- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

Former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn is pushing hard these days to get one of his boyhood heroes, Cecil Travis of the lamented Washington Senators, into the Hall of Fame. It's a highly worthwhile endeavor, even though Travis last played in a major league game 55 years ago.
Kuhn, a native of Takoma Park, watched Travis nearly every day when he operated the scoreboard at Griffith Stadium as a teen-ager from 1939 until 1943. And as far as Kuhn is concerned, time has not dulled the memory of Cecil's deeds.
Over an eight-year span from 1934 to '41, Travis was among baseball's best infielders, starting at third base and later moving to second. He batted over .300 seven times, with a high of .359 in 1941, when he became a pretty good trivia answer by finishing second in the American League behind Ted Williams and his .406 benchmark. (Travis beat Joe DiMaggio, 56-game hitting streak and all, by two points that season.)
"He was a wonderful ballplayer," said Kuhn, who just might retain a little hero worship at the age of 75. But he has been hurt [as far as Cooperstown is concerned] by the fact that his career was short and he played for the Senators at a time when they didn't win many games."
Travis, who is 89 and still lives in his native Riverdale, Ga., was one of the first major leaguers to enter the service after Pearl Harbor and lost nearly four full seasons during his prime. He suffered severely frostbitten toes in the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945 and was never the same. He played a handful of games at the end of '45 and hung around for '46 and part of '47, batting .252 and .216, but that wasn't the real Cecil Travis.
"Whatever he had, he lost it in the war," Kuhn said. "He was only 33 when he quit, too. Time hurts him now [as far as Cooperstown is concerned], but he has a lot of support from people who played against him like Bob Feller and Ted."
The next and radically altered vote for veterans to enter the shrine will come next year. Ballots will be cast by all living Hall of Fame members, broadcasters and writers, plus the 96 members of the former Veterans Committee. It is to be hoped that the increased electorate will help Travis' chances.
"He has never talked much in his own behalf, and nobody ever pushed for him like people pushed for the old Yankees, Giants and Dodgers," Kuhn said. "But there are a lot of legitimate reasons for him to get in."
And while you're banging the drums, commissioner, how about Travis teammate Mickey Vernon (two American League batting titles, lifetime average of .286 for 20 seasons and a wonderful first baseman)?

Case and SABR
Less than two years after becoming executive director of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), George Case III has been dismissed because of a disagreement with the organization's executive board over financial matters.
In a letter sent recently "to all interested SABR members," Case said he has filed a lawsuit against SABR for firing him and is "seeking the balance of the compensation remaining in my three-year employment agreement."
"Please understand, this is not a pleasant course of action," Case added. "I absolutely enjoyed my tenure and would never have resigned to pursue other opportunities as many SABR members were told."
After being hired in August 2000, Case performed his job from his home in Pennsylvania. When a new executive board took control of SABR, Case said, he was told it had no confidence in him. He was ordered to relocate and work full time out of the organization's Cleveland headquarters, which was not a term of his employment contract. Case said he was willing to do so, but SABR refused to provide an adequate relocation package. Last January, he was asked to resign. When he refused, he was fired.
SABR president Claudia Perry said before Case issued his statement that the organization would have no comment on his departure other than a brief, formulaic statement published in its newsletter.
Regardless of the particulars involved, it would appear that SABR can ill afford to lose a man with Case's baseball lineage. Long involved in the business side of sports, he is the son of George Case Jr., the Washington Senators' great base stealing champion of the 1930s and '40s.
It would be pleasing if Case and the board can work out their differences, in or out of court. We'll just have to wait and see.

What price reflected glory?
How much would you pay to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods? Would you pay $425,000?
Don't snort or snicker, because somewhere in the favored land, some idiot would. EBay conducted a 10-day charity auction recently, and the highest bid was nearly a half-million bucks.
The "winning" bidder was not identified, but I know one thing: He/she needs to get a life.

Eminently quotable
Hugh Culverhouse Jr., son of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' late owner, on why he gave $1million to Grambling State University's football program coached by Doug Williams, the quarterback who took the Bucs to the playoffs three times but left (and won a Super Bowl with the Redskins) after Culverhouse's father refused to improve his initial contract: "Doug deserved better that goes without saying. Doug should have been with the Bucs."

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