OLYMPIC PASSING: Los Angeles revitalized the Summer Olympics in 1984, and much credit for the success of those Games belongs to Hollywood producer David L. Wolper. He staged the opening ceremonies that set an irresistible upbeat tone for the entire 16 days.
Wolper, who died last week, included such flourishes as 88 tuxedo-clad pianists performing “Rhapsody in Blue.” Various accounts said there were 84 pianos, but as I recall, Wolper’s idea was to represent the number of keys on the keyboard.
The most special touch of all was the inclusion of 1,700 ethnic L.A. residents in their native costumes with the parading teams of 140 nations. When “Reach Out and Touch” (sung by supermarket checker Vicki McClure) was played, the floor of the Coliseum turned into a vast ballroom. Everybody started dancing. Wolper took no credit for planning that outcome. It took him by complete surprise, he said afterward, and it brought tears to his eyes.
AVP FOLDS: Impoverished by a dearth of sponsors and investors, the Association of Volleyball Professionals called it quits last week after limping through seven 2010 tournaments, including the Santa Barbara Open in May. It’s sad that the country that introduced beach volleyball to the world cannot come up with the equivalent of Manny Ramirez’s annual salary to support a pro tour.
Elite volleyball players can still make good money on the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World Tour, which is thriving in Europe. The most elite players are Santa Barbara’s Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. Their victory in Norway last weekend was their eighth title of the year, an FIVB record. The defending Olympic champions also have won five AVP tournaments this year and would have been competing at Manhattan Beach this weekend if it were a tour event. Instead, they will seek their ninth FIVB title in Finland.
The demise of the AVP was a cruel blow to former UCSB standout Brooke Hanson, who has played for eight years without winning a tournament. Two-time gold medalist and 103-time champion Kerri Walsh, ready to return to action after the birth of her second child, picked Hanson as her partner for the rest of the season. But the end came before they could make their debut as a team.
KIRALY ABIDES: Karch Kiraly won the first of his three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics and raked in $3 million in prize money during the AVP’s boom years. He’s still involved in volleyball as the assistant coach of the U.S. Women’s indoor team and promoter of the Corona Light Wide Open Tour, an “old-school” beach tour that features wide courts and side-out scoring. Kiraly will appear at a dinner to benefit the Goleta Boys & Girls Club on Monday, September 13, at the Elks Club on Kellogg Avenue. The cost is $50 for adults and $25 for students. Information: 967-1612.
GOOD SPORTS: The Santa Barbara Foresters came up short in their quest for a third National Baseball Congress World Series championship—they finished tied for third out of 32 teams in Wichita, Kansas—but they were presented with their third Sportsmanship Award at the tournament.
ONE MEAUX YEAR: UCSB pitcher Jesse Meaux was the only Forester named to the 76th annual NBC World Series All-American Team. He went 2-0 in his two starts, allowing just one earned run in 12 innings. The 6’4” right-hander hurled the Foresters to an 8-3 win over the Haysville (KS) Heat in the quarterfinals. Meaux will be back on the mound for the Gauchos in his senior year. He could have signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, who picked him in the 44th round of the Major League Draft, but at the deadline Monday, he decided that the money they offered was not worth passing up the opportunity to finish his college career.
PERRY GOOD: It was a summer of near misses on the golf course for Santa Barbara High grad Jack Perry. In the state prep championship, he lost a playoff for the individual title. He also finished second in the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) Amateur Championship, and, last week, he took second in the SCGA Match Play Championship at the Sandpiper Golf Course. Perry, the youngest player in the field of 32, lost to Cal State Northridge senior Nick Delio, 3 and 2. Perry will enter Northwestern University in the fall.
TOP FOUR: On the strength of championships in volleyball and water polo, Dos Pueblos High’s girls teams finished fourth among more than 500 schools competing for the CIF Southern Section Commissioner’s Cup in 2009-10.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: The new field at UCSB’s Harder Stadium gets broken in this weekend at the start of a big college soccer season. The Gaucho women play Cal State Northridge on Friday, August 20, and the men take on Westmont College on Saturday, August 21. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.