"Keep that up and when this over, you'll get a knuckle sandwich," said Ted Turner.
Just another "facetious" Turnerism, he maintained afterward. So what if he said it to an attorney who was cross-examining him in U.S. District Court, Atlanta Judge Newell Edenfield took no notice of the crack and lawyer Nick Wertheimer, one of Bowie Kuhn's own, went on with his questioning.
This was during an informal hearing yesterday on the Brave owner's suit challenging the one-year suspension from baseball that Kuhn laid on him before he fended it off with a temporary restrainer.
The commissioner testifies today to wrap it up following endorsement of his action in testimony yesterday by American League president Lee Mac-Phail and Milwaukee Brewers board chairman Edmund Fitzgerald.
Turner was the only witness called in Turner's behalf as he defended his behavior in P'affaire Garry Matthews.Kuhn suspended the flamboyant yachtsman Jan. 25 for having told San Francisco Giants owner Bob Lurie during an October World Series cocktail party that he would better any of for the Giants made to keep Matthews, who had played out his option. Tampering, the commissioner called it, although eventually he let the Braves sign Matthews (for $1.8 million).
Turner testified he interpreted a directive sent to owners concerning free agents to mean "we were barred from talking money or other matters with the players." He became angry when Wertheimer badgered him to admit having conceded he was wrong in the Matthews case. "That's not what I said," insisted Turner. "What I have said many times is that I was wrong if I offended Bob Lurie."
Turner told the court he offered some of his banter before his suspension because he thought the game had "too much gloom and doom. (But) I learned lately that there's reason for pessimism. That's why I said I would start being a good boy and quit kidding around."
He said that during his attempt to prevent being suspended he even suggested Kuhn buy the Braves and transfer the club to Washington.
How facetious can you get?
Charlie Finley, operating without worry that Kuhn might void his latest deal -- righthander Mike Torrez to the New York Yankees for righthander Dock Ellis, infield sub Marty Perez and minor-league outfielder Larry Murray -- promises another trade to bolster (?) his Oakland A's within three days.
Money hungry? Finley says the Yanks offered $200,000 plus Ellis and Perez but he took Murray and passed up the cash -- "We like the young man's speed and are going to him a chance to make the club right now."
Finley seemed more excited about the pair of free tickets to the Kentucky Derby that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner threw in. STeinbrenner has decided, after pondering for several days at his Kinsman Stables. Ocla, Fla., to ship his Hollywood Derby winner Steve's Friend to Churchill Downs for "possible" entry in the May 7 Run for the Roses -- "if the colt makes the trip well and likes the track."
Said Finley: "If the horse wins. I will lead him out of the winner's circle. George promised me the chance to show off his horse, who will be decked out in green and gold, my colors". . .
Frank Robinson must really be on shaky ground as manager at Cleveland. Even the Indians play-by-play broadcaster, Joe Tait, says it's time for F. Robby to go. On the air and in the newspaper, Tait said, " I honestly don't think Frank will stay. . . A change has to come pretty quick. I don't believe Frank has the mental and emotional capacity to manage well. He's not a good instructor or leader. . . This club has never won a series considered crucial in two years . . . is not able to get up for the games and I put that in the bailiwick of the manager.
"It's tough for a superstar to communicate with guys of lesser talent."
But, Joe, maybe you put your finger on the real problem in those last four words?. . .
Outfielder Charlie Spikes, whose career went progressively from bad to worse with the Indians until he finally was farmed to Toledo last weekend, said he wasn't feeling well when he reported to the Mud Hens. The Toledo manager sent him to a doctor to find why he was complaining of feeling light-headed, "seeing stars." The physician discovered Spikes had high blood pressure and a heart murmur. He returned to Cleveland for further examination. . . Ten days shy of a year since a line drive on the knee knocked him out of the box, the Chicago White Sox' chunky, spunky four-time 20-game winner, Wilbur Wood, is back on active duty. The knuckleballing southpaw says he is ready to start, but manager Bob Lemon plans to break him in with a little relief. . .
New York State Supreme Court Justice Harold Baer yesterday restored the order barring the New York Jets from playing any of their home games (they propose the first two this fall) across the river; permanent ruling to come later in the continuing hassle among the NFL team, the baseball Mets with whom they share Shea Stadium, and the city of New York.
The United States Olympic Commitee begins a two-day meeting in Colorado Springs. Colo., today the USOC executive director Don Miller predicts will be "the most important in the organization's history." USOC has designs or becoming the superpower in american amateur sports, and the Presidential Committee is waiting to see what direction it takes.