BIG WIND OFF NEWPORT
The niceties of polite yachting competition, such as the contest for the America's Cup, permit no public wrangling, but the wrangling does occur nonetheless. It is inevitable. Sooner or later someone shoots off his seagoing mouth.
The mouth this time belongs to George O'Day, 5.5-meter gold medalist of the 1960 Olympics, a good sailor who was displaced as skipper of Easterner in the Cup trials and then picked up as spokesman for and adviser to Weatherly's Bus Mosbacher. (In the last few days he has been an active crew member.)
During the races O'Day has been writing signed commentary on the races for the Boston Traveler. Some of his judgments have kicked up a williwaw in Australia, where he has come to be described as "The Ugly American." In one article he protested Sir Frank Packer's use of a walkie-talkie to call "all tacks, spinnaker changes and maneuvers" during preparatory runs (though not, of course, in the actual races, where this would have been against the rules). Sir Frank, head of the Australian syndicate that owns Gretel, bit his tongue and refused comment.
"Sir Frank has given confidence to no one and is running the show himself," wrote O'Day, giving confidence to no one that amicable relationships would prevail. The day after Gretel encountered Weatherly in a beat to windward during a shakedown, O'Day observed that "they were following us the same way an amateur skier follows a professional, trying to learn how he does it."
There may have been justification for the criticism—after all, in the actual races Gretel did better without benefit of Sir Frank's squawk box. Skippers generally do better on their own. But in Australia O'Day's observations revived the dearly held conviction that jealous Yanks had poisoned the great Phar Lap (in 1932). He was accused of trying to "unsettle" the Australian crew with his comments and of perpetrating "miserable...propaganda." By extension, his remarks were held to be the responsibility of the entire American press, which has, in fact, been most polite.
If O'Day were functioning solely as a critic of yachting during the America's Cup competition, one might differ with his views but still not dispute his right to voice them. However, as a Weatherly crewman and spokesman, he has been singularly graceless in his caustic essays and press conference comment. Skipper Mosbacher piped him down last week, but the damage already was done.
TENNIS WITHOUT ANGINA
Tennis, which has been the sport of elderly Swedish kings as well as young commoners, presents a special problem to those who are getting on in years. The family doctor's tut-tut about overexertion can force bitter retirement. Royalty may solve this by requiring an etiquette that calls for all shots to be returned within reach or not played at all, but few commoners can demand this special consideration.
There is a solution, devised a few years ago by former Senator William Benton. The Senator had been warned by his doctor that he was getting too old for singles and, since volleying never has been his strong point, he did not care too much for standard doubles. So he invented a simple, four-man game that would involve little volleying and absolutely no heart-pounding dashes to the net after drop shots. The basic rule change: a ball that lands inside the service area must bounce across the service line or be counted an error.
It reduced tennis to a backcourt and service game and will not be admired by youthful purists, but it enabled Senator Benton and his contemporaries to get out on the courts, swing a racket and have some healthful fun and exercise without danger of bringing on angina pectoris.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
Suppose that, after Frank Howard was graduated from Ohio State, Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick had bought the Chicago Cubs and then had offered Howard $60,000 to play baseball for either the Cubs or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Preposterous? In baseball, yes, in basketball, no. In Kansas City the other day Abe Saperstein said publicly that he had recently offered Jerry Lucas $60,000 to play for either the Pittsburgh or Chicago teams in the American Basketball League. And who is Abe Saperstein? He is the commissioner of the ABL and also owner of the Chicago entry in that league.
COACH BROWN CHEWED OUT
The antipathy of Coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns for tobacco-chewing football players, expressed in a recent article (SI, Sept. 10), has moved one of our occasional contributors, Myron Cope, to protest on behalf of a practice which, he says, is healthful, pleasant, soothing and a cure for hangovers. In an angry retort to Brown's "brazenly ignorant blast at chewing tobacco," Cope inquires:
"Has he ever experienced the tangy delight of Mail Pouch or Beechnut, or the flat but earthy taste of Havana Blossom (a brand that unfortunately is becoming all too hard to locate in confectioneries these days)?"
Cope feels that Brown's prejudice is senseless and typical of those who have never chewed—people like secretaries, wives and office managers. What they object to, he feels, is not the chewing but the necessary spitting. To avoid detection, he reports, clandestine chewers have devised ingenious tricks. There is, for instance, an advertising agency's account executive who for years has gotten away with chewing on the job by partaking of quantities so small that they do not cause his cheek to bulge (though some chewers would tell you that half the fun is in the bulge) and by keeping a philodendron plant in his office. The plant's pot serves as a camouflaged gaboon.
A more widely used stratagem, Cope says, is the large manila envelope stuffed with tissue paper and tucked in a waste basket. At day's end the executive suite chewer seals the envelope, puts it in his attaché case and, on passing the first sidewalk trash receptacle, casually drops in the envelope as though it were last month's market report.
