Bob Friend of the Pittsburgh Pirates, speaking as the National League's player representative, suggested last week that major league baseball players want two All-Star Games because baseball fans want two games. Friend said attendance figures from the second All-Star Games prove the fans' interest in continuing the second game.
The attendance figures prove nothing of the sort. Since two All-Star Games were introduced in 1959, the first games have drawn 110,011 to ball parks with capacities of 108,741 while the second games have attracted 125,318 to stadiums with capacities of 195,857. In short, the first games are sellouts, the second games are far from it.
The players are for the second game because it helps beef up their pension fund, particularly when 60% of the $250,000 that NBC pays for the television rights is added to 60% of the net gate receipts. (The pension fund is now so solvent that any player who has spent 10 years in the majors will soon receive $250 a month at the age of 50.)
Friend and his playmates probably would be willing to play a third, or even a fourth, All-Star Game, but the fans, upon whose continuing loyalty the pension fund ultimately must depend, evidently feel that two games are one too many. So do we.
ROOM AT THE BOTTOM
The newest idea in water sports comes from New Haven, Conn., where the nation's first skin-diving country club has opened. It is called the New Haven Ocean Club, Inc., and it already has enlisted 100 members with dues ranging from $50 per person to $75 per family. The club has a 15-room clubhouse, a cocktail lounge, a skin-diving pro shop and a 300-volume sea-oriented library. The club also charters boats and charges its members $1 for two to four hours of spearfishing and $5 for an all-day outing.
The idea for a skin-divers' country club popped into the head of Louis Despres, one of its present four owners, when he overheard a wife complain to her husband that she was a "skin-diving widow." The NHOC is trying to increase its membership to 300, and it plans to stay open for 10 months of the year, closing only in January and February. A similar skin-divers' club is being planned for Santa Monica, Calif. and may open next year. We wouldn't be at all surprised to see a lot of such clubs. After all, skin-divers are willing to spend money for the enjoyment of their sport, one of whose pleasures is relative solitude. Anyone sick of crowded beaches can find plenty of space below.
WHAT PRICE ODDS?
College sports press agents passed a resolution in Chicago last week asking newspapers not to mention betting odds and point spreads on college games. This is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. The big, determined gambler has his bookie to help him with odds, and only the occasional bettor makes use of the published odds. Crooks who bribe boys to shave points have their own sources of information. The press agents (they prefer to call themselves "information directors") would have done better to address themselves to their superiors, the college presidents and athletic directors, to urge better policing of college sports, a little more emphasis on ethics and a lot less emphasis on recruiting and box-office receipts.
Jack (Doc) Kearns, whose doubletalk has been heard around the arenas for at least half a century, admits that he is becoming a walking delegate. "We've got to unionize everything to have a federation of professional sports," he proclaimed recently. Kearns is palavering with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and keeping one eye on the antitrust laws. Speaking of his urge to organize, Doc (many con men are nicknamed Doc) added: "It's got to be on an employee-and-employer basis, within the law and all that stuff to make it legal." He is not wedded to Jimmy Hoffa, and claims he has talked to George Meany, who once remarked that Kearns would get into the AFL-CIO "over my dead body." Kearns wants to organize fighters, jockeys, trainers, golf caddies and automobile drivers. Eventually, no doubt, he'll want to include badminton and chess players as well. His objective is to give them pension and welfare funds, with, places to go when they're sick. What his cut will be, Doc Kearns hasn't yet said.
HEART ON THE HIGHWAY
Nothing gives us such a superior feeling as tooling over country roads in our old Mercedes, top down, radio tuned to Stan Kenton, blonde riding shotgun. Well, the other day the Mercedes gave up, and we turned to a classified section in the Sunday New York Times to look for a replacement under the heading: IMPORTED AND SPORT CARS. There was an unraced A.C. Bristol D2 for only $3,450 and a white Austin Healey with wire wheels and overdrive for $2,295. But then we hit the real bargain. The listing read: "AFGHAN, magnificent, AKC, silver blue, 3 mos. old, male, $300."
PAYING TO PLAY
The professional football exhibition schedule began last week. On Saturday evening the New York Titans played an American Football League exhibition game against the Dallas Texans in Dallas. From now on both the National and American leagues will be playing exhibitions in places like Greenville, S.C., Hershey, Pa., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Spokane and even Honolulu. Only a few of these exhibitions make any money for the teams involved. Last week's game cost the Titans $10,760 ($8,349 for round-trip jet travel to Dallas and $2,411 for eating, lodging, local expenses for 48 players).
For many, it's going to be a long and expensive fall.
