ARMS AND THE LAW
There are in the U.S. some 35 million persons who own firearms of some kind—rifles, shotguns, handguns and a varied assortment of war souvenirs. Two of these 35 million—two assassins—turned up in Dallas a fortnight ago and shocked the world. Result: further impetus for the long crusade to register all firearms, including hunting rifles and shotguns, with state and federal authorities.
Many who oppose firearms ownership altogether, and some who desire arms registration, are afraid of guns, do not understand them and therefore are antagonistic to them. It is these, in the main, who would make it as cumbersome as possible for Americans to own and use guns, even for recreational hunting and target shooting.
The contention that mandatory registration of firearms would prevent such tragic crimes as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, is ludicrous. Even the most stringent laws, such as New York's Sullivan Act, cannot prevent criminals, fanatics and lunatics from obtaining guns illegally. Rather, the effect is to disarm the law-abiding, while muggers run free.
When a football coach assays a player candidate, he looks first for size, next for quality. When Coach Dick Tucker of Orange Coast (junior) College of Costa Mesa, Calif. saw Billy White, 5 feet 4 inches and weighing, with a belly full of water, 134 pounds, he was stunned. "If I hadn't known him by reputation," says Tucker, "I'd have sent him home. But we didn't have anyone else who could play quarterback, so I didn't figure I had anything to lose."
He had a Junior Rose Bowl engagement to gain, it turned out. Orange Coast meets Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the JRB December 14 before some 70,000 stadium spectators and a nationwide television audience. This is thanks, in great part, to Quarterback White, who led Orange Coast to a 9-1 record last year and a 9-0 record this year. He completed 67 of 109 passes, with but one interception. Against Riverside he completed 12 of 15 passes and 15 of 18 against Fullerton. Too short to throw out of the pocket, he must make all his passes come off the roll.
Remember Yale's great Albie Booth? Albie was 10 pounds heavier and two inches taller than Billy.
THE PIONEERING BROWNS
During their long and usually undistinguished career, the St. Louis Browns were more often noted for their exercises in futility than for being first in anything. But now historians have learned that the Browns were the first baseball team to use commercial air transport.
Digging up data for the forthcoming 50th anniversary of commercial air travel, Mrs. Gay White of St. Petersburg, Fla. discovered that in January 1914 the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line was the first airline to fly regularly scheduled flights. With two flying boats in its fleet, the line operated across Tampa Bay. And in spring training that year the Browns used the line to fly to an exhibition game. The team had to fly in relays because the planes could accommodate only three or four passengers.
Thirty years later the Browns won their first and only pennant, but history had already claimed a spot for them.
SEEDS OF DISCONTENT
The International Ski Federation last week announced the men's seedings for the 1964 racing season, including the Olympics. Not one American made the first 10—a severe blow to our chances of winning a gold medal at Innsbruck, and completely unrealistic. At the world championships in Chamonix in 1962 the U.S. team demonstrated that it could compete with Europe's best, finishing a close third behind Austria and France. Its members are now vastly improved.
The seedings smack of chicanery designed only to protect European domination of Alpine skiing. The men of the Alps were arbitrarily given the first and best starting positions, while U.S. competitors must start far back and face the handicap of skiing over a chopped-up course.
Example: a veteran like Buddy Werner, who has been winning international races since 1954, was seeded 22nd in the giant slalom, 12th in the downhill (highest U.S. seed) and 21st in the slalom (top American seed in this event). And Buddy, compared to the rest of the team, is in a good position. Billy Kidd, whom European racers more than respect, is not even listed in the top 50, though he finished eighth in the slalom at the world championships and was fourth in two other major European races that year. Other members of the men's team fare no better.
"Last year," said U.S. Coach Bob Beattie, "our men established themselves as the third-best world skiers and we expect the FIS to adjust the seedings so as to fairly reflect this position."
BEAUTY AT THE BAT
When Charles Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, dressed his players in gold and green uniforms last season it was observed that he had the best-dressed, if not the best, team in baseball. Now it appears he may be out to have the handsomest. He traded Jerry Lumpe to get Rocky Colavito, then swapped Norm Siebern for Jim Gentile. Lumpe can make the pivot and Siebern hits for an average average but neither was ever considered an ideal candidate to pose for a greasy-kid-stuff ad. On the other hand, Gentile and Colavito are the stuff of which matinee idols are made. As Gentile unblushingly observed: "The A's will have the three handsomest Italians in the American League—me and Colavito and Gino Cimoli." The A's may not play better baseball, but ladies' day attendance should pick up.
THE MARINES LAND AGAIN
With good reason, Britons consider Rugby one of those deep mysteries of British life that foreigners can scarcely hope to penetrate. It is not just a game but an ambience of club ties, ribald songs and bonhomie. Pete Dawkins' success playing for Oxford was put down to sheer genius on his part and, in some degree, to a background in American football. Now a team of U.S. marines is midway through its sixth season and has been winning almost all its matches against sound British teams. In England this is regarded with awe—the sort of awe we might feel if Hermione Gingold won the Miss America contest.
