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Sports Shorts

February 19, 1988

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) _ The widow of a Wisconsin man struck and killed by a flying tire at the 1987 Indianapolis 500 has filed a $9-million wrongful death suit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the U.S. Auto Club and other defendants.

Lyle G. Kurtenbach, 41, of Rothschild, Wis., was killed after a tire from a car driven by Gary Bettenhausen flew high into the stands and hit him in the head May 24, 1987. Kurtenbach, watching the race with his wife, step-daughter and eight other relatives, apparently did not see the tire.

Mrs. Kurtenbach, in the suit filed Thursday, claims the car and tire were defective and that spectators were not adequately informed of the potential dangers of watching the race. She also claimed USAC did not inspect the cars well enough and did not have enough safety barriers around the track.

Bettenhausen, also named in the suit, he said he did not know anything about it. Bettenhausen said he realized there was a problem with his car just before the accident happened, but was heading into the pits to find out what was wrong when the tire flew off.

Officials at the Speedway could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the tire’s producer and another defendant, said the company would not make any comment until it had time to review the lawsuit.


TORONTO (AP) - George Bell, the Toronto Blue Jays’ $2-million-a-year slugger, is willing to move to designated hitter from left-field, his agent says.

Randy Hendricks said Bell is open to the idea suggested by the Jays during negotiations leading up to agreement Wednesday on a two-year, $4-million contract.

″George is all for it,″ Hendricks said. ″If one of their young bucks can run like a deer and hit .250, fine, let George play every day, let him have 700 at-bats. But if the experiment doesn’t work ... then we hope they are reasonable enough businessmen to say ‘forget it’ and put George back out there.″

Toronto vice president Pat Gillick has always hinted about moving the 1987 American League most valuable player when commenting that the club had no interest in obtaining other avaiable designated hitters.


HONOLULU (AP) - The Los Angeles Lakers’ players want to train in Hawaii next October, and the team’s owner is looking into the possibility of either working out or playing exhibition games in the islands, a team official says.

″We talked to the players about it, then we put it to a vote - it was unanimous,″ assistant general manager Mitch Kupchak said.

The trip has not been confirmed, Kupchak said, but ″it’s a major possibility.″

″Our owner, Jerry Buss, wants to create an identity in the islands that the Lakers are Hawaii’s team,″ Kupchak said.

A decision will be made in the next six weeks, he said, adding that possibilities include training on Oahu for about two weeks in October or playing several exhibition games there with other NBA teams.


DETROIT (AP) - Since the aggressive Detroit Pistons have been referred to as the ″Raiders of the NBA,″ Al Davis decided they should look the part.

Davis, owner of the Los Angeles football team with a tough reputation, sent Pistons players and coaches white-knit sweaters with the Raiders’ black skull- and-crossbones logo.

He got the idea after watching a CBS television feature on ″The Bad Boys of Basketball″ that aired Sunday during intermission of a Lakers-Celtics NBA game.

″It was a nice touch of class by Al Davis,″ Pistons Coach Chuck Daly said Wednesday.

The Pistons say they like the image.

″Loved it,″ guard Isiah Thomas said. ″When you’re successful, a lot of teams don’t like you. That goes with success. That means you’re doing something right.″

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