,000
in attendance each day.
And the mid-June series with the Yankees is already sold out.
But the Tigers aren't the only good thing that has happened. The Red
Wings set the town on fire last month, not only by making the playoffs, but by
dumping Atlanta in the first round and taking a game off the invincible
Canadiens. The pre-season slogan "Aggressive hockey is back in town"
generated little more than passing interest when it first came around. It tqo
proved to be more than another idle promise.
As for the Lions, there's little to be said at this point. Monty Clark is
preaching basics, which may or may not work- 'e will tell. I was at least
impressed with their draft picks, although the rpoblems of a quarterback
isn't going to disappear simply by ignoring it.
And how about the Pistons. They get high marks from me on both the
move to Pontiac and the hiring of Vitale. Just about everybody reckons
Vitale's hype will bring the crowds into the Silverdome next season, but the'
man is going to have to produce a winner if he expects the crowds to keep
I personally think Vitale can do the trick. The Pistons have long had the
talent to finish higher than they do. A good draft and Vitale's leadership will
lead to good things in Pontiac.
But perhaps the real surprise this season has been the activities of the
newly formed Detroit Express soccer club.
I amtruly impressed by their style. They have ignored their status as a
new franchise relegated to the basement, by going for the top names in soc-
cer. They have acquired a couple of 'superstars' and seem intent on being a
contender in their first year in the league.
They showed a good deal of class by televising the Detroit-Montreal
playoff game on the giant screen in the Silverdome, and delaying their star-
ting time until after the hockey game was completed.
Soccer just doesn't excite too many folks at this stage of its development
in the Midwest, but it will continue to grow and the Express will certainly
play a part in its development.
I'm sure all of these clubs have their faults. And as business entities
there are likely to be conflicts between the desires of fans and the decisions
of management. But when it comes down to it-I have gained a hell of a lot of
interest in Detroit sports, and I know I'm not alone
PUT A PERSOh AL IN THE DAILY.
-One Day, Up to 10 Words-$1.15
New York Yankee Willie Randolph dives back to second base in last night's game
between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. Randolph had rounded second
base and had to scramble back. Shortstop Larvell Blanks awaits the throw, which
arrived too late. For a run-down of last night's Major League action see page 19.
Cauthen thrown from
mount, iured slightly
NEW YORK (AP)-Steve Cauthen,
rider of Kentucky Derby winner Affir-
med, suffered a slight wrist injury
yesterday when he was thrown from his
mount after the fourth race at
Cauthen is scheduled to ride Affirmed
Saturday in the Preakness, the second
leg of the Triple Crown, at Pimlico
THE 18-YEAR-OLD wonder, who
became the first jockey to win over $6
million when he accomplished the feat
last year, was thrown when he tried to
pull up his mount, Northern Pro, after
the fourth race. The horse seemed to
bob his head, causing Cauthen to lose
his balance and go sprawling to the
Cauthen wanted to complete his
riding assignments, but a track
physician advised him to go home and
soak the wrist in water.
He is expected to return to riding
SHORT or LONG
Haircutting By Exports