Canadian hockey fans saw one of the most intriguing half hours ever on Dominion-wide television last week. On the program Question Mark three men—Toronto Columnist Scott Young and ex-National Hockey League Referees Red Storey and Dalt McArthur—unloaded on the NHL and League President Clarence Campbell.
Young used to be a fixture on NHL broadcasts until he wrote that the 1962 million-dollar deal for Frank Mahovlich was a hoax. Then, Young said, he was out for keeps, an example of how the NHL might silence anyone who might "upset the apple cart." Storey said he resigned because Campbell publicly humiliated him, and McArthur said he got few assignments after being slugged by Montreal Coach Toe Blake. All three made their statements bluntly and without passion, but what gave the program extra spice was the charges the two refs made. McArthur said he was once told not to call close infractions on the New York Rangers in a game with the Boston Bruins because league officials wanted the Rangers to win, and victory meant a playoff berth.
A few years ago, Storey recalled, referees were told to take it easy against visiting teams playing the Canadiens, then the league powerhouse. "You gave the edge to the visitors," Storey said.
League President Campbell at once denied that any refereeing had been rigged. "Storey is a liar," he said. "There has never been a case of anyone attempting to influence the outcome of a game. I will defend the integrity and reputation of the NHL and myself against anyone." Campbell has accepted an invitation to appear on Question Mark this week and will deliver "a strong rebuttal."
HYPNOSIS IN HOUSTON
Entertainer Arthur Ellen is a well-known hypnotist. Last week Guy Lewis, the coach of the University of Houston basketball team, asked Ellen to cast a spell on seven of his players. Houston, scheduled to play Texas A&M, had lost a previous game to the Aggies, and Coach Lewis wanted his men to win this one.
Before the game Ellen met the players. Forward Don Schverak, bothered by a cast on a finger, went into a trance. Ellen told him to forget it. Forward Richard Apolskis was jittery. Ellen told him to relax. Jim Jones feared the Aggie center, two inches taller. When Jones came to, he felt "10 feet tall."
Great. Houston was ready, and, by gosh, Houston won 73-65. Was victory due to Ellen's efforts? Not quite. Houston won chiefly because of the play of Chet Oliver and Jack Margenthaler, neither of whom had been hypnotized.
OUT FOR BLOOD
Publicity hokum aside, the Liston-Clay fight is becoming a grudge match. Liston is infuriated by Clay's jibes about his prison record, among other things, and Sonny is determined to demolish Clay as fast as he can. Told that another one-round knockout could kill future gates, Liston said, "Even if it was the ruin of boxing and even if I couldn't be champion anymore, I wouldn't let him last a second longer than I possibly could."
The cries of surprise over the National Football League's $28.2 million contract with CBS had scarcely died down last week when pro football and TV made more amazing news: NBC and the young American Football League signed a $36 million contract. The contract, which is to go into effect in 1965 unless ABC drops its option for this fall, is for five years. The NFL-CBS deal is for two. The mathematics of this latest contract are complicated, but it averages out to about $800,000 a year for each AFL team. At least three of the eight teams are in the red, but all should wind up solidly in the black. Then, as AFL Assistant Commissioner Milt Woodard notes, "The contract ought to help our gate, too. It adds stature and prestige. And, of course, our recruiting program will be enhanced." Finally, the AFL is almost certain to add two new teams by 1968, if not sooner. The NBC contract encourages expansion: $2 million of the $36 is for new teams only.
Besides heating up the already hot war between the two leagues, the contract also pits NBC against CBS in a head-to-head battle. Carl Lindemann Jr., NBC vice-president for sports, says his network will have an edge because CBS will have to black out more cities. (The NFL has 14 teams.) If CBS schedules doubleheaders, NBC undoubtedly will follow suit.
Let us pray that pro football does not suffer from overexposure.
HOW TO GULL A GULL
Like the gooney birds of Midway and other bird species elsewhere around the world, the gulls of Victoria, B.C. airport are an annoyance, even a danger, to aviators, some of whom have hit an occasional bird. Though there have been no mishaps at Victoria, airport authorities have been concerned. Since mid-October they have been trying a new approach to pest extermination, and it seems to be working. They have called into play the ancient sport of falconry.
Frank Beebe, illustrator and technician for the provincial government museum and a falconer to boot, trained three Peale falcons, largest of the peregrine breed, to attack gulls, which are not their natural prey. He also trained Falconer Brian Davies, and twice a day Davies takes the birds to the airport and flies them. They have reduced the gull menace to such an extent that some days the falcons cannot find a gull. Often the gulls stay away for a week or longer.
The falcon technique is to pounce on a gull, fly it into the ground, then sink its beak into the gull's neck. About 30% of these attacks result in kills, but wholesale slaughter, as Beebe predicted, has not been necessary. Gulls are social birds, so to speak, and a flock reacts as one to danger.
Ten nations have joined in a seminar to tackle the airport-bird problem on an international scale. Quite possibly their answer may be found in Victoria.
This is baseball contract signing time, and what promises to be the most interesting argument of the season started in Chicago last week. In one corner was Jim Brosnan, the writer and relief pitcher; in the other, Ed Short, general manager of the White Sox.
