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Stories that Denny McLain will be "absolved" by a Federal grand jury in Detroit are irresponsible and may be disregarded. Federal grand juries do not absolve anyone of anything. They indict or do not indict someone. Occasionally, they name a person a co-conspirator; to get inside information of a criminal activity, the Government often gives a participant a choice between being prosecution witness or defendant.

McLain has admitted that he engaged in bookmaking activities in 1967. Whether or not the grand jury eventually names him as a co-conspirator matters little; he is likely to be a prosecution witness in a subsequent Government case against anyone who is indicted.

Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn cannot even be considering "absolution." The duration of McLain's suspension is the only issue.


The meat of the polar bear is tough and strong to the palate but it is rich in protein. Polar bear meat and hide, the latter for clothing, are almost invaluable to men trying to live off the land the big white bear inhabits. Or it used to be that way. In a sense it still is, but the terms of usefulness have changed. The bear now represents dollars.

When the white man came to the white bear's habitat he brought with him more efficient methods of hunting than the Eskimo ever knew, and along with them a desire for trophies the Eskimo never understood. During the construction of the DEW line there was indiscriminate slaughter of the big bears. To counteract it, the Canadian Wildlife Service put the bears on a quota system, the quota varying with a bear census and constituting, in effect, a controlled harvest by the Eskimos. Before the quota the average polar bear kill in the Canadian Arctic was about 600, somewhere near the maximum the bear population could stand. In 1967-68 the quota was set at 383 animals; it was 413 for the next year, and 390 for the 1969-70 season. Actual kill has consistently run a few animals under the fixed quota.

The quota system permitted no white man to take a bear. Just Eskimos. This year, for the first time, the Northwest Territories government has given the Eskimo owner of a permit the option either to use his permit himself or sell it to a white hunter.

Terms of the leased hunt stipulate that no aircraft or snowmobiles are allowed. Hunters coming in must buy the permit from the Eskimo holder, then buy the Eskimo's guide service, which stipulates that each hunter must hire two guides and two dog teams, on the ground that only in that way can the natives guarantee the necessary equipment (caribou clothing) and service (a place to stay before and after the hunt). The Eskimos get the meat but skin out the trophy for the hunter. Likely charge: $2,000 per hunter.


When the Athletics were in Kansas City one of Owner Charles O. Finley's many outlandish innovations was a small zoo behind the visitors' bullpen, where the grandstand ended. This season the Royals will use part of the area in a much more practical manner. They will take over the left field bullpen and behind it, in the old zoo area, will install an enclosed batting cage and a pitching machine. Prospective home-team pinch hitters can go there to loosen up by taking a few swipes at pitched balls.

General Manager Cedric Tallis points out that the cage will be particularly useful when Manager Charlie Metro knows an inning or so in advance that he will be using a pinch hitter. As, for instance, when a pitcher leaves the game before the inning in which he is due to bat. Whoever will hit for him can spend a few minutes in the cage.

If the idea works (and why not?), warmup cages for pinch hitters may become as standard as bullpens for relief pitchers.

What this continent needs is more events like the first biannual Arctic Winter Games at Yellowknife in Canada, sure proof that one does not require a lot of sun to have fun. Some 800 athletes from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska packed the tiny gold-mining town to whoop it up at 35° below and in one wild week produced some new sports events that the big Winter Games might copy. Like whip snapping, for example, though the Eskimos would be sure to sweep all the medals in that, since it is old stuff to dogsledders. Then there was a form of gymnastics in which competitors do body rolls around a seal-hide trapeze hung inside an igloo. This year's winner managed only 11 rolls because he was too bundled up to roll well. And the Alaskan blanket toss also was a bust because the blanket grips froze and snapped off in the cold weather before a winner could be determined. But there is always Arctic weight lifting—in which the weights are suspended by thongs from the ears of the contestants, and the medal winner is the man with both ears still attached when it is all over. The official medals were copies of the fan-shaped Eskimo skinning knives called Ulus—just about everybody got a medal—and the games were climaxed with a huge torchlight parade that nobody in town really saw because everybody was in it, carrying torches. It was a nice, warming touch. Your move, Mr. Brundage.


During the NCAA basketball championships at College Park, Md., Lou Henson, coach of New Mexico State's third-place entry, had some kind words to say about Rudy Franco, his 6'5", 205-pound senior forward. "Rudy doesn't get to play much," Henson conceded, "but he's valuable to the team with his all-out spirit and hustle. Every team needs a Rudy Franco."

Not every team can afford him. At one recent sitting Rudy ate 32 scrambled eggs along with uncounted slices of toast, all of it washed down with six glasses of milk.


It probably won't replace basketball as Indiana's favorite pastime, but the first U.S. Interscholastic catapult competition in Indianapolis, between Culver Military Academy and Park School, could become a major Hoosier rock festival.

