The greatest ice hockey player in history, Wayne Gretzky, a nine-time NHL most valuable player and 10-time scoring champion, had a pen in his hand Wednesday night and was signing jerseys, hockey sticks and wine bottles in such rapid fashion that it seemed as if he might develop carpal tunnel syndrome before the night was over.
"I've signed my name about 2,000 times," he said. "It doesn't faze me. I can sign forever."
Gretzky and his wife, Janet, are the parents of five children, including 15-year-old Trevor, who is a 6-foot-4 freshman at Westlake Village Oaks Christian. Trevor plays baseball for the Lions, so the Gretzkys decided to help raise funds for a new baseball stadium by having an estate sale this morning at the school.
Clothes, sports equipment, photos, furniture, toys -- they will all be available, in a wide range of prices. At a wine-tasting and fund-raising event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village on Wednesday night, guests could pay $250 for a signed hockey stick and photo and $1,200 for a signed jersey, photo and Wayne Gretzky Estates' wine bottle.
Oaks Christian is hoping to raise $150,000 for the stadium that will be used by athletes throughout the Conejo Valley.
Gretzky isn't leaving Southern California despite selling his Lake Sherwood home for $18.4 million to former major leaguer Lenny Dykstra. He has another residence in Lake Sherwood and a home in Phoenix, where he's the coach and co-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes. But his children, who wanted to stay in Southern California, asserted their influence, so he will commute to Phoenix.
"My kids like going to Oaks Christian, so they won't move," he said.
Trevor, a catcher, has his father excited because of his promise as a baseball player.
"I live through him quite a bit because my dream was to play baseball," Gretzky said.
There was nothing noble about Trinity League principals deciding to cancel their three football games Friday and not reschedule them because of the wildfires. The matchups were so unappealing that few seemed to care if they got played. But if it had been Anaheim Servite facing Santa Ana Mater Dei on Friday, something tells me the principals would have tried a little harder to not settle for a nine-game regular season.
If you're a high school soccer coach and a sophomore transfer from Argentina enrolls at your school, it's likely you will be jumping for joy. That's what Jake Gwin of Canoga Park is doing after seeing the talent of his newest player, 17-year-old Francesco Dobler, who was born in Italy, grew up in Buenos Aires and moved to the San Fernando Valley this year with his father. Dobler, who has some issues to resolve before he can play for Hunters, doesn't speak a word of English, but he can sure play the game.
"His technique is incredible," said Gwin, who guided Canoga Park to a 24-0-1 record last season and a No. 1 national ranking by StudentSports.com. "That's from playing in the streets of Argentina. The ball is like an extra appendage."
Canoga Park could win another City Championship even though it has only three starters returning. Its top player is senior Omar DeLaPiedra, who had 18 goals last season.
Woodland Hills Taft boys' basketball Coach Derrick Taylor is predicting a big season for UCLA-bound guard Jrue Holiday of North Hollywood Campbell Hall.
"You're going to see a high school version of Kobe Bryant," Taylor said.
As for how he's going to deal with 6-10 center Renardo Sidney of Los Angeles Fairfax, Taylor suggested that Sidney's coach, Harvey Kitani, encourage him to shoot lots of "threes."
At Calabasas, the boys' basketball team won't be lacking in good genes. The sons of former NBA players Mark Jackson and Mitch Richmond are on the team. Mark Jackson Jr. is a junior and Philip Richmond is a freshman. And 6-7 junior Evan Smith is the son of Gavin Smith, who played at Van Nuys and UCLA.
At Los Alamitos, Dillon Ratleff is the son of former Long Beach State and NBA player Ed Ratleff, and Jack Haley Jr. is the son of the former UCLA and NBA player.
When it comes to intense brothers, linebackers Blake and Dane Poole of Anaheim Esperanza are an intriguing pair. When younger brother Dane recently offered his hand to help Blake get up from the turf, Blake refused.
"They don't get along like brothers," said Coach Bill Pendleton, who added that if there's a disagreement, "we let them fight until it's settled."
Fall baseball games have begun, and here's my top five Southland teams going into 2008: Santa Ana Mater Dei, Long Beach Wilson, Encino Crespi, Cypress and Saugus.
There won't be any debate over who is the No. 1 freshman baseball prospect for the coming season. Christian Lopes, an infielder from Valencia, is already drawing praise while competing for a scout team filled with seniors.
"He's a pretty special athlete," Coach Jared Snyder said. "He's one of the best freshmen I've ever seen."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times