- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

If we need further proof that the Washington area won’t be getting a major league baseball team anytime soon — and we shouldn’t — consider this:

Pat Malone has given up.

Malone, a promotions and marketing executive who lives in Springfield, has been doing whatever he can to aid the Great Chase since 1977 and some years later became co-founder (and later president) of the Washington Senators Fan Club. The group once had nearly 500 members, all panting for the return of rounders, but for the last several years it has been as dead as, say, the Boston Braves Fan Club must be.

“Major League Baseball has done us a great disservice by stringing us along all these years,” Malone said last week. “Well, I’m not gonna let MLB screw with me anymore.”

In a recent letter to the editor, Malone wrote, “Message to D.C. baseball fans: give up. Major league baseball is not coming back next year or possibly ever. … For 28 years, I have represented baseball fans in this region. … I have gone from being president of the fan club to being president of the Bucknell Little League in Alexandria. My focus now is on teaching children the joy of baseball.”

The latter, of course, is a highly worthwhile endeavor. Yet all of us should grieve, along with Malone, that those children and thousands of others might never know the agony and ecstasy of rooting for a real hometown team.

No hope for Hanifan

In his new autobiography, “Beyond Xs & Os,” former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Jim Hanifan tells an amusing story about meeting team owner Jack Kent Cooke before he was hired to replace Joe Bugel in 1990.

“Well, what are you going to bring to the table?” Cooke asked.

“I hope to …”

“You hope to?” Cooke yelled. “I don’t need any hope. I just lost one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. What are you going … to do.”

Hanifan remembered head coach Joe Gibbs telling him earlier that Cooke did not like humble people. “Forget I said that,” Hanifan barked. “I’ll do twice the job that anybody else can do.”

Of course, Hanifan was hired and became a part of the Redskins’ third Super Bowl team the following season. But you can bet he never again told a prospective employer what he “hoped” to do.

Lefty’s big decision

Sometimes it pays to chase your dream — even when it doesn’t pay. Case in point: Lefty Driesell.

Writing in Sports Page published by the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, veteran Richmond columnist Jennings Culley tells how the Lefthander quit a job working at the Ford plant in 1956 to become junior varsity basketball coach at Norfolk’s Granby High School. The new job meant a pay cut from $6,200 to $3,500, but he was itching to get back to hoops after playing at Duke.

“My wife said, ‘You can’t take a 50 percent cut in pay,’” Driesell told Culley. “So for two years, I sold encyclopedias to keep her happy.”

As we all know, Lefty became a successful varsity coach at Newport News High a couple of years later, then began the college odyssey that saw him take Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State to the NCAA tournament and win 786 games over 41 seasons before his retirement last January.

Driesell certainly made the right decision for himself and for the ultimate good of college basketball. So who says money is everything?

It’s about time

The induction of Alexandria native Earl Lloyd into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month was shamefully overdue. It has been 53 years since he became the first black player in NBA history with the old Washington Capitols on Oct.31, 1950.

“If you’re not overwhelmed by this, you’re not human,” said Lloyd, who is a young 75. “There have been a lot of people who have paved the way for this small-town boy from Virginia to make it to Springfield [Mass.].”

Don’t laugh. When Earl was growing up and playing at old Parker-Gray High School in the ‘40s, Alexandria was a small town. He later enjoyed a solid pro career with the Caps, Syracuse Nationals and Detroit Pistons, and coached the Pistons for a spell. He greatly deserves the honor.

Wolff’s latest haul

I won’t insult my longtime sportscasting friend, Bob Wolff, by comparing him with Ol’ Man River — for one thing, Frank Sinatra never sang about Wolff — but Bob certainly keeps rollin’ along.

A former “voice” of the original Washington Senators, Wolff keeps piling up awards in his seventh decade behind microphones. Now sports director and anchor for the News 12 cable channel on Long Island, Bob has picked up New York state awards of late for a three-piece series on aluminum bats and a 12-part “Scrapbook” series featuring notable interviews he did with baseball figures in the 1950s and ‘60s. In addition, he has been inducted into the Walk of Fame at Madison Square Garden, where he was vice president in charge of (surprise!) broadcasting for many years.

The only problem: Bob already has so many awards over the years that he and wife Jane might have to think about expanding their condo in South Nyack, N.Y.

All in the timing

Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers’ No.1 broadcaster for more than four decades, retired after last season. Gosh, I never realized Ernie was that smart.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide