Hal MacRae's barrel roll into Willie Randolph at - or should we say within shouting distance of - second base in October's Royals-Yankees playoff set off tremors that still are vibrating.
Came spring and major league umpires began enforcing what already is being labeled the "Hal MacRae Rule": they're calling men out at first base if the runner coming into second trying to break up a double play doesn't get close enough to at least touch the base. Judgment call. Instant controversy.
One of the first citations of the season was pinned on none other than the Yankees, after Chris Chambliss tumbled into second against the Texas Rangers and disrupted the relay to first. Billy Martin - who'd howled about MacRae - howled about the call on Chambliss' version of same.
In Houston Wednesday night, with the bases full of Astros, Bos Watson grounded to San Diego third baseman Bill Almon, who threw to second baseman Chuck Baker, who threw wild to first. Two runners crossed the plate.
And didn't score. Umpire Terry Tata called interference on Jose Crux for his slide into Baker and therefore ruled Watson out at first. It was the third time the rule has been invoked in Houston's first 19 games. The Astros lost this one by a run - and is Ty Cobb turning in his grave? . . .
Yep, the college football season is on the brink of beginning in August. Penn State-Temple has been switched from Nov. 18 to Friday night, Sept. 1, in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. That gives Joe aPterno's Nittamies two tuneups - Temple and Rutgers - before they go to Columbus bent on spoiling Ohio State's Sept. 16 opener. . . . ExBuckeye booter Tom Skladany, and rep Howard Slusher, failed to agree to terms with the L.A. Rams, negating the trade with Cleveland, with whom Skladeny/Slusher failed to agree all through 1977; now the Detroit Lions will take a shot, dealing the Browns a couple of draft picks if they can sign Skladany by 5 p.m. tomorrow . . . The K.C. Chiefs' deal of 15-year punter Jerrel Wilson (his 1,014 punts are the pro record and his four league titles tie Sammy Baugh) accomodates Wilson's wish to be close to his ailing adoptive parents in Texas . . .
Mel Benfro, 36 and a sub last fall in his 14th (five he made All-Pro) Dallas Cowboy season, says he has visits lined up this weekend with three other NFL teams interested in him since he cleared waivers and became a free agent - "If it's my time to go (retire), I'll accept the fact. If not, I'll continue to function somewhere" . . . Lou Michaels, former Colt defensive end and now physical education director at Luzerne County Prison, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., has been ordered to pay $7,501 damages to a former inmate he allegedly punched in the mouth on Sept. 25, 1975, and offered other prisoners money to eliminate . . . Last call for Touchdown Club tribute to Billy DeRosa, the old fighter from Gonzaga and GWU's publicity department; tonight's the night . . . Add one to the Washington pugilistic clan: it's a girl, No. 4 child, in P.G. Hospital, to Pat Coleman, Maryland's only licensed woman trainer and ring second. She and Rocky C. now have their "gym" outside the house in Cheverly -
The injury to 1976 jockey champion Angel Cordere from Wednesday's spill at Hollywood Park is a compound fracture of the eighth thoracic vertebra. He's sidelined an estimated eight weeks, and there goes somebody's good ride in the Derby. Fellow jockey Baul Ramires is in fair condition with a concussion from the sixth-race mishap . . . Not only is Tom Seaver O for April, but the Reds' other prospective ace, former Cub Bill Bonham, hasn't pitched for Cincinnati since winning his third straight April 17; sore right elbow. All this and a clubhouse ban on writers for 35 minutes before games by Sparky Anerson, who used to be the most hospitable of managers but decided, apparently, that pregame distractions helped knocked his guys out of Pennantsville last year. So, one writer recently, just before Anderson cleared the premises, wound up rammed by a clowning Seaver (undistracted?) on a minibike . . . All this with the hallowed Grantland Rice's typewriter newly installed in the College Football Hall of Fame that opens in July - just outside Cincinnati . . . The Red Sox got a scare when Carl Yastrezemski's hand went numb after he was hit by a Mike Caldwell pitch in Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee but X-rays have proven negative, he can play tomorrow against Texas after sitting out tonight . . .