THE INSIDE TRACK
•Promoter Jack Kramer is planning a little post-Christmas surprise for the USLTA: as soon as Davis Cup play is completed (Dec. 28), Kramer will offer Barry MacKay and Earl (Butch) Buchholz professional tennis contracts ($50,000 each for three years). Kramer feels the failure of the International Lawn Tennis Federation to authorize open tennis has freed him of any responsibility to "protect" the amateur game.
•Good bet for manager of the Chicago Cubs is 31-year-old Elvin Tappe, once an obscure catcher with the club and now one of its coaches. Tappe has survived three managerial changes, might not balk at the new Cub policy of front-office control.
•Houston is now virtually sealed off to National Football League expansion. Bud Adams, president of Houston's AFL Oilers, has joined the group that controls the new stadium, and all prospective tenants will have to deal with him.
•Tired of pro basketball's tough travel schedule, Celtic Coach Red Auerbach is expected to resign after this season to devote full time to his duties as general manager. Auerbach's successor: Bob Cousy.
•Worried over spotty attendance, American Football League owners will cut ticket prices, which now range up to $7.50 for an air-conditioned box seat in Houston. Said Oakland Owner Don Blessing: "It's obvious that people are not going to pay the same price to see our team play as they pay to see the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL."
THE NEW NAVY
Navy's football team has given up girls, and that's one of the reasons the team is undefeated and untied through six games. So says Coach Wayne Hardin. "The kids are willing to pay the price of winning," he says. "They've vowed not to party until after we've played Army. There was a big social function after the Washington game. There were sorority girls there. The boys just said, 'How do you do?' and that was it. Last year at Penn they threw us a big party with models; it was great. They wanted to do the same after Saturday's game with Penn, but our kids said they didn't want any part of it." The faint rumbling you hear from the direction of Annapolis is John Paul Jones turning over in his crypt.
FORMULA FOR UPLIFT
Dr. Peter V. Karpovich of Springfield College, premier researcher in the physiology of athletes, believes that some sports performances can be predicted scientifically. In 1958 he said that the weight-lifting record for the 148-pound class was too low and predicted that the new record would be 866.6 pounds. Later that year, a Russian broke the record with 865.5 pounds.
Dr. Karpovich's prediction formula for weight lifting is:
Log W= 1.4718+.6748 Log B[w], where W is the sum of three lifts and B[w] is the lifter's body weight.
According to this formula, the 270-pound Russian, Vlasov, should have lifted 1,296 pounds at the Rome Olympic Games. Vlasov lifted only 1,184½ pounds. But Dr. Karpovich has an explanation: "Vlasov carried an excess 40 pounds of fat." The formula was willing, but the flesh was weak.
In 1957 Iowa Coach Forest Evashevski said: "The one real value of football is to teach a boy the desire to go out and win.... Good sportsmanship? You don't teach that in college football. If a boy isn't a good sport by the time we get him...we won't be able to correct him."
Evvy later regretted his candor, but most psychologists would support the thesis that character is built at home and in the lower schools. A high school coach, for example, can build character, though not all of them try. One who did, with exemplary results, was Bill Foley of Bloomfield High in New Jersey. Foley died the other day, age 70. He was Bloomfield's football coach from 1915 to 1950—and most of that time taught basketball and baseball as well. His football teams won 207 games, lost 84 and were tied 33 times. Seven of them won state championships, four were undefeated and one, the 1935 team, was unscored upon. (After that season the school's new stadium was named, understandably enough, Foley Field.)
Although the Bloomfield teams were called Foley's Fighting Irishmen, his players often were of Polish descent, and Foley sometimes employed ancestral pride as a spur. In one game in 1933 a dissatisfied Foley asked his squad at half time: "How many Poles on this team?" A good many hands went up. "All right," Foley said, "your mothers and fathers came over here to give you a better chance. Go out and show 'em what you can do." An all-Polish eleven started the second half, and after it had scored three touchdowns some of the Irish got back in.
