The lore of eccentric athletes goes back well before Ring Lardner; it is rich in imagery, exaggeration and outright prevarication. But fate has been unkind to Mr. Cope, sheltering him from enough odd-balls-he calls them flakes-to prevent him, with all his writing skill, to hit the heights of flakery. The title originates with the runner who tried to steal second base, was thrown out and broke his cigar. He notes that Bo Belinsky, the pitcher, once threw a lovely blonde out of his car at 5:30 a.m. onto a Los Angeles street. Fido Murphy scouted new talent and opponents for competing pro teams; Frank Lane, who's been general manager of everybody's ball club, is probably a rogue, Bob Clemente, the great Pirate out-fielder, is no flake, but so deep in hypochondriasis that sleeping pills keep him awake. Broken Cigars-pure Havana league.