CLOSED DOOR POLICY
"Palos, Spain—AP—Capt. Christopher Columbus...today banned Associated Press expedition writer Francisco Tamale from the bridge and poop deck of the Ni√±a, Pinta and Santa María. The order presumably was issued because of Tamale's story yesterday quoting anchor man José Tortilla as saying he was playing out his option on this expedition.... Tortilla confirmed the report, but denied he had told the writer that he thought the earth was flat...."
So wrote The Milwaukee Journal's Jerry Kloss, and guess who Columbus, Tamale and Tortilla were? Vince Lombardi, Ken Hartnett and Jim Taylor.
Hartnett is AP's Wisconsin sports editor, and Lombardi is this great coach. Last week Lombardi barred Hartnett from the Green Bay dressing room after Hartnett quoted Fullback Taylor as saying he was playing out his option and that Jim Grabowski's $355,000 bonus had something to do with it. Taylor denied he had mentioned Grabowski—his substitute—but after Hartnett had refreshed his memory, Taylor said he had misunderstood the question. Said Hartnett: "I don't think he misunderstood the question; maybe his public-relations sense misunderstood it."
Meanwhile, in New York, when Larry Merchant of the New York Post sought to join the other writers in the Eagles' dressing room after the Giants game, the equipment manager kept standing in his way. "You're not wanted, Larry," he said. The background here is that Merchant doesn't think much of Joe Kuharich, the Eagles' coach, and Kuharich doesn't think much of Merchant. In fact, Kuharich has called him "a beatnik, a schizophrenic and a psycho." Merchant on Kuharich would take us to page 37.
The NFL, sensitive imagewise, reminded Lombardi and Kuharich that league policy is that no accredited newsman be prohibited from entering an NFL dressing room, and the ban was off. Said Hartnett: "I don't consider it a personal victory, but a victory for all of us covering the Packers." Of course, there would be no NFL, much less an Atlantic Coast Football League, without the Hartnetts and the Merchants. Not even show business gets as much free ink as sport.
Nobody from the NFL or the Eagles told Merchant he was free to stick his nose back in the Philadelphia dressing room; he heard it from a reporter. "It doesn't bother me that no one notified me," Merchant said. "But it would have been nice if they did. What Rozelle [the NFL commissioner] did was a good gesture. It shouldn't have been necessary."
Speaking of Pete Rozelle, he is trying to make sure everything is real impartial for the supergame between the NFL and AFL champions. Consider the officiating, for instance. The two leagues have asked their coaches to rate the six officials—referee, umpire, head linesman, field judge, back judge and line judge (called the side linesman in the AFL)—in order of importance. If the poll establishes a clear-cut hierarchy, then for this January's supergame NFL officials will probably staff the first, fourth and sixth most important positions, the AFL the second, third and fifth. And in 1968, if you're still with us, the AFL will get the first, fourth and sixth spots. The method for choosing the official timekeeper is yet to be determined.
THE HONEST MATADOR
In Madrid a fortnight ago the noblest matador of them all, 44-year-old Antonio Bienvenida, cut the pigtail and left the fiesta forever. In his 25 years as a matador de toros Bienvenida had killed 2,000 bulls, had suffered 14 gorings (the last rites were administered twice) and had sponsored the alternativas (promotion to matador) of some 40 other toreros. His father and his grandfather before him were matadors—a remarkable dynasty now ended.
None of these things provided the great distinction Bienvenida enjoyed. As a matador he was always slightly in the shadow—first of Manolete, then of Dominguín, then of Ordó√±ez, finally of El Cordobés. As an honest torero he stood alone in a blaze of sunlight. It was Bienvenida who, in 1952, exposed the horn-shaving scandal that was beginning to blight the whole mystique of the corrida. For his pains he was praised in public and blacklisted by promoters.
Bienvenida fought back. As Robert Daley reports in his excellent book, The Swords of Spain, Bienvenida contracted for six bulls and triumphed over all of them in one majestic afternoon in Madrid. The blacklist was broken—and the scandal with it. Horns occasionally are shaved today, but it is no longer accepted practice.
In his farewell appearance at the Plaza Monumental, Bienvenida again took on six unshaved bulls. He was awarded three ears, received continuous ovations and at the end of the afternoon was carried out of the main gate and down the broad avenue of Alcala on the shoulders of his cuadrilla, surrounded by fervent fans and admirers.
The next day the ex-matador settled into a new job—as a salesman for Barreiros, Spain's largest automobile company. "I am going to do," he said, "whatever it takes to become El Numero Uno salesman." Let us hope that bravery and honesty—two things Bienvenida has—will be enough.
RONNIE'S LITTLE HELPER
For last Sunday's Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, Norm Smith of Ventura, Calif. registered his Lola-Chevy as a Reagan-for-Governor entry—the only political label in the event. "Over 70,000 people will see the race," said Smith. "It's a very good means of advertising. I want to help the guy get elected."
Sure enough, 81,000 assembled at Riverside, Calif., and 40 cars roared away. Not the Reagan special. Before the race, officials said it was "so slow as to be dangerous," and banned it. Big help.
ATROCITY AT THE Y
Two months ago Jimmy Jacobs, the world's four-wall handball champion, played a one-wall match against Steve Sandler, the national one-wall champion, with Sandler using only his left hand (SI, Sept. 5). Jacobs lost. Lost?!? Wiped out!!! The score—25-4. The four-wall handball world was in a tizzy, but both before and after the defeat Jacobs serenely maintained this was an expected result. Said Jacobs: "One-wall and four-wall are different games."