Cope concedes that tobacco chewers face an uphill fight.
"It is time we came out of hiding," he bugles, "and replied to the Puritan Pauls. It is no concern of mine that Coach Brown says he will fire any player caught drinking or chasing women, but when he describes a tobacco chewer as 'an animal' I suggest he is indulging in demagogy."
Anyone for snuff?
As each player stepped up to the first tee in the Portland Open golf tournament he was handed a rule sheet which stressed that slow play would be penalized. On Friday afternoon Jack Nicklaus walked off the 18th green thinking he had shot a 67. He had. But the score was recorded as a 69 because Joe Ed Black, PGA tournament supervisor, had penalized him two strokes for slow play.
Black said he had warned Nicklaus at the 10th tee because his threesome was then two holes behind the next group. "He just fiddles around a lot, steps off yardage to the green, takes several clubs from his bag before making a choice," Black said. In previous tournaments, he estimated, he had warned Nicklaus "on 10 or 12 occasions."
Never in PGA history had anyone so prominent or even anyone with a chance to win been thus penalized.
Nicklaus' first reaction was to say: "You're kidding!" Then he said the ruling was not just and that the threesome did speed up after Black's warning. But after some thoughtful consideration he added:
"However, we did lose our position on the course and the rule is in the book. It may be a good thing I was penalized...Joe had a job to do. It's a hard job and, well, he did it."
Which was as sporting a summation as a man might make.
"Golfers everywhere watch the pros," Arnold Palmer observed recently. "If we start taking all day to play 18 holes, so will they."
True enough. Slow play is already the plague of the country club. Maybe Black's courageous ruling will have an effect there, too.
We'd like to nominate Black for commissioner of baseball, a game that could use him. As for the tournament, Nicklaus played so well he won it anyway.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Largely because of rapid growth in its college (as opposed to university) division (from 111 to 373 schools in the last 10 years) the NCAA will step up its program of national championship events for colleges, adding golf, tennis, track and field and wrestling in 1963 to the present basketball and cross-country competition and adding still more national championships in 1964 and the year after.
•In pursuit of greater power, to go with already strong pitching, the Houston Colt 45s are about to acquire Milwaukee's Joe Adcock through purchase or trade. Norm Larker, unable to supply the first-base power the Colts need, may be traded to the American League to make room for Adcock, whom the Braves will deal off in favor of a youth movement.
One of the shibboleths of the racetracks has been a prejudice against the gray horse. "I never bet a gray" has been a standard cliché of the pseudo expert. At the same time an occasional snob has insisted on betting nothing but grays. One would guess, and even hope, that they both lose.
The anti-gray position stems from two gray stallions, Stefan the Great and Royal Minstrel, who sired poor children. But the arguments for the pro-gray position are compelling. One of them was Mahmoud. He was a gray, and they did well who bet on him wisely when he raced in England as a 2- and 3-year-old in the stable of the late Aga Khan III. Mahmoud raced 11 times in England. He was first four times, second twice and third three times. One of his wins was the Epsom Derby of 1936, which he won in the record time of 2:33 4/5. The record still stands.
Those who bred to him did even better. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney bought Mahmoud for $84,000 in 1940. He was loaded onto a freighter at Liverpool and, by the merest luck that a gray-fancier might cherish, the ship's captain objected to his papers. His vessel would not, he said, accept livestock. So the freighter was torpedoed, and Mahmoud sailed through on the next available boat.
He never raced in the U.S., but he did pass on his speed to his children and grandchildren. From 1940 through the 1961 season they won $8,195,186. His most successful son was Oil Capitol, who earned $580,756 and now is siring winners on his own. Only Bull Lea, Heliopolis and Alibhai had more $100,000 winners than Mahmoud. And his daughters were the mothers of Gallant Man, Promised Land and Determine. Mahmoud's gray coat was seen in many of his progeny.
Mahmoud was retired from stud in 1958 and put in the next four years munching the rich Whitney grass—years that were pleasant and lush. The other day, at the age of 29, he died. In human terms this might mean that he had lived to be 90. We shall never again see a gray in the post parade without doffing a $2 ticket.
THEY SAID IT
•Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State football coach, an eternal optimist, to an overenthusiastic alumni gathering: "The trouble with you people is that you get carried away by my enthusiasm."
•Bob Scheffing, Detroit manager, after the major leagues voted for another 162-game baseball season: "If the magnates were smart and logical, they would go for a 140-game schedule. They would make more money for themselves; they would have a better pennant race and a finer caliber of baseball."
•Dr. Morris M. Cohn, fish-minded recreationist, on pollution control: "Require every city and industry that is now dumping wastes into streams to take their water from an intake located below their waste outfalls."
•Frank Howard, Clemson coach, on college football players: "They're like tomatoes. When you get them they're green, and you want to bring them along until they're just ripe—you know, firm and ripe. They can't get mushy. Sometimes seniors go to seed."