TEMPEST IN A BEANPOT
The ill-starred heavyweight championship rematch between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, originally scheduled for last November 16 but postponed to May 25 by Clay's hernia operation, now is threatened by Boston's district attorney, Garrett H. Byrne, who cites a number of likely illegalities.
Among them, says Byrne, is that Inter-Continental Promotions, Inc. is co-promoter but is not incorporated in Massachusetts. Quite illegal. Then it would appear that John Nilon, the hot-dog salesman, may be Liston's manager, though Liston says he is not. In any case Nilon has no license to manage in Massachusetts. And so on, through interminable contradictions and technicalities.
We make no firm judgment on the legal aspects, except to surmise that Byrne is probably right, since so much of boxing's business is conducted in the shadows. But it is unfortunate that the district attorney did not make his move sooner, soon enough so that the matter could be ironed out before the fight or the fight could be moved elsewhere, if that should prove necessary. But with little more than a month to go and the prospect of the fight in at least some doubt, promotion will be difficult, the fighters will scarcely be in a mood to train properly and the fans—who will not appreciate being again cast in the role of political football—can hardly be expected to respond with enthusiasm.
All the information Byrne has now must have been available to him when the fight was scheduled for last November. His timing is very much off.
DOOM FOR THE DOME
When they built the Houston Astros' domed stadium they thought of everything—plush boxes, closed-circuit TV, bars and beds—except baseball. Now, having discovered that fly balls cannot be seen when daylight streams through the Lucite-paneled dome, a ludicrous desperation has seized the Astros. They experimented with baseballs of various colors; they are trying out sunglasses; they are talking of covering the dome with a tarpaulin or painting it some opaque color; they are talking of only night games.
It turned out that the colored baseballs cannot be seen, either, and sunglasses probably will not work. Covering or painting the dome will deprive the grass of light and kill it. Artificial grass spells artificial baseball. There is enough night baseball already. No club should be permitted—or obliged—to play all its games under artificial light.
Through it all, Warren Giles, National League president, smiled like Pollyanna. "Well, you have to expect a few bugs in any new park," he said, quite as if this one had not been hit by a plague of locusts.
CADDIE TELLS LADDIE
"The caddies at Scotland's St. Andrews are wonderful," says Dale Morey, member of the U.S. team in the 1964 World Amateur and a former Walker Cupper, "but they have one glaring fault.
"They think you can't play the game without them," he says, recalling the Walker Cup matches of 1955. (For a corroborating view, see page 28.) "Every time I went to choose a club, there'd be one sticking about a foot higher out of the bag, and that was the one I'd better take."
Coming to the 15th all even and needing to win to keep the U.S. in the lead, Morey observed heather behind the green and, to avoid it, decided on a low two-iron shot into the wind.
"The four-wood was sticking about a foot and a half out of my bag by this time," he said, "but I reached for the two-iron anyway. "Laddie, it's a four-wood,' my caddie said loudly. The gallery stirred. At the risk of an international incident I took the two-iron. The caddie stood right behind my ball so I couldn't swing at it. I banged the club against the bag a few times, and he grudgingly moved back about two feet, giving me just enough room to take the club back. I hit the ball real well...about a foot from the hole.
"I turned to my caddie to gloat a little. He looked me straight in the eye. 'You're short, laddie,' he said. 'It was a four-wood.' "
IF WISHES WERE HORSES
Now that April 15 is here and we are all feeling purged and penurious, we contemplate a list of four dream cars we would like but cannot afford to buy:
One Ferrari Grand Tourer
One land speed car to set world record
One Aston Martin
One Aston Martin, 007-equipped
One Secret Service limousine
One four-door with bubble top for L.B.J.
We cannot afford them partly because of these two utility vehicles we just paid for:
Spring has arrived at Stevens Pass in Washington's Cascade Range. For predicting the hour and date of its arrival Mrs. Lorna Dickeson is richer by $50. Arrival of the season is announced each year by Gorgeous George, a heavy (500 pounds) but amiable black bear who survives on handouts from the Squirrel Tree Restaurant. Each year George comes out of hibernation, usually during the first week in April, and drops by the restaurant for his first breakfast in months. For the past several years the Squirrel Tree people have been making book on George, posting a prize for the closest guess—day and hour—on George's return.
By April 1 tension had mounted to the point where anxious natives were out trampling the softening snow and poking around bogs for the first sign of skunk cabbage.
Then, at noon on April 6 there was a mighty thump on the back door of the Squirrel Tree. Standing outside was George, yawning and grinning, with a paw out. It was spring again in Stevens Pass.
A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR
What protection is there for the common motorist? Very little, according to the medical profession, which tended two million persons injured in highway accidents last year. The doctors' concern is not to prevent accidents, but to prevent injuries, and a group has compiled a list of safety measures and devices it feels the automobile industry should adopt. Last week, in protest against defects in current automobile design, the Physicians for Automotive Safety picketed the International Automobile Show at the New York Coliseum. The public, inured to pickets, paid no attention.
