OUR RECENT series of items about the...


OUR RECENT series of items about the 1974 Richard Cohen-Jules Witcover book, "A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation & Resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew," has struck a chord -- and a nerve or two.

First, Gallimaufry reported the book could be found in the library systems of Anne Arundel and Harford counties and at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, but not at the Baltimore County Public Library, though the other systems could make it available to BCPL users through inter-library loan. We noted, with some pique, the absence of the book from the library system of the county where Agnew got his political start.

Former U.S. Attorney for Maryland George Beall, a key figure in the Agnew case, read the item. Then, as recounted in a Dec. 16 Theo Lippman Jr. column, Mr. Beall said he would donate his copy of the book to the BCPL if someone would give him a copy for his daughter, who is also an attorney.

As a result of the column, the Bealls and Ted Lippman got calls from several people offering copies of "A Heartbeat Away." So it looks like the BCPL should soon have its own edition of the book. All's well that ends well, right?

Not quite. A Pratt spokesperson phoned to complain about a Dec. 11 Gallimaufry item that told of a Sun editorial writer's purchase of "A Heartbeat Away" at the Pratt's annual used book sale. The item contained the line, "Swell, we thought. Another copy of this important book gets removed from public access."

We explained the piece was more than a little tongue-in-cheek and didn't aim to state definitively that the book was removed from Pratt circulation. Still, we want to clarify that wasn't our intent, especially after hearing the library's staff is "rather exercised" about the matter.

For the record, then, the Pratt's central library on Cathedral Street has five copies of the Cohen-Witcover book in its stacks. An undetermined number of copies are also available at various Pratt branches.

We love the Pratt for being the serious institution it is. We'd love it even more if it had a sense of humor.

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UPDATE on "Steal Baltimore a Team" -- the logical way to "Give Baltimore the Ball" in the search for a National Football League team. Since the NFL won't award Baltimore an expansion team, the time is ripe to steal one. It should be easy.

* Attendance at the last New England Patriots home game: 29,800.

* Attendance at the last Los Angeles Raiders home game: 38,000.

* Average attendance at the last three L.A. Rams home games: 48,200.

With such meager fan support, these teams are eagerly exploring other locations. If not Baltimore, then St. Louis and Memphis. It's time for NFL owners to play their version of musical chairs.

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