THE FORLORN LEFT
The chance of a left-handed golfer achieving the Palmer-Hogan-Snead stratum has always been rated about equal to that of a lighthouse salesman in Montana. But in Bradenton, Fla. last week a slim, hipless, precise lefty from Christ-church. New Zealand took a tough course apart and then reassembled it to fit his form. The golfer was Bob Charles and he shot the four greatest successive rounds of golf ever put together by a wrong-sider. Playing the DeSoto Lakes Golf and Country Club layout, a testy, trap-infested course (par 71), Charles was 68-65-68-69 for 270. This was eight strokes under the previous DeSoto 72-hole record fashioned by Sammy Snead.
Charles was playing with his own kind, the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers, in its annual tournament. He finished 21 strokes in front of defending champion Loddie Kempa of Macon, Ga.
What the tournament proved to Charles was that "it will make golf equipment manufacturers realize that the left-handed golfer has arrived and can play the game with the next fellow." it hasn't been too many years that good equipment for lefties has been obtainable and even now no one makes left-handed clubs for juniors. As a result, though 30% of children are born left-handed, fewer than 1% play golf left-handed. Maybe things will change now.
NOW A TEAR FOR TOLEDO
The American Association died last week when minor league baseball was reorganized. The Pacific Coast and International leagues will have 10 teams each and Triple-A status. The American Association will have its memories: Ted Williams batting .366 at Minneapolis in 1938; Willie Mays hitting .477 for the same team 13 years later; Bill Veeck and Charlie Grimm having fun at Milwaukee; Joe McCarthy first demonstrating his great skill as a manager at Louisville.
In a way it's a strange passing. Except for 1914 and 1915 the association had the same eight cities for 50 years, from 1902 through 1952. Then the Boston Braves moved into Milwaukee and the association started to crumble. A decade later it is gone. But of the original eight cities, four are in the majors (Milwaukee, Kansas City and Minneapolis-St. Paul) and two (Indianapolis and Columbus) are in the International League.
Still, a sadness remains. Clipper ships are gone, trolley cars are gone, the Toledo Mud Hens are gone. All we've got to look ahead to is the dusty old moon.
When Athol Graham drove his car, City of Salt Lake, across the Bonneville Flats in 1960, he wound up in eternity. So far as purposeful existence was concerned life might have ended then, too, for the young mechanic who had shared Graham's dream of shattering the world's land speed record. Otto Anzjon was 18. He had worked with Graham days, nights, Sundays, holidays, whenever they had an hour. They had plenty of hours, no money and a dream. When Graham crashed and died Anzjon wept, his anguished head on a wheel of the demolished City of Salt Lake.
It was Graham's widow, Zeldine, who gave Otto new reason to live. "We'll rebuild the racer," she told him. "We'll set that record ourselves."
Zeldine had four children to care for and so little to support them with that a newspaper had held a fund-raising drive in her behalf. Her decision was criticized sharply by people who felt she was spending on a racer money that should have been reserved for her children.
Zeldine was undaunted. Somehow she kept finding people who would put up a little money for the restoration of the car. Two years after Graham's death, the car was almost ready. Last summer it was hauled to the Flats, where Otto drove it in a test run. It zipped along. Everything, except for some blowouts, seemed to be going well. But they had agreed not to try for the record until 1963. Otto wasn't feeling well anyway.
Back in Salt Lake City, he felt worse and entered a hospital. Finally, they told him. Otto had leukemia. He would never get well. No one had to tell Zeldine. She had known it since shortly after her husband's death. She had wanted Otto, with so little time left, to have something to live for. Last week Otto Anzjon, only 20, died with his dream unfulfilled. But, thanks to a gallant lady, he had dreamed it until almost the very end.
TALE OF SOME TAILFEATHERS
New Mexico's state bird is G. californianus, which is just about what might be expected of a member of the cuckoo family that whines like a dog. He is more generally called the roadrunner, which is appropriate, too, because he would rather run than fly. When you stare at a roadrunner he will stare back with one eye, then flip his head around and stare at you with the other. If this doesn't get a laugh he raises and lowers his fright wig of head feathers. That is surefire.
New Mexicans, accustomed to roadrunners whining down their fireplace chimneys or running along their adobe walls, flaunting any lizards they may have captured, have fondly nicknamed the bird El Paisano. El Paisano is now the subject of an art controversy.
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department commissioned a portrait of the roadrunner this summer and hung the painting in the governor's office, where it was instantly denounced by roadrunner fans. Sensitive to such matters, they insisted that the upward tilt of the tail was too acute. Campaigning against the painting, they organized" TAILFEATHERS, short for The Amalgamated Illustrious Loyal Federation Engaged Actively To Halt Elevated Roadrunner Stance. They, and less well-organized opponents who think the painting is just fine, have been running around the state taking home movies of roadrunners with their tails up. And the Albuquerque Tribune has been moved to verse:
There's something very much alas,
When birdy's tail drags on the grass.
Chances are the painting will remain as is. The game department is adamant.
"That group," Dave Jackson, game department information officer, said of TAILFEATHERS, "couldn't tell a roadrunner from a turkey buzzard."
