Believe it or not, as strike deadline approached, Richie Hebner of the Detroit Tigers said he will, in fact, go home to Massachusetts to help his dad in the grave-digging business -- "It's been 15 years since I worked with him in the summertime."

In Hattiesburg, Miss., meanwhile, LeRoy (Satchel) Paige reckoned some baseball folks were digging their own graves if they didn't settle the dispute. b

"They're starting something now in the athletic world that I don't understand," said Paige, the great black pitcher who got a shot in the majors, in 1948, on the shady side of age 40. "One man is making more now than a whole club was when I played. It's a disgrace for them to be striking like this. I think it's ridiculous."

Paige is in Mississippi to watch the filming of the television movie story of his life, "Don't Look Back." Actor Lou Gossett is portraying Paige, with George C. Scott directing.

And despite his philosophy, Satchel can look back and see that the modern free agent has nothing on him: Paige once played as a visiting star for 250 different teams in a single season . . .