Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, who is the nation's top administrator of the sport of hunting, was faced last week with one of the most unfortunate dilemmas in recent conservation history.
Three years of harsh, consuming drought have left duck-breeding grounds in Canada in their worst condition in 30 years. This, combined with the unrelenting encroachment by civilization on waterland from lake to puddle and added hunting pressure in the last decade, cut duck populations to new lows in 1960. Informed that the 1961 duck population is lower still, Secretary Udall had to decide whether to reduce bag limits for the coming season or to close the season completely.
His politic decision was to lower the limit once again. Under the new regulations states located in the Atlantic, Central and Mississippi fly ways can have either very short 1961 seasons with bag limits of three a day or slightly longer seasons with a daily kill of two. So serious is the situation in these areas that goose seasons are longer than duck seasons, a development that would have seemed preposterous only 13 years ago, when duck-bag limits on the Atlantic coast were four times as high as goose limits.
The new limits will be accepted with resignation by hunters, though many of them feel the sport has been reduced to near absurdity. Most duck hunting is expensive and requires considerable trouble, travel and equipment, yet a day's shooting can now end before the hunter is seated in his blind. It is as if baseball were suddenly made a one-inning game.
Many hunters would have settled for closing the season completely and hoping for a better tomorrow. But this would have been an audacious move, outraging those who prefer very little hunting to none at all. It also would have cost the $5 million that hunters spend on federal duck stamps, money that goes to finance the purchase of land for waterfowl breeding areas.
Udall chose to lower the limit. In acting as he did, he behaved more like a canny politician than a bold New Frontiersman. Here's hoping he was right.
NOTE TO URBAN PLANNERS
Stavros Niarchos, the Greek shipping millionaire, has struck a blow for the commuter. He lives on the island of Spetsopoula, which is 40 miles by sea and land from his office in Piraeus. Niarchos has sweetened at least the ocean part of this long commute by buying a 102-foot cabin cruiser that goes 62 miles an hour, faster than any other yacht its size in the world. The boat has three 3,500-hp gas-turbine engines, a crew of 11 and air conditioning that works. At top speed the trip to the mainland should take about 35 minutes, as compared to 64 minutes from Westport into New York on the New Haven RR. Furthermore, the boat cost about half a million dollars. Now, if a few more people would show this kind of initiative perhaps the whole commuting problem could be solved without bleeding millions from the taxpayers to rescue bumbling railroads.
GOOD SELLING JOB
The American Football league, which does not begin its second season for two more weeks, drew its biggest crowd last Saturday evening when 73,916 people went out to Municipal Stadium to see the New York Titans meet the Boston Patriots in an exhibition game.
The AFL is by far the most promotion-conscious group of sporting owners around—and the promotion in Philadelphia worked so well that other sports are bound to copy it. The management of the Titans and the Patriots allowed Philadelphia live wire, Bud Dudley, to distribute tickets at Acme Supermarkets. The theme was, "Have Mom Take Dad to a Football Game," and a free ticket was given to a shopper who bought $10 worth of groceries at the supermarket. The tickets were not just thrown into the shopping bags—the shopper had to ask the checkout clerk for them.
This was not, of course, a cash gate, but getting 73,000 people under any conditions to a locally televised, August AFL exhibition game in Philadelphia strikes us as quite a feat. It is a feat that suggests there are enough people interested in the AFL to give it a good chance of survival, whatever the National League's drumbeaters say or think (not necessarily the same thing). The Titans made $11,000, the Patriots $11,000 from the promotion and the American Football League made a lot of new friends.
The Congressional Record is hardly a sports paper, but it is a repository for material of regional as well as national and international significance. Senators and Representatives use it occasionally the way press agents use other media, to plug their local products. Last week Senator Milton R. Young (Rep., N. Dak.) saw his opportunity and, by golly, by gosh, did he seize it! Senator Young arose after a discussion of foreign aid, conservation, adjustment of postal rates and concern over government spending to say:
"Mr. President, I wish to make an important announcement. Roger Maris, a North Dakota farm-raised boy, hit two more home runs today. We expect him to break the world's record by quite a few home runs."