It is, in fact, the apathetic public that is at fault in the matter, not the industry. Detroit knows what the public needs, but that is not necessarily what it will buy. So far the public has shown no interest in paying for the added safety of stronger construction, properly padded dashboards, recessed knobs and handles, telescoping steering wheels, double-catch doors. Detroit is, in fact, working on experimental models that incorporate the elements of the "fail-safe" car, which will sheath its occupants in the ascetic immunity of an incubator. But it will be an odd-looking vehicle with no flashy chrome, no battery of buttons and knobs, no fins on which to impale the pedestrian. Its worst selling point is its virtue. It is good for you. Like spinach, this is hard to swallow.
THE ASSAILABLE STATISTICAL
Doubling as press agent for the 76ers basketball team and as keeper of the team scores, Philadelphia Harvey Pollack is a two-portfolio man. Life for P.R. Man Pollack is fine; his team has come far this season. But life for Statistician Pollack is agonizing. He has the feeling that he is being rebounded.
Pollack is one of those basketball buffs caught up in the game-within-a-game drama being played at the moment between Wilt Chamberlain of the 76ers and Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. Officially—or statistically, as they say in the National Basketball Association—Russell and Chamberlain are very close in their skill at getting the ball off the backboards—1,878 to 1,673 for the season. Unofficially, statistically or otherwise, this cannot be true, says Pollack, and he hopes to prove it.
In one recent game Boston scorekeeper Dennis Whitmarsh counted 32 rebounds for Russell, 31 for Chamberlain. Pollack, at the same game, tallied it more like 18 for Russell and 30 for Chamberlain.
The dispute over which is the better backboard man is, of course, one of those arguments without end. What concerns us is that there should be such argument at all. The trouble probably lies in the fact that each NBA team hires its own official scorekeeper, each subject to intense home-town pressures. Even so, the wide disparity in counts should properly puzzle fans. Doesn't one simply count the rebounds and leave it at that? The figures should not be Boston statistics or Philadelphia statistics but just plain, old, correct statistics.
American sports fans have long regarded official records as unassailable—a sort of fortress of agate type to which one could retreat when all else failed. That official records should differ dismays us. As an unofficial group, that is. Statistically speaking, of course.
RARE FISH, THE SCAMP
Whether en papillote or plain broiled, the pompano is considered by most gourmets to be supreme among the fishes of Florida. But there are those who hold out for the scamp, an aptly named fish most of us never heard of, but so called because of its ability to steal bait without being caught. For that matter, most Floridians have never heard of it. Few Florida restaurants offer it on their menus, few fish markets have it for sale. But it does exist and it is delicious.
The scamp is in the grouper family and is classified by one scientific school as Mycteroperca falcata, by another as Mycteroperca phenax. It is found in Florida and West Indies waters and, taken close to shore, will average two to three pounds. Out in the deep Gulf of Mexico, over the coral bottoms, 15-pounders are netted along with red snapper hauls. One reason it is not easy to get scamp is that the commercial fishermen hold back a lot of the catch for their families and close friends.
The secret of the scamp's allure for the epicure lies in its white, moist flesh which, when properly prepared, has a flakiness that yields to the lightest touch of the fork. One scamp addict recommends broiling but notes sadly that there are those "who eat fish only in some fried state." To these, he says, "The moisture must not be lost.... If you fry, make it like the most fragile of fish fingers."
The St. Petersburg area may offer the traveler the best chance to sample scamp. Mastry's on Central Avenue has it on the menu from time to time. The Palmetto Pier Marine on the Manatee River does a big scamp business, when the fish is available, and it is well prepared at Nick's Shrimp Bar in Pass-a-Grille Beach.
It's worth the trip.
James Emory Foxx II stands 6 feet 2, weighs 180 pounds and batted .320 as a first baseman for Lakewood (Ohio) High School last spring. The past winter he played in the Winter Instructional League in Sarasota, Fla. and was all set to sign with the Boston Red Sox, except that he also had a chance to go to college and his father wanted him to go to college. His father, of course, is none other than the old Double X, baseball's Hall of Famer.
So Jimmy enrolled at Kent State University, where Leo Strang, football coach, says he is a fine quarterback prospect. "He throws well, has a good arm and is maneuverable," says Strang.
Just like his dad.
THEY SAID IT
•Barney Schultz, Cardinal pitcher, explaining how he named the "mattress pitch" he used in the World Series: "I threw it and the Yankees laid on it."
•Jimmy Demaret, pro golfer, appraising Bob Hope's game after an exhibition: "He was hitting his woods well. It was getting out of them that was giving him trouble."
•Willie Pastrano, asked by the ring doctor if he knew where he was after being knocked down during his light heavyweight title fight against José Torres: "You're damn right I know where I am; I'm in Madison Square Garden getting beaten up."