LOOPHOLE ON THE ICE
In an attempt to prevent those bench-clearing brawls that have turned hockey games into circuses, the National Hockey League adopted some strict new rules during its Montreal meetings last week.
The first identifiable player off the bench will be hit with a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Five-minute penalties must be served in their entirety; the offending player cannot leave the penalty box when the opposition scores a goal. Thus, his team will be shorthanded for five minutes. But a game misconduct means he cannot return to the game at all. A substitute must play in his place. In the case of a star player, that can be very serious.
Should the player repeat the offense in a second game, the same penalties will apply, but in addition the player will be given a one-game suspension with loss of salary.
NHL President Clarence Campbell pointed out that if so many game misconducts are assessed that a team is below playing strength, that team would have to forfeit the game.
It's a step in the right direction, all right, but someone has suggested that a clever coach—Punch Imlach comes to mind—might keep an old rugged retread like Reggie Fleming on his bench for the sole purpose of leading the charge. He would be banished, but the fight would be worth it.
TOO LATE FOR JOE
As Joe Namath can tell you, the incidence of knee injury in football is excessive and has been for many years. Now comes Joseph S. Torg, M.D. of Temple University's Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and Theodore Quedenfeld, Temple's athletics department trainer, with a recommendation, based on a long and thorough study, that just might turn out to be the penicillin of the knee.
They feel they have proven what has long been suspected, that "the cleat structure of the conventional football shoe is responsible for the fixation of the foot on the ground, with subsequent forces and abnormal motions transmitted to the knee resulting in injury to the joint."
Their suggestion: change from football to soccer shoes.
Over the past three years they have conducted a study of the 18 schools of the Philadelphia Public High School Football League and the 18 in the Philadelphia Catholic High School Football League to determine the effect of shoe type and cleat length on the incidence and severity of knee injuries. In 1968 all varsity players in the public league and in 1969 all varsity players in the Catholic league wore the conventional football shoes containing seven three-quarter-inch cleats. In 1969 and 1970 all varsity public league players wore a soccer shoe with a molded sole containing 14 three-eighth-inch cleats. All players in the Catholic league wore a similar shoe in the 1970 season. In both leagues, all practices and games were conducted on natural turf.
"A comparison of statistics obtained for the respective seasons," they reported, "demonstrated that a marked decrease in both incidence and severity of knee injuries occurred when the 'soccer' type shoe was worn. In addition, in the Catholic league, there was also a noticeable decrease in the incidence of ankle injuries." Most impressive was the reduction of knee operations that had to be performed—from 11 to four in the public league and from 17 to two in the Catholic league.
SO MUCH FOR ALABAMA ET AL.
The only major sports conference that does not award athletic scholarships, though there are tricky ways to get around that, is the Ivy League. From the record of late you would not know it.
The University of Pennsylvania got into the regional finals of the 1971 NCAA basketball tournament. Cornell won this year's national lacrosse title. It also won the 1970 hockey tournament, and a former Cornell goalie, Ken Dryden, was chosen Most Valuable Player in the 1971 Stanley Cup playoffs. Columbia tied for this year's NCAA fencing title. Harvard went to the nationals in soccer the last two years. Dartmouth was fifth in the NCAA baseball tournament last year.
And so on. Two Ivy baseball players, Pete Varney of Harvard and Pete Broberg of Dartmouth, were first choices in two separate categories of the major league draft this spring. Tom Gage, a Cornell grad, recorded the top hammer throw for an American this year. Yale grad Frank Shorter has run the fastest six miles in the world for 1971. Geoff Petrie of Princeton was the NBA's co-Rookie of the Year. In all, quite a scholarly show.
Because he is much too skilled at pitching coins into a dish and winning Teddy bears, Glenn Kimbler of Baltimore has been banished from the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.
"He's like having Willie Sutton in a bank," explained Glenn Rhodes, manager of the park, hinting darkly that Kimbler's methods were not quite orthodox.
"Why should I cheat," demanded the expert, "when I can win all the bears I need on the straight?"
In the two weeks since the park has been open this year, Kimbler has won four of the two-foot-high bears. Last year he won 10.
"I can usually get a bear in three tries [which costs him three nickels]." Kimbler said. "But even if it takes more, I never leave until I've got one. It might take me up to $3, but I always walk away with a bear when I go in there. That's what drives them nuts."
Kimbler has been giving the bears to hospitalized children. On the chance that someone else might wish to take up the sport, Kimbler revealed that his technique involves putting a bit of spin on the nickel and pitching it with a slight arc in the trajectory. As for himself, "I might try a disguise," he said, "but on second thought it would be impossible to disguise my talent."
