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STEVE PHILLIPS, Mets Dir of Minor League Ops since '91, was promoted to Asst GM. Former Mets Asst GM GERRY HUNSICKER became the Astros GM last month. Scout JACK ZDURIENCIK will become Dir of Minor League Ops (N.Y. TIMES, 12/5)....The Blackhawks have appointed ELLIOT BELL as Dir of Corporate Sponsorships. Bell comes from Palace Sports & Entertainment, where he handled Pistons' business development (Blackhawks)....RENEE WIEBE has joined Licensing Resource Group as a Marketing Manager (LRG)....The Orioles dismissed Asst GM FRANK ROBINSON (WASHINGTON POST, 12/5).
CAL RIPKEN apppeared on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. As he walked out the numbers "2-1-5-3" dropped. Ripken couldn't see the sign, and when asked where his streak currently stood, he guessed 2150 (NBC, 12/4)....GOLF DIGEST has named PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON its 1995 Newsmaker of the Year (GOLF DIGEST, 1/96 issue)....Gymnast DOMINIQUE DAWES, Jets' BOOMER ESIASON, Bullets' JUWAN HOWARD, and "spokeskid" VANESSA ANN NELSON were named 1995 "Good Sport Award" winners by Sports Illustrated for Kids (SI for Kids).
A special section of U.S. NEWS looks at ISIAH THOMAS and other athletes who have entered business after their playing days. Thomas has made "a smooth transition" from player to Raptors partner. Thomas: "You can no longer isolate what happens on the court itself from the business side of this sport. Everything has to work together. ... The corporate sponsors have to buy into your vision. You have to create a brand identity the same way IBM or McDonald's does" (Scott McMurray, U.S. NEWS, 12/11 issue). BUSINESS ALL-STARS: Others featured include MAGIC JOHNSON and JULIUS ERVING. Johnson owns a Pepsi bottling plant, T-Shirt manufacturing operation and real-estate ventures. Dr. J has interests in the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., a TV station and a sports and entertainment management firm. While some athletes get burned by bad investments, NBPA President BUCK WILLIAMS says, "If you can learn about the words to a rap song, you can certainly learn the basics of tax laws and how to invest in a mutual fund." Many athletes look to "become players in the business they know best: sports" (Dan McGraw, U.S. NEWS, 12/11 issue). FALK TALK: Agent DAVID FALK, or the "Falk Factor," is profiled in U.S. NEWS Cohen under, "An Offensive Threat for NBA Players" (U.S. NEWS, 12/11). Falk is the leading candidate to take over representation of the Nets' KENNY ANDERSON, who fired his agent last week (N.Y. TIMES, 12/5).