When last we saw Joe Frazier in the ring, he was bald and senseless, a condition produced by his razor (Joe thought it necessary to look mean) and George Foreman (who looks mean with hair). It seemed Frazier regained rationality, for he promptly retired. Now he's talking about a comeback, another fight with Muhammad Ali, and won't that be sad the fourth time around? Once a drama compelling in subject, plot and tone, Ali-Frazier now is a farce.

He wanted to quit racing stock cars, Bobby Isaac did. He'd been a big winner, running with Petty and Pearson. He'd set records that still stand at the Bonneville Salt Flats. National champion once, Issac couldn't keep himself together. Personal problems, no discipline. He lost his good ride because the owner couldn't depend on him, and then, driving a mediocre car, he quit in the middle of a race at Talladega International Speedway, where even mediocre cars go 190 miles per hour.

Isaac said he quit because he heard a voice telling him to.

He didn't quit for long, and then he was back, never getting to the top again. It ended 10 days ago in the middle of another race. They carried him out of the car and took him to a hospital. A heart attack killed him.

When Jerry Pate won the 1976 U.S. Open golf tournament, he struck a five-iron shot 190 yards to within two feet of the 18th hole on the last day. That remarkable shot, and the successful put for a birdie, gave Pate a two-stroke victory. The man from Golf Magazine went over the edge. A year later, when he certainly should have known better, the Golf Magazine writer called Pate's five-iron "the greatest pressure shot in history."

It wasn't.

Luck waved Pate that day, nothing else. His tee shot on the 18th went into the rough at Atlanta Country Club, as did that of contender John Mahaffey, his playing partner. But Mahaffey's ball disappeared, falling through the thick grass of the rough, Pate's, meanwhile, sat prettily atop the stuff.

Mahaffey, a stroke behind at that point, needed a birdie.Given his terrible lie, that was impossible. He had to hit a three-wood out of jail 220 yards over water. He tried, anyway. The ball flew weakly into the pond.

So Pate knew he needed only a par four on the hole. Perhaps only the seven or eight newspapermen standing six feet from Pate knew how beautifully the ball was perched atop the treacherous rough, begging to be hit onto the green.

The lie was perfect, and with his primary contender drowning, Pate had nothing to worry about.

All he had to do was hit a five-iron into the middle of a huge green. That the ball wound up two feet from the cup was pure happenstance, as Pete admitted later.

Whatever happened to Wayne Terwilliger?

Esoterica: Jeff Torborg, Art Kusnyer, Tom Egan and Ellie Rodriguez were the catchers in Nolan Ryan's no-hit games. . . In 12 seasons Joe Namath has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions only twice. For Fran Tarkenton, the numbers are reversed: in 16 years he's thrown more interceptions than TDs only twice . . . Tony Dorsett wears a necklace with diamonds that spell out his nickname: "Hawk."

The August, 1965, issue of Baseball Digest carried an anecdote reported by Max Kase of the New York Journal-American.

"Of Pistol Pete Reiser, when he managed at Spokane a few years back, hooked up in a jawing battle with Emmett Ashford. Negro umpire in the Pacific Coast League.

"The next night,as a conciliatory gesture, the umpire said. 'What's happeded is done with. This is a new ball game."

"Reiser replied. I'm not mad at you. It's those other two guys."

"This puzzled Ashford, as his two umpiring associates were not involved in the argument. "Why," he asked, "are you mad at them?"

"Oh, not them," snapped Reiser. "I mean Abe Lincoln and Branch Rickey.'"