The glad hand has turned into the sad hand for Jerry pate, whose 1976 U.S. Open and Canadian Open victories were keystones of the greatest rookie performance on the PGA tour since Jack Nicklaus.
Pate's right hand and shoulder miseries have flared up, and he is shaking hands with his left at Augusta, Ga., but he will give it a go in the Masters. The 23-year-old Alabaman says he has been told the trouble that sidelined him in February and March is attributable to everything from tendon strain to having shaken too many hands. "I've seen several doctors and I don't think any of them know what's really wrong," Pate said.
"I'm getting shots in the shoulder (tendinitis there) but the hand is hurting," Pate said before doing Augusta National in a Monday practice round. "It's only good for about 40 shots a day."
He said tour commissioner Deane Beman - who had a simila problem in his playing days - had mentioned specialist in Washington who might help. "I think I'll go see him after the Tournament of Champions (next week)," Pate cogitated. "I'm going to get this thing fixed if I have to lay out all summer . . . I'm about conviced now that I'm going to have it operated on" . . .
Mark (The Bird) Fidrych, the Detroit Tiger one and only, fired a hihg, hard one from his hospital bed yesterday at Joe Falls, the Detroit newspaper columnist who has rubbed a few athletes the wrong way in his time.
Falls had written that Fidrych's knee injury, which knocked him out of Thursday's Tiger Stadium opener against the Kansas City Royals, not to mention another dozen or so starts may have been a blessing in disguise in taking pressure off the 1976 rookie of the year, and a built-in excuse if he is a sophomore flop.
In his first hospital news conference since surgery to mend cartilage in the left knee. Fidrych exploded from the wheelchair in which he sat with wounded leg propped on pillow: "I'm just looking forward to getting back to play baseball. I can't beliece there's no pressure on me. I could have taken getting shelled out there (opening day) a lot easier than having my knee cut on." To Falls, the Bird who handgardens the monud to his liking dug, "I was going to write a speech (about you) but I decided it wasn't worth it. I've given you stories before, Joe, and I'll still give you stories . . . because I'm a good guy. "Being laid up stinks" . . .
O. A. (Bum) Phillips, the Houston Oilers' coach, is another hospital case. Riding at his horse barn southwest of Houston on Sunday, Phillips, 53, fell from his mount. He had exploratory surgery for fear of internal injuries but at last report was in satisfactory conditin, albeit still in Houston Methodist Hospital's intensive care unit. Last NFL season, a tower at the practice field fell and barely missed Phillips - just after he had climbed down . . .
No wonder A Ray Smith moved his Class AAA Oilers to New Orleans after last season because he couldn't get a new stadium in Tulsa. Inspectors were out at the ball park yesterday in the aftermath of the collapse of a section of stand in the 43-year-old facility, now home of the Class AA Tulsa Drillers, during a major league exhibition Sunday between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Eighteen persons were injured (only three hospitalized, all reported in good condition). Fans from open-air bleachers rushed to the covered section for shelter from a rain and hail storm. A crowded walkway gave way, and some people fell 20 feet to the gravely ground.
The Drillers' owner said the park can continue to used "with the top part blocked off." The mishap sent the Tulsa Tribune's Jenk Jones Jr. to the newspaper files and the story of the bleacher collapse at the old South Main Street Park on Oct. 28, 1913, killing one, injuring 50. About 5,000 fans had crowded the park to see a big league exhibition between the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox, plus "pickup" help Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson.Washington's ace, Johnson, traveled from Coffeyville, Kan., to offer the Sox his services free, then beat Christy Mathewson by shutting out the Giants, 6-0, to thrill Oklahoma Gov. Lee Cruce and delegates to the International Dry Farming Congress . . .
At Thompson (Conn.) Speedway on Sunday, David Peterson was killed when his modified stock car rammed a light pole during a 30-lap race . . . Motocyclist Pat Evans, 22, of El Cajon, Calif., was in a coma and critical condition after suffering head injuries - despite wearing a helmet - in Sunday's 200-mile race for 750cc machines at Imola, Italy. Randy Cleek, 23, of Shawnee, Okla., completed in that 200-miler at Imola and came out unscathed. After the race, a head-on highway collision killed Cleek; his mechanic from New Jersey, Kurt W. Keifer, 32, and Italian mechanic Giuseppe Geraci; and the three occupants of the car into which theirs smashed on veering out of its lane on a curve - a man, 31, and wife, 25, and girl, 11. Kenny Roberts, the American ace who won the Imola feature, and Steve Baker, who finished second, were called by police to the crash scene. All they could do when they arrived was weep.