900 TO 30 TO 1
Wayne Duke, commissioner of the Big Eight conference, says in a recent issue of NCAA News that an interscholastic survey reported 902,430 boys playing high school football last fall. A similar survey by the NCAA found that there were about 30,000 college football players in 1968. The 26 teams in the AFL and NFL carry 40 men each, or a total of 1,040. An interesting ratio: 900,000 to 30,000 to 1,000. In other words, 29 out of 30 high school players do not go on to play college ball, and 29 out of 30 collegians do not make it with the professionals.
Duke, citing such figures, says, "Those of us in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics better have other purposes and objectives for our programs than merely producing players for the colleges and the pros."
Everybody knows all about the super-shrewd American businessman, the one with the eye out for the quick buck. But a Mexican named Juan Peimbert makes the classic American sharp operator look like a country bumpkin—or, in Mexico, a charro. Has any yanqui ever thought of taking out a copyright on, say, the World Series or the Super Bowl? Never. But old Juan, almost as soon as he learned a few years ago that soccer's quadrennial World Cup competition was coming to Mexico City in 1970, officially registered for his own use the treasured phrase "World Cup."
What this meant was that Mexico's organizing committee for the World Cup could no longer apply that name to the competition. It could not be used on stationery or in publicity or even on tickets. Naturally, the committee screamed and went to court, but Peimbert retained the rights to "World Cup." He intends to use it on a variety of souvenirs that he'll put up for sale during the competition. The committee had to settle for "The IX Football World Championship," though most of its advertisements say simply "Mexico 70."
Can you imagine Pete Rozelle suddenly having to refer to that showdown in January as the Very Big Bowl Game?
POOR PACKAGE DEAL
During World War II one often had to buy an unwanted bottle of cheap liquor in order to get a scarce bottle of Scotch. Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Baltimore Colts, tried the trick a few weeks ago when he issued a ukase that next year purchasers of season tickets would have to buy tickets to two preseason games as well. An angry hurricane raged in Baltimore, and Rosenbloom quickly retreated: fans, he announced, would have the right to reject the exhibition games if they desired and still retain their season tickets. He added that he intended to hold a poll of ticket purchasers next year to decide future policy. Vote No along the Colts line.
THERE'S NO BUSINESS
Not long before Charlie Finley fired Hank Bauer as manager of his Oakland Athletics (the ninth time in nine years that a Finley manager has gone the way of all managers), an article in The Wall Street Journal commented, "The Oakland Athletics are one of the worst-run outfits around. If Finley ran his insurance business the way he runs his ball club, he'd be broke in a week."
Finley's reaction was a remarkably calm one for the volatile Charlie. He said, "The man is correct, if he means it the way I think he does. If anyone had to operate other businesses the way baseball owners must operate theirs, they'd all go broke. I gave Rick Monday $100,000 and a new automobile to sign with the A's. In my insurance business I don't give some college graduate $100,000 to come work for me. And the system is unfair. I have another star, Campy Campaneris, who got only $580. Lew Krausse got $125,000, Jim Nash only $4,000. Is that good business?
"If that fellow in the article meant something else, if he was just being facetious...well, it's none of his damn business how I run my ball club. It's my money. All I'm interested in is producing a winner."
PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE
"Gentlemen, start your pipes," called the timekeeper, and the world pipe-smoking championship was under way in Washington, Mo., the corncob pipe capital of the world. Eighty-six minutes and three seconds later it was all over, when winner Nelson Hall's pipe finally went out. Hall had a comfortable eight-minute edge over Paul T. Spaniola, who had won the championship twice previously. Another double winner, Frank J. Frankenberg, a local boy, stunned his followers by being the first contestant ruled off; his pipe went out after only 28 minutes, which is like stumbling in the starting gate. "I don't know what happened," said a badly shaken Frankenberg. "It just went out. I guess I didn't smoke it fast enough."
Each contestant was given 3.3 grams of cube-cut burley and each was allowed two kitchen matches. They had one minute to light their pipes and at any time during the contest were obliged to emit smoke from their mouths, if so requested by the judges. The field included two women and entrants from Italy and England. Gianni Davoli of Milan said when his pipe went out, "A big wind came by." Teammate Umberto Montefameglio commented, "The tobacco tastes good but it doesn't burn very well." Peter Fischer of London blamed his failure on "a sudden obstruction."
Hall's winning time was 39 minutes short of the world record that had been set in 1954, but he was happy just to have won the championship. "I was relaxed from the start," he said. "That's what it takes."
John Ulmer, yet another two-time champion, who finished fourth this time, said, "The way you pack the tobacco is more important than the way you puff on the pipe. If you pack it too loose, it burns too fast. If you pack it too tight, it smothers the fire. I pack my pipe by hand rather than with a tamper. You get a better feel that way."
