There was general hilarity in the offices of the U.S. Golf Association recently when it was suggested that Joe Dey, who for years has run amateur golf so well, might accept a post with the battleworn PGA. No way, his aides said, or something like that, for Dey was, after all, the striped-tie, conservative, august boss of an organization eminently suited to him.
But in a move that should mean much to golf, Dey surprised both friends and associates last week by accepting the PGA's newly created post of commissioner of professional golf. His reason was simple. The USGA no longer needed his guidance, but the pro tour seemed to need somebody's help—and firm direction.
Dey is one of the few men who could bring order to the tour. He has enormous prestige within the game and a personality that combines the autocratic inclinations of a Judge Landis with the practicality of a Pete Rozelle. His feeling about the traditions of golf border on the zealous—and yet he moves against tradition when he feels he must. It was Dey who, primarily because of TV and its revenue, changed the 36-hole U.S. Open final to two 18-hole days, a move that outraged purists and has indeed diminished the Open, but which has had practical advantages for golf as a whole.
For years the touring pros have said, as they squabbled with the PGA: "If only we could get a man like Joe Dey to run our tour." They never felt they had a chance. Indeed, when a few PGA representatives met with Dey two weeks ago, it was to ask his guidance on what a new commissioner should do. Dey gave them his ideas, along with a list of people the PGA might consider for the job. Somebody said, almost rhetorically, "How about you, Joe?" The startling reply was a maybe that eventually became a yes.
There will still be strained times ahead among the touring pros, the PGA and Dey. But the strain now will be for the best, especially if the players remember how long they have been saying, "If only we could get Joe Dey...."
LIFE FOLLOWS ART
In Broadway's hot musical, Promises, Promises, the heroine shows off her knowledge of basketball by declaring flatly to the hero: "Oscar Robertson led the NBA last year with a 29.7 average."
"That's right." he cries in delight. "Even the .7 is right." In the audience, though, there are disgruntled murmurs among those who know that it was Dave Bing who led the NBA last year.
Despite much criticism, the NBA has always awarded its scoring title to the player who scored the most points—not the player with the highest average. Last year Bing scored 2,142 in 79 games while Robertson, who was injured, scored 1,896 in 65 games. Robertson had the higher average, but Bing was declared the official scoring champion.
Now it seems that NBA publicity directors have met and are ready to change the scoring system. Starting next year, it will not be the player with the most points but the one with the highest average who will lead the league—the way it has been in Promises, Promises all along. Now the least Promises, Promises can do is get the heroine to say it right. Oscar Robertson averaged 29.2, not .7.
ANOTHER HUNG JURY?
Baseball's executives meet this coming week in Miami and they just might elect a new commissioner. But an informal SPORTS ILLUSTRATED poll of the 24 major league clubs says: don't bet on it.
Surprisingly, Chub Feeney of the San Francisco Giants and Mike Burke of the New York Yankees are still the leading candidates; of the 19 clubs that discussed how they might vote, 16 indicated that they would vote for one or the other of the two, and several clubs said they would be happy with either man. Even so, because a candidate must get nine votes (three-quarters of the total) in each league to be elected, the chances are all too good that the balloting will subside into a repetition of the deadlock that occurred in earlier voting in December. An antagonistic bloc of only four clubs in either league can veto any candidate, even if he has the support of all or most of the other 20 clubs. That happened to both Feeney and Burke in December and is likely to happen again. Old-fashioned, thickheaded pride may lead to another long, drawn-out struggle that can end only with the election of a compromise candidate—not a compromise between Feeney and Burke but a compromise between the wishes of a clear majority and a stubborn minority. Strange sport, baseball.
Who will the compromise candidate be? Bing Devine of the St. Louis Cardinals and Judge Robert Cannon of Wisconsin were most frequently mentioned, though it could be an entirely new entry, like Frank Cashen of the Baltimore Orioles. But, according to comments made during our poll, it definitely will not be Vince Lombardi.
GOOD SPEED, GREAT LASHES
Football equipment has become more and more sophisticated over the years, or haven't you noticed that advertisement featuring Bob Lilly of the Cowboys in full field regalia, except for the minor items of pants, shirt and helmet? Lilly looks like an X ray of an astronaut 30 seconds before blast-off.
Now, football may be moving beyond the sophisticated to the esoteric. The Baltimore Colts employ a seer named Eddie Block as a trainer. Between tapings and rubdowns Block looks into the future. Five years ago he said flatly that baseball and football teams would soon be playing on artificial fields. Ho ho, said his amused listeners, but—ha ha—now we have AstroTurf and Tartan.
Lately, Block has been thinking about glare, from sun and artificial lighting, which so frequently bothers players, especially those on the receiving end of passes and kicks. Block's solution is false eyelashes.
Eddie is serious. "I was out with a girl the other night," he explains, "and we went to a show. They turned on some bright lights that hurt my eyes, but they didn't bother her a bit. She said it was because of the false eyelashes."
