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The City Council's welcome-home resolution was nice, all right: Arthur Ashe was to be commended for his outstanding achievements in tennis, and all Richmond should be proud of the fine record of skill and sportsmanship he has set. "But," said an editorial in the Richmond News Leader, "the resolution probably would have meant more to the Davis Cup star if it had contained at least an implied regret that while he was growing up the inherited mores of most of us prohibited him from playing at Byrd Park."

Never mind what the columnists in New York were saying about his planning to become a balladeering sensation with Xavier Cugat's band; he hadn't heard about it, said Spain's El Cordobes. Besides, as one might guess, "bullfighting is lo mío; it's what I was cut out for." Smoking his maroon Mercedes into Madrid for a checkup, a hirsute Manolo (below) was more concerned with the slowly healing tendon operation that has hobbled "my shaving arm as well as my killing arm." But he saved his loudest complaint for the four hours of calisthenics his doctors demand each day—"the most boring thing in the world."

They voted Carol Mann the most improved golfer on the women's tour last year, and would you like to know how come? Because an old Elizabeth Taylor movie on the late show so inspired her that next morning she went out and practiced for eight hours and not much later was winning tournaments left and right. "In Rhapsody, Elizabeth Taylor was trying to get a man to become a great pianist," says Golfer Mann, reliving the historic evening. "She leaves him just before his big debut but gives him words of inner strength to carry him through. I don't remember what she said but it carried over to me." Among Liz's lost lines: "James—give me back that handkerchief. You can do it without me. I was wrong giving you a crutch to lean on. You're a whole human being again."

Bending over the salmon-pink felt of the table in Honolulu's Cue and Cushion pool hall, Philadelphia Pitcher Bo Belinsky ran unerringly through a game of 14.1 and reckoned that pool was an inseparable part of his life. "It kept me alive in the minor leagues," he said. "The fact is, I have an attachment for a pool cue the way Linus has an attachment for his blanket." Baseball? Hard to tell, said Bo, who has a movie to make before spring training commences. The rub is with the Phillies, who want to cut his $17,000 salary—"barely enough to live on as it is."

He was just back from Budapest, where he had attended a premiere of his opera Katerina Ismailova, and, yes, it had gone beautifully. But what really was on his mind, wispy Dmitri Shostakovich told the editor of Moscow's Izvestia, was soccer. In fact, he and other members of the composers' union were already making plans to fly to London in July to root for the Soviet national team at the world championships. Ah, and how did he rate his countrymen? "I'm a patriot and interested in all the refinements of the game, but our players often give more reasons for grief than for joy," said Shostakovich glumly. "With the strong competitors they have to meet, I can't say I'm too hopeful about their chances."

Sylvia is a female gorilla in the Baltimore zoo, who is pining for a mate. Sperry and Hutchinson has agreed to supply one in exchange for a public donation of 2,400,000 Green Stamps. Oriole Pitcher Steve Barber has agreed to stand in (with his wife, Pat) for the gorillas at a mock marriage ceremony at the zoo on Valentine's Day. Mrs. Kim Riley, a publicity consultant, says there will be wedding attendants (mother of the bride, etc.), all human, but "we wouldn't even think of trying to get a clergyman," because "to 'marry' the gorillas would offend some people." Says Pitcher Barber, with the beginnings of a wild, hunted look in his eyes: "I thought it might be fun. I never thought it would get to this."

Had they indeed begun to negotiate with professional ice show promoters before the Winter Olympics? Some said yes, some said no. So, with their amateur purity of two years ago still under suspicion, the German world champion pairs figure skaters, brassy Marika Kilius and soulful Hans-Jürgen Bäumler, moistly handed back the silver medal they had won at Innsbruck. This historic Olympic first, a "noble gesture," as a few were pleased to call it, had just the right effect: it got the International Olympic Committee off the skaters' backs, and it assured that Kilius-Bäumler would perform for lucrative SRO audiences at a Frankfurt ice revue for weeks to come.

Resourceful—and, above all, philosophical—Philadelphia First Baseman Bill White has taken up water basketball in St. Louis (below). Excellent athlete that he is, all that is between him and great success in this activity would seem to be the fact that, when bullied into the pool's deep water, he can scarcely swim.

The story that once went around—that the Brooklyn Dodgers tried to sign him before the Metropolitan Opera Company did—was a press agent's artistic embroidery, Robert Merrill admitted to a Louisville music critic. The facts were less dramatic: "I was an all-American kid from Brooklyn, I played baseball and became a semipro. I met girls under the boardwalk at Coney Island." Maybe not major league stuff but, considering everything, said Merrill reflectively, "a well-rounded background."