Bill Prezant, co-trainer of Pinklon Thomas along with Angelo Dundee, says that not only is the WBC heavyweight champion injury-prone, he is something of a hypochondriac, leading to all sorts of problems in preparing for fights.
Prezant tells the New York Times of some of the problems leading up to the Mike Weaver fight in Las Vegas: "A week before the fight, he doubles over in pain. Can't straighten up his back. Angelo says he's going to call some specialists from Miami. I say, wait, before you call your professors, let me try something. I have Pinklon lie down on the bed and I go, snap, and put the disk back in place. Then I put him in a hot bath with Epsom salts, and the next day he's up and running.
"Two days later, he's hitting the heavy bag, and his hand swells up. The fight's off. I say, wait, and I take him to a doctor who gives him a cortisone shot. Two days after that, the fight's off again. 'Billy, I can't walk,' he tells me. He's walking funny. Wait, I say, let me see what kind of cup you're wearing. He takes it off. You know what? He's wearing a middleweight's cup. Too small for him.
"When the fight comes, and I look up, I can't believe we got him in the ring."
Trivia Time: There have been four managerial changes in the American League this year--at New York, Texas, Baltimore and Minnesota. This is only one short of the league record of five, set in 1981. What manager has been involved both years? (Answer below.)
After Billy Gardner was fired as the Minnesota manager, he was asked if he had any advice for replacement Ray Miller.
"If they wanted my advice, they wouldn't have fired me," he said.
What about claims that the chemistry between him and his players was wrong?
"I don't believe in chemistry," he said. "I'm not a college guy. I believe in strong pitching."
At that point, the interview was interrupted when the phone rang.
"Probably Reagan," Gardner said.
Add Gardner: He said one plus of his firing will be the opportunity to see his son, Bill Jr., play American Legion ball in Waterbury, Conn., this summer.
What did his son say when he heard of the firing?
Gardner: "He said, 'Those bleepin' guys bleeped you.' That's all he said."
When Dwight Gooden beat the Chicago Cubs, 1-0, last week, one of the spectators in Shea Stadium said: "Gooden just brought me out of my seat. The only other athlete I've ever seen that did that to me was Larry Bird. It was fun to see another athlete face the pressure like that and succeed."
The spectator was Wayne Gretzky.
For What It's Worth: All-American running back Bo Jackson, drafted by the Angels as an outfielder, batted .401 for Auburn in the Southeastern Conference this season. In 42 games, he hit 17 homers, scored 55 runs and knocked in 43 runs.
Trivia Answer: Billy Gardner. In 1981, he replaced John Goryl as the Minnesota manager. Other 1981 changes: New York (Gene Michael-Bob Lemon), Seattle (Maury Wills-Rene Lachemann), Kansas City (Jim Frey-Dick Howser), California (Jim Fregosi-Gene Mauch). Quotebook Orlando Renegades defensive end Kevin Kellin, on the 17-10 win over the Express in the battle of the USFL's two losingest teams: "We wanted to lose the least."