FACTS OF LIFE
Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, has told the education committee of the state assembly that the university needs additional athletic scholarship funds in order to be able to compete with other Big Ten schools (Wisconsin has had terrible football teams in recent years). Hirsch was speaking in support of a proposed bill before the legislature that would provide about 750 athletic scholarships—up to 280 for Wisconsin and 40 each for 12 other state schools. The new bill would replace an existing legislative scholarship plan under which each of Wisconsin's 133 legislators can select a scholarship student annually. Less than half of these legislative scholarships go to athletes.
Hirsch said the athletic department faced a $200,000 deficit and that unless the deficit could be corrected minor sports would have to be cut back. An assemblyman who supports the new bill added that because of the deficit Wisconsin could not offer the maximum number of scholarships permitted under Big Ten rules.
No one spoke against the bill at the committee hearing.
Roger Craig, once a National League pitching star and now pitching coach with the San Diego Padres, argues rather persuasively that while storied old-timers like Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Christy Mathewson may well have been the equal of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn and other pitching stars of the last two decades, they could not possibly have been better.
"The reason," says the Southern-born and Southern-bred Craig, "is the colored guys. Those oldtimers didn't have to pitch against batters like Willie Mays and Henry Aaron and Roberto Clemente and Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson and Richie Allen. They had Cobb and Wagner and Ruth, but they didn't have as many good hitters, and it's because they didn't have the colored guys. Your superstars today, your big hitters—I guess 80% of them are colored."
A quick check of the batting leaders as the season headed into its final two weeks bears out Craig's argument. In the American League black players were first or tied for first in batting average and home runs; first and second in runs scored and triples; and first, second and third in hits and doubles. In the National League blacks were first in batting and hits; first, second and third in triples; first, second, third, fourth and fifth in home runs; and second, third, fourth and fifth in doubles and runs batted in. Among the top five players in each of seven batting categories—average, runs, hits, RBIs, doubles, triples and homers—black players in the National League were in 28 of 35 possible places, or precisely 80%.
If this keeps up, someday they'll be referring to Babe Ruth as the white Henry Aaron.
THE EVILS OF GAMBLING
Alva C. Long is an Auburn, Wash. attorney who delights in filing suits to point up what he calls "the double standard of law enforcement." He once brought an action against several large supermarkets to prevent them from selling groceries on Sunday. Partly because of this effort, Washington's blue laws were repealed. Another time he filed suit against the Elks Club to prevent bingo playing. Long won that case, too, which enraged his fellow Elks.
Piqued at what he feels is a double standard on gambling, Long went beyond bingo and took on horse racing. He had come across a statute passed in 1881 that said, "All persons losing money...on any illegal gambling game shall have a cause of action to recover from the dealer or player winning, or from the proprietor for whose benefit such game was played...." Checking further, Long found that the state constitution said, "The legislature shall never authorize any lottery...." Long decided that since other states have held that "lottery" means any form of gambling, horse racing was thus a lottery and therefore illegal gambling of a most spectacular kind. He decided to test his argument in court. He would lose money on a race and then sue to get it back.
"I had to lose $300," he explains. "I was pretty sure I'd lose my case, but if $300 were involved the State Supreme Court would hear my appeal."
He went out to the Longacres track near Seattle and said to himself, "I'll get this over with in a hurry. I'll bet on the first race." A newspaper handicapper indicated that a horse named Sun O'Morn, a consistent loser, would be way back there. Long put his $300 on its nose (which dropped the odds considerably—Longacres is no Santa Anita) and the horse went off at 5 to 1.
And, of course, it won. The $300 was now $1,845, and Long went home, bitter and defeated. A kindly friend said, "Look, there's one racing day left. You can go out tomorrow and still lose that $300."
But Long, inconsolable, said, "That won't do. To get a court case now I've got to lose the whole $1,845. With my luck, I'd bet on a long shot and wind up owning the track."
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Sanders, Los Angeles Rams director of player personnel, on why he calls the Kansas City Chiefs a Sears, Roebuck team: "You know, you pick up a catalog and order two tight ends the same size and two steps quicker than John Mackey, add a half-dozen 300-pound defensive tackles, three 9.5 flankers, a picture-passing quarterback and a page full of running backs. That's the way the Chiefs have been put together—to perfection with the best that Lamar Hunt's money can buy."
•Jim Perry, Minnesota Twins pitcher, asked if his brother Gaylord of the San Francisco Giants threw a spitter: "I don't know, but he should. He was still sucking his thumb when he was 10 years old."
•Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, asked if the highly rated Nittany Lions would be affected by the preseason press buildup: "I told them publicity is like poison—it won't hurt you if you don't swallow it."