FOUL, FAIR OR FAKE?
Several million people watching TV last Saturday night saw Welterweight Champion Emile Griffith knock down Jorge Fernandez with what seemed to be a low blow—a foul—and were startled a few minutes later when Griffith's hand was raised in victory after Fernandez said he was unable to continue. Referee Harry Krause told the TV audience that he had given the fight to Griffith because Emile was ahead on points, but this was an error, as Krause himself admitted later. The fight went to Griffith because Nevada's boxing rules (the fight was held in Las Vegas) state that "no contestant may be awarded a contest on a claim of a low foul blow." When Fernandez refused—or was unable—to go on, Krause had no choice but to award the fight to Griffith.
The "no foul" rule is a good one, if imperfect. It came into being three decades ago because too many fights were ending with one man dramatically clutching himself and claiming victory because he had been fouled. Too often, invalid claims were allowed. With the introduction of the protective cup came the "no foul" rule; in the majority of states if a boxer refuses to continue, it is a technical knockout.
It is ironic that Griffith, a decent kid who gained almost intolerable attention last winter after his fatal knockout of Benny Paret, should again win a fight under lamentable circumstances. But there should be no question that the punch, if it was, in fact, low, was accidental, unintentional and, possibly, not disabling. It is, indeed, a curious coincidence that Fernandez claimed a similar foul in a bout with Isaac Logart.
J.G. TAYLOR SPINK
In the issue of The Sporting News that was on the newsstands there was a two-column headline which read: SCRIBES SALUTE "BIBLE" PUBLISHER. Within the memory of its oldest reader, no issue of the famous baseball weekly had failed to carry some similar tribute to J. G. Taylor Spink, its owner, who died at his home in Clayton, Mo. last week at the age of 74.
He seemed to people who knew him only through his paper to be an inordinately vain man. But he seemed to be many things that he was not. He seemed to be harsh and cruel, but he was secretly softhearted and kind and thoughtful of people in trouble. He seemed to be niggardly, but he was generous when generosity was sorely needed.
His apparent vanity was hardest to explain. The President of the United States could not fully satisfy him with a personal letter, nor could any plaque or scroll and standing ovation at a testimonial dinner. And yet, met face to face, he was a humble man. Perhaps what he really feared was that if people did not appreciate Taylor Spink, they would not fully appreciate The Sporting News. And if people did not appreciate baseball's own bible, how could they fully appreciate the game it covered from the major leagues down to the lowliest of the minors?
The Baseball Writers' Association of America has petitioned the officers of the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., for a place to put a plaque on which the names of the great baseball journalists would be listed. Hopefully, it would hang within a pepper-game toss of the plaques honoring immortals like Ruth and Cobb. Nothing is definite about the project as yet. But there has been one unanimous decision: in the listing of the names, that of John George Taylor Spink will lead all the rest—a final tribute and perhaps one this man was seeking through the years for a paper and a game he loved and served so well.
THE KENNEDY GAME
People who were amused by the bestselling phonograph record, The First Family, should have fun with a new board game called "The Kennedys," created by Alfred Harrison and Jack Winter of the Harvard Lampoon. Marketed by mail by Harrison and Winter Inc., 45 W. 18th St., New York City, the game is subtitled "The Game of Intra-Family Power Struggle." There are six pieces—called Jack, Jackie, Bobby, Teddy, Caroline and John Jr.—and the idea is to "strive to triumph over your relatives in the contest to take over the country." Players are allowed to go to a "conference room" to make deals. A player wins when he has amassed a certain number of cards ("Popular Support," "Personal Image," etc.). The money used to swing deals has Joe Kennedy's picture on it. The box cover of the game shows all the Kennedys carved into Mount Rushmore. The price is $4.25 ($4.50 west of the Mississippi).
"The game has lots of strategy," says Jack Winter. "It's like chess or bridge, and the complexity of a game depends upon the complexity of the minds of the players involved. It's all in good fun. Actually I'm a very ardent Kennedy supporter."
Mt. Commonwealth, in Boston, was 29,000 feet smaller than the world's tallest mountain, 3,400 feet smaller than the tallest mountain in Massachusetts, and was torn down and removed completely a week ago Sunday night. In its brief four-day existence, Mt. Commonwealth displayed a summit 28 feet high, a rope tow servicing a ski slope 100 feet long and 22 feet wide, nine of the world's finest skiers, a ski race and no snow whatsoever.
The mountain was a pipe and plywood structure in Commonwealth Armory. The slope was a bristling carpet of plastic blocks that looked like bathtub back brushes. The race was a whimsical affair, originally titled The World's First Professional Indoor Slalom Championship, which could be taken as seriously as the Henley Regatta if the crews were rowing up your bathtub.
Still, a crowd of 2,200 paid spectators, more curious than knowing, came to watch, and Ted Dutton, the new president of the International Professional Ski Racers Association, dryly informed them over the public-address system, "The mountain has a vertical drop of 4,000 feet; we were fortunate in getting six inches of fresh powder just this afternoon." There was no response. Dutton cleared his throat and tried again, "The course is somewhat more arduous than snow. One has to bore holes to set the slalom poles." The crowd picked its teeth.
