RED GLOW OVER TOKYO
International politics and international sport seldom travel the same highway together. Last week the two were riding tandem in divers quarters. In Djakarta, representatives of a dozen dissident countries, including Red China, the Soviet Union, Egypt and Indonesia, met and decided to stage an Olympics of their own. The event, pompously named the Games of the New Emerging Forces, is to be held in Djakarta in November and every four years thereafter, and is intended to rival the Olympic Games themselves. Alarmed by this aggressive and politically founded action, the French sports daily L'Equipe warned that international sport is threatened with a total schism. In London, the Marquess of Exeter, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, spoke out on the subject of excluding East German athletes from contests held in NATO countries. The Marquess is, of course, against this, since political discrimination is a violation of the Olympic ideal. He tendered a solution. The Marquess believes that East Germans and other victims of political tensions—perhaps even those of the New Emerging Forces—should be allowed a United Nations passport.
Now comes word that in a few weeks the UNESCO Youth Institute will hold a seminar in Germany on politics and chauvinism in sports. The conference will be attended by international sports leaders. Sport should be free of ideology, but when politics ruptures the freedom of big athletic events, as it frequently has done, realities must be faced. It is reassuring to find that intelligent forces are reaching for a solution. A global schism in sport is not in our interest as Americans or sportsmen.
No longer actively involved in tennis promotion, except for serving as adviser and having one vote in the International Professional Tennis Players Association, Jack Kramer now is concentrating on golf and horse racing. He is adding 18 holes to his Los Serranos course in Chino, Calif., and he is running a stable of Thoroughbreds (Racquet Stable) for an Australian partner. But he has not entirely forsaken tennis.
For one thing, he is building a tennis club in Palos Verdes and he has an idea for the sport that seems to derive from his new interest in horse racing. Kramer would do for professional players what turf handicappers do for the Thoroughbreds in order to equalize their abilities. He would dispel the idea that tennis form almost always prevails. He would handicap the tennis players with weights. "The best player," Kramer says, "would be weighted down, but where I do not know. Maybe around his belt or on his feet."
We have great respect for Kramer and his contributions to tennis, but we suggest he take his idea back to the stable and sec if anyone whinnies.
MORNING LINE ON STRETCH PANTS
As the Japanese cherry exchanged its blossoms for green leaves in Central Park last week, a troupe of snow fanatics descended on New York—the people who make ski clothes and equipment, and the 5,000 buyers who came to see their wares at the 1963-64 Ski Industries America Trade Show. Conditions, as they say in the world of ski, were excellent. Firms reported increases in orders up to 300%. The ski business is, in fact, so good that everybody suddenly wants a part of it—the house of Dior, for instance, which showed 50 different costumes in its second ski collection designed by Marc Bohan for Dior Sport. McGregor, the country's largest maker of men's sportswear, took a plunge in ski, came up with one of the bestsellers at the show—a cartridge-quilt parka with elastic stretch in the quilting. Leatherman Samuel Robert launched a line of lean-looking leather ski pants. Glen of Michigan's Bill Atkinson designed his first line of ski apparel—stretch pants and jackets in sprightly plaids and checks. It was all enough to put the old-line skiwear makers on their mettle—and that's where they were. White Stag hired Italy's Emilio Pucci to design a skiwear collection featuring silk-and-Helanca stretch pants, and Ulla's Vicki Cooper emulated Chanel with a braid-trimmed stretch-flannel ski suit.
There is a reactionary fraternity in skiing which likes to grouse that skiing started to decline as a sport when the first rope tow was opened and that stretch pants are the work of the devil. This is the year they should put on snowshoes and head for the woods.
THE GREEN MONEY STATE
It was 60 years ago that Bet-A-Million Gates established himself at Salem Depot, N.H., in the foothills of the White Mountains, with a grandiose scheme for a racetrack and lavishly appointed gambling pavilion. After he built track and pavilion, Yankee authorities coldly advised him that gambling was illegal in New Hampshire and the law would be enforced.
Gates is long since dead, but his track is now Rockingham Park, where the Thoroughbreds and trotters run legally. New Hampshire was, indeed, the first New England state to legalize parimutuel betting (in 1933) and now New Hampshire is the first (since Louisiana abandoned its two-year try in 1894) to legalize a state lottery. The lottery will be a sweepstakes based on races run at Rockingham and Hinsdale, a trotting track.
New Hampshire may well have started a trend and, of all places, in staid New England. A sweepstakes bill is before the legislature of neighboring Vermont. Another is currently boxed in a committee of the Connecticut legislature. The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed a lottery bill. Massachusetts voters have voted approval of a state lottery, only to have the legislature vote it down each time it came up. But in Nevada, the great gambling state, sweepstakes gambling is not only illegal—it is unconstitutional.
That noise you hear is Bet-A-Million thrashing about in his grave.
