VELVET MONKEY WRENCH
There were numerous hints last week that once again golf's touring professionals have come to their parent body, the PGA, with plans for changes that would materially affect the operation of the pro tour. There has long been unrest among the pros over the present setup (SI, Aug. 9,1965) and uneasiness among PGA officials over this unrest. The points in the present negotiations are said to have been painstakingly thought out and are being discussed in the most gentlemanly fashion—the "would you please consider" school of bargaining.
Exactly what is going on? All parties concerned have agreed not to breathe a word of it.
"We are always trying to improve tournament player relations with the PGA," is as far as the chairman of the Players Tournament Committee, Touring Pro Tommy Jacobs, will go.
"I've heard nothing more than the rumors you've heard," says PGA President Max Elbin, the teaching pro at the Burning Tree Club outside Washington.
"No demands by the players have come into my office," asserts the PGA's executive director, Robert Creasy. "I talked to Jacobs and he assures me that nothing special of that sort is even in the works."
Maybe not. But something is in the works.
THE HYPOTHESIS LEAGUE
In case you were wondering what ever happened to Frank Leahy, he turned up last week as chairman of the board of a group of incorporators who call themselves the United States Football League, which is their right. Moreover, the USFL says it will consist of 12 viable teams and will compete with the NFL and AFL next year, which is known as rodomontade.
The USFL claims it will start signing college players early in November, two months before the NFL and the AFL, and that it is prepared to spend $500,000 to get a player it wants. The USFL did not indicate when it would start renting stadiums where its half-a-million-dollar babies will show their stuff before vast, paying and suppositious throngs.
The USFL is not going to repeat the mistakes of its predecessors. Take exhibition games. The USFL is going to play them in Europe, South America and the Orient, where it may make enough to pay the fare back to the States. But the most fascinating aspect of the league is its quasi-socialistic ring. Players and coaches will have the right to buy stock in the teams they represent. Perhaps the idea is that in time the players will own the teams, and the franchise holders can then get out with a few bucks.
Clint Murchison Jr., owner of the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, isn't so sanguine: "It's an excellent way to lose one or two million a year and lose it forever," he said the other day. "Of course, I'm only speaking from personal experience."
If we ever hear from the USFL again, you'll hear from us.
A VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM
While the average American might think twice about leaving his empties strewn all over the countryside, he rarely thinks once about dropping them overboard, to Andreas Rechnitzer's dismay. Rechnitzer, chief scientist of North American Aviation's Deep Submergence Systems Division, has made many deep descents, including a dive of more than 18,000 feet in the Marianas Trench, and he is not wholly convinced that, as a rubbish dump, the ocean is so big it can never be filled.
Rechnitzer reports that at a depth of 7,000 feet off the Marianas he came upon an unexploded five-inch artillery projectile. "It had to be American," he says, "because leaning against it, clear as a bell, was one beer can."
On another occasion, Rechnitzer believed he had discovered a hitherto unknown species of sea life. "It was a helix," he recalls, "that is, a spiral, evidently able to resist great pressure. In a state of seething excitement we worked closer and closer, trying to get a better look. Finally we turned our lights full on a splendid specimen of bed spring."
A COUPLE OF LIVE ONES
Cassius Clay may not be first in the hearts of his countrymen, but he's first in the ratings. With the possible exception of the Rose Bowl, no TV sport show this year commanded a greater audience than the Clay-Henry Cooper fight. Figuring you can't have too much of a good thing, ABC is now shelling out around $200,000 to put on—live!—the Clay-Brian London light from London on Aug. 6, which may be in color yet, and, providing he gets by London—you should have such troubles—the Clay-Karl Mildenberger fight—live!—from Frankfurt on Sept. 10.
BACK TO THE OLD DRAWING BOARD
In Santa Fe, N. Mex., which describes itself as "The City Different" on some occasions and as "The City Difficult" on others, three stale agencies have combined forces to build an elegant new bird feeder on the capitol grounds.
A project of the State Game and Fish Department, it was built with penitentiary labor and installed under the authority of the New Mexico Secretary of State, who handles such official items as the state's official flower (yucca), official mammal (black bear) and official fish (cutthroat trout).
However, the official state bird feeder is 10 feet high, or out of reach of the official state bird—the roadrunner.
The paisano, as he is affectionately known, is a kind of ground cuckoo. He can fly a little—say over a black bear or up a yucca—but he'd much rather stay on the trail.
A Santa Fe newsman and bird lover, Charles Cullin, suggests that the state could create a great tourist attraction by installing elevators on the feeder for the convenience of any roadrunners that might chance by.
Our suggestion would be a spiral ramp, like the one at New York's Guggenheim Museum. With this, a hungry paisano could run all the way.
COME BACK, CUS!