A bit of trouble developed at about 28,000 feet over Boulder, Colo. last week when the flame went out on the propane burners, but Engineer Karl H. Stefan got them fired again and climbed on up to 31,500 feet to set a new hot-air balloon world altitude record. Then he wafted down routinely and he and his partner, Denver executive Chauncey Dunn Jr., fixed up the trouble.
Next morning Dunn clambered into the 1,100-pound gondola and took the yellow, red and white striped balloon up to 34,000 feet for still another new world mark. (In both cases, the sealed barographs carried in the gondola will be sent to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the outfit which makes such records official.) It was a pretty heady week for both men. Stefan pointed out that he now holds the record for the shortest record, and Dunn allowed that "we both worked so hard, it doesn't matter who won."
But about that bit of trouble: it seems the valves were freezing on the propane burners, a natural-enough hazard since the temperatures up there were about 60° below zero. So balloonists Stefan and Dunn fell back on good old American ingenuity. They fitted the valves with electric socks, the kind that hunters stuff into their boots to keep their toes warm.
GOING, GOING, GONE
If you want to get shirts for your bowling league or buy 1,655 minnow lures or maybe just treat yourself to a new tennis racket, the place to go for bargains is New York's U.S. Bureau of Customs. Last week the customs people, who run an auction of abandoned, unclaimed, forfeited and/or seized goods every three months, completed their latest sale, and it was quite a haul for the U.S. Treasury: $162,853 for the largest number of lots ever offered.
Patience you need, because somewhere along in the 113-page catalog, a Bronx housewife or maybe a home-economics teacher will outbid you for 26 kitchen articles, or a squirrelly little guy will get your fishing lures. A long-haired type will purchase a $7,000 package of transmitters, receivers and amplifiers for a measly $500, and some well-dressed, tweed-capped gentleman will raise the bid on that wonderful 1946 MG you liked. Nor will you have a chance against the merchant who wants 81 women's lace jump suits or 175 pairs of men's shorts, but if you are sports-minded you may win the bid for three boat propellers, some used golf bags and clubs, 22 toy cars, eight inflatable swimming pools, two wooden jigsaw puzzles, some model sailboats, a handsome game table, chess sets or one damaged canoe.
If none of that appeals, try gin, Scotch, wine, vodka or brandy for a cold night in a ski lodge.
OLD MEN'S GAME
The Tournament Players Division of the Professional Golf Association took a hard look at its roster the other day and concluded that, unlike many other athletes—as, for instance, football, baseball and basketball players—golfers do not necessarily wilt when they reach the age of 35.
Halfway through the PGA's 1971 schedule, the figures show that four of the current top 10 money winners are 40 or over, have won six of the first 22 tournaments and have pocketed, collectively, $357,000—or more than 10% of the total prize money at stake.
What is more, seven of the 13 players leading the year's scoring averages are 40 or over, and of the 15 players leading the point race for berths on the 1971 Ryder Cup team, seven are 40 or over.
Topping even that, every low-scoring record for the 1971 season thus far is held or shared by a player 40 or over.
THE BATTING ORDER CHANGETH
In Gail Hopkins, used primarily in a pinch-hitting role by the Kansas City Royals, major league baseball may have its first genuine scholar-intellectual since the days of Moe Berg, catcher and linguist.
When the Royals were in New York recently, Hopkins, before going out to Yankee Stadium and hitting a three-run pinch homer, had been attending meetings of The New York Academy of Sciences. He was interested chiefly in a conference on "membrane structures of cells," a subject that has a bearing on his studies for a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the Illinois Institute of Technology. (Before going to Kansas City this year in a trade, Hopkins had played for the Chicago White Sox.)
Hopkins holds an M.A. in religion from Pepperdine College in Los Angeles and wrote his thesis on the Hebrew synagogue.
"It was a critical study and evaluation of the rise of the church in the New Testament," he explains. "It dealt with structure, organization, the analogies and differences."
Hopkins carries textbooks and taped lectures with him on trips. He believes that baseball players are too often maligned as being limited intellectually when their principal problem is that, while other young athletes are going to college, most baseball players are laboring in the minor leagues to get their careers started.
Another Royal player, Pitcher Bruce Dal Canton, is working on a master's degree in education, specializing in biology.
Ring Lardner would be appalled. And why doesn't Jim Bouton write a book about this?
THEY SAID IT
•Greg Fredericks, Penn State's three-mile and six-mile champion, on what he thinks about when running: "The first thing you think about is right at the end of the first lap. You come around, there's a guy holding up a card that says 23 laps to go and you feel sick."
•Mrs. Philip K. Wrigley, wife of the reticent owner of the Chicago Cubs: "He has only two speeches. The short one, 'Thank you,' and the long one, 'Thank you very much.' I like the long one."
•Bob Aspromonte, third baseman, when asked his opinion of the Clete Boyer-Paul Richards squabble: "You're talkin' to the wrong fellow about Paul Richards. He sent me to the New York Mets. I love him."