Billy Martin Proves Easy Mark for Variety of Barbs

The occasion was a roast at Las Vegas in honor of Billy Martin, and baseball’s celebrated on-again, gone-again manager was the target of more than a few verbal barbs.

“Billy’s the only player listed in both the Baseball Register and Ring Magazine,” said former Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks. “His hitting coach was Jake LaMotta.”

Former Yankee Graig Nettles said Martin had been credited with “stealing 12 bases in an 11-year career--and none of them have been returned.”

Said Hall of Famer Whitey Ford: “I’m Billy’s best friend, and even I don’t like him.


“He’s got a good heart--but I can’t say much for his liver.”

Trivia: In 1952, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Bill Mosienko set a National Hockey League mark that has so far proven impossible to beat. What is it?

Earning respect: None of its teams came close to making the Final Four, but the West Coast Athletic Conference enjoyed one of its most successful basketball seasons.

For first time in the 37-year history of the conference, four of its teams won 20 games--St. Mary’s (25-5), Loyola Marymount (20-11), Santa Clara (20-11) and Pepperdine (20-13).


Better yet, the conference’s player of the year, Hank Gathers of Loyola Marymount, led the nation in scoring with a 32.7 points-per-game average.

No, there’s no funny tag-line. It’s just something worth noting.

To bet or not to bet: Best-selling author and one-time champion jockey Dick Francis is always amazed at the difference between race fans on either side of the Atlantic.

“It seems that here in the United States, people go to the race track to bet and make money,” he said. “In Britain, hundreds of thousands of people go to the races because it’s an enjoyable day out, not to bet.

“I have never seen anything as beautiful as Royal Ascot with the horses parading around the walking ring. It’s a real eye-opener. I’ve been at Belmont Park and seen people who never watch the races (except on the TV monitor).”

Hirsute: The end of spring training seems as good a time as any to recall the time Frenchy Bordagaray grew a beard and a mustache while preparing for an upcoming Brooklyn Dodgers’ season.

Manager Casey Stengel was not amused, and ordered Bordagaray to rid himself of both.

“If there are going to be any clowns around here, it’ll be me,” Stengel said.


Now coaching for the Vatican . . .: Don’t look for Indiana’s Bob Knight to condone the firing of any of his fellow basketball coaches. Quite the contrary.

“There are coaches who have been fired this year who are among the best coaches in the country,” Knight said.

“I think it’s a sick thing. Let the athletic director or the chancellor coach. Catholicism has been on the decline around the world. Maybe they should fire the Pope. It makes about as much sense.”

Trivia Answer: Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. They came at 6:09, 6:20 and 6:30 of the third period, all against goaltender Lorne Anderson and all three at even strength.

Quotebook: Willie Mays, in his autobiography ‘Say Hey’: “All I ever wanted was to play baseball forever.”