PROPOSAL FROM A PRO
Britain led the way in pressing for open tennis, and now that country, where until recently amateur and professional cricket players were distinguished from each other as "gentlemen" and "players," is plumping for yet another radical departure from tradition. The government's Sports Council would abolish the terms "amateur" and "professional" in all sports. Indeed. Denis Howell, minister for sport, predicted that the Olympic Games might well go open by 1980.
"We all know how many professionals were knocking about in Mexico," he said. "These rules on amateurism were right and valid 20 or 30 years ago, but the integrity of British sporting bodies is being steadily undermined because of these anomalies.
"The International Olympic Committee is a nonelected assembly, an autocracy. I cannot see how this assembly can, whatever its qualities, dictate to democratically elected sports bodies."
The Olympic movement must "put itself right," he went on, "for if it refuses to face the humbug and hypocrisy of what is going on, governing bodies will start to take their own decisions."
A reply from Avery Brundage is expected shortly.
After seeing Cincinnati Catcher Johnny Bench hit a home run in the All-Star Game and come within inches of another, Charles O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, wrote out a check for $1 million. He passed it on to Pat Harmon, sports editor of The Cincinnati Post and rimes-Star, and offered him 5% of the action to serve as his agent in dealing with the Reds for Bench. The offer was "ridiculous,"' said the Reds' general manager, Bob Howsam. Not only did the Reds not want to sell Bench, they couldn't. The trading deadline (midnight, June 15) is past.
Finley would appear to have a $1 million fixation. Last winter he called Ewing Kauffman, Kansas City Royals owner, with a proposal that Kauffman give him $1 million in return for any player of his choice on the Oakland roster. After thinking it over Kauffman called back and said, "O.K., we'll give you the million. Give us Reggie Jackson." Finley backed down.
Anyway, Pat Harmon has a check for $1 million signed by Charlie Finley.
THE VERY SECURE BILLS
Spectators used to stand three and four deep around the Niagara University field when the Buffalo Bills practiced—and one practice scrimmage drew 5,000—but not since John Rauch took over as coach. The Bills now work out in total seclusion.
"I knew that other pro teams had people watching the Buffalo club at almost every workout," Rauch explained. "When I was with the Oakland Raiders we benefited from the Bills being watched. We got a lot of information out of the Bills' camp. In fact, it was common knowledge around the American Football League what Buffalo was doing and what they had."
Bills' employees have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the need for tight security. During the first week of camp a nun was noticed talking to a policeman at the entrance gate to the practice field. Rauch saw her and told a ball boy to ask her to come in and sit in the nearby bleachers. The kid ran over to the gate and, strictly from habit, asked the nun to leave.
If the Krieger sisters had lived a few centuries ago the Salem (Mass.) Lawn Tennis Association might have suspended them (by a rope) for practicing witchcraft. But Sandy and Beth Krieger only practice backhands and twist services, they live in Delaware in 1969 and their good looks are hardly witchlike. But consider what happened to their opponents in the state doubles tournament.
Seeded No. 1, Sandy and Beth drew a first round bye. They won their next match by default when an opponent arrived with a broken toe. In the third round, the quarter-finals, they took another default victory—another opponent broke another toe. The sisters won the semifinals easily—an opponent defaulted because of a cracked wrist.
So they came up to the finals without hitting a ball. There, justice caught up with them. For lack of practice Sandy and Beth lost, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
CAN A DUCK MARCH?
Back in the days when live ducks were used to decoy their wild fellows into ambush, playful hunters dropped a few of these Judas birds into the ornate lobby fountain of Memphis' Peabody Hotel. The ducks increased and multiplied and became as much a part of Memphis tradition as Beale Street and the blues. Guests gather to watch them daily when, as evening comes on, the ducks get out of the fountain, waddle along a red carpet between a double line of bellboys and into an elevator that takes them to their rooftop coop.
When the Sheraton chain took over the Peabody a few years ago it was feared that corporate humorlessness would end the pleasant custom, but the Sheraton people were much too smart to do anything like that and the ducks still parade—to the music of something called The Duck March—no matter what noisy convention or exhilarated football crowd stands in their path.
Now the ducks are about to make their first personal appearance outside the Peabody lobby. During a Texas League baseball game between the Memphis Blues and the Albuquerque Dodgers they will waddle from a fountain and down their familiar red carpet to home plate. Players of the two teams will replace the bellboys as the honor guard.
Back in 1962, while watching Gaylord Perry in batting practice, Alvin Dark, then manager of the San Francisco Giants, said, "There will be a man on the moon before he hits a home run in the big leagues."
Seven years later, 34 minutes after Neil Armstrong and company landed on the moon, Perry hit his first major league home run, a 375-footer at Candlestick Park against Dodger Claude Osteen.
