SBJ/20090727/Faces & Places
Published July 27, 2009
When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar heard that the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition would honor Richard Lapchick for lifetime achievement in civil rights, he asked whether he could present the award to his “lifelong friend.” When they were in their early teens, Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Lapchick were at camp together when both learned something about standing up for justice. Jabbar recalled for the Rainbow PUSH audience that a bully had taunted him unrelenting with the “N” word. Lapchick came to his defense. Briefly. Lapchick remembers that, “The bully knocked me out cold.” But, he said, “The bully was thrown out of camp and a profound friendship began.”
It’s rare when people move for lifestyle rather than career. But that’s what David Cornwell did in 2005 when he left San Clemente, Calif., after representing Leigh Steinberg and Jeff Moorad in their lawsuit against David Dunn. Cornwell and wife Kimberly went shopping for communities, “wanting more diversity for our children.” They found it in the countryside near Atlanta. They built a house in time for Kimberly’s mother to realize her dying wish of seeing the new house. “She passed away there, in the company of those who loved her,” said Cornwell. The kids are realizing their parents’ dreams: 15-year-old daughter Taylor has excelled in soccer on the statewide level, and 12-year-old son David Jr. participated in a national competition called Odyssey of the Mind. After 20 years of defending large insurance firms, Kimberly popped into the public defender’s office near her new home and was hired immediately. David, who worked at the NFL for both Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue and became an agent at Steinberg & Moorad, now handles notable football clients from the Georgia countryside. … One guy who wouldn’t move for career or lifestyle is Carl Moretti, the VP of boxing operations at Top Rank. “My daughters [Katie, 17, and Colleen, 11] are in school. The job is about travel anyway, so it doesn’t matter where I live.” (The Morettis live in northern New Jersey, by the way.) Moretti, who was one of the early graduates of a sports master’s program at St. Thomas and worked at NBC, MSG, Main Event and DiBella Entertainment, plays golf “with HBO SVP Kery Davis, some casino guys and boxing writers. I just got a new driver and last month came within a foot of a hole-in-one. That’s as close as I’ll ever come.”
Brandon Tierney, who played first base for Xavier High and Marist College, could never hit John Halama when he pitched for Bishop Ford and St. Francis. Now Halama is back in The Show and Tierney, who broadcasts for ESPN and SNY, said, “I always find nice things to say on air about John. You never know if I will get another crack at him in the batter’s box.” Both their fathers worked together on lower Broadway, Tierney’s managing a building while John’s handled maintenance there. … Bryce Harper, who as a 16-year-old sophomore is being hailed as baseball’s LeBron James, helped the International Baseball Federation in its effort to get baseball reinstated in the Olympics. He signed 30 covers of the Sports Illustrated issue in which he was featured with the pledge: “I will play in 2016.” The IBAF sent them to IOC executive committee members. … “Where in the World Is Rick Dell?” baseball’s modern-day Marco Polo. Dell is MLB’s envoy to the Far East. He brings baseball to countries like India and Cambodia. The stories of his experiences in cities like Manila and Beijing are chronicled on the IBAF Web site (IBAF.org). He noted that Rizal Memorial Stadium in the Philippines is one of three existing ballparks in which Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig hit home runs in the same game, while barnstorming in the ’30s. (The others are Fenway and Wrigley.) Dell said the pair signed the wall and locals preserve those autographs. … Pete Caliendo, the IBAF’s technical director, spent 11 days touring Europe including a stop in Bratislava, Slovakia, working with players at an indoor facility. He identifies players for USA Baseball and will be the technical director at the World Cup in September.
Brad Barnett, a 5-handicap golfer who tried to “walk on” at Tulane, “always wanted to be an entrepreneur.” Now he has his chance. With the NBA, Octagon, and the Sports Museum of America on his résumé, the recent Columbia master’s graduate hooked up with Jenn Cavise to launch EZ Access Tickets, a low-overhead business selling tickets for prime events. Barnett is the managing director working with Blake Nickel and Kate Gallagher. Their business model is based on price point: offer the best tickets for the lowest price.
Marty Appel’s “Munson” (Doubleday) received praise from Robert Creamer, Leigh Montville, Jane Leavy, Suzyn Waldman, Michael Kay and Bill Madden. Appel collaborated on Munson’s autobiography in 1978. He said Munson “was a hard guy for fans to know. Now they will.” … Curt Smith captures the essence of Vin Scully in “Pull Up a Chair” (Potomac), according to Allen Barra, Christine Brennan and Phil Mushnick. … Michael Shapiro discussed his book “Bottom of the Ninth” (Times Books) on Mark Healey’s “Baseball Digest Live,” broadcast from Foley’s in New York. It’s about Branch Rickey’s efforts to launch a third major league.
John Genzale is founding editor of SportsBusiness Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.