ENTER THE OREGON SLAMMERS
When Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins dislocated his left elbow on August 2 many of us assumed that the Twins would have a struggle to stay atop the American League without him. Since that afternoon, Minnesota's lead has gone from six games to nine, and the Twins now appear an easy bet to play in the World Series.
Minnesota, however, needs Killebrew back for the series because his home run power is such that it can break any game wide open. Recently he has been taking batting practice and working out at third base, but the workouts still pain his elbow slightly. Manager Sam Mele can only wait for Killebrew to say when he is ready to play and hopes it is by September 21, when the Twins meet Baltimore. This would give Harmon 10 playing days before the Series begins.
Though injured, Killebrew may have helped the Twins by introducing them to a new kind of bat called Oregon Slammers. The Slammers are brown and, from the stands, look almost like soft-ball bats. They are made of hard Oregon maple, and the Twins have found it virtually impossible to break them. Handles are reinforced with fiber glass and a chemical is used to form a corklike grip.
Since most players do not like to change bats during the middle of a season—particularly a season as good as the Twins are having—very few Slammers have been used. Pitcher Jim Kaat tried one out two weeks ago. He got five hits in 10 at bats, including a 400-foot double. "That was the hardest I have ever hit a ball in my life," Kaat says. The Slammers are perfectly legal. Killebrew, who owns 7½% of the company that makes them, says, "These hard bats just might be the answer to everything."
When Buddy Parker, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, packed up and left last week his departure was characteristically noisy. He had been brooding bitterly after watching his team plod through its fourth straight exhibition defeat. He worked himself into a monumental fury, told Dan Rooney, son of Steelers owner Art Rooney, that he was quitting and stomped off to give his players a fluent piece of his mind, though they were fast asleep in their Kingston, R.I. training camp dorm.
Parker and his assistant, Bobby Layne, raged through the corridors bellowing at their bewildered mesomorphs. Jim Bradshaw, defensive back, balked at getting out of bed. "If I get out of this bed," he said, "I'll kill you."
It was pure Parker. His wife, Jane, once said of him:
"When the team loses, Buddy has a routine that never varies. He flops on an ottoman in the living room and pulls out a pocket knife he's been carrying for 35 years. He slowly raises the knife to his throat and cuts his tie at the knot. Until I hear the material rip I'm never sure it's the tie, not his throat, that he's cutting. He then bends down and slashes his shoelaces. Then he literally tears his shirt off his back without unbuttoning it."
In his eight years with Pittsburgh, Parker's haberdashery costs ran high. His teams lost 47 of their 104 league games.
Parker did not leave Pittsburgh impoverished. What with a percentage of the club's profits and TV windfalls his pay had zoomed to almost $80,000. And, though his resignation terminated his three-year contract, Owner Rooney said: "We will pay his salary this year and give him some kind of salary next year if he's not coaching by then."
"He quit 20 times," Rooney reminisced, "and I got him back 20 times."
This was the 21st.
THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY
Engineers of Wisconsin's conservation department and the U.S. Forest Service put their heads together on the problem of constructing an earthen dam on Taylor County's Steve Creek. It was necessary that the dam be placed precisely in the right spot, and so they whipped out their slide rules, contour maps, hydraulic tables and surveying transits. The study was detailed, meticulous. Finally the spot was chosen.
A dragline started scraping away the peat to reach firm mineral soil for the dam core. At a depth of seven to nine feet the bucket ripped up another dam which had been built, a radiocarbon analysis showed, 2,834 years ago. By beavers.
THE QUIET MEN
The Willow Creek Country Club golf course is an exacting layout carved through a generous growth of scrub oak, tall cottonwoods, sagebrush flats and an endless supply of boulders. It was host last week to the $20,500 Lucky Utah Open and, with a mere $2,000 first prize, there had been a bit of trouble inducing professionals to compete. But it did attract a foursome of Fred Hawkins, Willie Barber, Randy Glover and Chick Evans. On the 207-yard, par-3 7th hole two of the foursome made golf history.
Hawkins lofted a two-iron shot into the stiff breeze. Barely carrying a bunker, it flew to the green and rolled some 20 feet into the cup. Evans hit the green, too, but left himself a long putt. Then up strode Barber with a five-wood. He fired the ball into the sun, so that the gallery could not follow its flight, but there was a resounding thud at the edge of the cup, into which the ball skidded after scarring the green (above).
In 1959 Jay Hebert made two aces in one tourney. Jack Rule did the same last year. Dick Howell and Joe Campbell both scored holes in one at Florida's Lakewood Course in 1964 but were not in the same foursome. So far as PGA tournament history records, this was the first time that two holes in one were achieved by players in the same foursome.
How did the pros react to the feat? They were not too impressed. "We've all had holes in one [Barber has had eight]," said Evans, assistant pro at the Salt Lake Country Club, "so after the immediate excitement we calmed down pretty quick. Most of us would probably enjoy a couple or three birdies more."
So much for insouciance.