It is now seven years since Cus D'Amato has been inside a New York boxing ring. No sport can afford the long exile of such a great nut and/or genius, boxing least of all. Cus's record is noteworthy: none of his fighters have ever been hurt or neglected (if anything, they have been ovcrprotected), and they have always been well-conditioned. Too, they have made good money—if they stayed with Cus. In fact, Floyd Patterson has earned more than any other fighter.
Despite this record, Cus is unlicensed in New York. He may counsel a José Torres, the light heavyweight champ, or a Buster Mathis, the heavyweight hopeful, but once a fight contract is signed Cus has to make himself scarce and, of course, stay out of the corner.
Cus's license was revoked by the New York commission following the first Patterson-Ingemar Johansson fight. Bill Rosensohn, the promoter, confessed he had brought a racket guy into the promotion, and the implication was that Cus was either aware of this or had been a party to it. There was never any evidence to support either inference, and last year Rosensohn finally stated that Cus was wholly innocent. Another charge against Cus was that he tried to foist an American manager on Johansson as a condition of his being accepted as a Patterson opponent. Cus felt that if Ingo won, the IBC might again get its tentacles on the title, and Floyd would be out in the cold. Cus was wrong here. He went too far in looking after the interests of his lighter (more managers should be guilty of this). But Cus's service to the game far outweighs this ill-conceived and futile machination.
Cus could have reapplied for a license years ago because a court of law reversed the commission's ruling, but he is convinced there are those who will kind of make sure he is sort of turned down. Cus has his enemies, but they're not lurking behind every subway pillar, as he literally imagines. It would be a bright beginning for Eddie Dooley, New York's new boxing commissioner, if he would kind of let Cus know he'd be welcome back. We sort of feel that if he got this message, he'd reply.
BBC IN BLUNDERLAND
In order to film Alice in Wonderland, the BBC appealed to its viewers for three dozen live hedgehogs, which, you may recall, served reluctantly as balls in the Queen of Hearts' croquet game.
Directly, the RSPCA and one Walter Scott, scientific director of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, deplored the request.
"Apart from the fact that hedgehogs do not really make good croquet balls," Scott declared, "their collection by the public for dispatch to the BBC will involve suffering. This is a punishable offense under the Cinematograph Films Act 1937. Hedgehogs also carry various diseases such as brucellosis, which may infect man."
The BBC replied that any hedgehogs submitted would be suitably cared for and that they would not be hit through croquet wickets; stuffed hedgehogs would be used for that purpose.
Nonetheless, since the English love little animals even more fiercely than perennials, the BBC settled for 15 live hedgehogs hired from a medical research institute—which prefers anonymity—to complement its three stuffed ones.
No solicitation was made for live flamingos, the recalcitrant mallets in the croquet game. The BBC discreetly obtained four, accompanied by their handler, from a zoo in Northamptonshire, as well as six stuffed stand-ins.
Mario Andretti, the national driving champion (SI, May 30), won another race recently—the Atlanta 300. Perhaps it is not really news when a champion wins, but in cracking the Atlanta track record Andretti picked up the last of the six major USAC track marks.
In just four months he has broken the track records at Phoenix, Trenton, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Langhorne and Atlanta. In addition, having led from start to finish in the 100-milers at Milwaukee and Langhorne, and for all 300 miles at Atlanta, Andretti has now run in front for 500 consecutive miles of championship races.
No one has even come close to such a thing before, and bemused USAC officials agree that in doing this Andretti has not broken a record—he has invented one.
FLY NOW, PAY LATHER
Whether or not you own a dirty airplane, we thought you might like to know that the nation's first semiautomatic aircraft wash will open in mid-July at Denver's Jefferson County Airport. One dollar for a 10-minute wash-and-rinse cycle.
When Billy Casper won the U.S. Open, his caddie was Jim Stark, 19, No. 3 man on the Stanford golf team. During the first practice round, Stark couldn't get the hang of hefting Casper's bag and replacing divots, so he told Billy Casper Jr., 9, that if he replaced the divots he'd give him part of his caddie fee. Overhearing Stark, Casper warned, "Don't give him more than a dollar." After the second day of practice, Stark had figured out how to handle bag and divots, and little Billy was out of work.
Following the tournament, Casper, who had learned Stark was hard pressed to finance his education and might have to quit the golf team, gave him a check for $2,000 and said he hoped he would earmark it for his education. There was a tug at Stark's sleeve. It was Billy Jr. asking for his share. Stark fished in his pockets and came up with $4. "Listen," he said, "don't tell your father how much I gave you." Then he borrowed enough from another caddie to buy a sandwich.
The other day Casper got a letter from Stark. "Dear Mr. Casper," it read. "Last week will remain in my memory as the most wonderful week I have ever spent. The excitement and thrill of seeing you win was the great part of it. But equally meaningful was the graciousness and friendliness which is so much a part of your family and the people close to you...I'm still overwhelmed by your generosity. I know I earned only a small part of the amount you gave me and I would like to express my appreciation by donating to your church."
Enclosed was a check for $50 made out to "Mormon Church."