The past week brought a rare chance to watch two exceptional athletes in action, men who would appreciate the other's skills but probably be lost for something to discuss a few minutes after the first handshake. One will be recalled as long as tennis exists; the other will merit only a brief athletic obit when he leaves baseball - but for the reason that seems likely to ultimately make his life the more satisfying.
An hour before the Oriole-Ranger game last Monday night came a frantic call over the public-address system in Memorial Stadium - was there a doctor in the park? Yes, there was, George Medich, and he was running casually in right field.
Sprinting, Medich quickly arrived at the side of a heart-attack victim. Germain Languth, 61, just behind the Oriole dugout. There was "no palpable pulse," Medich said, when he arrived; there was one a few minutes later - and in a half-hour Medich and a later-arriving rescue squad had Languth in shape for an ambulance ride to the hospital, where he was listed in fair condition yesterday.
Medich is an imposing man, 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, who pitches and operates right-handed, but he could be on more drained - physically and emotionally - after a 14-inning game than he was after this relatively brief life-and-death exercise. His nose was bumped and bleeding as his patient was being carried to the ambulance, but Medich neither noticed nor recalled how is happend.
In an hour, Medich was composed enough to talk with reporters unaccustomed to that sort of "save." He was a bit snappish at some of the questions, as though everybody should know the most elementary rules of first aid. And of course he was right.
At 29. Medich is that special human capable of thriving at one career whilebuilding a firm foundation for another, who has used his athletic gifts as the means for becoming a doctor with a goal of being an orthopedist.
His career is not unlike the majority of majorleague players - nearly two full years in the minors before compiling a record that now runs to half a page in the Baseball Register and reveals:
Being traded twice, from the Yankees to the Pirates in 1975 and from the Pirates to the A's in 1977.
Being "sold" once.
Being "sold on waivers" once.
Being "granted free agency" and signing with the Rangers in November of '77.
While all this was taking shape, he was winning 69 games and losing 58, with an earned-run-average of 3.59, Medich also was fulfilling his medical requirements.
"I imagine there've been 25 situations like this one," he said. But only one other came while he was wearing a baseball uniform. That was in Philadelphia two years ago - and the patient died later the same night.
"It's a little hard to concentrate on baseball after something like that," he said, and manager Billy Hunter said Medich would not have been asked to pitch even if it had been his turn in the rotation. Later, after the gane had ended and the clubhouse was awash with activity. Medich made his way once again to the pay phone, for another quiet call to union memorial hospital.
"What's my (daily) schedule at a tournament?" Jimmy Connors was saying. "Oh, I'll get up and practice in the morning and then lay around, then have lunch and maybe lay around the pool and then have dinner."
"I don't sightsee much. I can do that when I end tennis."
Man and boy, Connors' life generaly has been bounded by the lines of a tennis court. To expand his horizons, he plays doubles. If someone else limited his experiences early, Connors has chosen not to alter that narrow focus.
"I just enjoy doing what I'm doing," he says. "I have no trouble getting revved up about any part of that."
Connors majored in tennis for a year before dropping out of UCLA - and that also seems the fashionable route for younger players now. For the ones with the fiercest competitive fire, there is the fear that collegiate distractions will leave them too far behind heir pro peers.
And the Connors fire glows as hot a as any.
That was obvious once again yesterday, in the final two games of the second set against Eddie Dibbs. Physically, Connors was ready to lose;mentally, he would not allow that to happen - and he won both games and the championship of the Star International tournament.
The heat was searing, or as photographer Dick Darcey put it "103 with the wind-chill factor." The pivotal 11th game got to deuce six times before Connors won it. Fred McNair, waiting for the doubles final that followed, observed:
"That was a microcosm of the whole match. Eddie played well, but Jimmy beat him mentally. He always attacks, never lets you relax, not even a smidgeon, not even a deep breath.
"Jimmy looks physically tired, but mentally he's digging for that reserve strength."
On the court, Connors is a joy to behold, for he never seems to know a passive moment. Probably, it takes the sort of devotion he has given to his game to take him to the success he so covets.And perhaps that should be enough.
If Connors is a rare talent in the '70s, Medich is an almost extinct one. Connors we appreciate - and become amused when he says to a lady friend, "Get that car warmed up on 16th Street" and then with an escort of five skinny teeny-boppers, crashes a fence to avoid signing autographs.
Medich we savor.