Block points out that football players have tried all sorts of things to reduce glare, like blacking beneath the eyes, without notable success. So why not special eyelashes? They would be light, they are no trouble to wear and they might work.
It is difficult to visualize a tender young thing like John Mackey wearing false eyelashes but, don't forget, Eddie Block did predict AstroTurf. Who knows? The Baltimore Colts may recoup some of the prestige lost in the Super Bowl disaster by becoming the first team in pro football to have a receiver kissed after catching a pass.
RINK PUB HEADS SING
People have talked for years about those zesty Variety headlines, the ones like BIRD FLICK HUB SOCKO, which translates into something like, "Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds, did very well indeed at box offices in Boston." Sport headlines probably will never quite equal Variety's for cryptic confusion, but this one from a recent issue of The Hockey News isn't bad: AILING BOOMER REPLACED BY CAT.
We trust that translation will not be necessary.
THE HAIRY WEST
Ain't nobody going to mess up NASCAR's image. At Riverside International Raceway in California, Bill Gazaway, chief technical inspector for the stock-car racers' group, is reported to have refused to let long-haired or bearded people into the pits until they got a haircut or shave. Les Richter, ex-Los Angeles Ram All-Pro linebacker who is president of Riverside, commented: "I'm a short-hair advocate myself and I say hooray for Bill Gazaway. He wasn't issuing any ultimatum. It's just that this is the pits, and we're all mighty proud of the general appearance of the crews and the drivers. We've gotten a lot of respect the last few years and we want to earn more, that's all."
Gazaway, who is from College Park, Ga., said: "It's simply a matter of personal hygiene. We're big business now and proud of our image. You don't see anything but clean-cut folks for the most part at our races down South and on the East Coast. These were West Coast people."
Shortly after Coach Moe Iba's Memphis State basketball team had lost to North Texas State, 96-69, Moe's father was on the phone. In his 35 years as coach at Oklahoma State, Henry Iba's teams have allowed more than 80 points to be scored against them only seven times. Defensively, his teams are annually among the nation's best.
"What was the score?" Henry asked. Moe hemmed and hawed and changed the subject. His father persisted. The embarrassed Moe kept evading the issue.
Finally his father thundered, "I'll tell you what the score was. Ninety-six damn points, that's what the score was. Bret and Greg [Moe's sons] are in the will, but you're out."
With a smile playing on his lined face, Henry hung up the phone.
Russia is ordering weapons from England, despite the arms-control pact and East-West tension. Archery is to be an Olympic sport at Munich in 1972, and the Russians think the English make the best bows in the world. They have therefore ordered 200 of them, plus arrows, for which they will pay ¬£8,000 ($19,200). The weapons are manufactured in Sherwood Forest (where else?). As for the ban on exports of strategic arms to the Soviet bloc, an unflappable official said icily, "As far as we know, this does not include bows and arrows."
IF NOBODY SALUTES
SMU hired a Dallas advertising agency last summer (SCORECARD, Aug. 12) to promote its football team, which has to compete with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys for consumer loyalty. The $40,000 campaign—newspapers, billboards, radio-TV—was built around the theme: Excitement 1968.
Well, the Mustangs proved exciting enough, averaging 28 points a game and compiling a 7-3 regular-season record, but the ratings were not there. Attendance averaged only 30,000 per game, a disappointingly small improvement over the 28,000 of a season earlier.
"I knew there would be criticism if we fell on our faces," says Football Coach Hayden Fry. "There was a lot of money invested in this. But we did it because there was a need for it. In four or five years everybody will be hiring ad agencies to promote their teams.
"I don't think one season can decide whether or not the campaign was a success. Chuck Hixson, our sophomore quarterback, was an unknown at the start of the year but he led the nation in passing. The carry-over value of our 1968 season should influence our 1969 attendance. I can see it in the enthusiasm of our ticket buyers. I think it was money well spent."
It also raises some interesting possibilities. After a bad season, for instance, instead of firing the coach, a school can follow procedures all too familiar to Madison Avenue and switch ad agencies.
SMU is struggling against professional competition but, over in North Carolina, Wake Forest is profiting from it. The New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings will play a preseason exhibition at Wake Forest on Aug. 30, and the game is included in the five-game season-ticket package being offered to Deacon fans. Athletic Director Gene Hooks, admitting that his ticket sales needed a shot in the arm, says, "We're billing the Jet-Viking game as a charity affair. The charity is Wake Forest football."
THEY SAID IT
•Lee Trevino, U.S. Open champion, after financing a driving range and sports center in El Paso: "I can walk in a bank now and borrow $700,000. Two years ago, if I walked in a bank, the guard would give me the once-over."
•Ross Montgomery, TCU halfback, on pro football scouts at the Senior Bowl: "They watched everything we did. If you scratched your head, they'd write it down: 'Likes to scratch head.' "