New Sports Garden Has A Sweet-Smelling Name

THE sports world may be losing one garden - the Boston Garden, which is scheduled for demolition - but it soon gains another in Portland, Ore.

The 20,000-seat Rose Garden is wonderfully named, not only because Portland is the City of Roses, but also because it will not be saddled with the name of a corporate sponsor, as will be the FleetCenter in Boston, or as is the recently renamed Candlestick Park in San Francisco (now 3Com Park).

The Rose Garden will house the National Basketball Association's Trail Blazers, who long ago outgrew 13,000-seat Memorial Coliseum. The new $262 million facility, a technological showcase, might some day make an attractive home for a National Hockey League team. New York's NHL clubs, the Islanders and Rangers, were to have played a regular-season game in Portland last December, but the game was scratched when a labor dispute delayed the start of the season.

Baseball's missing game

IN this year of World War II remembrances, major-league baseball is looking back 50 years. At the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., an exhibit (''Baseball Enlists'') runs through the end of this year. Bob Feller, Cleveland's fire-balling pitcher, enlisted in the Navy two days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, and as the war reached its climax, some of the game's leading stars - Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio - were in the service.

What few fans may realize is that for the first and only time, the All-Star Game was canceled in 1945, even though fighting in Europe had long since ended by July 10, when Boston's Fenway Park was to have hosted the game. The contest was scrapped before the season because of war-related transportation restrictions. In its stead, a series of interleague games was arranged between teams in the same city or nearby.

Baseball researcher Bill Deane recounts these developments in ''The 1995 Information Please Sports Almanac.'' He also shares a fascinating footnote: New York theater impresario Mike Todd talked the Supreme Allied Headquarters into staging the All-Star Game in Nuremberg, Germany, ''right where Hitler used to strut.'' The Allied command liked the idea, but the major-league brass didn't (too impractical, it said), so the game was never held.

Touching other bases

* Pop quiz: The only major-leaguer ever to win three consecutive Cy Young pitching awards could make it four in a row this year. Who is he? (Answer at end.)

* The housing squeeze is on in Atlanta. Some 50,000 hotel rooms are already booked. In Barcelona in 1992, the housing crunch was partly alleviated by luxury cruise ships. That is not an option for landlocked Atlanta, but maybe a sprawling trailer park - a typically American sight - is a workable alternative.

* Dominique Wilkins's one-year stint with the Boston Celtics didn't work, so now the high-scoring forward is playing - to no one's disappointment, including his own - in Greece. Panathinaikos Athens signed him to a two-year, $8 million contract, the richest ever awarded to a player outside the National Basketball Association. Other unhappy NBA stars may now consider Europe as a late-career option. Until now, it has been lesser-known NBA players who have headed overseas. Wilkins has been amazed by fan en thusiasm (11,000 at a practice). The shorter regular season (35 games instead of the NBA's 82) should also appeal to this 13-year veteran.

* The most intriguing race in all of baseball this season may be between two teams that haven't played each other and won't: the New York Yankees and the Montreal Expos. The best teams in their respective leagues during the strike-shortened 1994 season, they might have met in the World Series if the playoffs hadn't been canceled. The other reason for comparison? The Yankees' payroll ($55 million) is the highest in baseball, while the Expos have one of the lowest ($15 million). At press time, the Yankees

were 11 games in front of the Expos.

* Quiz answer: Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves.

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