And now, American boyhood's No. 6 1/2 sports hero, Howard Cosell (tied for sixth with Larry Csonka in the Gallup teen-ager survey), has a golden opportunity to move up a notch.

After being dewigged during the fights at Annapolis and whomped in the chest by a foul ball a week ago Monday night; after seeing the Buffalo fan convicted this spring of threatening his life a few years back avert jail because the judge was sorry for the fellow's mother - ABC-s anchor motormouth couldn't have been all that shaken up by mere taunts of the kind to which by now he has become injured.

So maybe, just maybe, Cosell and his bosses will let Rich Thompson, 16, a Texas Ranger ball boy, have back the job from which he was suspended after Monday night's incident during the New York Yankee-Ranger telecast.

"I didn't know the microphone was on," moaned Thompson, found out as the heckler near the Texas dugout whose voice soared loud and clear into homes across the nation.

"I don't have anything against Howard Cosell. I was just kidding around. The first indication I had that the mike was on was when, after I had said that other stuff, I said, 'Keith, Keith,' and (Keith Jackson) looked down at me" The "other stuff" Thompson spoke into the live mike included, "Bite me, Howard. Hey, Howard, the entire state of Texas hates your guts."

Ranger owner Brad Corbett suspended the ball boy from his $8-per-night job, but general manager Dan O'Brien said he was confident "after Mr. Cosell knows the whole story, he will importune upon Mr. Corbett to retain the boy." The youth wrote letters of apology to Corbett and Cosell.

Texas manager Frank Lucchesi, who doesn't have enough troubles already, spent 15 minutes with young Thompson in his clubhouse office the next day, and said afterward: "I would hate to see Rich lose his job. He was in here 15 minutes and I had to feel a little down. If he had stayed another five, we would have had the Red River in here" . . .

Then there is the Cleveland broadcasting booth and its relativity to the field, and Indian brass have had a change of heart. They'll let Tcky Colavito, a batting and sometime firstbase coach for the team, double as TV color man for the rest of the Tribe's 27 local telecasts this season . . . Does that mean all is harmonious in the wigwam now that Rico Carty has accepted with equanimity his $1,000 fine recommended by manager Frank Robinson and upheld by general manager Phil Seghi? Carty, when he first arrived after Robinson shipped him home from the Coast for, among other sins, heckling his managerial moves from the dugout while sitting out a 15-day disabled stint, called the manager a liar for accusing him of insubordination. ANd the gimpy DH griped that Robinson is a bully - "He want you to be scared of him. When he talks to you he says, 'Hey you,' or he whistles at you. You should only whistle at dogs, etc. etc." Finally Carty decided the whole fuss was blown out of proportion . . . No, I don't dislike him."

One week you have the New York Nets looking toward a new home in the Jersey Meadowlands and the Boston Celtics eschwing a suburbaan move by signing a new lease with Boston Garden. This week you get the Nets agreeing to negotiate on a 15-year lease to stay in Nassau County Coliseum - and Celt owner Irv Levin reviving long-range schemes for a $25 million, 21,000-seat arena in North Quincy, Mass . . . ANd promoter Don King - knowing full well the Garden has a trump card in its contract with Muhammad Ali to fight Earnie Shavers on Sept. 20 - venturing he would like to 'bury the hatchet' with Madison Square Garden and stage the Ali vs. Alfio Righetti bout there in July.

Half of Madison College's (or is it James Madison U. now?) infield was tapped before the regular phase of the baseball draft ran out yesterday; on Round 18, by the Orioles, Mike Lacasse, the second baseman out of Falls Church High, and on Round 19, by the Rangers, Jim Barbe, third.