WHAT IT IS ISN'T DEW
During every baseball season of the last few years charges have come up that the spitball is being used more today than ever before and the charges are generally true. Within recent weeks, however, two managers have been trying to do something about having the pitch either legalized or truly outlawed.
Last week Manager Bobby Bragan of the Milwaukee Braves forthrightly told his pitchers to throw spitters in a game against the San Francisco Giants. "We must have thrown 75 or 80 spitters, and nobody said a word," says Bragan. "Our pitchers made it obvious, too. I was just trying to prove that the umpires don't try to stop anybody from throwing spitters. Either the spitter should be legalized or steps should be taken to control it."
Al Lopez, manager of the Chicago White Sox, has had a running war this season with the Kansas City Athletics on grounds that John Wyatt is throwing a Vaseline pitch. The Vaseline pitch is very similar to the spitter. It falls quickly to earth at the last instant.
"Wyatt has Vaseline in his hair, on his uniform—just all over," says Lopez. "He's pretty cute about it."
Chances that the spitter will be either legalized or outlawed with simple honesty are dim. After all, fans do pay to see certain pitchers pitch and wonder, "Does he or doesn't he?"
DESIGNER FOR ALL SEASONS
There used to be just two kinds of yachts: comfortable, dry, fat ones for cruising and skinny, wet, fast ones for racing. And so it was until 1954, when Olin Stephens designed Finisterre, which was both fat and fast. While her crew lived in relative luxury she won the Bermuda Race three times. Finisterre established a new concept in yachting and in the rules of design.
At least one historic trophy has been revived by this evolution: the One Ton Cup, which expired in 1962 after keeping the six-meter class (those skinny, wet, fast ones) alive for 55 years. Next to the America's Cup it is the most respected trophy in international racing for restricted class boats. The new class of One Ton boats must measure up to the 22-foot rating, a formula strict enough to permit racing on a one-design basis (no handicap) and loose enough to encourage designers. The long-range goal is to establish a new Olympic class for more realistic yachting competition, since the five current Olympic classes have become esoteric toys—overly sensitive keelboats for day sailing and highly sophisticated dinghies.
To launch the Olympic campaign, the cupholding club, the Cercle de la Voile de Paris, invited international teams to meet for a series of races in the English Channel last month. Eight countries competed, with the U.S. represented by Dick Carter, known as the Steve McQueen of the Sea, who designed his own Rabbit. Denmark's new 22-footer, Diana III, was in the luxury class, complete with refrigerator, soft beds, oriental lanterns, full galley and head—and 50 bottles of whiskey to nourish the bearded Danish crew.
Diana was eighth in the first day's race and won the next two. She was designed by Olin Stephens, who started it all with Finisterre. The only time the U.S. has won the One Ton Cup was in 1952, with Llanoria, and guess who designed that.
The confusion surrounding the distinction between professionals and amateurs in sport was compounded last week in Des Moines, where two amateur hockey players were refused permission to play in the Iowa state semipro baseball tournament because, by semipro standards, they are professionals.
The hockey players, Canadians John Annable and Barry Jakeman, furnished incontrovertible proof that they play in an amateur league, though each gets a salary of $200 a week. Their club, the Des Moines Oak Leafs, is a member of the International Hockey League and in that sport the only players considered professional are those who play in the National Hockey League or on an admittedly professional team.
Their salaries made them too professional for the semipros but apparently would not disqualify them from competition in Olympic hockey.
No man to dodge a challenge, Allen Trammell of Eufaula, Ala. entered the University of Florida at 155 pounds and without an athletic scholarship. He soon earned one as a defensive halfback on the football team and first baseman on the baseball team.
This summer Allen has given himself the acid test. He is working on the public relations staff of Governor George Wallace of Alabama.
YOUTH'S LONG, LONG THOUGHTS
One year the fad was telephone booth stuffing. Then came ice cube tossing. Last winter it was seeing how long you could stand in a shower. (Victor Bass, a University of Chicago freshman, stayed in a dorm shower 48 hours, earning thereby the title "Victor the Prune." He has since been topped.) Until just recently the reigning fad has been marathon softball games. Teen-agers in Tom's River, N.J. lasted 55 hours 45 minutes. The score: Oak Ridge 506, Suburban Park 456.
Now Jeff Newburg, 17, of Sparta, Wis. has given us a fad more cultural than marathon softball. He perched on the roof of a drive-in restaurant and sang I'm Henry VIII, I Am for seven hours 45 minutes. He quit after singing it 1,001 times, saying he was tired of the whole thing.
ON THE OTHER HAND
Only about 40 California condors, largest land birds in North America, are left. In a move to protect them, Governor Pat Brown has signed a bill doubling the penalties for killing or injuring a condor. Now an offender can get a year in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.
As the governor was signing the bill the state was being asked to support a proposal to build a dam. The dam would destroy the Ventura County area in which many of the condors live.
