TRIBULATION IN TOKYO
As last week ended, with the Olympic Games of 1964 a mere 600 days or so away, Japan was searching frantically for someone to accept the presidency of its Olympic organizing committee. There were no eager candidates. If ever the head of an organization seems certain to lose face, including both ears, it will be this one. Preparation for the Games is not precisely proceeding apace.
"Regrettably," says Shojiro Kawashima, cabinet minister in charge of the Olympics, "Olympic preparations are behind in all aspects." Tokyo's Mainichi Shimbun editorialized: "At the rate preparations are moving, we must be gravely concerned."
Tokyo's traffic problem is the world's worst. Olympic road-building plans call for 22 access roads and four main highways totaling 73 miles to be built at a cost of $420 million. So far none of the roads are open and last year less than half the target deadlines for road construction were met. One reason is that Japan has no law enabling the government to acquire property by condemnation. Speculators bought up plots astride proposed rights of way and held out for exorbitant prices. Then there were 10,000 families who had to be moved to equivalent accommodations in land-short Tokyo. The 13-mile expressway from Haneda airport to downtown Tokyo was held up while fishermen demanded $91 million for the land on which they built their shacks and stored their nets.
Biggest problem of all is housing. The Japanese expect 30,000 visitors. In Tokyo and a 50-mile radius there are only 11,460 beds in Western-style hotels, 4,760 in suitable Japanese inns. Another 7,000 rooms are planned, leaving a staggering shortage of 7,000 beds. This takes no account of the thousands of Japanese who will flow into Tokyo for the Games, but no one is worrying about them. "The Japanese are used to a Spartan life," a hotel manager blandly explained.
Then there's the matter of tickets. The Japanese have decreed that no foreigner may buy a ticket until he can show proof of guaranteed housing. "It's a vicious circle," a despairing travel agent wailed. "Clients will not pay a 50% deposit on rooms unless they're sure of a ticket and the organizing committee says it won't sell tickets until rooms are paid for. Something will have to give."
Something like the new president, poor fellow. Chosen this week, he turned out to be Daigoro Yasukawa, utilities magnate. Asked why he took the job, he said somebody pushed him.
Since Lee MacPhail left the New York Yankees for the Baltimore Orioles in 1959 the fine Yankee farm system has been crumbling. In 1962 its seven teams posted a combined won-lost record of 385-510, giving the mighty Yankees undisputed possession of 20th and last place in the "farm club" standings. They were 53 games deeper in the red (below .500) than the 19th-place team, Kansas City. One baseball student who follows the Yankee organization closely suggests that the parent front office seems hardly to think of the farm teams anymore. Thus, Richmond, Va., one of the Yankees' top minor league affiliates, had mustered no team to speak of until the Yanks, as a sort of afterthought, shipped along a stack of players the day before the season opened. The idea seems to be that there is no need for winners down on the farm as long as you develop one or two players for the varsity.
Question: How much longer can the Yankees come up with varsity-strengthening players from a losing farm system? And how are the farmhands to develop the winning Yankee spirit playing with losers?
Jacques Plante, Montreal Canadien goalie, has a scientifically suspicious mind. He recently began to wonder about the size of hockey nets in different arenas, and from wondering it was only a short step to measuring. Plante said he found the nets in New York and Boston three inches lower than those at home. Nets in Detroit, he discovered, were wider than in Montreal.
Plante's work has led to measuring tapes being brought out all over National Hockey League cities. President Clarence Campbell of the NHL, threatening fines, has now warned all referees to keep tapes in their pockets. "The measure," he says, "is an integral part of a referee's equipment—just as much as his whistle." Campbell himself discovered that not only are the nets too low in some places but in Chicago the goal frames are less than official height and in one of the corner circles in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens one of the blue lines is two inches wider than the others.
Robert Vander Wiele has been hunter and fisherman for as long as he can remember. When he was 4 years old he came home with a rabbit and said, "Mommy, look what I shot." This was odd because the lad had no gun. His father buried the rabbit but Bobby found the spot, exhumed his prize and came in again, carrying the rabbit and repeating, "Mommy, look what I shot."