TIE GOES TO THE DRIVER
Heavy traffic areas of New York bloomed last week with green-and-yellow cardboard signs. They are affixed at about chest height to lampposts and traffic-light stanchions, PLAY IT SAFE! the signs advise. An umpire's hands make the "safe" gesture, and Mickey Mantle (who walks more than most) is shown at the completion of a swing. "Mickey Mantle Says—Cross at Corners Not mid block." Athletes advise us these days on what cigarettes to smoke, hair tonic to buy and colorful shirts to wear, so using Mantle to promote civil obedience seems a natural step. What does Roger Maris say?
RIDE TO THE FINISH
For the last eight racing years the jockey championship has fallen between two riders, Bill Hartack (1955-57 and 1960) and Willie Shoemaker (1953-54, 58-59). This year young Johnny Sellers got off to a good lead in the race for the riding title, but in the past two months Bill Hartack has been whittling away at it. Whereas Sellers at the end of June led by 62 winners, he is now only 45 ahead of Hartack. Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far, however, is that Robert Nono and Herbert Hinojosa, both age 25, have climbed into positions four and five in the national standings. Last year Nono finished in a tie for 20th in the standings while Hinojosa was tied for 26th. Both are relatively unknown to the casual racing fan. As the chart below indicates, should Sellers—who took a week's vacation from riding last week—be hit with a suspension, Hartack and Shoemaker, too, will be closing fast on him.
In track meets at Moscow, Stuttgart, London and Warsaw, the female of our species proved far less deadly than the male. U.S. men won every meet. The women's team was defeated four times. The exception, of course, was Wilma Rudolph, who bettered her own world's record for 100 meters with an 11.2 time in Stuttgart. On her return to the U.S. last week Wilma had a ready explanation for the comparatively poor showing of the American girls. They are not invited to top meets in the U.S. and they are neglected, Wilma said, whereas the girls in Russia and other European countries receive the best training available and are considered as important as men.
In reply, Dan Ferris, honorary secretary of the AAU, said his organization had been trying to stimulate more track events for girls in high schools and colleges and to get them equal training. "There is no question," Ferris said, "but that girls in Europe receive better training and treatment."
The 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo will provide the U.S. with stiff competition for national prestige as well as medals. It's about time we started to put money and effort into training and encouraging girls who have promise and skill.
College basketball's loss is professional basketball's gain: Frank McGuire leaves the University of North Carolina to become coach of the Philadelphia Warriors of the National Basketball Association. Beyond his remarkable skills, McGuire is a man of immense charm; more important, he has dignity and class, and pro basketball coaches in the past have not been outstanding in these respects. McGuire can be expected to show his fellow coaches how to behave on the bench, and one day, hopefully, we will see the end of the childish outbursts at referees' decisions that demean the sport. If McGuire can get topnotch behavior out of Philadelphia's high-scoring prima donna, Wilt Chamberlain, the Warriors may yet win the league title everyone has predicted for them the past two years.
THEY SAID IT
•John Blanchard, whose left-handed hitting has won seven games for the New York Yankees, attributes part of his success to Casey Stengel's retirement. He says: "And that Stengel! I took the pipe six times pinch hitting, and then I didn't get up again for three weeks. He'd use right-handed hitters against right-handed pitchers ahead of me. I had no love for that s.o.b., and you can quote me on it and send it to Glendale."
•Joe Foss, American Football League commissioner, talking about a possible upsurge in gambling on AFL games this year: "More money is bet on pro football than any sport besides horse racing. And if we didn't have as much money bet on our league as the other last year, it was because we were new and gamblers didn't have a good line on our teams."
•Gene Autry, singing cowboy and chairman of the Los Angeles Angels' board of directors, declaring his team is better than he expected it to be this year, mainly because of trades and purchases engineered by General Manager Fred Haney: "He's made some shrewd deals. In fact, I think he's craftier than my father, who was a Texas horse trader. As far as I'm concerned, he holds a position unique in baseball: general manager for life, if he wants it that long."
•Red Sox Catcher Jim Pagliaroni, reflecting on Cuban plane highjackers: "Next road trip, I'm taking my Bermudas—we may wind up in Havana."
•Conservation Officer Dave Priest, as he watched campers flock to Baxter State Park, the 193,000-acre wilderness area in Maine: "There just ain't enough black flies to take care of this crowd."
•Joe Bellino, former Navy football hero, philosophically discussing the pregame leg injury that kept him from playing in last week's game between the College All-Stars and the Philadelphia Eagles in Chicago: "It was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. But I've been lucky throughout my football career. Maybe I had it coming."