LOCAL SPORTS TOUR TEEMS WITH STARS : Beauty, Convenience and Seclusion Make the Area Natural Haven for Athletes

Times Staff Writer

For tourists, it's easy, not to mention exciting, to buy a map or take a bus for a tour of movie stars' homes in Beverly Hills.

Who knows, if you're lucky, you might see Ernest Borgnine doing some work outside his home or Elizabeth Taylor in the vicinity of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

There's no doubt about it: Beverly Hills is still the haven of the show-business crowd.

But if the West Side, and Beverly Hills in particular, is home base for the movie and television elite, a strong case could be made for the South Bay and Palos Verdes Estates as the in spot for the sports crowd.

You could go for an ice cream in Redondo Beach or a pizza in Manhattan Beach and run into you're favorite Raider, Dodger or Laker. They're out there in large numbers.

Why? The answer seems obvious.

LAX a Factor

The South Bay is a natural haven for Southland athletes. Not only are there the wide-open beaches, the clean air and the beauty and seclusion of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, but convenience as well: The Raiders train in El Segundo, the Lakers and Kings play in Inglewood, and Los Angeles International Airport is the hub for the constantly on-the-go athlete.

Since no enterprising person has as yet come up with a map to the homes of the sports stars living in the South Bay, here's just a little peek at what might be available.

The tour could start out with two heavy hitters on the northern boundary: former heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton and Raiders defensive back Lester Hayes in Ladera Heights.

Heading southwest toward Westchester, we might drop by the homes of Laker stars Byron Scott and James Worthy. Really sharp eyes may spot Dodgers reliever Ken Howell and Raiders Stefon Adams and Reggie McKenzie around Inglewood.

Taking the beach route past LAX, the first stop is El Segundo, where Raiders stellar tight end Todd Christensen resides.

Continuing south you might notice Dodgers second baseman (and teen heartthrob) Steve Sax jogging on the Strand near his Manhattan Beach home, or see some of his neighbors down the road--Laker forward Kurt Rambis and Raiders Rod Martin, Rusty Hilger and Vann McElroy.

Take the Strand farther south to Redondo Beach and you might catch a glimpse of Raiders lineman Howie Long and Dodgers first baseman Franklin Stubbs.

And if you got blind-sided somewhere in-between, it was probably in Hermosa Beach, compliments of Raiders cornerback Mike Haynes.

Those driving should watch for runners. They're all over, like Olympian Monica Joyce, who lives and runs in Hermosa Beach.

Christensen, who has a young family, said the small-town atmosphere was one reason he chose El Segundo over the tonier beach cities.

Sax Likes Privacy

"It's been a good situation for myself and my family," he said. "It has afforded us numerous opportunities for the children. It has a good school system. The weather's good. There are numerous variables. The thing is, El Segundo is a family oriented community. Next door, Manhattan Beach is just the opposite."

Sax, however, bought a house in Manhattan Beach for tranquility. "I like the laid-back type of atmosphere and the privacy I have down here," he said. "I get recognized, but still it's nice and quiet, the people are friendly. It's got everything. I just thought it was an ideal spot."

Those who really want a measure of privacy are in Palos Verdes, whose green hills, horse trails and panoramic views have attracted such diverse homeowners as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, New York Rangers hockey star Marcel Dionne and former wild-and-crazy football lineman Lyle Alzado.

Montana and Dionne moved out this year, and Alzado's million-dollar Palos Verdes Estates home is up for sale, but keep your eyes open and you still may see a half-dozen Raiders, including James Lofton and Jerry Robinson, tennis stars Tracy Austin and Eliot Teltscher and coaching gurus George Allen and Pete Newell. The peninsula is also popular with Kings players, including goalie Rollie Melanson.

Sports-Crazy San Pedro

The southern border brings us to sports-crazy San Pedro, home of the Sportswalk of Fame on 6th Street as well as Dodgers third base coach Joe Amalfitano, a native son.

All this sight-seeing can work up a thirst, so a logical stop is C. J. Brett's in Hermosa Beach, where one or all of the Brett brothers can often be found and you can sip something cold in the shadow of Kansas City Royals star George Brett's famed pine-tar bat and hitting championship trophies. George, the pride of El Segundo, officially lives near Kansas City now but is often seen around the South Bay in the winter.

That concludes today's tour. For concentrated star-gazing, sports fans may want to hang around Loyola Marymount University during basketball season. The Lakers and most of the NBA teams practice there. But for seeing the athletes in a normal environment there's no place like home.

Christensen points out, "As pro athletes, you go where the work is." But he said he may continue to live in the South Bay after his playing days.

To Sax, that makes sense. "I don't know why more guys don't live down here."

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