THE $70,000 CHURL
In the ninth inning of a tie game against Minnesota last week, Roger Maris led off and grounded to Second Baseman Bernie Allen. Allen booted the ball, but he still had plenty of time to make the play, because Maris merely dragged himself and his bat halfway down the line and then quit. The Minnesota fans booed. Maris displayed his winsome scowl all the way to the dugout and there stopped long enough to make what family newspapers call an "obscene gesture." Maris' inexcusable indelicacy—and it was not his first—was seen not only by the stadium audience but by hundreds of thousands of television viewers.
After the game, as is his custom, Maris remained churlish. He had only a challenge to fight for a reporter who questioned him about the incident. Naturally, there must be criticism for such childish behavior, but our feeling is one of bewildered pity for an athlete of such stature who has neither the courage to admit his mistakes nor the maturity to avoid compounding them.
THE BIG GAME
Down in the missile country of Cape Canaveral children of scientists and engineers are naturally bright. They are so bright that the local Orange County sport is mathematics. Regular round-robin schedules draw a large cheering section of students who follow each team and study the weekly standings with avid interest. This year's mathematical "track meet" was a hard-fought contest among teams from 10 high schools. Boone High took home the trophy—a slide rule.
DON'T MENTION IT
On several occasions we have had the displeasure of sitting behind steel beams at baseball parks, our vision impaired. It was not until last week, however, that we fully appreciated that there are also oral pillars to obstruct one's hearing of a game on radio or television.
Tuning in late, we heard from Yankee announcer Mel Allen: "Well, at the end of five innings it's the Los Angeles Angels five runs on seven hits and no errors. In fact, the Angels not only have all the runs but all the hits."
The quickest way to a listener's ear is a straight line of conversation. Allen's oblique reference to a no-hitter, falling on ears not yet attuned to the game, was irritating. For half an inning we labored under the penalty of not being certain of what we had heard. "Players don't mention a no-hitter on the bench and I just try to respect their dugout tradition," Allen explains. "I feel it is part of the romance of the game." Waite Hoyt, former Yankee and now a Cincinnati announcer, goes along with Allen. He says he makes no mention of a no-hitter because "It was inbred in me as a player."
Ray Scott, who announces the Twins' games, turned to his colleagues last season after Jack Kralick had pitched seven perfect innings and pleaded: "I need help. How many ways are there to say the same thing we are all thinking about without actually mentioning it?"
Actually, there is less superstition in the game than the romantic Allen would have us believe. Most major leaguers do not mind TV or radio references to no-hitters in progress. A poll last week showed that three out of four sports-casters do give the news.
ONE MAN'S FIGHT
A salty and belligerent man, William Green is afflicted with cancer—racked with pain and trapped in a wheelchair—but still fighting. He is fighting to save for the people a 33-mile spit of land at the southern end of Maryland's Eastern Shore known as Assateague Island. The island, including some acreage belonging to Virginia and set aside as a federal game refuge, presents one of the most beautifully wild, wave-swept, breathtaking stretches of white-sanded beach that remains open to development anywhere along the readily accessible portions of the Atlantic seaboard. It could become a splendid public recreational area, one that might attract as many as 4 million persons a year. One-fifth of the nation's population lives within easy driving distance. It could also become a highly profitable real estate development. That is what the fight is about.
A transplanted New Yorker who made a comfortable fortune as an industrial air-conditioning contractor, Green retired 10 years ago to Public Landing, Maryland. He soon fell in love with nearby Assateague. In the last decade he has spent all his savings—about $300,000—on legal fees, engineering reports, surveys and experts, in a fight to get a public authority to protect the island.
"All I have now," he said the other day, "is the house, and there's a mortgage on that."
He may win yet. The state is now giving serious consideration to his proposal. Also Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, impressed by reports from members of his staff, has agreed to inspect the area on May 13, along with members of the Maryland General Assembly and interested citizens. We hope he sees it through the inspired eyes of Bill Green.
A WREATH FOR DICKIE KERR
There generally is no reason to weep at the passing of a man who reaches the age of 69 and then dies with honor. Such a man, it may be considered, has fulfilled himself. But in the case of Dickie Kerr, who died the other day, a few tears should be allowed.
Dickie Kerr was the honest member of the Black Sox. He pitched the third game of the 1919 Series and, opposed by nine Cincinnati players and most of his own Chicago team, he beat them all, 3-0. Then he pitched the sixth game and won it, 5-4 in 10 innings. All the disgusting while, he knew nothing of what had been plotted against him. It was a fabulous feat.
Dickie always felt that he deserved a place in the Hall of Fame. He did. But there is a rule that a Hall of Fame player must have been in the major leagues for at least 10 years. Dickie had only three.
Baseball could easily make amends and acknowledge its obligations to decency by rescinding the rule for this one now-posthumous case.
THEY SAID IT
•Bobby Bragan, Milwaukee Brave manager, after the Giants dropped three in a row to the Braves: "Their slump is like a common cold—only a temporary disorder."
•Barbara Romack, noting that the number of women golfers has doubled in the last 15 years: "We don't have to be unfeminine-looking ogres any more; the girls want to play this game with men, either husbands or boy friends."