LARK ON THE RISE
Choosing a champion among 1960's 3-year-old Thoroughbreds has been an unrewarding job. Of the prime pretenders, Venetian Way was a flop after he won the Kentucky Derby, and Bally Ache has been as erratic as the path of a hurricane. Others are already retired to the sick bay. In Atlantic City last Saturday, however, T.V. Lark made his first start on grass and whipped probably the best handicap field assembled this year. This was the $100,000 United Nations, and when a colt beats the best of the older horses in this kind of weight-for-age race, over a mile and three-sixteenths, he deserves considerable respect. The race also confirmed what many horsemen have assumed: if someone battles it out with the front-running Bally Ache right from the start, the latter will not be able to last a decent distance. Intentionally ran with Bally Ache instead of letting him set a false pace, and Bally Ache had to hang on at the end to save third place. If T.V. Lark runs—and wins—in this weekend's Woodward at Aqueduct, again against older horses, the "classical" generation may have acquired an authentic champion
THE BULL BUMS
Monde√±o, a tall, slim matador, strode toward the plumpish lady sitting in a barrera seat in Salamanca, the heart of Spain's bull-breeding country. "I dedicate the death of this bull to you, se√±ora," he said, and tossed her his hat.
The lady was Mrs. Tighe (Tiger) Nickalls, wife of a British horseman and journalist, and a member of a burgeoning Anglo-American social set on the Continent. The set is called, even by its own members, "the bull bums."
Bull bums follow the fairs during the bullfight season, and they are bums in name only. Most are well dressed and well off. They stay at the best hotels, eat at the right restaurants, think nothing of driving 600 miles in a day to follow their favorite bullfighter. The most conspicuous of this season's crop of bull bums is a 51-year-old bearded bachelor named Kenneth H. Vanderford. He has tooled his Karmann Ghia 10,000 miles so far this season, has seen 94 fights, expects to log 100. Vanderford, a Ph.D. in Spanish at the University of Chicago, worked for an oil company in South America for 17 years. He invested his money and graduated into bull bummery. "As long as the stock market doesn't go to hell, I can stay here," he explains.
In a baseball cap and sports shirt, the white-bearded Vanderford looks more like Ernest Hemingway than Hemingway, and he plays his part to the hilt. He is not averse to signing Papa's name for autograph seekers, a practice which caused the tolerant Hemingway to comment in Madrid: "I don't care if he signs my name as long as he doesn't sign checks." He doesn't.
Also on the circuit is Alice Hall, a 57-year-old retired Georgia school-marm. "Lady Hall," as she once was named by Spain's bullfight weekly, El Ruedo, speaks grammatically perfect Spanish with a cornpone-and-paella accent. She has been following the bulls since the debuts of Cesar Giron and Litri, and her filing-case memory can bring back a veritable Death in the Afternoon of facts and figures. She teaches Spanish in the winter, bums the bulls each summer.
There are others: Virginia Smith, a 28-year-old Long Islander, who has logged more corrida miles this summer than anyone except the ersatz Hemingway and a few matadors; the Honorable Christopher Beckett, a colonel in Her Majesty's army, who feels that bullfighting has deteriorated "because the matadors want to live until tomorrow"; and Diane Staebell, a 32-year-old U.S. Embassy secretary in Madrid who has pressed in her dreambook of memories three ears cut by Antonio Ordó√±ez, her hero. Hemingway himself is present this year, and so are a whole set of Lady Brett Ashleys who are more interested in the tight-suited torreros than they are in the bullfight itself.
THE EVER-NORMAL JACKPOT
What is home without a slot machine? An empty place indeed. Mrs. Dorothy Nogard, a 35-year-old divorcee of Fair Lawn, N.J. felt that her children and their little friends in the neighborhood would profit from a thorough knowledge of cherries, lemons and Bell Fruit gum. Explaining the presence of a full-size slot machine in her living room to a party of crusading police raiders, she said: "I let my own children—one 8 and one 12—and their friends play the machine with nickels that I supplied, and, of course, I took the nickels back when they finally got them out of the machine."