Senator Robert S. Kerr (Dem., Okla.) may have been remiss in his duty. A mine-raised boy named Mickey Mantle comes from Commerce, Okla. and also is hitting home runs in the Babe Ruth sweepstakes. We can expect Senator Kerr to rise in the Senate any day now and announce how many his boy has hit—and maybe add that his brother Travis' million-dollar Thoroughbred, Round Table, is doing fine at stud.
Harry Balogh, who died last week at 70, needed no introductions. For 36 years he made announcements and extolled boxers with such flair that he became better known than most of the fighters he praised at length. Introducing fighters, of course, demands the imagination of a sideshow spieler and the voice of a snake-oil salesman. Harry had both of these virtues plus the ability to scatter malapropisms all over an arena.
"Lay-deez an' gentlemen," he once began, "in this corner the ex-native of New York, Barney Ross." Whereas all previous ring announcers used the phrase, "May the best man win," Harry gave it a little zing (and, accidentally, grammar) by saying, "May the better participant emerge triumphant." "Anyone can do this job," he once said, "but to do it right, you've got to use those extra 20 words." Harry worked, in a dinner jacket, a stiff shirt, a starched collar and a black tie. No announcer dressed this way before Balogh; they all have since.
On the night of June 25, 1935 Balogh was faced with the job of introducing Primo Camera and Joe Louis to a Yankee Stadium audience filled with racial feelings. He told the 60,000 present, "Leave us all view this contest without anchor or prejudism." They did.
Harry was not Bill Stern or Mel Allen or Harry Wismer or Bud Palmer. He was, thank goodness, just Harry. In a world where the tendency seems to be to tear everything down, we're going to miss a man who built everything up.
The Maris-Mantle steam roller just keeps rolling along, and the American people are rushing to get aboard. Advance sales for Yankee games, i.e., Maris and Mantle games, indicate that they are the hottest double act since Gallagher & Shean.
As the Yanks moved into Los Angeles this week, scalpers were having a field day. Ticket brokers compared the arrival of Mantle and Maris to the postwar football games between USC and Notre Dame and to the Dodger-White Sox World Series of 1959. When the Yankees arrive in Kansas City for three games (Aug. 25-27) with the 10th-place Athletics, they will play before an estimated 87,000 people. Against the Minnesota Twins (Aug. 29-31) Metropolitan Stadium is expected to be filled; about 20,000 tickets per game are already sold. When Maris and Mantle play in Chicago's Comiskey Park (Sept. 12-14), the estimate is that over 97,000 people will attend because Maris has hit five homers there this year and Mantle two. For the four-game series in Detroit (Sept. 15-17), Tiger Stadium has already sold 70,000 tickets of the 156,000-capacity available, with, as one official put it, "thousands still calling and writing in for tickets." Not all of the Detroit sales have been caused by Maris and Mantle. Some people there still think the Tigers have a chance to win the pennant. Baltimore sellers believe that when the Yanks come to town (Sept. 19-21) the Orioles will draw thousands above the average. In Boston, where the Yankees play on Sept. 23-24, the ticket sellers say only that sales are "exceptionally high."
At home the Yankee advance sale breaks down this way: vs. Detroit (Sept. 1-3), 30,000 for each game; vs. Washington (Sept. 4-6), 10-15,000 each game vs. Cleveland (Sept. 7-10), 10-25,000 vs. Baltimore (Sept. 26-27), 10-15,000 vs. Boston to close the season (Sept. 29-Oct. 1), 10-15,000 each game. American League clubs that were fearing bleak financial reports on the 1961 season can now breathe more easily.
RETURN OF THE LITTLE MAN
Four weeks ago Conn McCreary, the 40-year-old former jockey who won two Kentucky Derbies and countless other stakes races before retiring in 1960, appeared at Saratoga Race Track. McCreary, who was the shortest of all jockeys (4 feet 8 inches), was now short of pocket. "I need a job bad," he said. "I'm going to see if I can get a trainer's license." He did. What he then needed was horses.
