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Hey, batta, batta: never at loss for words


Imagine! Michael Tolley of Toronto was with four friends at a game at SkyDome in 1996 and the Blue Jay fans were giving the Twins the business.

Twins catcher Matt Walbeck, who was in the bullpen, finally had enough. He shouted at Tolley and his pals that they were “the worst hecklers he had heard in his life.”

Tolley felt the sting, saying: “Some may say being a bad heckler is a good thing, but we knew what he meant.

“I began a quest to be a better heckler.”

He tried books, then the Internet but only found lots of uninspired fan sites.

Finally, the 31-year-old Canadian launched a Web site to “attract the good, funny and small hecklers that are out there.” The Baseball Heckle Depot ( ) is a heckler’s dream.

Tolley said he has received hundreds of one-line heckles and ballpark heckling stories. He categorizes the material and edits it, making sure the posts are not vulgar, he said.

Heckles are broken into selections for batters, fielders, pitchers, the bullpen and the umpires. Chants, an interactive survey and a code of ethics for heckling are also included.

Tolley ranks which major-league teams have the best hecklers (the New York Yankees, of course, are No. 1) and also ranks the best players to heckle (the Baltimore Orioles’ enigmatic Albert Belle, of course).

A few of the best heckles:

For batters: “You couldn’t drive home Miss Daisy!”

For pitchers: “Someone go out there and put another quarter in the pitcher.”

For fielders: “Your idea of a double play is a bourbon with a beer chaser!”

For Cal Ripken Jr.: “Hey, what are you – too good to take a day off?”

Money for running

Long-distance running, considered by some to be fairly untainted, is threatened by commercial interests, greed and lack of professional guidance.

Paul Ereng, who won the 800-meter gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, spoke at a seminar in Nakuru, in the heart of Kenya’s running country, saying that some foreign sports agents encourage youngsters to drop out of school to run for money.

The Kenya Amateur Athletic Association has been criticized for providing little guidance to athletes. Irish Coach Colm O’Connell, who groomed a number of promising athletes when he was at St. Patrick’s High School in Kenya’s central Rift Valley, said it was unfair that some KAAA officials work for the foreign agents.

All the world’s team

“America’s Team” has one more fan – former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, attended last Sunday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. He was the guest of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, who is a frequent guest of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

“It was absolutely lovely,” Mandela said as he walked through the Cowboys’ locker room, shaking hands and greeting members of the team. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Anti-marathon man

Despite protests, Joerg Haider, the head of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, will be allowed to run in the New York City Marathon next month.

Community leaders in Brooklyn are outraged because Haider, the son of a Nazi party member, has praised an elite guard of the Nazi Party.

“We are not going to kick him out of the race,” Allan Steinfeld, president of the New York Road Runners Club and race director of the New York City Marathon. “We don’t discriminate.”

Haider’s electoral success has alarmed Israel and neighboring countries because of his comments years ago in praise of Hitler’s “decent employment policies.”

“His type of ugliness does not belong on the streets of Brooklyn, where many survivors have taken up residence after the Holocaust,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn said. “Brooklyn will not stand by and be silent in the face of his treachery.”

We can talk

Miami Dolphin guard Kevin Gogan on Olindo Mare, who has converted 17 field goals in a row: “He’s hot. I usually don’t talk to kickers because they’re weird, but I talk to Olindo now.”