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Names In The Game

May 24, 1997

SEATTLE (AP) _ Former Stanford basketball star Kate Starbird will be playing in the American Basketball League next fall, but she’s been getting in a little virtual action as a video-game model.

Starbird and Yolanda Griffith, who is also expected to join the ABL, donned high-tech gear and sweated for cameras last week, all in the name of virtual play.

They along with men’s college stars Brevin Knight, also of Stanford, and Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan served as ``motion-capture models″ who will animate all the players in Electronic Arts’ new interactive sports video game, NCAA March Madness ’98.

This will be the first interactive sports game to include women, says Electronic Arts, a video-game pioneer and market leader. The game will include more than 100 men’s teams and eight women’s teams.

``One of my goals forever has been to create something that doesn’t treat women in a stereotypical way,″ said Mitzi McGilvray, producer of the March Madness game and an 11-year veteran of the video-game industry.

The enterprise was a natural for Starbird, who majored in computer science.

``We put my ugly 3-pointer in there,″ she said. ``It’s a little different _ I have to step into it and heave it.″


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) _ The most successful pitcher in Southern California’s storied baseball history came at a cheap price for coach Mike Gillespie.

``They used to say he was unrecrutied,″ Gillespie said of Randy Flores. ``But we, in fact, took him to lunch one day, bought him a couple of burritos and a taco and he decided to come to USC. It was a relatively easy sell.″

Flores (9-5) threw a complete game Friday to help USC beat Troy State 5-2 in an elimination game of the NCAA South II regional. He moved to 7-0 lifetime in the postseason, broke the USC record for career innings pitched (479 2-3) and improved on a school record with his 42nd career win.

The victory kept USC (40-19) in the running for its 19th trip to the College World Series, but only its second since 1978.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Most people watch cars at the Indianapolis 500. John Lefere will be watching feet.

Hundreds of pit crew workers will wear his Jackson, Mich., company’s shoes as they change tires, pump gas and fix engines during Sunday’s race. Race officials will wear them, too, and most Indy cars will sport the Fastlane Footwear Inc. logo.

The company, which has made an offbeat but successful marriage between auto racing and footwear, sells sneakers, slippers and boots with logos such as NASCAR, Chevrolet and Ford.

The company this month added a precious licensee to its repertoire, the Indy Racing League. Lefere was at the Indy track Friday giving his shoes to pit crews.

``I think publicity-wise ... this is the largest thing we’ve done,″ says Lafere, 51, Fastlane’s chairman and chief executive. ``There’s very few people around the world that don’t know what Indy stands for.″

Lefere, a lifelong racing buff, said he thought of the racing shoes after working in Indy pit crews in the 1960s and early 1970s. His uncle owned an Indy car, and Lefere advised drivers Gordon Johncock and Johnny Rutherford.


LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Peanut vendor Richard Aller’s gravel-voiced cry of ``Nuts!″ echoed across Dodger Stadium for 38 years _ until he was fired for buying two bags of discounted peanuts.

The dispute centers on the purchase of $4 worth of peanuts that everyone agrees was against the rules.

Specifically, Aller says, he bought two bags of salted nuts at a discount from a pair of fellow vendors who got them free as part of their lunch allotment. Aller then resold them to fans for a profit.

Stadium concessionaire Aramark Corp. considered that against the rules and fired him a month ago.

Aller, 54, a high school history teacher, concedes he violated regulations but thinks the punishment was too severe.

``I can see being warned not to do it again, or maybe suspended for five or six games. But I can’t see being fired after 38 years for one offense,″ he said.

Aramark refused to discuss the case, saying the dispute could eventually be the subject of arbitration with Aller’s union.

``His hollering and his humor makes even a bad game good,″ said Jo Stephen, a secretary from San Dimas.

``People get season tickets just to be in his section,″ said Myron Rosenaur, a lighting contractor who lives in suburban Encino.

Fans have begun lobbying Aramark to take Aller back, and about 50 other stadium vendors have signed a petition asking the same thing.

Aller started hawking sodas at Dodgers games in 1959 at age 16 to help pay family expenses after his father had a heart attack.

He now earns about $13,000 a year selling an average 300 bags of peanuts per game.

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