THE RALSTON CASE
If ever there was a thorny issue, it is the suspension of Tennis Player Dennis Ralston. If ever there was an organization ill-equipped to cope with a thorny issue, it is the United States Lawn Tennis Association, which suspended him. This group of muddleheaded do-littles has now managed to confuse the issue beyond any hope of clarity.
Ralston put on a bad show at the Davis Cup American Zone final in Cleveland two weeks ago. "Harumph!" said the USLTA, and "dear me!" By the time this senescent group had cranked up for punitive action, Ralston was in the process of winning the national doubles championship with Chuck McKinley. So the grand nabobs of tennis held off until the match was over, then informed Ralston that his presence was requested at a meeting of the USLTA's Amateur Rule Committee in New York the next morning. Ralston replied that he couldn't make it to the meeting but would be able to appear later. "Harumph!" said the USLTA, and "dear me!" Conference calls were made, and Ralston, after all this shilly-shallying, was thrown out of the national singles championships at Forest Hills. A few observations:
Ralston behaved badly at Cleveland—but there is a considerable body of doubt as to just how badly. Referee M. D. Kallie was the main witness for the prosecution. He charged, in a shrill report to the USLTA, that Ralston "yelled 'G—D—-it!' " and "repeatedly pounded the net with his racket (we were sure that he was going to snap the cable)...." On the other hand, Umpire Olen Parks, who had a good view of the action, said that reports on Ralston's conduct were "very much exaggerated." And seven of the eight seeds at Forest Hills, among many others, petitioned the USLTA to lay off Ralston until the championships were over and evidence could be viewed calmly.
Whether Ralston is guilty or not, the USLTA has added another to its long list of bungled and misleading decisions. The young rowdies of tennis should be punished when they are indeed guilty of rowdyism, but such verdicts should not come from hurry-up hearings scheduled overnight after maundering delays. It will take an organization with more backbone and better eyesight than the USLTA to straighten out amateur tennis.
GUILT ON GOLDFISH
Goldfish in bowls have a look of hapless innocence. But turn them loose in lakes and they make all kind of mischief. Things have got so bad at Big Bear Lake in California that the state Department of Fish and Game is out to destroy them. The trouble is that goldfish have as voracious appetites as wrestlers. In Big Bear's fine trout waters, they compete pugnaciously for food. Also, goldfish reproduce more abundantly than rabbits, and are on the verge of overpopulating the fish world. "Goldfish," says one despairing resident of Big Bear Lake, "are the crabgrass of the piscatorial kingdom."
The first goldfish were brought to Big Bear Lake—illegally—as live bait. Others were left at the end of summer by families tired of tending them, just as cats are abandoned every year by summer vandals. Businessmen at Big Bear are thinking of draining the lake to eliminate the goldfish, while rescuing more desirable resident fish. Then, after a normal rainfall, the trout could be replanted. But the Department of Fish and Game suspects that the goldfish may have some secret weapon, and might re-populate Big Bear Lake as quick as you could say Margaret Sanger.
A BREAK FOR BOXING
Madison Square Garden resembles some mythical beast that has grown fat by eating its own tail. Luckily, it has come to its corporate senses in the nick of time: it was about to devour its own head. By televising prizefights over the years, the Garden greatly assisted the decline and fall of the small boxing club, which could not compete with something people got for nothing in their living rooms. As the little arenas went dark, fighters no longer had the opportunity to practice their lonely craft or art, and thus there came to be fewer fighters, lousier fights, and televiewers often got nothing for nothing.
Last week the Garden, its teeth gnashing around its ears, announced a survival plan. In "a sincere and genuine effort to stimulate activity among small clubs," it set aside $100,000 to subsidize struggling promoters. To qualify for a grant of $5,000, a promoter must have put on 20 shows within a 40-week period; to receive $2,500, 10 shows within 20 weeks. The Garden, which was involved in illegal monopolistic practices when it was controlled by James D. Norris and his International Boxing Club, stressed that the grants would be outright gifts and that it would not share in any profits or dictate operating policy.
