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Cheap Seats

Sun., May 25, 1997

Great moments in marketing

The Detroit Tigers are so desperate to increase attendance that fans catching home-run balls in the Coca-Cola Fans Stands at Tiger Stadium will receive season tickets for the remainder of 1997.

“With their pitching,” wrote Phil Collier of the San Diego Union-Tribune, “the Tigers may wind up with capacity crowds by August.”

And if that fails, there’s always Free Money Night.

Just call him Shark-san

Leave it to Greg Norman to try the impossible.

The man who refuses to wave the white flag whenever the Masters rolls around went clear across the world to tackle a foe more daunting than Augusta National: He accused Jumbo Ozaki of cheating.

In Japan.

Norman and Ozaki have a feud that goes back years, but this one was no contest - the home-field advantage was too great.

Norman trailed Ozaki by one shot entering the final round of the Chunichi Crowns Tournament and on the second hole, he claimed that the Japanese legend improved his lie. No penalty was called; Ozaki denied the accusation, and it’s not something that can easily be enforced. Ozaki went on to shoot 67 and win. Norman fired 70 for third.

“When Ozaki’s in Japan, he is the best driver in the world, and that infuriates Norman, who is considered the best driver of all time,” said fellow pro Peter Teravainen, not yet figuring Tiger Woods into the mix.

Why risk the wrath of the Japanese fans? No worry for Norman, said Teravainen: “He probably had the private jet all revved up to get out of town.”

Seller’s remorse …

Two Baltimore police officers charged with scalping Orioles baseball tickets during the playoffs last year have resigned from the force as part of a plea agreement.

Circuit Court Judge Mabel Hubbard called Jerry Tarud and David Brendel “tragic heroes” who destroyed their successful careers because they arrogantly thought they could scalp the tickets.

… and Sell’s remorse

A former Delta Air Lines employee was fired for offering discounts and other perks to Pittsburgh Steelers players.

James Sell, who said other employees also gave perks to professional athletes, has filed a discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Sell sold round-trip, first-class tickets from Denver to Honolulu - normally $1,848 each - to linebacker Chad Brown and his wife for $780 each. Delta officials noticed the steep discount when Brown complained because he wanted to return a day early and was told he would lose the discount.

“I feel awful that James lost his job,” Brown said. “Professional athletes are always getting perks, from free movie tickets to discounted airline tickets.”

Lisa Sell said her husband was encouraged to provide discounts, a claim the company denies.

“Here are the Steelers making all this money, and a man with two children gets fired for giving them discounts,” she said.

The last word …

“In corporate America’s woodshed, golfer John Daly is dropped by Wilson for trying to get sober and Fuzzy Zoeller is dropped by Kmart for trying to be funny, not a clear message, but a loud one.”

- Chicago Tribune columnist Bernie Lincicome

, DataTimes

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