Elias Bureau Ranks Hershiser as No. 2

Nobody in Los Angeles will want to read this, but the Elias Sports Bureau--official statistician for major league baseball--says pitcher Roger Clemens of the Red Sox, not Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers, is the best player in baseball.

Statistical rankings for the past 2 years gave Clemens a 96.203 score for the 1987-88 seasons, with Hershiser at 96.135.

Asked how this could be, Bob Rosen of the bureau explained by phone from New York that playoff and World Series statistics don’t count--and, for pitchers, neither do batting averages.

In the Series, Hershiser also outhit the A’s power combo of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, 3 hits to 2.


Aside from the numbers, though, Rosen said he had his own, personal opinion about Hershiser: “I thought for the past three years he’s been the best pitcher in the major leagues. He was just playing for a bad team. I wish the Mets could have got him when his value was down.”

Braven Dyer Jr., director of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, nominates the Rev. Bob Richards as a peer of Hershiser as another athlete who rose above his sport--literally.

Richards, who a later generation will recall as the man on the Wheaties box, dominated the pole vault for much of the 1950s. He was 30 in 1956 when he won his third Olympic vaulting medal--his second gold, still a record. In the era before fiberglass poles, Richards was the only vaulter consistently clearing 15 feet, and he did it 126 times.

“They called him ‘the Vaulting Vicar,’ ” Dyer said. “There was nobody else around. He was unbeatable for a long, long period of time.”


Richards was an ordained minister with the House of the Brethren.

A man spotted a former fighter at Madison Square Garden and said, “How are you, Mr. Liston?”

“What?” the former fighter said, looking as if he had been struck.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Patterson,” said the embarrassed man.

Floyd Patterson laughed.

Two first-round knockout losses to the late Sonny Liston are 25 years in the past for Patterson, who is intimately involved with boxing’s present through his adopted son, Tracy Harris Patterson, a 23-year-old featherweight with a 26-1 record.

The 53-year-old Patterson trains and manages Tracy.

Trivia Time: As heavyweight champions of different eras, what did Patterson have in common with Mike Tyson?


This is not considered trivia, at least in Louisiana, but what is the logo on the side of the New Orleans Saints’ helmets?

It’s a fleur-de-lis, a French royal symbol for a flower and an emblem long associated with New Orleans, but NBC’s Mel Proctor and Joe Namath didn’t know that when they did last Sunday’s telecast of the game against the Raiders from the Superdome--and, boy, was the Louisiana House upset.

The legislators took time out Tuesday from considering a tax package to criticize NBC Sports and to draft a resolution offering a lesson in royal symbolism.

“Though the people of Louisiana would not expect a quarterback from Pennsylvania by way of the University of Alabama to have become acquainted with the significance of this peculiarly French symbol, it is no credit to either announcer or to the network to conduct such an ignorant discussion of the Saints’ distinctive hallmark,” reads the resolution, " . . . and, as we say in La Louisiane: ‘Laisse les bons temps rouler’ (let the good times roll).”

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-6 midway through the NFL season, and the restless natives are circling Coach Tom Landry again. A local newspaper is taking a poll on whether Landry should quit.

“I don’t read the newspapers much and I don’t care how the poll comes out,” Landry said. “I’m not shocked by (the criticism) when you realize some of the outstanding people who write.

“I just hope that when I recover, they write something good once in a while.”

Trivia Answer: As youngsters, both were tutored by the late Cus D’Amato.


Cornell University cornerback Evan Parke may have a new nickname: Snake.

When Parke returned to his apartment in Ithaca, N.Y., early Sunday morning, he stepped into the shower to find it already occupied--by a 6-foot Bahamian boa constrictor.

“I didn’t need to look twice,” he said. “The snake freaked me out. I jumped back and picked up my towel. I left the water on. I didn’t want to look at it.”

The snake is believed to belong to a former tenant who reported a snake missing two months ago.


Kent Hull, center for the Buffalo Bills (7-1), enjoying the rarefied air of first place in the AFC East: “I’ve never been 7-1 in my life, at any level of football. But we’ve still got eight ballgames left. When they put that little X in the paper beside Buffalo that says we’ve clinched, then I’ll start talking about the playoffs.”