SPECTER OVER EUROPE
Ford Motor Company confirmed last week what the motor sports world has long supposed: it is out to win the major international sports car races of 1964. Having dominated American stock car racing, stood Indianapolis car builders on their ears with the Lotus-Fords, blitzed Chevrolet's Corvettes on U.S. courses with the Shelby Cobra and, with Falcons, thrown a fright into foreign manufacturers who once had European rallies to themselves, Ford now proposes a head-on collision with Italy's conquering Ferrari sports cars.
We shall be cheering unashamedly for the Yankee upstarts; it is about time that this, the biggest automotive country of all, became a power rather than a nullity in world road racing.
We can expect to see the new Fords in combat no later than June in the renowned French 24-hour race at Le Mans. They might be ready to engage the glamorous Ferraris in all the so-called Big Four sports car races, beginning in March in our own Sebring 12-hour event and continuing with Sicily's Targa Florio in April and Germany's 1,000-kilometer grind on the N√ºrburgring in May. They will return for the North American fall season at Bridgehampton, Mosport (Canada), Kent, Riverside, Laguna Seca and Nassau.
Ford's weapon is a rear-engined closed two-seater, powered by the lightweight aluminum Indy engine, which now produces some 370 horsepower. Conceived in Dearborn, the racer has been put together in the English workshop of Eric Broadley, whose Lola sports car this one roughly parallels. It weighs about 1,900 pounds and will do 200 mph.
BULL MARKET FOR BEEF
This is the season when the wallets of millionaire owners of pro football clubs grow thinner as drafted college seniors choose between offers from the rival leagues. The competition has been hot this year. Bud Adams, Houston Oiler owner, gloomily foresees the day of the $50,000 tackle.
Consider the contract the Oilers awarded Baylor University's Don Trull, college football's national passing champion. It provided a $30,000 bonus and an uncuttable salary of more than $20,000 a year for three years. There is also a contract Owner Adams has promised to give to a Houston advertising-novelty firm, whose newest sales representative is a fellow named Don Trull. This will guarantee Trull thousands of dollars in commissions for the next several years.
Adams' chief talent scout, John Breen, was discussing the high price of college beef with Pete Finney, New Orleans States-Item sportswriter, and said he had offered $40,000 and a Lincoln Continental to Bill Truax, Louisiana State end drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
"His father is handling negotiations," Breen said, "and he told me, 'You're not even close.' "
"You ought to wait for Truax's little brother," the writer suggested. "He's 14, weighs 210 and stands 6 feet 3. His name is Jesse James."
"His old man," said Breen, "ought to be named Jesse James."
When Roger Staubach received the Heisman Trophy, the Navy quarterback spoke of his gratitude to his teammates and said he wished the trophy could be broken into 44 pieces and a chunk given to every player on the squad. Something like that is about to happen. Coach Wayne Hardin has ordered a replica of the trophy, and it will be so broken and so distributed.
SWEET SCIENCE MAN
The easily discernible figure of A. J. Liebling, commonly seen at all big prize-fights, will be at ringside no more. He died in New York last week at the age of 59. Joe Liebling was devoted to the vagaries of what his 19th century predecessor, Pierce Egan, called "the sweet science" of the prize ring, and he wrote about it entertainingly and understanding. He wrote mostly for The New Yorker, but on one memorable occasion he contributed a notable study of The University of Eighth Avenue (Still-man's Gym) to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Dec. 5 & 12, 1955). Liebling also was a moderately dedicated horseplayer, both here and abroad, and was as much of an expert on food and wines as he was on boxing.
Despite the handicaps of a more than portly physique, nearsightedness and gout, Liebling covered his world energetically and with fine, clear vision. His comments on the daily press, including its sports pages, were a distinguished contribution to the criticism of journalism. We shall miss him.