During the second week of the Saratoga meeting an owner named Morris Lober invited McCreary to take over his string of seven runners. Two days later McCreary sent out his first horse, Nashua Breeze. In the paddock before the race everyone wished him well, and when Warren Mehrtens, a former jockey and now a patrol judge, asked McCreary if he was nervous, McCreary said, "I feel just like I felt when I was riding. I want to do things right, and I'd hate to louse things up." Nashua Breeze finished last in a field of eight.
On Thursday McCreary sent out his second starter, a 14-1 long shot named Clothes Pin. Clothes Pin was beaten a head by the favorite. Last Friday the third McCreary-trained horse, Barbaric, finished fourth to earn $160. It was the first money Barbaric had won in nine starts.
Conn McCreary has always been one of those people in sport who get knocked around a lot. We're happy to see him land upright once more.
Note for a future historian: 1961 was the year MM lost its original (since 1955, that is) meaning and came to stand for Mantle and Maris.
NO LOVE, NO NOTHIN'
The arguments between Jack Kramer, the world's frankest tennis promoter, and his No. 1 drawing card, Pancho Gonzales, go on and on. Recently Gonzales told Kramer that next season the professional tour will be sans Pancho. Kramer and Gonzales are now in the second year of a seven-year contract, but Pancho can break it as long as he does not play tennis for anyone else.
"I feel very sorry for Gonzales," Kramer said. "What else can the guy do but play tennis? Nothing. He's mentioned going into real estate. But I know lots of guys with more personality and twice as much intelligence who have to slave to make ten or twelve thousand a year in that business."
Kramer indicated he would keep signing the best amateur players available and said the next in line are Rod Laver and Luis Ayala, the Chilean player. He hopes to put 12 pros into two tours next season: one will play 65 matches, and the other will play 35. He also is planning a series of matches between professionals from four world regions, Eurasia, North America, South America (including Mexico) and Australia. None of this, however, will amount to much if Pancho is absent. We sympathize with Businessman Kramer in his negotiations with prima donna Gonzales—but No Pancho, No Show.
THE LAST SHALL BE LAST
If you lived in Philadelphia a quarter of a century ago, you knew a number of things for sure. You knew the rich were rich and the poor were poor because God meant it to be so. And you knew that after midnight on Saturday you had to go over the bridge to Camden, N.J. to get a drink. But most of all you knew, no matter what else happened, that the Athletics and the Phillies were then and would always be in last place.
They would not be last by some rule of chance or stroke of fate. They would be purposefully, staunchly last, just as they had always been (well, almost always). If at some point in the season—like April—they seemed momentarily to rise, the city never panicked. The Phillies pitchers, headed by Walter (Boom-Boom) Beck and Hugh (Losing Pitcher) Mulcahy were men you could count on. The A's had pitchers like Lynn (Line Drive) Nelson, and shortstops like Jack Wallaesa, who once leaped for a line drive that struck him in the armpit. Later, they had a shortstop named Al Brancato, who once scurried into the hole and rifled a throw against the upper deck.
A lot of things have changed since then. But one thing is still comfortingly true. The Phillies and the A's are in the cellar. In fact, last week the Phillies broke the modern major league record—formerly held by the A's and the Red Sox—for consecutive defeats when they earned their 21st, a 4-1 loss in Milwaukee. It is true, of course, that the A's are no longer a Philadelphia ball club, but even this may be set aright before the year is out. The A's new owner, Charles O. Finley, stung by local criticism, is threatening to move out of Kansas City.
"If they don't appreciate us here," he warned, "I feel there are other places we might be wanted."
There is a place, Charley—Philadelphia, which long ago proved brotherly love can embrace more than one loser.
THEY SAID IT
•Early-day Rodeo Performer Dough-belly Price, comparing the big money of today's rodeos to the low prizes awarded when he was performing: "We seen the time that the sweat on a restaurant window looked like beef gravy."
•Jack Curtice, president of the American Football Coaches Association, on the standards of physical fitness among the young: "I know Americans are getting soft when a teen-ager thinks he's roughing it if he has to drive a car without automatic transmission."
•Braniff Airways Stewardess Betsy Lockhart, making announcement on a charter flight carrying the Dallas Texans football team to a game in Buffalo: "And your hostesses—the pretty blonde one with the blue eyes, a shapely figure and a warm smile, is me; the other girl is Sherry Hansen."