Last week Jacobs proved his point: the only similarity between one-wall and four-wall is the ball. Jacobs played Sandler in a four-wall match at New York's 92nd St. YMHA, and trounced him 25-3, with Jacobs using only his left hand. "I feel depressed," said Sandler. Actually, there was little cause. "Stevie Sandler showed me more ability than 99% of the tournament players," said Jacobs. "He has a great future in four-wall and I would like to see him take up the game seriously." What Jacobs has in mind is teaching Sandler four-wall and Sandler teaching Jacobs one-wall. The result could be the longest home-and-home series in the history of underground sports events. Jacobs now practices one-wall four times a week, and Sandler would like to break out of the little world of one-wall, which is played almost exclusively in Brooklyn and Miami Beach, especially since he heard the next world four-wall championship will be held in Sydney, Australia. "I guess you can say I'm hooked," said Sandler.
Marvin (The Manager) Greenberg, Sandler's adviser and traveling companion, is not. "I think it's an atrocious game," said The Manager. "As a spectator, I'm standin', sweatin', strainin'. Can't yell. Can't scream. Can't needle the umpire. Can't hustle a bet. Can't get any action. It's no game for the spectator. No. They wall you off. And the players are gentlemen! They call attention to double bounces and say, 'Nice shot.' Who needs it? I don't and Stevie don't. If he's smart he will stay where he belongs—in Brooklyn, playing one-wall on Avenue P playground."
FOR THE FIRST PINT
At 61, Oliver Jones of Birmingham is reputedly the oldest Rugby player in England. When he recently scored a try (roughly equivalent to a touchdown) to help the Old Edwardian Exiles defeat the Birmingham University Wanderers, there was some question of whether or not it was his first since 1924. As it turned out it wasn't; Jones had scored one as recently as 1947. Evidently, the confusion arose because he had, memorably, scored two in 1924.
"But I'm not claiming 1924 as my vintage year," Jones, a retired company director, told the Daily Mail. "That was 1932, when I had become fairly established following a successful tour of America. This I had undertaken to mend a broken heart and to give my father an opportunity of reconsidering his attitude toward me."
Jones was then asked why he continues to play. "For two very good reasons," he said. "First, I was inclined to get cold watching, and I can't think of anything else one can do on a Saturday. I did join a mountaineering club. But you can't go mountaineering in Birmingham. It was a dead loss. Second, I play for the supreme ecstasy of that first pint."
Jones, who was referring to the tradition of repairing to licensed premises after the game, was asked what is wrong with the last pint.
"My dear fellow," he replied, "the last one has no significance whatsoever. By that time the feeling of satisfaction has been lost."
When Stamford played Anson in a Texas high school game the other day the referee walked off two consecutive "five-yard" offside penalties against Anson. Instead of signaling an automatic first down, he bemusedly called for a measurement. A good thing, too. Stamford was a foot shy of a first down.
Virginia City, Nev. (pop. 500) is situated in the desert on a mountainside 6,500 feet above sea level and 20 miles from the nearest body of water, a small lake. It is obvious that such a godforsaken burg could stand a saloon or two (although not necessarily 15), but a yacht club! Yes, Virginia, there is a Virginia City Yacht Club. It was founded in certain of the town's better-class saloons, where Bob Richards, editor of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, told about an out-of-stale subscriber who had written to ask if Virginia City had a yacht club. Barroom discussions are frequently of more than ordinary vision and scope, and the upshot of these colloquies was the decision that Virginia City was the perfect spot for a yacht club.
As Richards explained in the Enterprise:
•"With no navigable body of water nearby, the expense of boat acquisition and maintenance would...be eliminated, thus providing more funds for club social functions and events.
•"With no boats to sail on, there would be no danger of falling overboard, to the ruination of clothing and the likelihood of catching cold or even worse.
•"There would be no ostentation or putting on of airs, with the outboard man looking down on the rowboat man and the cruiser man looking down on the outboard man and so on.
•"...funds could be saved in the erection of a conventional clubhouse."
Indeed, as one social drinker put it, "Why build a clubhouse when readily at hand are 15 saloons?"
His logic being inescapable, Richards printed up VCYC membership cards, bearing a quotation which he facetiously attributed to Cervantes: "Sin mar, sin lago, sin río, sin aqua."
But, despite Richards' sentiments, one bona fide boat owner was admitted to the club. Says Richards: "A San Francisco attorney, who ably confessed that although he owns a yacht he'd like to join just the same, was let in because he wrote such a nice letter."
SNOW AND SUBJECTIVITY
When it comes to snow condition reports, ski operators in New England can be as slippery as their slopes, but with the traditional terminology—poor, good, excellent, etc.—skiers can at least judge for themselves whose report is tried-and-true and whose is as phony as a P.A. yodel. Possibly to avoid this sort of detection, the operators switched last winter to cryptic numerical reports that even perplexed schussboomers: e.g., 0-3 base, 4MM, corn and bare spots. Skiers will be happy to learn that the operators got fed up sticking rulers in the snow every morning, and that this winter the conditions of snow reporting will be back to normal—which is excellent.
THEY SAID IT
•Alex Hannum, Philadelphia 76er coach, asked why his height is now listed as 6 feet 7 when in his playing days it was 6 feet 8: "I got bald."
•Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, explaining how a player named Lincoln Lippincott III ever came to Penn State: "He was looking for Princeton and got lost."
•John Wilbur, Dallas Cowboy rookie guard, after playing against Cleveland's Bill Glass, an ordained Baptist minister: "He's got moves, speed, size, strength, and besides all that he prays."