Foley never saw anything wrong with winning, but he was not engaged in the mass production of muscle-heads. Over the years he received hundreds of thank-you letters from ex-players who had succeeded in a variety of careers. One came from a New York advertising executive who played on the 1932 and 1933 teams, received a football scholarship to Upsala and there won a Firestone sales scholarship that ultimately led to his present position. But for Foley and football, he said, he would not have been able to attend college.
Foley's answer was a fair measure of the man:
"I was very grateful and humiliated by your kind and flattering letter: grateful to have you tell me that my work and efforts helped you in some way to achieve a better life, and humiliated to know that when I was doing that work, that you say meant so much to you, I was damning myself, the school and the world at large for choosing a profession that made of me a crab, a driver, a pest to live with and seemed so unimportant in the scheme of life."
THAT'S WHAT THE LADY SAID
Coach DeWitt Weaver of Texas Tech was talking on his sidelines phone to spotters in the press box, trying to pull the Baylor game out of the fire. A woman in the stands regarded him with disdain. "No wonder his team is losing," she said. "He spends all his time on the telephone."
DEMS VS. REPS
The presidential candidates have enlisted professional athletes as vote getters. There are sportsmen for Nixon and for Kennedy out on the hustings, talking about double plays, double faults and right crosses and then slipping in plugs for their man.
Nixon apparently has cornered the market on jockeys (Arcaro, Atkinson, Longden), tennis players (Talbert, Trabert, MacKay) and golfers (Hogan, Snead, Casper). Kennedy is strong with pro football men (Unitas, Van Brocklin, Lipscomb) and boxers (Braddock, Walcott, Fullmer). The baseball vote is split: Mays, Musial, DiMaggio for Kennedy; Groat, Williams, Banks for Nixon. Nixon has no basketball player, but Kennedy has Cousy. On the other hand, Nixon has Weissmuller, and Kennedy has no swimmers.
As Harry Balogh used to say, "May the superior adversary emerge victorious."
THE KING IS DEAD
From Leipzig's Chess Olympics last week came proof the Communists cannot be all bad. The East Germans, inspired by dialectical materialism and the October Revolution, have redesigned the chess pieces. The king is no longer a king; he is a "worker reading a Communist economic plan." The queen is a "female scientist with her hair in a bun." The bishop is "a relay runner." The castle is "a factory worker with a submachine gun." The pawns are ordinary workers.
This will make the teaching of chess much simpler. To start a young chessnik off, you simply tell him that the worker reading a Communist economic plan may move in any direction one space at a time. The female scientist with her hair in a bun may move in any direction any number of spaces. The idea of the game is to line up your relay runners and factory workers with submachine guns and your lady scientist with her hair in a bun and surround the worker reading a Communist economic plan so that he cannot move. We predict a resurgence of this grand old game.
BEAST OF THE WILDWOOD
In the wilds of New Jersey the most hated animal is the raccoon. He comes on little raccoon feet in the dark of night, scavenging the succulent leavings from exurbia's festive board. Once having clattered his way into a garbage can, he proceeds to scatter the leavings all over the crab grass. He is the death of sleep.
The other night a New Jersey commuter was just starting to put on his pajamas when he heard the familiar sounds of a coon at work. The citizen grabbed up his trusty Czech air rifle and a handful of pellets. He rushed out the back door, completely nude, and drew a bead on the coon (which just sat there staring him down).
Our hero fired at point-blank range and, of course, missed. But he did succeed in driving the animal to a previously prepared position in the carport, where he had stashed some food. More shots, more misses. Meanwhile, the shooter's wife had been busy turning on the outside lights. This finally scared off the coon, not to mention a passing motorist, and the midnight gambol and frolic were over.
Why, the man wondered, had the coon been so contemptuous of him and his rifle? His wife had a theory. "It wasn't afraid of you because you were naked. It thought you were one of them—a beast of the wildwood."
Which brings to mind the Groucho Marxism: "I remember the time I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into them I'll never know."