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Friday, July 30, 1999

Cowboys hope Spellman's problems solved

WICHITA FALLS, July 30, 1999 (AP) Alonzo Spellman lost his football career because he was having trouble handling his life. Now that he's got that under control, the Dallas Cowboys are bringing him back to the NFL.

Spellman, who missed all of last season following a summer filled with bizarre behavior, signed a one-year contract Thursday for the veteran minimum of $400,000.

There is no signing bonus, but the defensive end can make another $450,000 in incentives based on playing time and number of sacks.

"He's in the prime of his career," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "If he has success for us, he can play a lot of years. That's part of the upside."

Spellman was a first-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 1992 and an anchor on their defensive line for several seasons before being limited by injuries in 1997. Then, from March to September 1998, he lost his job and his marriage as he struggled to control a mental illness.

Spellman suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition that is treatable by medication but can lead to manic behavior if he doesn't take his pills.

The Cowboys have been talking to Spellman since October. Jones said the team conducted an extensive background check and he personally did a lot of research before deciding to sign him.

"We're confident this will work," Jones said.

Spellman arrived in camp Thursday afternoon and was in a team meeting when Jones spoke to the media a few hours later. He was not available for interviews.

"Alonzo is very enthusiastic about the ability to play football again," said his agent, Leigh Steinberg. "Dallas has been evaluating Alonzo for many, many weeks now. He has made great progress in his battle against emotional illness and they're satisfied he can be a productive player."

Crane hosting PP&K event

PECOS, July 30, 1999 -- The Crane County Youth Organization will hold a Punt, Pass and Kick competition for area students entering Grades 4 through 8 this year. The event will be held at 1 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Crane High School football field, with an entry fee of $7 per child.

Trophies will be given out to first through sixth place winners in each of the five divisions, along with trophies for the best individual punt, pass and kick. Each player will get three attempts, and scoring will be based on the best overall combined punt, pass and kick yardage.

Deadline for entering is Aug. 5 at the regular fee, or Aug. 6-7 with a $10 late charge. Checks should be sent to Crane County Youth Organization, P.O. Box 667, Crane, Tx., 79731. For further information, contact Willie Jones at (915) 558-1165.

Veteran NL umps hit by `out' call

AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK, July 30, 1999 After spending their careers ejecting players, 13 National League umpires found themselves tossed out.

In an unprecedented purge precipitated by a labor strategy that backfired, 13 NL umps lost their jobs Thursday, meaning one-third of major league umps will depart Sept. 2.

Joe West, famous for slamming pitcher Dennis Cook to the ground in 1990, and Eric Gregg, criticized for a wide strike zone in the 1997 playoffs, were among those let go, management officials said, speaking on the condition they not be identified.

Tom Hallion, suspended for three games earlier this month for bumping a player and coach, will be forced to leave, too, along with crew chiefs Frank Pulli and Terry Tata, who have each spent more than 25 years in the major leagues and worked four World Series apiece.

"These are some of the finest umpires in the history of this game," union head Richie Phillips said. "Terry Tata has worked many, many important games. What they're saying is that an umpire who has never even worked a spring training game in his life is more fit to umpire in the major leagues than Terry Tata.

"I think the conduct of major league baseball is reprehensible and oppressive. What they've really done here is attempt to execute surrendered prisoners. I absolutely vow to fight to the death in this case, and I will means 22 of the 68 major league umpires are departing.

Pulli, 64, has been a member of the NL staff since 1972. He was planning to retire after the 2000 season.

"It's a slap in the face. This is what I deserve after 28 years?" Pulli said from Pittsburgh, where he was to work the Florida-Pirates game tonight.

"I'm ready to go to war," he said. "This is the biggest favor they ever did for this union. These guys will come together, I guarantee you that."

Many NL umpires were angry with commissioner Bud Selig and Sandy Alderson, the vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, saying the moves were made over the objection of NL president Len Coleman.

"This is a plan by Bud Selig and Sandy Alderson to break the union," NL umpire Steve Rippley said, adding that the firings have made him consider retirement.

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Pecos Enterprise
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