This belated move looks like a sound one and indicates a degree of enlightenment on the part of the Garden's new management, headed by Admiral John J. Bergen. It deserves courteous applause from all interested in the survival of the sport. Cynics, who may see in it a revival of the tentacles of the IBC, should withhold criticism until the Garden's sincerity has been given a fair test.
The other evening Vada Pinson of the Cincinnati Reds caught hold of a low pitch by Bob Friend of the Pittsburgh Pirates and slapped it into center field for a single, his 126th of the season. This hit put Pinson 18 games and 72 hits—behind the immortal Lloyd Waller's modern singles record of 198, established in 1927.
Poor Vada does not really have a chance to beat Waner. One reason is the lively ball. Hits that went for singles in Waner's day are doubles in Pinson's. The easy answer to this is for Vada simply to halt at first, regardless of the flight of the ball. He may, of course, run into some opposition from Manager Fred Hutchinson, who doesn't seem to know that records were made to be broken.
NOISY OLD ENGLAND
The peace and quiet of England's country hamlets is being ravaged these summer nights by droves of noisy sports cars. In Wordsworth's Lake Country, whole villages are brought bolt upright by what one resident described as "a hundred cars roaring through the dead of night." Recently some 200 villages were placed off limits to racing sports cars, leading a club official to remark: "It's damn near impossible to chart a course. But let's face it. It's an antisocial sport. Everybody's a budding Stirling Moss, and once they get the bit between their teeth it's hell to pay." A Guildford innkeeper has his own solution: he simply throws geranium pots at them.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Indications are that the 1968 Summer Olympics will be held in Moscow. The Red Chinese probably will forego making a major display of their athletic progress at Tokyo in 1964 in order to obtain a bigger propaganda advantage in 1968.
•The site for the stadium in which the National League's Houston Colts hope to play their baseball games in 1962 contains, naturally, five producing oil wells. Because the Colts purchased only the property from the Hilton Hotels Corporation and not the mineral rights, the income from the oil reverts to the Hilton interests.
•The big fight in televised sports among the major networks finds NBC losing out as a televiser of football this season. CBS will show 91 NFL games and four postseason games while ABC has 39 AFL games plus all college (NCAA) telecasts and one postseason game. NBC's coverage will be limited to 14 NFL games and eight postseason games.
•Former Olympic Skating Champion Carol Heiss has been put on the back shelf by 20th Century-Fox. Her first film, Snow White and the Three Stooges, was not the success at the box office that Fox had hoped for. Executives feel that the Stooges drew just as many people, if not more, than Carol.
Harry Wismer is a man who is willing to throw his money, his weight and even his very voice into getting the American Football League off the ground. Last year he challenged the NFL's New York Giants to a game with his AFL Titans and was refused. Nothing daunted, he reissued the needling challenge last week.
"I believe that the Giants are afraid of the Titans," said Wismer. "I don't care whether the game is played at the Polo Grounds, our home park, or at Yankee Stadium, their home park. I will personally put up the 535,000 necessary to keep my club around for an extra week at the end of the season to meet the Giants. I think that if the Giants are willing to play, every bit of money taken in should go to the Jewish, Catholic and Protestant charities. The Titans can beat the Giants, and I am willing to pay to prove it. The NFL has always maintained that it is superior, but looking back at the records, the NFL was claiming that back in the late '40s when the All-America Football Conference was playing. Well, the Cleveland Browns came out of the AAFC and won the NFL championship the first year, and then won division championships for the next five years. Why won't the Giants play us? Arc they afraid of us?"
The next move is up to the Giants. If they play and beat the Titans, they will hush Wismer's shouts. For a day or so, anyway.
The world's best soccer team, Real Madrid of Spain, played last week in Los Angeles, and if they never played there again nobody could blame them.
