SERMON ON THE MOUND
Evangelist Billy Graham told a Washington, D.C. crowd of 17,000, including Vice-President Nixon: "Mr. Nixon has asked me to pray for the Washington Senators, and I told him I would—if they get two more starting pitchers."
One more facet of the many-faceted Bud Wilkinson flashed into view last week at a coaching clinic in New York. Everyone, of course, knows Wilkinson the Master Builder, molder of University of Oklahoma football powerhouses which went undefeated in 74 straight conference games. But not everybody knows Wilkinson the Scholar, fighter for higher academic standards.
"College athletes should be college men in something other than name," the man said. The trouble with college football today, he went on, is not the prevailing notion that cash-and-carry recruiting techniques are harmful. "I don't believe fancy inducements are the lures in recruiting," said the coach, whose own recruiting staff sweeps Oklahoma and Texas like a giant vacuum cleaner. "After all, everybody has pretty much the same package to offer. It's in the scholastic requirements where the differences are. There are schools which can offer scholastic acceptance to the scholastically unqualified boy, and this is where their advantage lies."
There is also the matter of colleges that offer "meaningless" courses for athletes. It is inequitable, said Wilkinson, for a studious player carrying 22 semester hours in subjects like Greek and calculus to bump heads on a Saturday afternoon with a competitor majoring lackadaisically in water skiing and fly casting.
To solve this problem, Wilkinson would have the Princeton testing service make up a comprehensive achievement examination covering a broad area of subjects. Each athlete would take the test at the end of his freshman year. Those who flunked would be dropped from their athletic squads. "This," said Wilkinson, "would assure some degree of uniformity."
It would, indeed. It also would assure every star athlete at least one year of education.
GREEN GROW THE GATORS
Television's Pat Harrington Jr. ("Guido Panzini") is fond of describing a hazard on the Tanganyika Country Club course—a colony of pygmies, equipped with blowguns and poison darts, positioned in front of a green. "If your drive is short," Harrington explains, "pooooof! You're finished.'
Well, Tanganyika has nothing much on a new (and real) course at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Twenty alligators, some of them 15 feet long, live in the water holes. They are fed chunks of horse meat, which will have to suffice until something better—say a golf shoe with a foot in it—comes along.
One of the gators likes to clamber out of the water and sun himself on a nearby green. Nobody plays through.
THE WAXAHACHIE PLAN
Paul Richards, the articulate manager of the Baltimore Orioles, knows that it is silly to spend hundreds of thousands of bonus dollars on high school athletes who usually wind up hitting .237 in the Piedmont League. He knows it is silly, and he does it every year about this time, and he hates himself for it. "We're all a bunch of damn fools," he says.
But unlike some of his managerial colleagues, Richards has a plan to beat the system. He explains:
"I'm going to retire in a couple of years and go back to Waxahachie, and the first thing I'm going to do is find me a tall old boy with long arms and big hands and I'm going to ask some friends of mine on the local newspaper to plant a few stories about how far he can hit a baseball. I don't care if he plays in the high school band. In a couple of weeks a few scouts will begin nosing around.
"They'll ask the boy to work out for them, and he'll get a pained look on his face and say, 'Oh, not again. I'm tired of working out for you guys.' Then they'll go out in the town and begin to ask questions. You know how a small town is. I'll tip off a couple of friends, and they'll tell the scouts how this boy hit a baseball into Tarrant County one day and how another time he knocked all the bulbs out of a light tower 500 feet away.
" 'How much you want?' they'll ask the kid, and he'll say, 'You make me an offer.' Then the scouts will say, 'How about $40,000 ?' and the boy will laugh in their faces and say, 'I've already been offered a lot more than that,' and the scouts will go away to think about it.
"Before it's all over they'll sign up that kid for $80,000, without ever seeing him swing a bat, and I'll take my cut as his agent and go find me another kid or two and pretty soon I'll be rich. And I won't feel bad a bit. Because this is just what's going on in the bonus business right now anyway."
THE WONDER HORSE
"I have a wife, a daughter and Rye-Bo," said Alfonso Rotini, a 47-year-old groom, the other afternoon at New York's Belmont Park. "That is my family and I love each of them equally." Rye-Bo is actually Ribot, who in 1954-56 marched through Italy, England and France winning all 16 of his starts and gaining acclaim as Horse of the Decade.
Last week Ribot, who has been leased for five years to John W. Gal-breath (owner of Darby Dan Farm and the Pittsburgh Pirates) for $1,350,000, arrived in the U.S. to begin his duty at stud. On Saturday the 8-year-old was paraded in front of the stands at Belmont, and stewards, owners, trainers, jockeys and agents strained to get a look at him. "He is a beautiful horse," said Cal Rainey, a steward. "When I saw him win the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in 1956," said Bones LaBoyne, Eddie Arcaro's agent, "I said to mys f 'Bones, you will never see such a horse again.' And I never have." "To rent this horse," said Manuel Ycaza, a jockey, "it is cost $740 the day. For that you can rent many Cadillacs. But when I see Ribot I would rather have him than all the Cadillacs."
This fall when the best American mares are led to the court of Ribot at Galbreath's farm in Lexington, the biggest gamble in the history of Thoroughbred racing will begin. It is worth remembering, however, that Ribot has yet to cost any gambler a solitary lira, shilling, franc—or dime.
GOATS IN THE BULLPEN
Kansas City's Municipal Stadium, where the All-Star Game will be played July 11, has a steep, hard-to-reach bank of grass behind right field. To keep the plot in trim, the Athletics have hired a covey of goats, and they are doing the job nicely. There are some who say, of course, that the Kansas City team has always had a few goats in residence or en route from New York, but never mind.
The very latest craze for the young sophisticates of Paris is le holing—a game that is pronounced and means bowling. Its devotees show up nightly at the city's two new bowling establishments, one in a cave (pronounced "cahv," means cellar club), and one just off the Champs Elysées. There they see such celebrities as Francoise Sagan aiming for the un-trois pocket. The French now claim that they really invented bowling, in the 17th century, but this, of course, is incorrect, as the Russians soon will point out.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Stan Musial accepted a portable television set and a radio from a fan club last week, made the poignant comment: "I guess it won't be too long before I'll be needing them to find out for myself how the Cardinals are making out."... Ingemar Johansson, resting at the Florida home of Swedish industrialist Gustav von Reis, smiled wryly when asked if he had seen the film of the fight yet. "No," said Ingo, "there will be plenty of time for that." ... Frank Gilford, New York Giants halfback for eight years, told a Richmond, Va. banquet audience: "Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors."
OLYMPIC TICKETS: LAVENDER AND OLD LIME
The first 1960 Olympic Games tickets have arrived in this country. (Opening Ceremonies ticket, above, $20), and a colorful sight they are indeed. Resolved to outdo the past in every way, the Italians have produced oversize tickets bearing handsomely etched pictures of classic Roman sites. The background colors vary with the events and include lavender, azure, lime, orange, coral and tan. Already 900,000 (value: $2,610,000) have been sold, with track and field accounting for 360,000 alone. The hosts are confident that they will outsell Helsinki (1,130,000) and Melbourne (1,300,000). Americans already have bought $320,000 worth.