At a county fair his father paid a quarter so Bobby could fish in a tank. Bobby caught the biggest trout of all. At the age of 10 he got his junior hunting license and went out with two veteran hunters. When the first pheasant got up, Bobby brought it down before his elders could even raise their guns.
Now, at 11, he has pulled a coup that will make him the envy of all boys the nation over. Bobby came home from school the other day, put on his rubber boots and went to play at the brook that runs through his family's farm at Readington, N.J. The nameless stream is 10 feet wide at its widest, but Bobby catches suckers and catfish there in summer. This time he saw an enormous fish which, he said later, seemed "pooped." He ran into the water, kicked the fish on the head several times and lugged it home. It was a striped bass 46 inches long.
Mrs. Vander Wiele telephoned the Hunterdon County Democrat. A picture of Bobby holding his big fish appeared on Page One, but the story hinted that Bobby's father might have sneaked the fish into the brook. Mrs. Vander Wiele was furious, looking her accusers straight in the eye and saying, "We're not that kind of people." Others hinted that if his father hadn't put it there somebody else had.
We stopped our investigation after being convinced that Bobby's parents had nothing to do with it. The stream had been in flood two days before, and striped bass do go up rivers from the sea. We prefer to believe that this giant striper left the ocean, swam through lower New York bay, entered the Raritan River, moved 35 miles upstream to the North Branch and then five miles to the mouth of the brook, finally fought its way up the brook until it came to rest in the arms of a small boy.
There was no bargain basement rush last week when Championship Sports, Inc. opened bidding for ancillary rights to the April 4 Patterson-Liston rematch in Miami Beach. Only three offers were made, none from old-line closed-circuit companies, which isn't at all surprising considering the size of the egg laid by last September's heavyweight title bout. The hypothetical prize went to Sports Vision Inc., a recently formed corporation, owned jointly by two high-finance experts, Frederic H. Brooks and Roy Garcia, former business associates of Roy M. Cohn, who is part owner of Championship Sports.
They don't appear to be taking much of a flyer. SVI will have no guarantee to worry about. In fact, the closed-circuit company will take $75,000 off the top and 22½% of the balance. Sonny, Floyd and CSI will divide what's left (probably 30-30 for the fighters and 40% for CSI). "We got our closed-circuit bloodying in the first fight," says Brooks, who was financial guarantor for theater TV in that fight. "It hurt, but we like the business and so we came back to try again."
They wound up losing about $50,000 that time. The Government seized the telecast money and didn't release the major portion (CSI is still waiting for $600,000) until all agreed to dissolve a deferred payment plan which would have spread the money, for tax purposes, over a 17-year period.
Brooks and Garcia may now be encouraged by preliminary negotiations for foreign and domestic radio rights, along with sale of the film to movie distributors. All these rights could bring in as much as $1.5 million. Pleased by the quick signing of over 100 theaters, SVI now believes it may have as many as 175 locations with a capacity of 600,000 seats.
The problem, admits Brooks, is to fill those seats.
St. Joseph's College (Philadelphia) quietly readmitted John Egan, Vincent Kemp-ton and Frank Majewski as students last week. They were the three basketball players expelled after involvement in the point-shaving scandals of two years ago (SI, May 8, 1961), when each had but one semester to complete for his degree. The college's decision was taken partly in the name of rehabilitation, but partly too, perhaps, out of a sense of responsibility for what had happened to athletes it recruited. No college felt worse about the scandal than little St. Joe's. Its team, which went all the way to the NCAA semifinals, had been its pride. Dishonor was bitter. Courage was needed to readmit the three players, thus reviving public memory of an almost forgotten incident, just as it took courage for Egan, Kempton and Majewski to sit down in class last week.
THEY SAID IT
•Dan, 9-year-old son of Frank Broyles, Arkansas football coach: "I want to go to Texas if I'm good enough, but if I'm not, I want to play for you, Dad."
•Joe Haynes, former pitcher, now Minnesota Twins vice-president, on the new strike zone: "If called close there might not be a .300 hitter in the American League this year. Last year under the old rules there were only nine batters who could hit .300."