NEW SOUND FOR FIDO
The theory that dogs hear sounds beyond the range of the human ear is widely accepted, despite an equally prevalent countertheory that dogs hear only what they choose to hear. Now the ultrahigh-frequency idea, first applied in "silent" dog whistles, is being used in dog collars. There is a dog-training collar on the market (Turen, Inc., Danvers, Mass., $6.50) that looks very much like an old-fashioned choke collar, but with a difference. Twitch it and it gives off that high-pitched sound. Combine the twitch with a command like "Come" and in time, it is said, you have only to carry the collar in your hand, twitch it, and the dog will come. The instruction booklet that accompanies the collar was written in Airedale and seems to have been edited by a dachshund, but humans will find it reasonably clear.
COLD DOPE ON HOT RACES
Even at this early date in 1964, with trades yet to be made that could change the situation drastically, the best minds of Harrah's Race Book at Lake Tahoe have been figuring the probabilities of the 1964 major league pennant races.
They have come up with the Los Angeles Dodgers (3 to 5) and New York Yankees (1 to 3) to win again, the Dodgers because of their pitching and improved hitting, the Yankees on their record and lack of competition.
In the National League you can get 2½ to 1 against San Francisco, 6 to 1 against St. Louis. Although no odds have yet been set, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Houston and New York follow in that order.
Minnesota, at 5 to 1, is second choice in the American League, but the same odds apply to Detroit, picked third. Thereafter, again with no odds set, should come Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Washington.
There is a hunch around Harrah's that Minnesota, with its home run strength, could make some advantageous trades for pitching and emerge "real tough."
Long proud of its admirable record in protecting prizefighters and their fans, the California boxing commission was stunned last March by the ring death of Davey Moore, world featherweight champion, in a freak boxing accident in Los Angeles. Moore died of a whiplash injury, rather than a blow. Hit by Sugar Ramos, he fell backward and the base of his skull collided with a rubber-covered steel rope. The autopsy surgeon called it a "one in a million accident—something that could happen on your front porch if you fell down."
It happened in a prize ring, not on a porch, and there was worldwide protest against the sport itself. Many called for boxing's abolition. More moderate extremists urged drastic changes in its conduct: two-minute rounds, pneumatic gloves, compulsory headgear—none of which could have saved Davey Moore.
Dismayed, but not panicked, the California commission has since prepared a special report on ring safety measures for Governor Pat Brown and the legislature. The report is a model of good sense. It recommends, among other things, changes in ring padding, ropes, weight of gloves, mouthpiece regulations, physical examinations and the referee's conduct of a match, but it makes no concessions to hysteria. Just one example of the commission's cool appraisal of the realities of prizefighting: "The Commission is opposed to automatically stopping a bout after any particular number of knockdowns. It is felt that it is better that the referee be instructed that he stop the contest whenever...it should be stopped and not wait for any definite number of knockdowns. The so-called three-knockdown rule and especially the two-knockdown rule has a tendency to encourage the referee to wait for just one more knockdown; then he knows no one will blame him for stopping the contest."
Other state commissions, equally besieged, might well study the California report.
TOKYO LONG SHOT
Pointing an upraised toe at the 1964 Olympic shotput, Dallas Long is working with a new plastic-covered shot which he believes will make him a more difficult indoor competitor, too. To preserve gym floors against the hammering of the 16-pound ball, the indoor shot has long been leather-covered and bulky. The new one, designed for indoor use, is the same size as the outdoor shot and gives the athlete the same grip he uses in the open. For the past few months Long, who tops the alltime list at 65 feet 10½ inches, has been working out three times a week. The goal: 70 feet.
When hockey players were entirely dependent on the weather, and the season might not get under way before Christmas, a Canadian could get along with one or two hockey sticks a year. But now, with artificial ice, any active Canadian boy can be counted on to go through a dozen sticks each winter. So can hockey players in France, Japan and even in warmer climates—a matter of intense interest to Canada's hockey-stick manufacturers, whose export business has jumped 50% or more in this past year.
The Dominion's Bureau of Statistics reports the gratifying fact that Finland, which bought only $342 worth of sticks in the first nine months of last year, bought 2,111 dozen sticks in the corresponding period this year for $22,050. Korea, which did not buy a single stick last year, got off to a promising start in hockey in the first nine months of 1963 by buying 21 dozen sticks for $418. For that matter, exports to the U.S. jumped from 24,083 dozen sticks to 32,508 dozen ($275,699 worth) partly because of the expansion of rinks as far south as California.
