Batting feats spring from ripe conditions; Pan Am barbell palace

Speculation that Oakland rookie Mark McGwire (39 homers) might break baseball's single-season home run record has evaporated. But if McGwire, whose slugging pace has slowed considerably, had remained hot enough to surpass Roger Maris's record of 61, many detractors would have been as quick to qualify Mark's feat as others once were to place footnotes below Maris's. (In the latter case, Maris benefitted from playing a longer season than Babe Ruth.) This year, skeptics may argue against giving full value to any hitting mark, claiming baseballs are too lively and the small strike zone a boon to batters. Sports Illustrated, however, makes the point that optimal conditions have historically served to trigger new records, and points to three cogent examples:

Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs, a total undoubtedly boosted by the nine years he spent playing in an Atlanta ballpark known for yielding four-baggers.

Maris's record, which like Ruth's before it, was helped along by the short distance (296 feet) down Yankee Stadium's right-field line; and...

Hack Wilson's 190 runs batted in, which occurred in 1930, when the ball was ``juiced up'' and the overall league batting average was an astoundingly high .303. Lifting on stage

The sport of weight lifting has probably never had a more elegant setting than the one it enjoyed in Indianapolis at the 10th Pan American Games. Organizers received permission to use the stately Circle Theatre, situated right on Monument Circle in the heart of downtown. The stage, normally occupied by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, was the site of an ``Anvil Chorus'' of barbell crashes. Spectators watched from velvety theater seats, lifters' results flashed on a stock exchange-style scoreboard, and a harpist played in the foyer before each session began. Touching other bases

San Diego will apparently get the next America's Cup sailing races in either 1990 or 1991, dry-docking Hawaii's ambitious campaign to serve as host. The Hawaiian group had some strong selling points - an exotic setting, a tourist orientation, excellent sailing conditions, and an ideal time zone for beaming live, evening TV coverage to the mainland.

The San Diego Yacht Club, however, was the official sponsor of the Stars & Stripes entry that Dennis Conner skippered to victory in Australia earlier this year. The city reportedly can't lose the event unless shown to be incapable of holding it.

The strangest round of golf on the men's pro tour this year belongs to rookie John Horne, who had back-to-back eagles plus a double and triple bogey on the same day at the Westchester Classic in New York. He wound up 2-over-par 73.

Besides the coach, maybe the most important person to the Cal State-Fullerton football team is the squad's travel agent. Because they have such a modest home field, the Titans play more road games than any other team in the country. Their 1987 schedule has them on the road seven times, playing in four time zones other than their own. Before the season is half over, they will have played at Hawaii (HST), Louisiana State (CDT), Utah State (MDT), and Florida (EDT).

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