There are plenty of diamond jewels on the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot

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Here's a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot to kick around: Ken Boyer, Orlando Cepeda, Steve Garvey, Tony Perez, Vada Pinson, Rusty Staub, Steve Carlton, Jim Kaat, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton.


Missing in one of the toughest calls in years (only 10 can be included on ballot) are: Dick Allen, Don Baylor, George Foster, Graig Nettles, Tony Oliva, Ron Santo, Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Mickey Lolich, Bruce Sutter and Luis Tiant, all guys with imposing numbers. As you can plainly see, it was a loaded field.

* Holy mackerel, can you believe all the excitement being generated by the first-ever fan balloting for the Pro Bowl being conducted at Radio Shack stores and in NFL stadiums? Coaches, players and fans each have a third of the vote for the always-exciting game scheduled for sometime around April Fool's Day.


* The Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., now features a gift shop and a catalog is available by calling (315) 697-7095.

* Three cheers for the Lake Clifton girls basketball team that after leading at halftime, 58-1, reined in and only beat Southern, 109-11.

Incidentally, the most points ever scored by a basketball team is 251, by Iraq in a senior international game against Yemen in 1982. The Yemen players reportedly then matriculated to U.S. International, where they put their defensive skills to work as the losing team in four of the top five all-time NCAA team-scoring marks.

* Lenny Wilkens, who has 883 wins as an NBA coach heading into Atlanta's game in Cleveland tonight, looks to be a shoo-in to pass Red Auerbach's all-time mark of 938.

"Fortunately, I don't even have to think about that this season," says the Hall of Famer. "You know, a lot of people think I'm older than I am [56]. They forget I was a player-coach my first four seasons [Seattle and Portland]. Then, all I was doing is copying what the other coaches were doing."

* Orioles farmhand Paul Carey made the Avis Arizona Fall League all-stars as a designated hitter, hammering away at a .414 pace for Tucson. Carey led the league in slugging and on-base percentage, but as a first baseman. Uh, don't Dem Boids have a couple of them?

* Did you ever notice when Bob Knight goes absolutely berserk during a basketball game and makes a fool of himself, within days his LSU counterpart, Dale Brown, hippity-hops into the headlines with something totally off the wall? Do you suppose these two are the same guy?

* In half their first 12 games, the Indianapolis Colts did not score a touchdown and they have just a dozen six-pointers in 13 games. Lately, Indy hasn't had a touchdown in 17 quarters while cruising to a 4-9 mark. See, nothing's changed since that dark and stormy March night in 1984.


* Roberto Duran, who takes part in his 100th professional fight tonight against Tony Menefee on USA Network (9 p.m.), thinks he's still the best pound-for-pound fighter working today despite his age (42). Thing is, Hands of Stone was the best 135-pounder ever and is probably in the top five of best ever regardless of size.

* A pretty good indication of why Jack Kent Cooke has unending problems with the District of Columbia regarding a new football stadium can be gleaned from the fact that civic, environmental and community leaders in Washington are now urging The Squire to renovate RFK. Studies conducted long ago found that renovations of the scale required were "not feasible." Hello, Laurel, Hello!

* With budgets and classroom space stretched to and beyond the limit, isn't it a great time for football coaches in Anne Arundel County to be pushing for an increase in staff size? If a coach and four assistants can't handle varsity and JV squads and get the job done, maybe they should check out their methods. One of the problems with schoolboy ball is too many supposed adults are looking to make it more involved and intricate than it is as a way of playing out their Tom Landry fantasies.

* After already enjoying the huge advantage of being home for three playoff games, Marshall once again is host as Youngstown State comes to Huntington, W.Va., for the Division I-AA title contest Saturday. The Thundering Herd certainly didn't earn home-field advantage with its regular-season work (8-3). The situation reminds one of the year North Carolina State won the Final Four with David Thompson in Greensboro, the Wolfpack playing just six of its 31 games (30-1) outside the state.

* With yearly salaries of about $6 million (figuring in all those signing bonuses, incentive clauses and deferments), what is Rafael Palmeiro going to command as a result of that joyous extra round of league playoffs next season, the state's public lands?

* Parting shot: The big (betting) money hasn't shown up from Nebraska at the books yet, so Florida State remains a 17 1/2 -point favorite for its Orange Bowl walkover to the mythical national championship. You coaches should be very proud.