Unrest and Recreation
Billy Martin, the feisty manager of the Oakland A’s, had a tussle with the city of Berkeley, Calif. Seems Martin, 54, was promised that Kenney Park, a two-square-block green on the west side of town (Billy lived in Berkeley as a child), was to be renamed in his honor. But then a retired firefighter argued to keep the Kenney name, which honors Berkeley’s first fire chief. In a compromise, the city council agreed to christen just the baseball field for Martin, but the news never got to Billy until he showed up for the ceremony. Although he twice led the Yankees to World Series victory, Martin stated, “I was expecting probably the greatest honor of my life.” He later wrote the city’s recreation superintendent: “I request you remove my name from the field and that in the future you keep me out of your little political skirmishes.” The city complied, tucking away its new 18-inch-high plaque. Councilwoman Florence McDonald told a reporter, “To be honest, I don’t give a damn what happens to Billy Martin’s name.” She added that Kenney died fighting a fire and “I can’t say Billy has made that kind of sacrifice. If you only went with current heroes on these things, you wouldn’t even have the George Washington Bridge.”
Bard on the Balcony
Six days after an intruder in her boudoir alarmed Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s monarch accompanied her husband to the theater. The play was The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw. In one scene, Queen Elizabeth I is disturbed by an intruder on the balcony of her palace. The earlier Liz was luckier—the interloper turned out to be none other than William Shakespeare.
The Price of Publicity
In 1973 Judge John Sirica imposed a $40,000 fine on Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, along with a prison term that lasted 52 months. But so far Liddy, 51, has paid only $15,601.76, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Frohman. Lots of convicts are slow to pay (federal law doesn’t require interest), but Frohman got particularly angry after she read about Liddy’s debates with Timothy Leary, for which each man rakes in up to $4,000 a night. So Frohman has ordered Liddy to testify in Washington on Aug. 3. Says she, “He has a lot of explaining to do.”
As musical director of the Israel Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, 46, sometimes has a little trouble recruiting op musicians to play in Tel Aviv, since the orchestra pays only a pittance. Even though many of the best are Jewish, Mehta (himself a Zoroastrian) has found that an appeal to patriotism isn’t quite enough. So he goes the Jewish mother route. “Now, I just phone their mothers and say, ‘I want your son to come to Israel and play!’ ” So far the moms have reeled in Daniel Barenboim, the pianist, and Pinchas Zukerman, the violinist.
Ronald Biggs, 52, one of the perpetrators of Britain’s Great Train Robbery in 1963, escaped from prison two years later and has lived in Rio de Janeiro since 1969. Recently an advertising agency paid Biggs $10,150 (a trifle compared to the $7.3 million Great Train take) to appear in an Australian television commercial. Biggs sips a cup of Brazilian coffee, smiles and says, “When you’re on the run all the time like me, you really appreciate a good cup of coffee.” The price of Brazilian beans, he adds, “is a real steal.” Unfortunately, the Australian broadcasting tribunal banned the ad.
What Make Sammy Drives
Sammy Davis Jr., 56, just picked up a $75,000 Barrister sports car, the work of L.A. customizer George Barris. It is painted black (40 coats’ worth) and has sleek gold-leaf striping. The dash and door panels are marble, and the seats are gold leather. Black mouton with Sammy’s initials embroidered in gold covers the floor, and the steering wheel, naturally, is gold-plated. The muffler must be by Midas.