A few weeks ago Short sent Brosnan a contract. Brosnan objected to a clause forbidding him to write for publication and returned the contract unsigned. Short countered by telling Brosnan he was free to deal himself to another club for a player or cash, subject to White Sox approval. Brosnan called this ridiculous: trading players is Short's job, not his. As of now, Brosnan plans to hold out until Short lifts the no-writing ban. "Why should I give up writing, a means of making a living, to satisfy a whim on his part?" says Brosnan. "I'm going to go ahead and write and publish where I can. I don't want to make it a legal question, but I may have to."
Bully for Brosnan. Even if Brosnan's writings were "controversial," baseball could not help but prosper. The game needs color. There are far too many dullards already.
RULE OUT THE REFS
To many basketball fans, referees are a necessary nuisance. To John Egli, the Penn State coach, they are worse. They are a nuisance period. At the NCAA coaches' meeting this year Egli plans to offer a simple suggestion: get rid of the officials. "We don't need any," he says seriously. In fact, Egli adds, basketball might be better off if the coaches were banished to the stands during a game.
"Officiating and the coaches' antagonistic attitude toward officials is the biggest problem in our game," Egli says. "I've refereed, and I can't see everything that happens, and neither can the coaches. Players are always in a position to see, though, and they could call fouls themselves. In a democracy the greatest thing we have to offer the individual is the chance to guide and discipline himself. I feel strongly about this. When I was a kid we never had any trouble when we ran our own games. Whenever there was supervision, like on a playground, we almost always went home disgruntled about the officiating. Sure the idea is revolutionary, but so was the atom bomb."
SAVE THE CINDERS
Ireland's first cinder track, where Herb Elliott set a world mile record in 1958, is in danger of foreclosure. Construction of the track, on the road to Dublin airport, was inspired by Bernard P. McDonough, chairman of the board of the O. Ames Company, in Parkersburg, W. Va., the largest shovel factory in the world. McDonough contributed $1,000 after he read about the homecoming celebration of Olympic champion Ron Delany (SI, Jan. 21, 1957).
The land is leased by the Clonliffe Harriers, who owe ¬£18,000 on their loan to build the track and stadium. Now creditors are demanding their money. "Don't we all want our wages at the end of the week?" asks Billy Morton, Harrier treasurer and leading promoter of Irish amateur athletics.
With Dublin booming, the creditors could get a nice price for the land, right near the site of a new Hilton hotel. To forestall the creditors, Billy and the Harriers raised ¬£1,000 last week. They promise to raise the rest after Lent with a big dinner in Dublin along with an appeal to friends of Ireland in the U.S. "The bulldozers will be in if we don't find the money," says Billy, but there is a fighting touch to his voice.
A special hearing is being held in New York on charges by the Federal Trade Commission that Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. has a monopoly on baseball trading cards.
FTC gumshoes have discovered that Topps has been signing hundreds of minor league players to exclusive long-term contracts at $5 each. Then, when one of them reaches the majors, he is paid $125 a year under a five-season contract that forbids him to deal with another gum or candy manufacturer, even for a future period.
With more than 400 major league players signed, Topps controls the card-and-gum business so completely that a competing company was reduced to selling cards with cookies. Even then the company, Frank H. Fleer Corporation, had troubles. The cookie sugar content had to be kept low enough not to infringe on Topps's right to use confections with baseball cards. In fact, the Fleer cookies had so little sugar that a Topps salesman said they tasted "like dog biscuits."
Even worse, according to the FTC, Topps forced wholesalers to buy another of its products by threatening to cut off supply of the extremely popular baseball cards. Topps has been rebutting such accusations for seven weeks, and the case is just beginning. Already, 3,300 pages of testimony have been taken. Much of it wrestles with rather esoteric questions. What, for instance, is the proper legal definition of bubble gum when a proficient tyke can blow a bubble with any kind of gum? Evidence also poses problems. When the FTC produced a set of Topps cards, it turned out three cards were missing. Small boys will derive satisfaction from the revelation that not even the U.S. Government can get a complete set.
TOO MANY TWINS
Gulfstream Park, one of the four Thoroughbred tracks in Florida, has followed the lead of Tropical Park by announcing that the twin double will be part of its spring program. Hialeah, the aristocrat of Florida racing, and Sunshine Park, the rural cousin, are the only holdouts.
In the twin double, a bettor may collect as much as $79,000 for $2 by stabbing at four designated races and winning them all. Hialeah officials are opposed to the twin because it is a get-rich-quick scheme that does not help the sport of racing. Hialeah is right.
James Donn Jr., the president of Gulfstream, fell all over himself in trying to rationalize the twin. Among other things, he claimed that at his track payoffs could soar above $150,000 for $2 because the twin double pool will be bigger if not better. This is so much folderol. The sport of racing will benefit more from better horses running longer distances than it will from bigger lotteries for an amazed minority.
THEY SAID IT
•Ara Parseghian, new football coach of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish: "I'm thinking of changing my first name to Erin."