By confiscating the winnings, Mrs. Nogard impressed upon her children a most valuable lesson for the road ahead: you can't beat the slots. However, by supplying them with nickels she may have persuaded them that the slots can't beat you, either. But that is another problem, one that will have to wait until after Mrs. Nogard's hearing on gaming law violations.
THE HARD WAY
When she won the French singles championship last June, Darlene Hard wrote Sarah Palfrey: "You have just won another singles championship and I must say I was merely a tool." This was a flamboyant overstatement, but it had some basis in fact. Miss Palfrey, twice a national champion, had coached Miss Hard for four weeks before her departure for the European tournaments, correcting faults in her game—notably, her forehand—and encouraging her to believe in herself.
But after the French victory and three splendid wins in the Wightman Cup, Miss Hard's self-confidence faltered. She was defeated at Wimbledon, where her game began to fall apart, and then returned to the U.S. to lose four straight tournaments she should have won. Apparently embarrassed by her difficulties, she did not get in touch with her mentor. Not a woman to stand on pride or protocol Miss Palfrey wrote Darlene a letter.
"I told her she was playing with a chip on her shoulder," Miss Palfrey recalls. "I said, 'Until you change your frame of mind, you won't win a big one. The whole world is not against you.' And I told her I hoped my letter would make her mad, and she'd prove me wrong."
In the early rounds at Forest Hills last week, Sarah ran into Darlene on the courts and volunteered some more advice. She had spotted two things: Darlene wasn't throwing the ball high enough on service, and therefore was consistently netting her first ball; and since Maria Bueno, the favorite, was vulnerable on the forehand, Darlene should vary her backhand, hitting down the line as well as cross-court.
The advice took. In the delayed final last Saturday at Forest Hills, Darlene Hard put her first service in play much more consistently, bothered Bueno with crisp, down-the-line backhands, and in general played the way Sarah Palfrey believed she could. The result: a Hard victory, 6-3, 10-12, 6-4. Afterward, the winner tearfully embraced Sarah and said: "We did it!"
"Nonsense," said Coach Palfrey "you did it just by being yourself."
PASS THE PASTA
There is no intellectual or sociological problem too complex for that widely known scholar and master of the non sequitur, Charles Dillon (Casey) Stengel. The other day, for example, Casey stepped in where André Malraux, Bertrand Russell and our own Roy Terrell have feared to tread and explained perfectly why there are so many good baseball players of Italian descent. "It's because they eat a lot of spaghetti," said Casey, ripping through to the heart of the matter. He pantomimed a man rolling a forkful of spaghetti on a spoon. "See?" he went on, "that strengthens the wrists, and you've got to have strong wrists to be a good hitter."
SE HABLA INGLES
SMU End Rene Medellin, a son of the southern border, was telling Assistant Coach John Cudmore that he was having troubles with his foreign language course.
"What's your foreign language, Rene?" asked Cudmore.
"Ingles," said Medellin.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Olympic Gold Medalist Bill Neider has put the shot more than 67 feet in practice, believes either Dallas Long or Dave Davis will hit 70 feet one day soon....
White Sox Pitcher Al Worthington left the team and went home to Birmingham allegedly because of salary dispute. A religious man, Worthington gave his own reason: "I didn't like the way the White Sox were stealing signs."...
Archie Moore insists he will defend his light-heavyweight title only "when the price is right." The right price: $200,000. "It was worth $150,000 when I won it and the cost of living has gone up since then."...
With 10 days of regular-season play remaining, the major leagues have a sporting chance to break their combined attendance record of 20,920,842, set in 1948. An average of 20,000 for remaining games will do it....
When Indiana's troubles with the NCAA were first revealed, the rumor was that schools outside the Big Ten had complained about overzealous Hoosier recruiting in their territories. NCAA officials refused to confirm this, but the current Indiana starting lineup shows eight out-of-staters, including some from Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Tennessee....
At the Yankees-Orioles game last Saturday, Ty Cobb was asked how he thought he'd hit against today's pitchers. "I'd hit .300," said Cobb. Since this seemed conservative for a man hardly famous for modesty, the next question was, "Is that all?" Said Cobb, "You've got to remember-I'm 73."