There was no doubt about the result of their game with Los Angeles United; the Spanish team won 9-0 and could have made it twice that bad. But the promoter was even more inept than the L.A. team. When the public arrived, the only programs available were replates of team listings printed in the Los Angeles Examiner, which not only failed to give the starting lineups but also left out player numbers. Up until the day before the game, no one could decide on the dimensions of the playing field, and only by searching through some trash were goal posts found. Advertisements stating that high school students would be admitted for 75¢ were printed, but no such tickets turned up until game time. There was no one to operate a scoreboard, until a groundskeeper took over the chore when the game was 20 minutes old. Outside of that, everything was A-OK.
Some athletes are ready for glory before glory is ready for them. Two such are Baltimore's Jim Gentile and Detroit's Rocky Colavito. They are enjoying the best seasons of their careers, but everybody is looking the other way at a couple of players named Mantle and Maris.
Gentile has hit 43 home runs, including two grand slams in successive innings. Colavito has put teeth into the Tiger attack with 40 homers, 124 RBIs and a creditable batting average of .292. In almost any other year, these two would be the big slugging heroes of the league. Are they bitter? Says Gentile: "Listen, I don't want to be compared with those guys. I never thought I'd do even this well. I figured maybe 20 or 25 or 30 homers tops. Homers come in bunches; if I get five or six more, I'll be happy."
Colavito, in the same good old baseball tradition, claims to be interested in winning a pennant and bored by personal homer races. "If Maris hits 61, hell hit 'em, that's all," says Rocky. Anyway, there is much doubt that Colavito's fingers could stand the strain of hitting 61 home runs. After each homer he shakes the hand of every man on the Tiger bench. On a recent Sunday he hit four and shook 116 hands, which may be a record in itself in nonpolitical circles.
HOW A SOCIETY CAN FAIL
The vote last week by The Hambletonian Society to continue holding harness racing^ most important event at Du Quoin . through 1963 was an act of weakness. The society had the power to extend the Illinois track's hold on the Hambo for five years—and should have.
When the race was moved in 1957 from Goshen, N.Y. because the society did not agree with the state's racing rules, many felt that the decision was wrong. To the contrary, Du Quoin proved an excellent location, and the race has never enjoyed more prestige.
Don and Gene Hayes have spent many hours and many dollars to make their track the perfect setting for the race. It is more difficult to assess what The Hambletonian Society has done for the Hambletonian. When the boys meet again next year to consider a future site, we suggest that they vote to keep the race at Du Quoin and put an end to this annual vacillation with an event which deserves permanence.
For days before the New York Yankees paid their last visit to Kansas City, autograph collector Connie Boyer of Independence, Mo. badgered her parents to get seats for a game right behind the visitors' dugout. What happened to Connie at the game is chronicled in a letter she sent to The Kansas City Star: "I handed my autograph book to one of the players who was talking to a 'dyed brunette,' and he ripped a sheet from my book, borrowed my pencil and wrote her telephone number on it, put it in his pocket and handed my book back to me without even making an X. I am 13 years old. I don't like the Yankees any more."
THEY SAID IT
•Jackie Kemp, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the AFL, answering a fan's request to keep his passes in range of TV cameras: "I will do my best to develop a 21-inch pass."
•Golfer Gary Player on the deportment of the gallery at the recent American Classic at Akron, in which Player lost to Jay Hebert: "When I missed a 5-foot putt on the third hole the spectators cheered. Then I missed a 4-footer on the fourth, and some of the people laughed. I didn't mind their rooting for an American, but I wanted a fair shake. When you're a long way from home and you're heartbroken, it's hard to take."
•Fred Haney, General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels, discussing his team's first season in the expanded American League: "Our goal this year was to make enough money to pay our expenses—not counting bonuses and purchasing players [Angels attendance through August 29 was 540,710]. We may show a slight profit."
•Coach Sammy Baugh of the New York Titans, after his team had suffered through a rough flight to an exhibition game in Greenville, S.C.: "If you beat Houston you go back home by bus. If you lose, you have to fly back to New York."