The marines, stationed in London as a security force for the U.S. Navy command, took up Rugby in 1958 at the behest of a British enthusiast. They learned the game from a book, at first, then got an occasional assist from an English expert. Their early play was as expected, but they improved. This year they have won 13 of 15 matches—beating such creditable teams as Central YMCA, British Broadcasting Corporation and the British Royal Marines at Deal.
The marines have evolved their own wide-open style of play, more Gallic than British. Instead of keeping the ball confined to the pack, the American forwards get the ball out to their backs as fast as possible. There the team has some good fast men who take most opposition back-fields by surprise with their speed and long, typically American passes.
"A few teams reckon they are in for an easy match when they meet us," says Captain Robert Morton, commanding officer and also captain of the team. "We've heard them say they'd better let us score to keep us happy. This year they're thinking again."
DESERT FISH STORY
In a particularly arid spot in Mackenzie State Park in Lubbock, Texas, it is not unusual to see men equipped with rod and reel casting like fishermen. They are not fishermen. They are prairie doggermen.
Lubbock has the only formally preserved prairie dog city (population 3,000) in the U.S. (SI, June 2, 1958), and the city is a principal source of supply for zoos. When an order comes in from a zoo the park department sends employees out to fish for the rodents. The fishing is done with weighted lines baited with carrots or lettuce. When a prairie dog nibbles at the bait, he is caught, sometimes, by a jerk of the line that throws a loop around his legs.
Having him on the line does not necessarily mean that the prairie dog is in the creel. If he decides to fight, the little animal, only about 14 inches high, can sever a 20-pound-test line by biting it, generally. And if he gets enough slack to scramble into a burrow, the thing to do is to cut your line. He will brace his legs against the sides and cannot be hauled out without serious injury.
Only park officers are permitted to fish for prairie dogs, which are rigidly protected. An unauthorized fisherman would be fined $100 or more. So, while it sounds like fun, forget it.
LURES FOR ROOKIES
Pro football's National Football League and American Football League are sporting rivals who never meet, although that will change when the inevitable world series of pro football is played. They do compete now, nevertheless. They compete for talent. Every fall the NFL publishes and distributes some 10,000 copies of handsomely turned out booklets clearly intended to recruit college players. The AFL publishes 3,500.
The NFL booklet leans heavily on two arguments. The first is an assortment of success stories—"Springboard to Success"—about former players who have made their NFL in life. Among them: Byron (Whizzer) White, once of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, now of the Supreme Court of the United States; Hugh Gallarneau, for a while the Chicago Bears' scoring champion (28 touchdowns in five seasons), now executive vice-president of Society Brand Clothes; Marshall Goldberg, 10-year man with the Chicago Cardinals, now general manager of the Emerman Machinery Corporation; and so on. Second big argument: under the NFL Player Benefit Plan a five-year veteran may expect $437 a month, starting at age 65, and as much as $821 monthly for 15 years of service.
The AFL, formed in 1959, is at a disadvantage, naturally, but it does promise to search out means to get the player "onto a broader financial basis during the off season." "Through a large fund of business contacts," says Joe Foss, commissioner, "our team executives try to establish him in a job that fits his aptitude, thus preparing him for the inevitable day when the game and the career don't mix."
There are even statements by rejected AFL candidates about how nicely they were fired. And the AFL frankly acknowledges that sometimes recruiters (of both leagues) promise a draft choice one post, only to have his team assign him to another. "A fine guard was lost to one team because a rival promised he would be a regular offensive guard his first year. Several years later he was still getting into the game only on the specialty kickoff and punting units."
The AFL argument we like best is that it is a "warm weather league." "There has never been an AFL game played on frozen ground," says the AFL.
The Kentucky Derby is six months away. It would take a shrewd handicapper to pick its winner from today's 2-year-olds—but there is a Canadian champion, Northern Dancer, who has won seven of his nine races and come second twice. He runs well on any kind of track at a variety of distances and was ridden by four different jockeys. His breeding is glamorous: by Nearctic out of a Native Dancer mare, Natalma.
Northern Dancer's owner and trainer, E. P. Taylor and Horatio Luro, respectively, saddled Victoria Park, also from Canada, and took third place in the 1960 Derby. Luro brings his horses along carefully and slowly. He did that and won the 1962 Derby with Decidedly. He plans to rest Northern Dancer until the spring classics. Watch out.
THEY SAID IT
•President Lyndon B. Johnson: "We must constantly be vigilant and on the alert to keep our air clean, to keep our water pure, to keep our forests green, to keep our birdlife abundant and our wildlife plentiful or else we will lose a vital essential of what we love to call America."
•Mrs. Lennie Dawson, wife of Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback, on how she feels when she hears fans boo her husband: "Sometimes I feel like booing him myself."