Italians have a saying, "Chi va piane va sano e va lontano" (who goes slowly goes safely and goes far) but Walter Mussner, 20-year-old Italian skier, had no ambitions for distance. Seeking pure speed, he donned his long, grooved skis last week for the one-kilometer race at Cervinia, Italy, plummeted down the specially iced glacier track, skidded into a protective barrier at over 106 miles an hour—almost the velocity of a sky diver in a free fall—and was killed.
This sort of skiing is less a matter of skill than of aiming oneself in the right direction—straight down. It has about as much relation to competitive sport as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
UNBREAKABLE SPORTS RECORDS
When television brought sports into the living room the spectator became even more sedentary than when he had to go out to the ball park and climb all those steps. And now he can "spectate" with his eyes closed. Sports on a plastic platter are being served in ultrahigh fidelity, stereophonic, full-dimensional sound.
In his acoustical arena the leisurely listener may hear not only the Mad Scene from Lucia, but the mad scene from Le Mans in the breathless baritone of Stirling Moss, accompanied by a full chorus of Ferraris. The enthusiast of motor sports may also have 12 inches of the Indianapolis 500, Craig Breedlove breaking the land-speed record at Bonneville, hot rods, drags, hydroplanes, motorcycle scrambles and stock cars being demolished. At the other end of the sonic scale are sounds of insects, sea animals and the UCLA basketball team.
The living-room sportsman can learn from records how to bowl, boat, fish, golf, skin dive, fly, play baseball, bridge, the banjo, the bongo and the bugle, how to relax, reduce and dance the polka. He can even learn ship-to-shore communications in Swahili.
One company has managed to bridge the gap between the passive playback and the still active player. The hunter who cannot afford a kennel of hounds need only carry a pack of pushbutton beagles in his portable tape recorder. To flush his quarry he just trips the switch, and his hounds are in full cry.
On first hearing that the New York Racing Association was going to spend $3½ million to refurbish Saratoga Racetrack, we blanched. The idea of the NYRA whacking its way through the elmed loveliness of a charming, 102-year-old racecourse was not pleasant to contemplate. Before beginning work on Saratoga the NYRA had managed to knock down beautiful Belmont Park and to build a nonracetrack of cement and plastic called Aqueduct. What, we wondered, would they do to storied Saratoga?
This week Saratoga opens once again for its annual four-week meeting, and we are happy to report that this time the NYRA has done an excellent job of blending the new with the old. There is no law against hoping that the NYRA, now apparently on a hot streak, will take another look at Aqueduct and find a method of combining some of the attractive old with all that tasteless new.
NAMU N.G. AT B.O.
Despite all the cheers and tootling bands that greeted his arrival in Seattle, Namu the whale may yet go back to sea. Few residents have been willing to pay $1.50 to see him in his pen. "If the public will not maintain this whale, I fully intend to release him," said Edward Griffin, Namu's owner.
Doing slow belly rolls in his cage, a possible indication of illness, Namu settled one thing. Unlike a killer whale who had to be renamed Moby Doll after death, Namu is now officially identified as a male.
One of the best-informed track and field nuts (SI, Aug. 2) in the world is H.D. Thoreau of San Francisco and his home is filled with track talk. Scott Thoreau, his 8-year-old son, was asking about God the other day and H.D. remarked, quite naturally for a track nut, that no one has as much speed as God. "Can He beat Bob Hayes?" Scott asked.
In nearby Oakland, Scotty Stirling is publicity man for the Oakland Raiders and his home is filled with American Football League talk. On a recent evening guests were discussing Communism and politics, but not for long. "I wonder who is the real Russian leader now?" one of them wondered. Seven-year-old Donald Stirling advised him that "It's Cookie Gilchrist, 981 yards last season."
PRESCRIPTION FOR PUTTERS
Golfers would do well to change their style of putting so as to take advantage of the fact that they have two eyes, according to Dr. William Vallotton, Charleston, S.C. ophthalmologist.
"All of our daily activities requiring good binocular vision are carried out with the eyes forward," he said, "yet we try a difficult task, such as putting, in a most unphysiological way. Most people are right-eyed, so a right-handed putter is looking at the hole out of a non-dominant eye."
When he developed the theory, Dr. Vallotton took his own medicine. He went out on the course and putted croquet-style, straddling the ball. Knocked seven strokes off his game.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association has a dreadful secret. Its National Clay Courts Championships are not really played on Clay courts at all—and have not been since the courts at River Forest Tennis Club were changed from clay before the 1962 tournament. But, really now, you cannot very well go around promoting seven days of high-pressure tennis called the USLTA Naturally Green Crushed Granite and Quartz Court Championships.
THEY SAID IT
•Satchel Paige, on how to pitch: "Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don't move."
•Wahoo McDaniel, asked if his fellow New York Jets players resented Joe Namath's $400,000 contract: "No. He's mighty handy to have along when you go out drinking beer."