A National Hockey League team uses about 250 dozen sticks a season. A single player may account for 15 dozen. That may seem like a lot of sticks to break, but as many arc broken in practice as in games, and players often return sticks that are scarcely damaged. Canada's hockey-stick makers, naturally, encourage this sort of finicky behavior. And no wonder—they have turned out about 5 million sticks this year, compared to a little more than 3 million in 1959.
OH, GIVE ME A HOME
The unrest and uncertainty that for three years have surrounded the American League baseball franchise in Kansas City last week reached its most ludicrous plateau. Charles O. Finley, owner of the A's, once again got into a public argument about his lease of city-owned Municipal Stadium. He started to move his offices from the stadium, accepted a bank's offer (later withdrawn) of 8,000 square feet of office space—free of charge—and sent General Manager Pat Friday out to find a flat, open field on which the A's might play in 1964.
Flat, open fields with lights and seating capacities of 32,000 are difficult to discover these days. Finley will end up in Municipal Stadium next season, but that is hardly the point. The point is Finley himself and his relations with baseball. He has recently 1) called the Rules Committee "a pack of simple-minded fools" because it did not adopt a Finley proposal allowing him to use orange balls and green-and-gold bats and 2) suggested that the Hall of Fame in Coopers-town either be abolished or moved—no one is quite certain which. "Another thing I don't like," he said, "is the Hall of Fame. Where do they put it? In Cooperstown, New York. I don't even know where it is. That's some wonderful location!"
Baseball is in enough trouble with its image of greed and its lust for free stadiums built at public cost. Before any further damage is done by Finley it is time for Ford Frick, who accepts $65,000 a year as Commissioner of Baseball, to talk to the man. He might even invite Finley to Cooperstown, a fine place to begin learning about baseball.
The first cricketer ever to be knighted was Sir Jack Hobbs, who died at the age of 81 at his home in Sussex, England a few days before Christmas. The knighting was only one of his many records. From 1905 to 1934, when he retired, the man cricketers called The Master scored 61,237 runs. A roughly equivalent accomplishment in baseball terms would amount to a lifetime batting average of better than .360, which only Ty Cobb accomplished.
In cricket a century consists of scoring 100 runs in a single game. Sir Jack made the century 197 times. In 1926 Hobbs and his partner, the great Herbert Sutcliffe, between them beat the Australian team in a victory that secured for England, after 14 years, The Ashes, symbol of cricket supremacy between the two nations.
Herbert Sutcliffe, on learning of the death of his friend and partner, paid this tribute to his skill: "Every stroke was a technical masterpiece; feet, body, shoulders, wrists and fingers working in perfect unison, the whole controlled by a keenly alert brain which enabled him to make a speedy decision against all fast bowlers." Britons also commented on Sir Jack Hobbs's gentle and modest character. He was noted not only as the best batsman of all time, but for his sportsmanship, integrity and good humor. Brian Glanville, British sports-writer and novelist, called him "a hero without even a toe of clay," and the cricket world from London to Melbourne concurs.
IT'S A DIFFERENT GAME
At Forest Hills and Wimbledon, Althea Gibson won hearts and tournaments, then stepped out of tennis and into golf. She scored well in amateur tourneys of regional scope, decided to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association and play for money. At the close of 1963 the name of Althea Gibson was among the money winners. She was 57th in the list of 69, had played in six events, had won no official money but took $8 in unofficial money and that was just $34,019.50 behind Mickey Wright.
THEY SAID IT
•Barry Latman, newest Los Angeles Angel: "I'm the greatest 60-foot pitcher in baseball. If I can conquer those last six inches, I'll be on my way."
•Bob Devaney, football coach, on why he rejected the warm Miami U. coaching job to stay in cold Nebraska: "My wife's the thrifty type; she had just bought a new pair of snow tires and they wouldn't refund her money."