New York Times

July 17, 1974

By Murry Chass

Stars' Home Debut Stirs Fan Interest

With most New York professional football teams only names and recollections in history, the city's 15th and newest team, the Stars, begins the home half of its World Football League schedule tonight against the Birmingham Americans at Downing Stadium.

Neither the Stars' front-office officials nor the coaches were concerned about history yesterday, though. They had other significant problems to work on.

The front-office personnel, for example, spent all day answering telephone queries about tickets and wondering if they would be able to squeeze all their emerging fans into the relatively tiny (21,000-seat) Randalls Island facility.

At the practice site in Oakdale, Long Island, meanwhile, Coach Babe Parilli and his staff hoped they had eliminated the errors that led to a 14-7 loss to Jacksonville in last Thursday's opener.

The Stars, whose game will be broadcasted by WMCA at 8:05 P.M., are one of the four WFL teams to begin their home season tonight. The Southern California Sun hosts the Hawaiians; the Houston Texans are at home against the Philadelphia Bell and the Detroit Wheels entertain the Florida Blazers. In tonight's other contest the Jacksonville Sharks play the Fire in Chicago. The Portland Storm will be at the Memphis Southmen in tomorrow night's nationally televised game (Channel 9 in New York).

In serving as one of two teams in last week's televised game, which drew respectable ratings at least in New York, the Stars displayed a respectable defense as the Sharks scored only on a punt return and following a blocked punt.

The Americans didn't show much offense in beating Southern California, 11-7, but Parilli said yesterday he expected the offense around the league to begin opening up this week. "You never know when a team will explode," he said, aware that each game averaged only 13.5 points last week.

The Americans have the potential to explode because they have the most experienced collection of offensive weapons in the league - George Mira at quarterback, Paul Robinson, and Charley Harraway at running backs and Dennis Homan at wide receiver.

However, against the Sun last week, Mira threw for only 86 yards, and the Americans needed a 50-yard interception return by Steve Williams to spark their victory.

The Stars, meanwhile, scored only one touchdown after missing a chance to score in four plays from Jacksonville's 2-yard line.

"The quarterback [Tom Sherman] passed on first down, but he could have walked in," said Parilli, whose team then failed to score on three straight runs by Dave Richards.

As harmful to the Stars were Alvin Wyatt's 87-yard romp with Robby Reynolds's punt and Ike Lassiter's block of another Reynolds punt.

"On the return," Parilli explained, "we called kick right in the huddle but at the line the kid yelled kick left. Only no one heard him."

On the blocked kick, the coach said there were errors in the blocking but Reynolds, a rookie from South Carolina, contributed to the situation by looking at the rush, which caused him to take his eye off the ball for a second. That, in turn, caused him to jiggle the ball before he kicked it.

"The kid will be O.K.," Parilli said. "It was his first big game. We'll just have to tell him to kick the ball and quit thinking."

The Stars are thinking right now they'd like to be playing in Yankee Stadium to take advantage of what appears to be a high degree of interest in the team. However, they'll have to hang for at least two years if that's to become a reality.

Of the city's first 14 professional teams, six lasted longer than two years-the Giants (since 1925), the Jets (since 1960), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1933-44) and the Staten Islands Stapletons (1929-32) of the National Football League and the New York Yankees (1946-49) of the All-American Conference. There were five other teams called the Yanks, the Yankees, the Bulldogs, the Brooklyn Horseman and the Brooklyn Lions.