RIOT AT ROOSEVELT
We have always disliked the twin double. recently introduced to New York racetracks, and other forms of this bet, which consists of picking four or more winners in a row. We dislike it because it reduces horse-race betting to the level of a lottery.
Per se there may be nothing wrong with a lottery. But when horse-race betting becomes a lottery it brings to the track an element not ordinarily present, largely composed of people who view the races not as a game but as an opportunity to get big money for practically nothing. Their mania is inflamed by publicity, such as the story in the New York papers last week of a bartender who won $79,000 for $2 in the twin double at the Roosevelt Raceway harness track on Long Island.
Just two nights after the big win, Roosevelt had the worst racetrack riot in memory. In the sixth race, the first of the twin double, there was a collision and pileup on the track, and only two of the eight horses finished. The winner was a long shot, and of the 85,000 twin-double tickets sold, only 3,000 were still "alive." Holders of the 82,000 losing tickets screamed for the race to be voided because of the spill but, quite properly, the result was ruled official. So the losers proceeded to destroy the Tote board and tried to burn down the whole place. Dozens of people were injured in violent fighting with police, and damage to the racetrack was vindictive and costly.
The twin double was introduced with the approval of the New York State government. This is the very same government that is forcing the New York tracks to add races to their cards when they don't have respectable animals to fill them, to extend their racing season beyond all reason, and to adopt gimmicks that demean the sport. Having done all this, this same government is opposing the legalization of off-track betting on moral grounds.
To men who run racetracks and the politicians who batten on them, we say—not for the first time—beware. Your greed may be your downfall. Remember Roosevelt Raceway.
Clarence Mitchell, one of the last of the honest spitball pitchers, died in Grand Island, Neb. last week. He was 72.
Mitchell pitched for a long time. He began his career in the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 1911 and ended with the New York Giants in 1932, pitching in two World Series the while. "You never heard of a spitballer with a sore arm," he once said, explaining his competitive longevity. In his Series experience he neither won nor lost a game, but he did acquire a Series record. A dubious one. In the fifth game of the 1920 Series against Cleveland, pitching for Brooklyn, Mitchell hit into an unassisted triple play—the only unassisted triple play in 61 years of Series history. Many remember that Bill Wambsganss, the Indians' second baseman, made the magnificent outs. Few remember that Mitchell hit into them. Even fewer recall that on the next time up Mitchell hit into a double play for five outs in two at bats.
NBC announced last week that it has canceled plans to televise the annual Blue-Gray football game in Montgomery, Ala. in December because Negroes will not be allowed to play. One long locomotive for NBC.
WAR ON THE LAWN
Lawn bowling is such a quiet, gentlemanly game that it seems a pity to report that the men who govern the sport have been acting like alley cats lately. The bickering began a year ago in Perth, Australia when the International Bowling Board voted Rhodesia a full IBB membership. Rhodesia's first act as a member was to cast the decisive vote that removed a Britisher as secretary in favor of a Canadian.
England didn't accept this gracefully at all. It has been the power behind lawn bowling for centuries. Sir Francis Drake, it is said, was playing when the Spanish Armada hove into view off Plymouth—"We have time enough to finish the game and beat the Spaniards, too," Drake is supposed to have remarked coolly.
Stung by the events at Perth, England—along with neighbors Scotland, Wales and Ireland—protested that Rhodesia was ineligible to vote, that the meeting was unconstitutional and that a special meeting must be held in Britain. Instead, the new IBB committee has called for a get-together in Vancouver in December. What's more, the committee says the British representatives cannot attend since they have steadfastly refused to pay a dues increase from $12 to $30 voted on in Perth. Thus, unless one side gives way, it appears the IBB will be split in two, a situation from which all those who enjoy lawn bowling will very likely recover.
In the pharmacopoeia of the Far East, powdered deer horn is good for what ails you, and is especially prescribed for its rejuvenating effects. But there appears to be a shortage of deer in Taiwan, and the Double Happy Trading Company of Taipei is in the market for tons of the stuff. In a letter to New Mexico's Department of Game and Fish, the Double Happy people announced:
"We wish to obtain deer antlers (such as elk, caribou, reindeer and so forth) 10,000 pounds per year and we want such item for the making of medicine not to other use, and shall be much obliged if you will give us a list of guide registers who are interesting in the exportation of such item."
Levon Lee, game management chief, replied that the letter would be published in the department's magazine, New Mexico Wildlife, and thereby reach 9,000 hunters. Back came a letter of thanks from B. H. Sun, Double Happy manager, and another request.
"There are a bear-picture printing on your letterhead," Sun noted. "We suppose that your hunting sportsmen are able to get this time, so we want to obtain 50/100 bear's galls from them."
Like any good game-management man, Lee is now wondering what this new kind of hunting pressure might do to the bears and antlered animals of New Mexico.
