A Case of Have Fun, Will Travel

The New York Yankees, who for years have existed in a circus atmosphere, can count a new clown on the roster.

The Yankees are the eighth team and ninth stop in the major league career of Dave LaPoint, a 29-year-old left-hander. He previously was with the St. Louis Cardinals (twice), Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I definitely lead the league in teammates," he told the Hartford Courant at the Yankees' spring training facility at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "People ask me what I'm going to do after my career is over, and I tell them I have eight years of old-timers games to attend. When I get into the Equitable series, I could play in almost every park."

Add LaPoint: He usually has a different act for every occasion, whether it's practicing the time-honored tradition of giving hotfoots, or joking in the Pirate clubhouse with then-vice president George Bush ("Hey, I really like your beer"), or, a longtime favorite, spitting tobacco on teammates' shoes.

"I make it a point to get every one of my teammates at least once a season," LaPoint said. "The only time I got into trouble was when I pulled it on Steve Garvey in San Diego. His face turned red, and the veins in his neck stuck out. He grabbed me and put me in a bear hug that nearly made me pass out. Here was the All-American boy strangling me as he very quietly said, 'I don't like that.' "

LaPoint isn't sure if he'll pull the maneuver this year.

"Gary Ward will be tough," he said of the menacing-looking outfielder. "And, somehow I can't see myself saying to Dave Winfield, 'Look, this is just something I do.' "

Oklahoma State basketball Coach Leonard Hamilton, on soft-spoken freshman Byron Houston: "When I was recruiting him, I told our staff he talked like Jane and played like Tarzan."

Twenty-nine years ago tonight: Philadelphia Warriors rookie Wilt Chamberlain set a National Basketball Assn. record with his fourth 50-point game of the season, scoring 58 in a 129-122 victory over the New York Knicks.

When Missouri basketball Coach Norm Stewart collapsed with a bleeding ulcer Feb. 9 on the way to Norman, Okla., he was rushed to a hospital at Oklahoma City. He was in the intensive-care unit when his Tigers played Oklahoma, and Stewart wanted to watch the game on ESPN.

One problem: The hospital wasn't wired for cable television. Stewart didn't want to hear that. He wanted to watch the game, bleeding ulcer or not.

Because cable was available in the neighborhood, the local cable company was called into service. About 500 yards of cable was strung through the hospital parking lot and then up to Stewart's room. The workmen got the job done 10 minutes before the game started.

Department of Incidental Information: Ohio State forward Treg Lee is named for his father's four best friends: Tony, Ronnie, Eddie and Greg.

Quotebook

Xavier basketball Coach Pete Gillen, on his role in society: "I'm just a caraway seed in the bakery of life."

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