THE RACKET RACKET
Some say the wooden tennis racket is going the way of the penny arcade, Edsel and white flannels. In last week's $25,000 National Clay Courts Championship at Indianapolis the two top-seeded contestants, Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner, defending champion, used metal rackets. So did several other players.
Ashe, who was clay-court champion in 1967 and seeded No. 1 this year, was testing a new aluminum racket made by the Head Ski Company of Baltimore.
"I may never play with a wooden racket again," he said before the tournament. "I'll be using my new racket in the U.S. Open [when he will defend his title next month at Forest Hills].
"It has an aluminum shaft and a glass-bubble core made by 3-M. I have a lot of my own ideas in the racket. I have only been using it a week and a half but I can see it solves a lot of problems and it has all sorts of advantages. For one, it doesn't have the trampoline effect or whippiness of the steel racket. Two, it's easier to string."
Ashe also explained that his racket can be custom-made.
"I'm playing with the No. 96," he said. "If I wanted another racket like this one, I could get one that would be almost alike. You can't do that with wooden rackets. No two trees are the same, they say, so there are no two wooden rackets the same."
And Graebner was just as enthusiastic about his Sheffield steel racket made by Revere.
"It has great feel and helps prevent tennis elbow," he said. "The same thing will happen to wooden rackets that happened to wooden shafts in golf. They'll be no more."
Zeljko Franulovic of Yugoslavia eliminated Graebner in straight sets in the semifinals and knocked out Ashe in straight sets in the finals. Franulovic used a wooden racket made by Dunlop.
END CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION
That ecstatic kid who scores a touchdown and then, in a burst of what might be spontaneous exuberance or planned showboating, tosses the football into the end-zone stands will cost his team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff this coming season. Ellwood Geiges, NCAA rules adviser and supervisor of officials for the Eastern College Athletic Conference, has so announced.
"It was getting ridiculous, really sophomoric, the way some players were putting on an act after scoring," Geiges said. "From now on, their teams will be penalized when players throw or kick the ball away after getting into the end zone for a score."
So, from now on, the player who scores will have to hand or toss the ball to the nearest official—like a little gentleman.
There are reasons behind the decision. College teams play a long enough game as it is, with ways to stop the clock not available to pros. And the colleges want to get their car-driving customers out of stadium parking jams before dark. Finally, a football thrown into the stands often is gone for good. Footballs cost money ($20) and colleges are terribly sincere about money these days.
Moe Drabowsky and Hawk Harrelson were roommates and close friends in their Kansas City days, but when Harrelson was traded to Washington he promised that if he ever should hit a home run off Drabowsky he would circle the bases backward.
Drabowsky has since retired Harrelson 17 straight times, including 14 by strikeouts.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The Seattle Rangers are a minor league football team. Three thousand miles away, the New York Rangers are, they say, a major league hockey team. Nevertheless, for two years now the New York Rangers, owned by Madison Square Garden, have been trying to force the Seattle Rangers to drop their name. The New York Rangers say they came first and have a lien on "Rangers." The struggling little Seattle Rangers have already spent $6,000 in legal fees defending their claim.
This clearly must be the most picayune ploy since Warner Brothers, the producers of the movie Casablanca, tried to stop the Marx Brothers from calling their movie A Night In Casablanca. Groucho took care of that by demanding that Warner Brothers drop its "Brothers" because the Marx Brothers had been "Brothers" first.
We suggest, then, that the Seattle Rangers shrewdly use the Groucho strategy and get at least some of the following to take the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden to court for using their names: the Texas Rangers, the Lone Ranger, New Zealand, the Duke of York, the Virginia Historical Society (on behalf of James and Dolly Madison), the American Mathematical Society (on behalf of squares and square roots), the Tivoli Gardens and Garden City, Long Island.
Checking salmon fishermen in Puget Sound, Deb Moore, State Department of Fisheries patrolman, passed a small boat from which, it appeared, two men were fishing. Something about them didn't look right, so Moore swung around for a second and closer view.
One fisherman, it developed, was a dummy. The real angler in the boat had rigged up a well-dressed facsimile of a fisherman and propped it in fishing position so that he could troll two rods. The live one got a ticket.
THEY SAID IT
•Casey Stengel, acknowledging his selection as baseball's greatest living manager at baseball's 100th birthday party: "I want to thank all my players for giving me the honor of being what I was."
•Gary Kolb of the Pittsburgh Pirates, explaining how it is to be 25th man on a 25-man team: "I dreamed the Pirate plane crashed and I was the only survivor. Then you know what happened? They called up the entire Columbus club and I still didn't play."