The skiing itself was unforgettable. Tony Spiss slid down the back brushes, skidded across wet paint on the runout, and demolished a table loaded with glasses left over from the press party the night before. "The wet paint," Spiss said, "it is very fast." Stein Eriksen waxed his skis with soap and turned in the fastest first run of the evening.
The temperature at the summit, seven feet below the ceiling of the crowded armory, was 87°. "Hot?" said Karl Burtscher, his bald head gleaming. "Ach! It's Honolulu!" The warmer it got, the harder it was to hold an edge on the back brushes. Sitzmarks—loosened blocks—began to appear. Gatekeepers dutifully stapled them back into the plywood, but after four runs eight of the nine competitors had been disqualified. If there are nine horses in a race, and eight of them drop dead on the track, the event tends to lose its significance.
The racers—just about the best skiers in the world—were beginning to look like Ray Robinson tap dancing in a saloon. For IPSRA, finally on its feet after two staggering years, it would have been damaging indeed, but Ted Dutton wisely interceded. "This kind of thing has never been done before," he explained. "Who knew what would happen? Now we know. This isn't racing." The racers themselves agreed, and voted to divide the prize money equally.
The next stop on the IPSRA tour will be at Aspen, Colo., on January 5 and 6. The event will be out of doors.
REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS
The Good Outdoor Manners Association, dedicated to improvement of the etiquette of all who hunt, fish or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, soon will pass out its annual awards—praise for the group or individual with the best manners, a lambasting for the worst abuser of outdoor resources. Winners will be announced in February. Entries postmarked no later than January 1 will be considered. Send them to the association at 4534½ University Way, Seattle 5, Wash.
The bad-manners award this year will be a montage, suitable for wall hanging, of an illegible trail-direction sign shot full of rifle holes, some rusted beer cans, a selection of corroded bottle caps removed from Yellowstone's Morning Glory Pool and crumpled foil wrap found in the woods.
•The kids who wiped out with air rifles the delightful water ouzels (they dive into streams and walk on the bottom in search of food) of Oregon's Silver Falls State Park.
•The rock hogs who used blasting powder to collect specimens of ancient Indian hieroglyphics from the Painted Rocks area near Gila Bend, Ariz.
•The vandals who broke into remote patrol cabins of Mount Rainier National Park and wantonly destroyed food caches left for persons lost in the winter wilds.
•The cretins who reversed a trail sign in Mount Baker National Forest. Two small boy hikers were thereby lost for a day and a night.
Prime candidates for the good-manners award are laudable junior groups who give up summer weekends to the nasty task of cleaning up after their elders. Thus, junior members of Seattle's Mountaineers hiked five miles to Trout and Copper Lakes and in two days' hard labor fished up and carried out 43 gunny-sacks of junk from one lake, burned and buried a mess of garbage from the other.
FLY TO WIN
The San Francisco 49ers have completed their 1962 road games with a 5—2 record, the best "away" mark in the 17-year history of the team. Management believes that the new travel arrangement, flying to and from every game, is responsible. Before the jet age, the 49ers had to lay over at eastern points for as long as three weeks at a time, suffering from strange practice fields, loneliness, hotel meals, theft of secret plays and other alien ills The cost of flying the team is $58,000 more per season, but Vic Morabito, president of the 49ers, thinks it's well worth it. Now all Morabito needs is some means to make his team win at home, where they have been 1-5 this season.
Somebody once said that the first sign of middle age is when you see a policeman younger than you are. Bob Cousy, the Boston Celtics' basketball star, had a different experience. Cousy, now in his 13th and last season with the Celtics, takes over next year as basketball coach at Boston College. The other day he visited B.C. to size up his future squad and got into a varsity-freshman scrimmage, playing with the freshmen. Cousy intercepted a varsity pass and a freshman named John Austin broke for the basket. "Mr. Cousy! I'm open!" Cousy, suddenly feeling terribly old, dissolved into laughter, as did everyone else. Frank Power, who is serving as interim coach, said to young Austin, "John, this proves two things. One, you're a gentleman and two, you know enough to call for the ball when you're open."
Parents of high school kids are aware of a magazine called Mad, which specializes in satire. Mad's satire is usually fairly obvious and the humor broad, but once in a while it becomes harsh and pointed and the humor gets bitter. Consider these lyrics from a song called High School Basketball Game in a record album put out by Mad:
I'll still wear your high school ring to show you things are the same
'Cause my love is true,
And I never will hate you for throwing the high school basketball game....
For I know the reason you took the bribe; I heard it from your mom.
You were just trying to get money to take me to the senior prom....
And I'll always send you mail while you're serving time in jail
For throwing the high school basketball game.
By Norman Blagman and Sam Bobrick
¬© 1961 by Norick Music, Inc.
A couple of financial notes from the college football scene: Ohio State's "poor" season—compared with its expectations—caused a drop-off in average attendance from 82,972 per game to 80,248, which seems minuscule; but the revenue lost by that drop would have paid Coach Woody Hayes's entire staff of assistants for the year. Another Big Ten team, Michigan, had a loss of about $200,000—or enough to pay the assistant coaches for almost four years.