The Pittsburgh Pirates tried giving away golf umbrellas and beach towels, but nothing helped in selling out Three Rivers Stadium.
Then Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals came to town. The Saturday and Sunday games were the first consecutive regular-season sellouts at Three Rivers Stadium.
“The Mark McGwire home run craze is quite phenomenal,” said Vic Gregovits, the Pirates’ vice president of marketing and broadcasting. Crowds of 38,149 showed up for beach towels and 41,568 for umbrellas. McGwire’s appearance drew 45,082 Saturday and 42,134 Sunday.
Trivia time: In Roger Maris’ 61 home run season in 1961, how many did he hit against Angel pitchers?
Feet first: An Italian league soccer player, obviously not used to using his hands, made a bad throw that caused a water balloon to injure two children riding in a car.
“We were throwing balloons at each other and I was trying to hit my teammates on the [Naples hotel room] balcony, but the balloon ended up in the streets and hit a car,” said Fabio Galante of Inter Milan.
Comparisons: Mike Oquist of the Oakland Athletics gave up 14 earned runs in five innings against the New York Yankees. In 1968, Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals gave up only 13 in 19 starts from June 6 to Sept. 6.
What’s next: When Tim Floyd left Ames, Iowa, to join the Chicago Bulls, Larry Eustachy of Utah State got his job as basketball coach at Iowa State. Now Eustachy has purchased the house that Floyd and his family owned.
Labor of love: Al Lopez, who turned 90 last week, played with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, spent 19 years as a major league catcher and is the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Lopez said he would have done it all for free.
“There I was in the big leagues,” he said of his first major league job in 1928. “I would’ve done it just to wear the uniform.”
Happy birthday: Cal Ripken Jr. is 38 today. Tim Salmon is 30.
Is Tiffin a Berg?: Seventy years is enough for a college to have the nickname “Student Princes.” Heidelberg College, in Tiffin, Ohio, has a new name: the Berg.
The old name was derived from Sigmund Romberg’s 1924 operetta, which was inspired by the German city of Heidelberg and its university, founded in 1386.
Rick Owens, president of the school, urged the change after complaints that the nickname was “outdated, gender specific and oxymoronic--if not moronic.”
Trivia answer: Four, two against Eli Grba and one each against Johnny James and Ken McBride.
And finally: Se Ri Pak, the LPGA’s South Korean phenom, has been quoted as saying, “I know I have to win majors for the Hall of Fame.”
Not necessarily true. Just ask Amy Alcott, who has won five majors yet is not in the Hall of Fame because her 29 tour wins falls one short of eligibility.