"Tough old bird" A. J. Foyt has checked out of the hospital, less than 48 hours since scaring the bejabbers out of the auto racing fraternity and millions of video nuts who, tuned in to the Michigan 500 because there was no baseball, saw him stretchered and choppered away from his grotesquely mangled Indy car. A compound fracture of his right arm turned out to be the major damage.

But again, the bigger danger seems to be to the motoring public on streets and highways without benefit of helmets, padding and all the safety gear protecting the race driver of the '80s. The same weekend on which an auto crash left Indiana University basketball star Landon Turner with paralysis in arms and legs, a second U. of North Carolina athlete in three months met a similar fate.

Joe Reto, first-team all-ACC in baseball as a designated hitter (second team at first base) after batting .392 with 13 home runs for the 1981 Tar Heels, was in serious condition yesterday at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. He wa immobile from the chest down, and unconscious, effects of a crash early Sunday on U.S. 15-501 south of Chapel Hill. He was a passenger; the driver escaped with minor injuries.

Reto, a Brielle, N.J. native who would be a junior in the fall, probably will be paralyzed permanently, physicians said after reporting his head injury was apparently not drastic but that a spinal injury in the an April 30 crash that punter/safety Steve Streater was admitted to the same hospital, paralyzed the night after signing a Redskin contract . . .

And while Foyt left the Ann Arbor hospital, presumably by his Texas home, with the blessing of doctors who "anticipate he will regain full use of the arm," the 6-foot-10 Turner at Indianapolis Methodist Hospital was moved from the spinal care unit to intensive care. Lung difficulties had not yet been declared either permanent or temporary. "It's a waiting game," said a hospital spokesman, noting that Turner has been semiconscious and, "We're waiting until his body adjusts and he is awake" before proceeding with further tests . . .

Team Tennis, a four-team, strictly California offshoot of the late World Team Tennis, has wound up a short season with Billie Jean King of the Oakland Breakers sitting out the closing contest -- and reckoning she may have played her last serious match, at least in singles. "I probably won't play next year," she said. King said she has an obligation to play in Baltimore this October, and that might be it . . .

Something else to blame on the baseball strike: Wild Bill Hagy unceremoniously dumped in jail, right there in Baltimore!

The bearded, cowboy-hatted hacker who leads Oriole cheers from Memorial Stadium's Section 34, and sometimes the dugout roof, was picked up yesterday in Fells Point, a section of town with a wealth of taverns. "Had a few beers and just left the bar with what I had," he said. What he had was an open beer can, the carrying of which on a Ballmer public thoroughfare is a misdemeanor. Police said he was "uncooperative" during booking and refused for several hours to give his name or occupation. How fleeting is fame!

"I miss baseball dearly . . . It's a heck of a void to have to fill," said Hagy, after release on recognizance . . .

Ernie Holmes, the erstwhile Steeler defensive tackle, in another pickle: arrested in Gardena, Calif., on charges he brutalized a barmaid who resisted his affections in a Barbary Coast dive. . . Bill Walton, another big man and big name of the recent sports past, is all set to enroll in Stanford's law school this fall. Already employed as a clerk for a corporate law firm in San Diego, the center who led UCLA and Portland to NCAA and NBA titles, respectively, evinced no interest in sports law. . .

Coincidentally, obituaries from Portland and San Diego: Bobby Anet, Portland lumber broker who was one of the U. of NCAA basketball tournament. Anet scored 10 points as the Ducks beat Ohio State, 46-33, in the final, in 1939. . . John W. Beckett, retired marine brigadier general, who led two different football teams to successive Rose Bowl victories. As a 200-pound tackle, he captained Oregon as it beat Penn, 14-0, in the 1917 Pasadena classic. Then he enlisted for World War I, and the next year, when the Rose Bowl was not limited to college teams, he captained the unbeaten Mare Island Marines past the Army's Fort Lewis, 19-7. . .

Coach Bobby Knight rushed back from a Idaho vacation to visit Turner, and Isiah Thomas flew up from the Virgin Islands to see his teammate on the 1981 NCAA champions. The probable loss of Turner, with graduated Ray Tolbert and early pro Thomas, leaves the Hoosiers in a position reminiscent of 1976, after the 32-0, national-title year for Knight and Indiana; the following season they fell to 14-13. This time, to help replace Turner, Knight may have to expedite the development of Uwe Blab, the 7-foot-3 Effingham, Ill., player wooed in vain by Maryland, Illinois (probation there "helped made up my mind," Blab said) and Duke (". . . and when I had to decode between Duke and Indiana, I picked Indiana because Knight is the better coach").