Rod Carew the Yankee? the Red Sox? Angel? Royal? Ranger? It seems about to happen.
Baseball's trading deadline falls Thursday midnight, and there could be an orgy of uniform-swapping headlined by the departure of the six-time batting champion from the Minnesota Twins - coupled with the arrival in Calvin Griffith's mitts of two or three young or journeyman major leaguers along with, most important to the pinched Griffith, cash on the order of $500,000.
Carew, 32, as an 11-year veteran, has veto power over any trade involving him but would be willing to play for any of the above-named five American League rivals - pennant contenders all, and he's hungry for a winner. Griffith says there is a "good chance" he will accommodate his career .335 hitter, and says we can add other teams to the list of possibilities with whom he has been dickering . . .
How about Nolan Ryan the Texas Ranger? Irrepressible Brad Corbett, the game's most impulsive trader (where have you gone. Frank Lane)? Flew to Anaheim yesterday - if he was true to his word - bent on landing the Angel fireballer and damn the Bowie Kuhn torpedoes for mentioning it out loud in advance.
Asking for new surroundings: right-handers Jim Barr, Giants, and Dick Ruthven, Braves. Barr, a San Francisco staffer since 1971, has two shutouts this year in his 2-4, 3.00 record but has been getting the treatment a la Ken Holtzman and the Yankees before they let the lefty go to the other day. Barr hasn't pitched since May 14 and knows not why.
Corbett and the Rangers, meanwhile, have made roving outfielder Bobby Bonds a Texas millionaire, twice over - he signs a five-year contract today . . . Carew has been playing hurt, and frequently not playing, lately because of a pinched nerve in the shoulder-neck vicinity, and if he and some fellow sufferers don't get up to snuff soon the All-Star Game July 11 in San Diego may attain an all-time record for fill-ins (and there have been plenty over the years). Johnny Beach of the Reds, who has appeared twice since May 27, and then only to pinch hit, finally was driven into the hospital yesterday by his lower back strain. Oft-injured Reggie Smith of the Dodgers is out of the lineup again - sprained left shoulder - but he'll be back in a few days, they say, after fearing the worst.
Last week, Birmingham Bulls owner John Bassett said he would use his 17-year-old son as a test case in Canadian courts over the controversial signing of under-age hockey players - a practice eschewed by the NHL and, after earlier breaches, by the WHA, too. Now Nelson Skalbania, the Edmonton millionaire who owns WHA's Indianapolis Racers, has gone Bassett one 17-year-old better - much better. He signed Wayne Gretzky, Sault St. Marie flash (70 goals, 112 assists last season), for seven years and $1.75 million - personal services, so he can play him on the racers, or, "Heck, maybe he'll just be a deck-hand on my boat in the Mediterranean." The NHL avoids signing juniors until they reach 20, but Skalbania said he decided to go after Gretzky because of the NHL's "greed" in stealing away all those Swedes from WHA, adding, "I don't really know if this will kill any talk of merger between the two leagues or not. I do know I didn't like going on my hands and knees to get into the NHL last year."
Muhammad Ali played it low key as he arrived in Moscow for his 10-day visit to the Soviet Union. No politics please, the former champion insisted; he mainly wants just to meet people - "It feels just like landing in America or any other country. Oxygen is oxygen, trees are trees, grass is grass and humans are humans" - and maybe pick up some training tips from Soviet boxers. He hopes to see President Leonid Brezhnev ... In St. Louis, heavyweight cochamp Leon Spinks' light-heavy boxer brother, Michael Spinks, denied he fought with airport police or had drugs in his possession Friday during an incident that resulted in his arrest on assault and drug charges. He insisted marijuana found in his car was not his; it all started when officers asked him to move his car from a no-parking zone. That's three Spinkses in traffic hassles lately. Besides the champ in St. Louis, his wife had it out with the fuzz on the expressway in Detroit recently ... And it's on again, off again for Sugar Ray Seales' appearence as a main-eventer at the D.C. Armory Promoter Nat Williams was all set to announce today (disregard the ad) that Seales and Ralph Palladin would head a card Friday when he learned that the Seattle middleweight, a 1972 Olympic champ, already had a June 20 bout scheduled so could not legally fight here that soon. Maybe the 29th, says Williams....
So Mickey Mantle Jr. can't hit a baseball. He wasted no time, after being cut by the Alexandria Dukes, heading for Richardson, Tex., and the Northern Texas PGA Sectional long-driving contest - and won it by belting the dimpled ball a prodigious 319 yards 4 inches. At the same site, one who just missed qualifying for the San Antonio regionals: Mickey Mantle Sr. His best was 302 yards.