Prodded out of their lethargy by the insurgent Continentals, the pressure of public opinion and the threat of Congressional action, the American and National leagues last week finally agreed to expand. The established leagues, the major-domos promised, would absorb four charter teams from the Continental League right away and the other four "within a reasonable number of years."
The Continental officials seemed relieved that they had so neatly extricated themselves from the almost impossible third-league theme. Nor were the member cities showing any remorse. "Atlanta is definitely in line now for major league baseball," they said in Georgia. "We can't miss," they said in Fort Worth and Dallas. In Buffalo they said, "We're the only city that has a stadium of major league size right now." In Minneapolis-St. Paul they said, "We have achieved our goal at last." Nearly everybody, suddenly very cynical, said, "The Continental League never had a chance in the first place."
Yet how good are the chances of immediate expansion of the American and National leagues? They could be better. For one thing, no one has yet explained how the first four teams would be manned. For another, no one has explained what Dan Topping is up to. Topping, co-owner of the Yankees, said late last week he would oppose National League expansion into New York unless the American League expanded into Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, of course, belongs to Walter O'Malley, not to the Continental League. If Topping can exert enough pressure, he might be able to make the majors renege on their promise to the Continentals or even put off expansion altogether.
Ernie Elliott, an 18-year-old in Portland, Ore., played 257 holes (that's more than 14 rounds) of golf in 24 hours last week. He's claiming the world record for that sort of thing. That's wonderful.
But to the man who is bushed after only one round of golf in 24 hours it may be a comfort to learn that during the course of his marathon Ernie: drove one ball into the golf-course swimming pool, broke the strap on his golf bag, lost his nine-iron through a hole in the bottom of a substitute bag, had his foot run over by a spectator's motor scooter, took off his shoes to rest his feet and stepped on a bee, which stung him.
DRIFTING & DREAMING
People marveled, during a stock-car race in Atlanta last week, when Glenn (Fireball) Roberts barreled his sedan into his service pit at 75 mph and, without even slowing down, rocketed through the pit, out the exit and back onto the track.
"I was in some kind of a weird trance," Fireball said later, pocketing a $9,700 check for winning. "I thought I had a flat tire, and I thought I was going about 25 miles an hour. But when I got in the pit I came to and realized I was really moving along. So what the heck, I said to myself. I just kept on going out the other end and hare I am."
DEATH OF THE WILD BULL
Luis Angel Firpo is dead at 65. A successful rancher who died a millionaire, he created one of the unforgettable moments of sports (shown here in George Bellows' lithograph) when he punched Jack Dempsey out of the ring. Jack came back to knock Firpo out, but Luis, the Wild Bull of the Pampas, became famous forever.
SOCCER CATCHES ON
Three minutes after the opening of the International Soccer League championship in New York last week, Valter Santos, playing for the Bangu team of Brazil, streaked toward the Scottish goal. Suddenly he wheeled, one arm in the air, like a man taking a spill on a bicycle. At that exact instant the ball was passed to him. In perfect time, he kicked with his right foot, and the bright new yellow ball sped a few inches off the grass toward the goal 15 yards away. Kilmarnock Goalie Jimmy Brown was in the act of pivoting to meet this new threat when the ball shot between his legs for a score. Some 25,000 enraptured fans at the Polo Grounds let out the sort of roar that used to be heard when Willie Mays was there.
The International Soccer League was launched this year to give Americans their first look at big-time soc-car. It was meant to include eight European teams and two from the U.S. But the difficulty in raising two first-rate American teams led to Bangu's last-minute invitation. It must be accounted one of the luckiest second choices in sport. Attendance in the first half of the 30-game season (Kilmarnock won that division) fell as low as 1,700 and averaged but 7,000 per game. Bill Cox, the organizer, had figured 8,000 would be necessary to survive. In the second half, with Bangu's crowd-pleasers neck and neck with a tough Yugoslavian team, crowds jumped as high as 20,000, and the playoff with Kilmarnock, which Bangu won 2-0, topped that by 5,000.
What the crowd saw in that final game was a matchless display of Brazilian teamwork and speed pitted against a heavier, slower, but relentless Scottish 11—as good soccer as could be seen anywhere. More importantly, average attendance soared to 12,000 for the season, and Promoter Cox happily predicted soccer is here to stay.
SENT TO THE SHOWROOM
"For Sale:" said the ad in the Cambridge (Md.) Banner, "Complete umpire's paraphernalia. I have had it." The man who placed the ad was Pete Russ, and after 20 years of umpiring, Little League baseball had done him in. "I sell automobiles now," he said, "and if you make the parents mad, you lose sales."
If you don't get a nibble next time you go fishing, blame it on the fish's sense of smell. Harold Elser, a state of Maryland biologist, says your hands may be leaving an offensive odor (for fish—and isn't that a switch) on the bait.
Elser himself sniffed out his theory while observing University of Wisconsin experiments which indicated that fish can indeed discriminate among odors.
"Some time later," he says, "three of us were fishing. We used identical lines, hooks and bait. One fellow and I got plenty of bluegills. But the fellow in the middle of the boat got nothing. I thought, 'I bet his hands are smelling up the bait.' "
Elser admits that his hands, too, are sometimes unpopular. The other day, seeing that the trout were "jumping real nice" at a hatchery, he rinsed his hands upstream. When the "polluted" water reached the trout they promptly stopped their frolic.
Which seems to prove that the old saw is true. You never know when you offend.
Hobbled by blistered feet, Marathon Runner John Kelley failed to finish the first of his two required Olympic tryout races (SI, June 6). But when he won the second race by a wide margin, Olympic officials made an exception in his favor. Kelley, they ruled, would proceed to Rome.
Last week, in Manhattan for a 15-mile Olympic warmup, Kelley struggled to rationalize for himself the Olympic committee's decision. "Taking advantage of the rule change is against every principle I hold," he said on the one hand. "But a man will do what he wants to do if he can," he said on the other. "Actually," he finished inconclusively, "after I failed in the first race, I should have said I would not accept a place on the Olympic team no matter how well I did in the second. But by being silent I accepted the controversy. Now I can't say I won't go. I only wish they had changed the rules before this ever came up."
Kelley's mixed feelings are understandable, but Olympic Official Pincus Sober said the decision was not based on sentimentality. Kelley, said Sober, is the best marathon runner in the U.S., and the two-race tryout is mainly designed to weed out a flash in the pan. "We did not want to be hidebound by a regulation that defeats our own purposes," he argued.
The point seemed sound enough. Kelley won his warmup in a breeze. Bob Cons, who had been demoted to an alternate on the Olympic team to make room for Kelley, dropped out two miles from the finish.