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A Little Beeper, a Lotta Scores

December 5, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ You’re going out with the family, but the Celtics are at home with the Lakers.

Lighten up, sports junkie - The Sports Page is coming with you.

″It’s a marriage saver, no question,″ said a laughing Mark Gintis, one of the two inventors of the hand-held sports ticker.

″Dinner becomes something people want to sit through twice.″

Gintis and Bill Nelson, a pair of 37-year-old former college roommates, are the brains behind Beeper Plus Inc., which provides instant information like weather conditions, point spreads and five-minute updates on professional and college sports.

The Sports Page is four easy-to-carry ounces with scores of scores and oodles of updates from around the country. It looks (and sounds) likes the average doctor-type beeper; scores are automatically fed via computer to satellite to a two-line screen on the device.

By depressing one of two buttons on its front, the information appears, with the old automatically replaced by the new. All the owner need do is keep the beeper charged.

For the horseplayer, there’s early scratches from the racetrack, winners and payoffs. Football freak? The NFL early point spreads and over.under totals come up early Monday. And when the icemen scoreth, the National Hockey League totals are updated.

Skipping past unwanted information is easily done with the touch of a button. And best of all, the inventors say, those out on the town don’t need a pocketful of change and a headful of excuses for trips to the pay phone.

″For the sports fanatic - I mean, they go ga-ga over it,″ said Nelson, a Las Vegas, Nev., resident. ″People can’t believe what it is - a guy hits a home run, and three minutes later, you’re getting an updated score.″

The pair, who spent $500,000 in setting up the nationwide sports system, have sold several hundred of the devices already at $286 (including a desk recharger). Another $45 a month is required as a basic subscription rate to keep the updates coming.

The Sports Page has attracted some well-known buyers: Jimmy ″The Greek″ Snyder, comedian Gabe Kaplan, rock stars Rod Stewart and Don Henley, the inventors say.

The creators estimate about 30 percent of its owners are serious gamblers; others are just regular guys, albeit sports-crazed ones, like salesman Harvey Brodsky of Manhattan.

″For a sports fan like me, I love it. It’s the greatest,″ said Brodsky, 47, who turned to the beeper after his wife vetoed a satellite dish. ″It’s a great toy. And when you wear it with a suit, everybody thinks you’re a doctor.″

Brodsky’s raves don’t surprise Gintis, a non-sports fan from Florida who provided the technological input: ″Of customers who have had our product more than 30 days, we’ve had five people bring it back. People who love it absolutely love it.″

The beeper can hold 85 scores at a time; the only problem the system has suffered is the infrequent missed update due to local weather conditions which can interfere with satellite transmissions, Gintis said.

″The only problems are minor,″ said Brodsky, who bought his in July. ″At $600 a year, I just think it’s a steal.″

The device is available in 12ho has.

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Eds: Beeper Plus Inc. is located at 3900 Paradise, Suite 110, Las Vegas, Nev., 89109.

END ADV Weekend Editions Dec. 5-6.

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