Park began catapulting on an intramural basis in 1966 as the outgrowth of a Latin class study of Julius Caesar and his catapults. "One of the students, David Leve," explained Bernard Barcio, Latin instructor and catapult coach, "suggested we build a catapult. A friend of his had brought some plastic models back from Germany. So we built Mars I. Now we have Mars II, which is three years old. Mars I was five feet high with an arm 10 to 12 feet long. Mars II is 24 feet high with a 20-foot arm. It's powered by a four-foot counterweight."

In 1967 Barcio wrote to Harvard and Yale, in Latin, challenging them to build a catapult and compete with Park. He heard nothing. A year ago he wrote to John Roos, Latin instructor at Culver, also in Latin, and Culver accepted for this year. Its catapult, hauled 100 miles to the "Campus Martius" battlefield on Park's athletic grounds, was eight feet tall and used the twisted-rope-torsion principle for power.

With Barcio and Roos dressed in the uniforms of Roman generals. Park challenged Culver in Latin: "Provocamini! Venite et vincimini!" or, as we say, "You are challenged! Come and be conquered!" Culver answered with a long prayer to Jupiter.

Jupiter muffed it. Park won every weight class. Its 10-pound stone, the smallest used, traveled 238 feet to Culver's 27.5, its 30-pound stone went 100 feet 4 inches to Culver's 42 feet. Park also hurled a Greek fireball (a flaming five-pound rock) 238 feet 6 inches in an exhibition.

"My original goal, which hasn't been attained," said Barcio, "is to hurl a 100-pound stone 100 yards. The Romans used to hurl 500-pound stones 500 feet. It cost them quite a few men. We won't do that."


Law officials here and there have taken exception to the way Joe Higgins, TV actor, portrays a squat, swaggering Southern sheriff in a series of Dodge television commercials. Higgins peers out from behind tinted glasses, calls everyone "boy" and generally plays the law and order fool while the commercial stresses what a sporty car Dodge makes.

Robert M. Chiaramonte, Ohio highway patrol superintendent, was sufficiently miffed to write Chrysler Corporation and protest the commercials as depicting policemen in "a most objectionable manner." The letter contained a warning that his agency might stop buying Chrysler products if the ads weren't changed.

There will be a change. M. G. Moggee, Dodge advertising manager, replied, that "we're going to make him [the TV sheriff] into a father image—participating in Little League. We never intended to dilute the image of law enforcement."

So don't be surprised if you turn on the tube some night soon and see Higgins dressed in a mask and chest protector, growling, "Take your base, boy!"


It is some 63 years since Rudyard Kipling was guest of honor at a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, held in Victoria, British Columbia. Now the U.S. Golf Association's Golf Journal has rediscovered an effect of that meeting, a hitherto forgotten poem by Kipling written in commemoration of the event. The poem was recalled by Joshua Green, 100-year-old member of the Seattle Golf Club, when the Golf Journal asked him for an account of the historic Seattle-Victoria interclub series. It was published in the Victoria Colonist in 1907 and described the morning after of what appears to have been a most convivial PNWGA affair and, so far as we know, never has been included in a Kipling anthology, or any other. It goes like this:

A gilded mirror, and a polished bar,
Myriads of glasses strewn ajar;
A kind faced man all dressed in white,
That's my recollection of last night.

The streets were narrow and far too long,
Sidewalks slippery, policemen strong;
The slamming door, the sea-going hack,
That's my recollection of getting back.

A rickety staircase and hard to climb,
But I rested often, I'd lots of time;
An awkward keyhole and a misplaced chair,
Informed my wife that I was there.

A heated interior and a revolving bed,
A sea-sick man with an awful head;
Cocktails, Scotch and booze galore,
Were all introduced to the cuspidor.

And in the morning came that jug of ice,
Which is necessary to men of vice,
And when it stilled my aching brain,
Did I swear off?—I got drunk again!



•Harry Sinden, Boston Bruins coach, asked if Bobby Orr played one of his best games after the Bruins' star scored two goals and two assists against Minnesota: "Yes, I guess you can say it was one of his best games—he's had about 70 of them."

•Abe Lemons, Oklahoma City basketball coach, asked whether he had spotted former Jacksonville Coach Joe Williams, former OCU player under Lemons, as a future success in the coaching ranks: "Why, certainly. I knew when he was a freshman he would go a long way. The first road trip he made as a freshman he ordered frogs legs at $4.25."

•Juan Marichal, Giants' $125,000 pitcher, on baseball's innovations to help hitters: "They give them everything. They've shortened the fences, lowered the mound, reduced the strike zone and put in AstroTurf. Someday they might stop after every hitter on every club asks for $150,000."