ESPN makes Hall of Fame save, giving both ceremonies their due


Along with the regular midsummer lineup of sports this weekend -- baseball, exhibition football, tennis, golf, volleyball (volleyball?), Hall of Fame Days are upon us, and we'll be getting it both barrels from Cooperstown and Canton.

You might ask yourself why baseball and football duel for headlines like this when other weekends are wide open, but neither sport can provide an answer.

Maybe the reason both feel comfortable with it is because the networks only do cursory coverage anyway and always have. Fortunately, old standby ESPN is there with coverage that means as much or more to many fans as the competition itself.

ABC and its co-pilot ESPN are making it so you don't have to suffer through three hours of a practice game between the Raiders and Packers in Canton to get a glimpse of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (at halftime).

The game tomorrow starts at 3 p.m. on the net, then the cable will devote an hour to Dan Fouts, Walter Payton, Larry Little, Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh being enshrined at 8:30 p.m.

Fouts has an interesting reaction to the honor: "I hope my induction will open doors for more players who, like me, haven't won Super Bowls, such as my teammates Charlie Joyner, Ed White and Kellen Winslow."

The doings from Cooperstown, which include Chuck Thompson's taking a well-deserved stroll into the broadcasters wing, will be on ESPN at 6 p.m. Sunday. Reggie Jackson is the lone inductee, which makes you wonder if the shy, retiring Reg can carry the show by himself.

People have been known to speak for seven minutes (Hank Aaron) or an hour (Happy Chandler), and Jackson is reminded that Abe Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ran for little more than 200 words.

* Let's see, NBC lost well in excess of $100 million on a $402 million bid for the 1992 Olympics and now it's going for $456 million as the rights holder for the 1996 Games. Has the Peacock, a sorry third in the prime-time ratings, got a printing press stashed somewhere?

The net took a huge hit while botching a pretty good idea, the TripleCast, last time. What has it got up its sleeve this time, delivering cassettes of the field hockey action via overnight mail?

The next big TV rights negotiations come up in September when the nets and cables sit down with the NFL. Can you wait?

* Dan Marino is the two-time defending champion of the "Quarterback Challenge" being carried by NBC tomorrow and Sunday at 4 p.m. Warren Moon, Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham and company are competing for what amounts to cab fare home for them: $125,000.

* Does anyone recall what ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Keith Olbermann did with the news that Djamolidine Abdoujaparov of Uzbekistan won a stage of the Tour de France a while back? He must have had a ball with it.

* Off what we've seen of him on an American Express commercial and on an interview at last week's U.S. Women's Open, golf course architect Pete Dye should be on the telly a lot more.

By the way, wasn't ABC remiss in not filling us in on why it was taking the women upward of five hours to complete their rounds?

* Hope the folks from the NHL, who have been clamoring for some network coverage for years, don't notice that beach volleyball is on live from Milwaukee the next two afternoons on NBC. They'll be upset, eh?

* The Redskins-Jets scrimmage on Channel 7 tomorrow at 1 p.m. is restricted to just two hours. The Skins don't want their fans to become overly excited, perhaps causing themselves health problems.

* ESPN begins showing team highlight films of the 1992 NFL season in the evening starting Aug. 21. A former favorite team of Baltimore fans, the Indianapolis Colts, don't hit the spotlight until Sept. 21, which suggests it's taking NFL Films lots of time to come up with enough good stuff to fill a half-hour.

* Because Channel 11 has a telethon for the Leukemia Society and Channel 9 has a movie, the women's hardcourt championships on CBS won't be on in these parts Sunday. At least the flick is a four-star job, "A Tale of Two Cities."

* The best football game of the weekend (if there is any such thing during exhibition season) figures to be the 49ers and Steelers from Barcelona Sunday (NBC, 1 p.m.) . . . .unless, of course, you want to listen to Joe Theismann talk a blue streak during the Eagles-Saints game from Tokyo on ESPN tomorrow (10 p.m.).

* NBC has dropped Joe Namath as an AFC game analyst. Now there's gratitude for you. It was Broadway Joe signing with the Jets back in '65 that made the network a factor in the pro football telecasting business to begin with.

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