Mark Upshaw probably would have signed with Rhode Island anyway. Still, the former Columbus (Ga.) High School basketball standout is pleased to know Stanford coaches were interested--even if their recruitment letter arrived 21 years late.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal coach Dick DiBiaso, was dated May 5, 1978, but didn't arrive at Columbus High until this spring.

The five-paragraph letter, mostly a sales pitch for Stanford, included a questionnaire and stamped return envelope.

"Maybe I need to send that in and they'll give me a scholarship," laughed Upshaw, now a 38-year-old father of two who runs his own business in the Atlanta area.

DiBiaso, who has been out of coaching for 17 years, doesn't remember sending it. The envelope has a Stanford, Calif., postmark dated May 5, 1978, overlaid with one from San Francisco, also dated May 1978. A third postmark, from Columbus, is dated April 26, 1999.

David McQuinn, consumer affairs clerk for the U.S. Postal Service in Columbus, said the letter most likely was stuck in a cloth pouch used to store mail.

"Just guessing, it appears it stayed in San Francisco," he said. Upshaw made the all-Atlantic 10 team in 1981-82 after averaging 16.9 points per game as a junior. A knee injury kept him out the next season, but he played again in 1983-84, averaging 11.7 points per game.

Would he have considered Stanford if the letter had arrived on time? "You never know," he said. "Probably not. I think going to Rhode Island was the right decision for me."


Orioles in Town

The Baltimore Orioles will hold the Orioles D.C. Summer FanFest on Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the Orioles Official Team Store at 925 17th St. NW. Baltimore players Delino DeShields, Scott Erickson, Scott Kamieniecki and Sidney Ponson and Manager Ray Miller are scheduled to sign autographs and present a check to the D.C. Department of Recreation and Parks and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington RBI Program. The FanFest will include batting and pitching cages, refreshments and giveaways.

The 12th annual Orioles Wives Food Drive will take place Saturday and Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles Wives and Oriole Advocates will collect non-perishable food items at all gates prior to each game. The collections will benefit the Maryland Food Bank.


Soccer Lacks Punch

The Women's World Cup may have set an attendance record, but it didn't rate well on television. U.S. Open golf coverage on NBC and baseball's game of the week on Fox both had higher ratings Saturday than the United States' tournament-opening 3-0 win over Denmark on ABC.

The World Cup got a 2.2 overnight rating and a 6 share, while the U.S. Open grabbed a 5.3/15--up 6 percent from 1998--for its third-round coverage Saturday. Fox baseball, with the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals in 25 markets, had a 2.8/8.


Announcement Delayed

A delay during the voting process forced the Basketball Hall of Fame to postpone announcing this year's inductees. A Hall official said the names will be announced late this week.

Horse Racing

Lukas Suspended

Wayne Lukas, trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, has been suspended by Churchill Downs for 10 days after one of his horses failed a postrace drug test. The suspension, scheduled for July 6-15, most likely will be upheld by other state commissions, meaning Lukas will not be permitted on the grounds of any recognized race track in the country as long as he is suspended.


Osuna Qualifies

Second-seeded Patrick Osuna of Crofton defeated top-seeded Paul Harsanyi of Potomac, 6-4, 6-2, to win the USTA/Mid-Atlantic Wildcard Challenge and qualify for the main draw of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Track and Field

O'Brien Won't Toe Line

Olympic champion and world record decathlete Dan O'Brien withdrew from the U.S. track and field championships, which begin Thursday, because of turf toe. O'Brien said the International Amateur Athletic Federation might grant him a wild-card invitation that would allow him to compete for his fourth world championship despite not participating in the U.S. event.

CAPTION: Stanford sent Mark Upshaw recruiting letter in 1978, and he received it this year. In meantime, he played at Rhode Island.