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Mr. November?

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group and an avid cricket player, tells Adages that he is a Yankees fan. He also says that he once pitched a baseball game. Actually, he threw out the first ball in San Francisco before a game between the Mets and the Giants in May. "It was more terrifying than appearing in front of a takeover panel," says Sir Martin, who is trying to convince the U.K. Takeover Panel that he be allowed to duck out of his high bid for Tempus Group. (see related story P. 3). Enterprise IG, a WPP agency that designed the Giants' uniforms, was Sir Martin's ticket to the pitcher's mound. "There were 40,000 screaming fans who didn't know me from a hole in the ground," recalls Sir Martin. "I got scared witless when I looked up at the video screen and I saw this short fat guy walking up to the mound and I realized it was me." Sir Martin says that he threw the ball from the rubber and his toss made it across the plate. "It's about the same distance as bowling a cricket ball, so I managed. The catcher made it look good." The next test of Sir Martin's athletic prowess will come in December when he carries the Olympic torch through a stretch of New York City. In the meantime, it remains to be seen if Sir Martin will be able to get a slider past the Takeover panel.

A little chin music

Speaking of pitches, one of the hottest perks in town was a ticket to the World Series. Hotter still was an invitation to sit in the box of a team owner during the fall classic. Kevin Malloy, CEO of Starcom MediaVest International, and, as readers of this column know, a Kiwi transplant who is an avid Yankee fan, watched one of the Yankee pennant battles against the Seattle Mariners with George Steinbrenner, thanks to the generosity of a client. The invitation was extended to Kevin for game three of the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Just before the game, however, Kevin was tossed a brushback ball. He was asked to give up his seat for a special Steinbrenner guest. "I told them that I didn't mind standing," says Kevin. "But they said no." It turned out the guest was George W. Bush. "It became a security issue," says Kevin. "I couldn't be in the box." As everyone knows, George showed up, threw the first ball, which the press called a strike, and sat in Kevin's seat for about three innings of the game before leaving.

Help wanted

AOL Time Warner's Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is having trouble filling the job vacated by Julie Kantrowitz, who left her post five months ago as executive VP-media sales for the division, perhaps the biggest U.S. TV syndicator in terms of advertising sales. The division rakes in some $400 million a year. Now, the acting head of the division, Paul Montoya, senior VP-East Coast media sales, doesn't want the permanent position, according to executives. Ms. Kantrowitz is now chief operating officer for AOL Time Warner's Global Marketing Solutions group. A Warner Bros.' Domestic Television Distribution spokesman wouldn't comment at press time.

Contributing: Wayne Friedman

E-mail those split-finger fastballs to rlinnett@crain.com

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