INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) _ Returning to Los Angeles as the NHL's new career scoring leader, Wayne Gretzky found a pot of gold.

Two days after Gretzky became the top scorer in NHL history, Kings owner Bruce McNall presented the star center with a container of 1,851 gold American Eagle coins, each worth about $100.

A near-capacity crowd at the Forum Tuesday night stood and cheered during the 10-minute celebration to honor Gretzky, who broke Gordie Howe's career scoring record of 1,850 points in dramatic fashion Sunday in Edmonton.

McNall, a longtime coin dealer, also gave Howe a pot with 1,850 silver Eagle pieces, worth a total of about $20,000.

Kings alternate captains Dave Taylor and Larry Robinson unveiled a portrait of their history-making teammate by contemporary artist Leroy Niemann. The three-by-four-foot painting shows Gretzky in his silver-and-black Kings uniform surrounded by splashes of blue, green and purple.

Gretzky thanked both his Kings teammates and his former Edmonton teammates, but made it clear that the next item on his agenda is a Stanley Cup championship for Los Angeles.

''I think that individual accolades are always tremendous and they're always fun, but let's hope the next time we're standing here celebrating, it's with the Stanley Cup,'' he said.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - New York Mets vice president Joe McIlvaine now has a player's name he will always associate with the earthquake which rocked northern California, postponing Game 3 of the World Series.

McIlvaine was in the hospitality tent outside Candlestick Park Tuesday night when the earthquake hit, about 30 minutes before gametime.

''I was talking with an American League general manager who I won't name and just before the quake happened we were talking trade and he mentioned the name and boom, everything started shaking,'' he said. ''I saw him afterward and told him, 'No way I'll trade for that guy now.'''

McIlvaine was one of a number of baseball officials who remained in the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel, which was without power as was most of the city, rather than return to their rooms.

''I feel safe here,'' he said, ''they told me this building withstood the quake in 1906.

''I'll be here all night. I'm open for business.''

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CINCINNATI (AP) - Tommy Helms is one of about a dozen candidates for the Cincinnati Reds' managing job, according to new General Manager Bob Quinn.

Quinn said Doc Edwards, Dallas Green and Hal Lanier also are being considered for the job, which he hopes to fill before baseball's winter meetings begin Dec. 1.

''We prefer it much sooner, but not at the risk of making a mistake,'' said Quinn, who was interviewed by two Cincinnati newspapers at the World Series in San Francisco. ''We would hope to have this thing wrapped up by the first week in November, if we can make it go.

''We need to put a field manager and his staff in place as soon as is prudent. We have a list of several candidates, and I underscore it could be as many as 10 or 12,'' Quinn said.

He said the list includes Helms, who took over as interim manager after Pete Rose was banned from baseball Aug. 24 for illegal gambling; Lanier, the former Houston Astros manager; Edwards, the former Cleveland Indians manager, and Green, the ex-New York Yankees manager.

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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - Brad Gilbert, the world's sixth-best player, was stunned by Britain's Jeremy Bates at the $150,000 Nabisco Grand Prix tournament.

Bates and Gilbert played to three tiebreaks, with the Briton winning the final two, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, at the Israel Tennis Center.

Bates, ranked 153th in the world, was not in awe of the top-seeded Gilbert.

''I had nothing to lose, so it made me pretty relaxed,'' Bates said of the three-hour match. ''I wanted to come in a lot on his serve, on his second serve. I thought he served weakly.''

Gilbert blamed his tiredness and loss of concentration for the defeat, but noted that Bates proved to be an outstanding opponent.