APARTMENT POUR LE SPORT
From the ranch house to the condominium town house, Californians have pioneered a number of ideas in shelter that have subsequently been adopted throughout the country. Now the sporting apartment has arrived. New apartment buildings come equipped with putting green, swimming pool, billiard room, sauna bath and tennis courts. The ultimate may well be the E'Questre Inn in Burbank. Not only does it have gymnasium, billiard room, lounge with dance floor, a swimming pool, and sauna—it also has a stable with stalls for 68 horses.
A path leads directly from the Inn to the miles of riding trails in Griffith Park. Humans may rent a furnished apartment, recreational facilities and a free Sunday brunch for $120 to $175 a month. A horse stall comes to $65 but the rent includes an individual tack room and cleaning and feeding the animals. As of last week 210 units contained people and 48 contained horses.
Since most of New Mexico's natural waterways are ankle deep or underground, the skin divers of the state look on the farmers' irrigation reservoirs with affection and have a deep concern for their welfare. When a reservoir on the Zuni Indian land was endangered, three skin divers in the Gallup area raced to the rescue like the U.S. Cavalry in an old western.
It seems that when the gate of the Ojo Caliente Dam was opened for a brief irrigation period, a 100-pound rock rolled into the breach and prevented the gate's closing. The reservoir was whooshing away, the Zunis were about to lose their crops, and skin divers were about to lose a recreational resource.
The Zuni leader called the Indian Service for help, the Service called the state police, and the police called Bill Runyan of the local gas company and two policemen, Don Moberly and Glenn Erickson, skin divers all. Soon the trio were down in the brutal current breaking up the boulder, which washed away, bit by bit.
Then they closed the gate. It was like saving a loved one.
FREEDOM OF THE BANNER
The New York Mets have long encouraged the banners their fans display at Shea Stadium. The television station that broadcasts Mets games is quick to pan through the crowds and pick up clever banners. The Met management even has a "Banner Day" every year to promote this form of rooting.
But for the past two years there have been rumors that banners critical of George Weiss, president and general manager, or other members of the Met hierarchy are confiscated and destroyed. Until last week the rumors were nothing more than that. Last Friday evening, however, two Met fans, Karl Ehrhardt and Charles Taylor, arrived at the stadium with a black-and-white banner 26 feet long and 22½ inches high. It read, "Welcome to Grant's Tomb," a needling remark directed against M. Donald Grant, chairman of the board of the Mets.
Matt Burns, stadium director of maintenance, immediately had the banner taken down. "First he said it blocked the view," said Ehrhardt, "then he said it was too long. Finally he said it was in bad taste."
THE WELL-FILLED GAME BAG
The hunting season opened in Italy two weeks ago and almost a million gunners took to the fields in search of hare, pheasant, quail and snipe. We have no word on how much game was harvested but, in the first week alone, 8,000 hunters were arrested for being without licenses, three were charged with mistreatment of bird dogs, two died of heart attacks, more than 25 were injured, and four died of gunshot wounds. One was charged with manslaughter, the result of an argument over who shot a pheasant.
RETURN OF THE CHAMP
Nowadays women's swimming is dominated by nymphs of 14 or 15, though a few break through with comebacks at the advanced age of, say, 19.
Thus it was heartwarming to hear that Miss Lillian Reimensnyder won the diving championship of the Eagles Mere (Pa.) water carnival in the 14-and-older division. Ever since she lost her crown a year ago, Miss Reimensnyder had been training for a comeback. She swam twice daily and dived for hours off the high board. Then came the carnival and, competing against 20 younger athletes, she showed dazzling form in swan and back dives to regain her title. Miss Reimensnyder is 76.
WARNING TO AMATEUR MEDICS
The American Medical Association's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Sports cautioned athletes and coaches last week against the use of two new types of drugs—one a painkiller, the other intended to induce weight gain.
The painkiller, DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide), is new and as yet not fully tested. Applied to the skin, it penetrates and does appear to reduce pain, but the medically pure grade is not legally available except to doctors investigating it. The industrial grade contains impurities which could penetrate the skin along with the DMSO. And, as the committee pointed out, "pain is a respected safeguard against the premature return of the athlete to competition."
The weight-gain drugs (androgenic-anabolic steroids) can have horrendous results. In prepubertal boys, the committee warned, they may stop growth, induce precocious puberty and decrease testicular size. In the pubertal boy, the warning continued, the steroids markedly suppress production of testosterone, a male hormone. And in adult males, testicular size and function revert to the prepubertal stage, and there is "decreased libido."
A gain of a few pounds would not seem to be worth it.
THEY SAID IT
•Ron Perranoski, Dodger reliever, on what it would take for his injury-ridden club to pull out the National League pennant: "A fife, a drum and a flag."
•Dan Osinski, Milwaukee pitcher, when a waitress asked if he wanted his pizza cut into six or eight pieces: "Better make it six. I can't eat eight."
•Barry McKnight, University of Pittsburgh fullback, describing the thrill of delivering a crunching block: "Sometimes I remain on the ground and look at the guy I blocked. It's the same as shining your own shoes: you keep looking at them."