Freedom now! Washington Senators baseball in RFK Stadium today, and tonight, and 19 more dates between now and the end of August.
July fool? Well. Art Peterson's "pre-expansion" professional venture, the Freedom Baseball League ("independent of "organized baseball,' and thus not under the control of Bowie Kuhn,") bows in with a quadrupleheader featuring all four teams, "new" Washington Senators, Virginia, Maryland and the Alabama Barons of Birmingham.
Game times are 1, 3, 6 and 8 p.m., one admission ticket good all day, exit and return okay, price range $2 to $6 and call 544-4487 for details.
How can they set starting times after the opener? Games are seven innings, with speed-up rules. Most of the 20 dates here will be double and tripleheaders (three more quadruples, though) as the squads try to squeeze in a 50-game season divided between Starplex and Birmingham already opened there last weekend).
How professional is it? Peterson avers, "Qualtiy baseball - former Class AA. Triple AAA and top college players." And, no sweat: Stadium Manager Bob Sigholtz says the league has paid the rent in advance - through next week . . .
Happy Bob Dandridge Day! That's tomorrow in Richmond, declared by City Council in honor of the native son who played so prominent a role in making the Bullets NBA champions. Festivities will be capped by a 7 p.m. testimonial dinner at the Richmond Holiday Inn Downtown, with another Richmonder, football's Willie Lanier, featured speaker before heading out to find if he can cut it in the Baltimore Colt linebacking corps after his pretrade "retirement" at Kansas City.
The NBA govs gather in Chicago today and the required three-fourths vote is expected for the Celtics-Braves ownership swap and move of the Buffalo franchise to San Diego.Celt prez Red Auerbach has, besides feelers from the Knicks, a job offer from CBS-TV as he heads for a Windy City tete-a-tete with prospective Boston owner John Y. Brown. Breathing easier are Boston Coach Satch Sanders and his trusty right hand, good ol' K. C. Jones: Auerbach signed both to three-year contracts within the last 10 days, Red! . . .
At 24, Steve Hocker (Carroll H.S. '71) not only has two years in hand as Mackin High's basketball coach (20-11 and 26-5) but now succeeds Alex Alesandrou as athletic director at the California Street NW school . . . One of the old pupils of longtime Northwest Washington tennis instructor Chico Rodriguez passes word that the grand old man of fractured English, no family in the area but a legion of Rodriguez-taught net addict, rich and poor, is a patient in Georgetown Hospital, Room 5317, and could use some cheering up. Visitors allowed . . .
Other side of the Gene Garber story: Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox said he "started" his ace reliever in center field Tuesday night in L.A. (writing his name on the lineup card, removing him for a first-inning pinch hitter) to avoid the temptation of using him as a pitcher. "I knew he needed a day off and with him out of the game, I couldn't use him even if I wanted to," said Cox.
Being outside organized baseball saves the Freedom League from a conflict with Alexandria Dukes territorial rights, but let's visit Carolina League territory elsewhere and learn: Ray and Ruth Kuhlman from Vienna, Va., own the Kinston (N.C.) Eagles.
Ray Kuhlman, a career airline pilot who has served as a mjor league scout and organized a semipro team near his home in the D.C. suburbs, told the AP: "I wanted to own a ball club lock, stock and barrel," the opportunity to revive the game for Kinston arose "virtually on a moment's notice," they made one visit in February and were persuaded a team could make it, and - "My wife and I both fell in love with the town. We found a city we wanted to retire to."
Crowds like the 285 among whom Kuhlman was discovered the other night when the Dukes visited Kinston won't do much for the Kuhlmans' life savings, but he noted, scorebook in hand, "You gotta love it."