Coming Sunday: A tribute to Jack Kramer


A couple of hundred tennis dignitaries, players and fans gathered at the UCLA Tennis Center on Saturday afternoon to give one last farewell to legendary figure Jack Kramer, who died at 88 on Sept. 12.

A funeral was held for him last week and he was buried in Santa Monica. Another memorial was held at the golf course he created, Los Serranos in Chino Hills. Saturday’s was the third, and final, gathering for family and friends to remember his impact on the game he helped push forward from the 1940s to present day.

The focus of Sunday’s column is the impact Kramer had on the life of Tracy Austin, the former U.S. Open champion who grew up at the Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates.

Among the things said in tribute Saturday to Kramer, survived by his five sons and eight grandchildren:

== Son Bob: “It was a fabulous and glorious end, but he got a bad call late in the fifth set. He didn’t argue it. ”

== Barry MacKay, a former Davis Cup player and broadcaster: “The best promoter the game of tennis ever has had, and ever will have.”

== USTA Southern California Section President Bill Kellogg : “Jack was all about celebrating life, and he was truly a champion of the game.”

== US Open Tournament Director Jim Curley : “Every one of us who makes our living in professional tennis owes a debt of gratitude to Jack.”

== Eddie Merrins, the long-time PGA teaching pro at Bel Air Country Club, comparing Kramer to legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden : We in golf like to claim Jack Kramer just like you in tennis do.”

== Charlie Pasarell, another promoter and former UCLA player, who spoke of idolizing Kramer: “When I came here from Puerto Rico, playing with that wooden Jack Kramer racket, the first thing I wanted to do was to meet my idol. In the world of tennis, Jack Kramer was a giant. Nothing less. More importantly, Jack was a good man, a champion in life.”

== Eldest son David, who runs the Los Serranos Golf Club: “He was a champion not because he came in No. 1. His life was a gift to us, and we accept in all gratitude.”

== Former women’s champion Pam Shriver: “:When I was 9 growing up in Baltimore, my coach taught me the Jack Kramer forehand. When it was working, it was a deep, sliding hard flat approach shot.”

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Our Daily Dread: (Almost) nothing artificial about how the MLB operates … turfwise


AP File Photo
In 1966, artificial turf is installed at the Astrodome in Houston.

By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press

Maury Wills remembered back 43 years to that April night when he became the first batter to hit on artificial turf in a major league game.

Even when the green rug was novel, he didn’t like it.

“I’m a traditionalist,” said the Dodgers speedster, who opened that night at Houston’s Astrodome with a single off Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. “I’m still an old-school guy. I believe baseball was meant to be played outdoors and be played in the daytime.”

Turns out, most others think baseball is better on grass, too. The sport’s turf wars are nearing an end.

Once regarded as magic carpets that would eliminate bad hops and minimize rainouts, artificial surfaces are going the way of the dead ball and complete games.

After the Minnesota Twins play their Metrodome finale on Oct. 4 and open Target Field next April 12, just two non-grass fields will remain in the major leagues: the Rogers Centre in Toronto and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

That’s down from a high of 10 artificial surfaces, in 1977-78 and again from 1982-94. While colleges and high schools actually are installing more faux fields — to accommodate multiple sports — artificial turf is unloved by Major League Baseball.

Continue reading “Our Daily Dread: (Almost) nothing artificial about how the MLB operates … turfwise” »

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OK, Gannon, you can come back to Raider camp … but don’t look Al Davis in eye


The Associated Press

ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders backed off a demand made to CBS that quarterback-turned-game analyst Rich Gannon be banned from the team’s facility for production meetings before Sunday’s broadcast.

The Raiders initially told the network that Gannon was not welcome at production meetings for Sunday’s game against Denver because of constant criticism of the organization in recent years.

“He’s repeatedly said that they should just blow up the building and start all over again,” senior executive John Herrera said Friday. “He hasn’t done that once or twice, but has done that repeatedly. He continually attacks the owner (Al Davis), he continually attacks the organization in every way that he can. After listening to all of that for the last several years, why would you want him in your building when all he does is attack the organization that made his career.”

Herrera said later Friday that he stands by his criticisms of Gannon but that “because of league rules, we have relented.”

Continue reading “OK, Gannon, you can come back to Raider camp … but don’t look Al Davis in eye” »

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A shovel pass …. or not

Recalling a line from “South Park,” where Butters once profoundly said: “You know, you can call a shovel an ice-cream machine, but it’s still a shovel, Mom and Dad. Ah, and you can call a lie whatever you want, but it’s still a no-good stinkin’ lie!”


The Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta — Steamed over a practice brawl, a Canadian Football League lineman stomped off the field, then stormed back moments later brandishing a shovel before he was stopped by a team official.

As Edmonton Eskimos defensive tackle Xzavie Jackson marched toward teammate Aaron Fiacconi on Thursday, general manager Danny Maciocia stepped into his path. The GM gently put his hand on Jackson’s chest and gestured toward the shovel.

“I just said, ‘What are you planning on doing with that? Do you realize the repercussions?'” Maciocia said Friday. “I’m almost sure he had already come to that conclusion.

“I don’t think he would have carried out an incident where he would have swung a shovel and tried to strike someone.

The bizarre fight began when Fiacconi, the starting center and a CFL veteran, was working out at three-quarters speed while Jackson, a spot starter and practice-squad player, was going at a faster tempo. After a bit of banging, Fiacconi began punching Jackson. No teammates intervened and Jackson, a former Missouri star who had stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals, thundered away.

As Jackson yelled and whipped off his practice jersey, he walked past a nearby dumpster. He spotted a long-handled metal shovel, grabbed it and headed back at Fiacconi.

Jackson rejoined the Eskimos at practice Friday, sporting sunglasses and a bandage over a swollen eye.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “That’s not me. That’s not my character. I know I could’ve made a better choice. I’ve apologized to my teammates and that’s all.”

Fiacconi accepted the apology.

“We’ve made our peace,” he said. “In the end, I doubt he would have done something with the implement.”

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