UNDER THE TABLE
It is no dark secret that a good many college football coaches and assistant coaches earn a little extra money every year acting as scouts for professional teams. It is not unlawful for them to do this, just unethical, but coaches' salaries often are low, and some of them point out that you can't buy baby shoes with ethics.
Concerned about the growing number of coaches who are scouting for "consideration," the NCAA has sent a letter to all its member schools, reminding coaches of their moral responsibilities. Says NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers: "You simply can't have a paid-for allegiance to one club and be able to give objective advice to one of your players if he asks you what club he should sign with."
The NCAA constitution does not spell out any specific penalty for violation of the NCAA's principle of ethical conduct, but it does make provision for an investigation and possible censure of violators. All of which means that future payments by the pros to the college coaches will have to be made a little more discreetly.
AS OLD AS YOUR GOLF SCORE
Willard G. (Pop) Waters of Baltimore, is having trouble with his golf game. He used to shoot his age, but not anymore. At 90, he still shoots in the middle and high 80s.
Pop is on the links of the Country Club of Maryland two or three times a week. His hands shake badly, so much so that sometimes he needs help in teeing up, but at the moment of addressing the ball, and hitting it, all is fine. Andy Gibson, Country Club of Maryland golf pro, says Waters is one of the most remarkable golfers he has ever seen.
Waters never swung a golf club until he was 52, which was 38 years ago. Now the 5-foot 10-inch, 145-pound nonagenarian plays most of the winter and scorns a golf cart, walking to keep himself fit. "That's what I play for," Pop Waters says.
He has won the Middle Atlantic Seniors' Tournament the last two years, and on his 88th birthday he shot his age for 18 holes. But on his 89th birthday he belted out a 79.
WRONG WAY AGAIN
With the score tied 7-7, Rusty Randall of Lyons (Ga.) High intercepted a Metter (Ga.) High pass at the opponent's 35—yard line and streaked 65 yards for what he thought was a touchdown. "Son," the referee told him, "you ran the wrong way." Lyons won the game anyway, 16-9, but Rusty was desolated. He went home and asked for the keys to the family car "so I can get out of town." Then, to cheer him up, there came a telegram from Roy Riegels, wrong-way runner of the 1929 Rose Bowl game. "Laugh it off, take it in stride and make one the right way next time," the immortal Riegels advised.
NEW KIND OF PUFFERY
Tobacco Road has lost Whitey Ford, who used to pitch commercials for one of the big cigarette firms. He has waivered himself to the American Cancer Society. In advertising soon to be released Whitey—and Bob Mathias, former Olympic decathlon champion, runners Jim Beatty and Tom Courtney, baseball slugger Rocky Colavito, passer Bart Starr and fighters Sugar Ray Robinson, Jack Dempsey and Floyd Patterson—will lead a campaign called "Athletes Against Cancer."
Up in her lovely arms about the whole affair was Julie London, who cooed to the abstaining athletes, "Why don't you settle back...?"
BAN THE BALL
After losing a game to Michigan 85-0 in 1939, the University of Chicago abandoned intercollegiate football—as who wouldn't? But with the passage of time the hurt has been healed, and the school has begun a modest football renaissance. Actually, they call it "football class," and as a course for credit it is supposed to be just another way of saying "physical education."
However, some students at Chicago believe the football class is a subversive screen for reinstating the big-time game. They were sure of it this season when the class began to schedule "scrimmages" (or laboratory games) with other schools. Last week they acted.
Shortly before Chicago's scrimmage with tiny North Central College was to start last Saturday, 200 demonstrators, a few of them bearded, took the field and sat down on the 50-yard line. (It was Stagg Field, too, may Amos Alonzo forgive them.) One protester stole the football, others waved signs—some in Greek—reading "Ban the Ball." Some martyred themselves by climbing into police paddy wagons (they were released a block away). Referees, meanwhile, played touch on the sidelines, the uniformed players took seats in the bleachers and counterdemonstrators bore signs reading "'Football Si, Oddballs No."
About that time Warner Wick, the dean of students, got on the PA system and said: "You fundamentalists who are also dogmatists, why don't you let some other people have their fun?" Well, 90 minutes had been used up by the protesters so their enthusiasms had evaporated anyhow, and the game began. Chicago, though a little improved over 1939, still lost, 7-6.
THEY SAID IT
•Jimmy Brown, Cleveland Browns' bruising ball carrier, explaining why he once rejected a $25,000 offer to abandon professional football and become a boxer: "'Football is my game. I don't like to hurt people."
•Milt Pappas, brash 24-year-old pitcher offering to take over as manager of the Baltimore Orioles: "Everyone says the Orioles need color; I'd give it to them by going back to my original name—Miltiadis Papastedgios."
•Jack McMahon, Cincinnati Royals' coach, on Boston's defensive genius. Bill Russell: "The minute you make a move, you have to assume he's coming from some place; he borders on ruining the game."
•J T King, Texas Tech football coach, sending a substitute into game against SMU: "Tell Elledge to throw a sideline pass—to you if you're open, to me if you're not."