COACH OF THE YEAR
Some of us who wouldn't touch a "best team" poll with a 10-foot pole raised a cynical eyebrow when Illinois turned up last week as the nation's 19th best football team, according to the UPI's weekly poll of coaches. Illinois' record for the season was 2 won, 7 lost.
What happened was that one of the UPI's board of coaches voted Illinois as the 10th-best team in the nation, thus giving it enough points—one—to win 19th place.
A UPI sports editor told us, "It's none of your business," when we asked who the coach was. Well, the Illinois football coach is Pete Elliott.
Addressed primarily to "zoologists, animal breeders, physiologists, veterinarians, psychologists, philosophers, paleontologists and sociologists," and the like, a new book, The Behavior of Domestic Animals (Balli√®re, Tindall & Cox, Ltd., London), might be of interest to a far wider audience were it not written in the jargon that scientists love so well. Why say "newborn" when you can say "neonate"? Anyway, we have culled from it some tidbits that should be of interest to the dog owner:
•Puppies eat 14 to 50% more food when fed in groups than when they are fed independently.
•Herding dogs can respond to hand signals at a distance of a mile.
•Greyhounds of average racing quality run at a rate of 37 miles per hour.
•A sheep dog may cover close to 100 miles a day for nearly six consecutive weeks; a bird dog may travel 75 to 100 miles a day while hunting.
•A well-trained tracking dog can follow the trail of an individual when it is crisscrossed by other trails, but is distracted when one of the trails is made by an identical twin of the original trailmaker.
•A trained dog can select from a pile of sticks the one handled by his keeper, though the keeper may have handled the stick for only two seconds.
•A dog can detect the odor of meat through an average of 7.4 layers of paper and after an injection of pep-up amphetamine can detect meat through 15.2 layers.
•Not even scientists know why dogs bury bones, though they doubt it is for food storage, or how it is that dogs can find their way home from long distances.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Betting is that the University of Dayton will not renew the contract of Football Coach Stan Zajdel and will make one more try, under a new coach, to return to its former plane. If unsuccessful, Dayton may forsake football's "high middle" class and play a small college schedule.
•A new $8 million bond issue to complete financing of Houston's domed stadium-to-be will be submitted to voters December 22. Revised estimated cost of the structure is $18.5 million, less than the projected cost of New York's Flushing Meadow Stadium, which will not be enclosed and air-conditioned.
•Doug Barkley of Detroit and Kent Douglas of Toronto, both defensemen, are among top candidates to win the Calder Trophy as National Hockey League rookie of the year. If either makes it he will be the first defenseman to do so.
SWITCHEROO AT LSU
The Louisiana State athletic department has, so help us, made a grant of $5,000 to the LSU Council on Research, which sponsors research projects by faculty members. The money comes from football ticket sales and the grant will be made annually so long as funds are available.
THE CHARACTER BUILDERS
"He's 15 years old and has a 90% academic average," droned Manhattan Basketball Coach Ken Norton to a meeting of fellow coaches in Chicago the other day. "He is extremely well coordinated and, at the same age, is better than Wilt Chamberlain. He attends Power Memorial high school [in New York City]. I know we won't get him, so I'm letting all you other coaches in on it."
Thus did Norton introduce to the fraternity a bright young 7-footer in somewhat the same manner as a cattle auctioneer putting a prize bull on the block. The boy's name is Lewis Alcindor.
(Norton may have been sadistically kidding about not getting Alcindor, but it is true that the boy went to Power Memorial because he could not scrape up the money to attend Manhattan's affiliate high school, thus reducing Norton's chances.)
"Coaches and scouts throughout the country will be beating a path to New York to see and try to recruit Lewis Alcindor," said Norton. And no doubt Norton is right. Basketball coaches are partial to 7-foot boys. And no doubt Lewis Alcindor will be wooed and enticed by some of the most convincing charmers in the business. The fact that he's only 15 will make no difference.
A boy of 15—even if he is 7 feet tall—is probably not ready to stand up to the pressures of big-time recruiting. Nor should he have to. If the coaches don't think they have a responsibility to move slowly they might consider one effect of unbridled recruiting, now being reported in the newspapers—the trial of such as Jack Molinas, Joseph Green and Aaron Wagman, accused of bribing basketball players to fix games. The coaches, quick to denounce gamblers, ignore the fact that young players were thoroughly prepared to shave points by the example set them when coaches made them lavish offers—often illegally lavish.
THEY SAID IT
•Dick Buechler, Xavier University tackle, on that school's 6-4 season under first-year Coach Ed Biles: "We would have presented Coach Biles with an undefeated season, but we didn't think he was ready for it."
•Tom Thacker, University of Cincinnati basketball star, on comparisons between himself and former UC great, Oscar Robertson: "I've picked up a lot of Oscar's moves, but I think I'm about 200 behind him."
•Eddie LeBaron, Dallas Cowboys' quarterback, explaining that he began playing high school football when he weighed only 114 pounds because he was shy: "I got into a line one day, thinking it was the towel line. When they handed me a football suit, I was too shy to give it back."