CRUISING along a Baltimore-bound highway during the final inning of the sixth (and what proved to be the final) game of the World Series, a friend to this department was so astounded by the winning home run of the Blue-Jays' Joe Carter that it took the flashing lights of a police car to bring him back to reality.
"Uh oh," said our friend. "Now I've done it." He climbed out of the driver's seat and walked back to the waiting officer. The dialogue went something like this:
"Did you know how fast you were going? I was riding right next to you for a while and you didn't even notice."
"Sorry, officer, I don't know how fast I was going. You see, I was listening to the World Series.
"You were? Well, how did it turn out? I was watching it earlier but had to go on duty."
"The Jays won it, or should I say the Jays won it and Mitch Williams of the Phillies blew it."
"That so? Well, back to your car."
Our friend waited patiently while the officer checked out his license number and Lord knows what else by radio. Then the officer came to deliver the verdict. Once the window was rolled down, the officer said:
"Tell me, who were you rooting for?" "The Phillies," said our friend.
"Too bad, 'cause I was for Toronto," was the reply. Pause. "Nevertheless, this time I'm only going to give you a warning. No fine. No points. But next time, keep your eye on the speedometer -- even if the World Series is on."
Our friend attested that never again would he be so careless on the road. But in his heart he was saying, "Thank God for baseball."
* * * WE KNOW this about Gino Marchetti Jones. He is 34 years old. lives in Columbia. He was convicted in 1988 of auto theft and cocaine distribution. He is described by his probation officer as a "very good con man."
We know these things from a Sun report on Mr. Jones' recent arrest for three car-related violations.
We also know something else: His parents (most likely his dad) were big fans of former Baltimore Colt great Gino Marchetti. The son's age means he was born around the time of the Colts' back-to-back NFL championships of 1958 and 1959, the NTC highwater mark of the late franchise, when Gino the Giant was a defensive end nonpareil. He later founded a fast-food chain, Gino's.
For decades, Baltimore moms and dads have named their sons after another famous local athlete, Brooks Robinson. And there are lots of little Cals running around, named for the Orioles' ironman shortstop.
But none of these namesakes has achieved the fame or notoriety Mr. Jones has. We can't recall, say, a prominent John Unitas Smith or Boog Powell Brown. Gino Marchetti Jones might be a first of his kind.
The original Gino probably wishes the elder Mr. Jones had been an Art Donovan fan.