TOUGH TALK FROM PREXY
At a recent meeting of college athletic directors, Dr. Willis Tate, president of Southern Methodist University and a man acknowledged to be a strong supporter of athletics, told his audience:
"Your profession is dying. Your programs are on a suicide course. The pros are smarter than you are. They have taken over. You are playing the game as if this wasn't so."
It was, in effect, a challenge to the athletic directors to institute progressive change.
One educator who took Dr. Tate's words seriously was Dr. Stan Marshall, president of Florida State University.
"Diminishing public support is currently one of the most serious threats to higher education and, whether all of us in academe fully approve or not, much public support is attracted to the university through our athletic programs," he said.
"I'm not talking just about financial support—though I mean to include that, too—I am referring to public respect for a university's mission, and understanding of its students and faculty."
Competition from professional teams is one of the problems being faced by college athletic programs, he admitted. Gate receipts are affected, and this "will probably become more serious in the future.
"But we aren't going to beat the pros," he said. "The best we can do is learn from them and work with them whenever possible."
Reductions in operating expenses for athletics can be achieved, he said, but this must be done on a regional or national basis.
"For example," he explained, "I believe we could reduce the number of scholarship awards without any appreciable loss of quality in performance. Four of the strong Eastern powers—Syracuse, Penn State, Pitt and West Virginia—have a ceiling of 100 scholarships a year and they compete pretty successfully.
"Obviously we're not going to take any such reduction unilaterally, but we would certainly be interested in a move of this kind by the NCAA."
The NCAA is studying the problem—slowly and carefully. Last week at Dallas one of its committees proposed a limitation of 30 football scholarships and six basketball scholarships per year per school, as well as restrictions on the size of coaching staffs. The hope is that the NCAA can translate recommendations into action before too many college athletic departments go broke.
IRON MIKE FINDS A HOME
There are those who have long felt that Little League pitchers are prone to arm injury because they try to emulate the big-league boys before their muscles, cartilage and bone have developed sufficiently to cope with the contortions required in throwing a curveball. Well, the Madison Meadows (Phoenix, Ariz.) Little League has an answer. Jack August, a physical-education teacher at Madison Meadows School, has persuaded the teams in his league to use a mechanical pitcher in place of a live one.
The way it works, the coach of the defensive team operates the machine from a chair behind the mound. A youngster who normally would do the pitching stands by to perform all the fielding duties of the pitcher. Everything else is like regulation baseball except that if a batted ball hits the pitching machine there is no play and the batter gets another chance.
Scores still run in the high 20s range, but now the kids get in seven innings of play well within the allotted 90-minute limit. And the pitcher never gets mad at the ump.
Most fans—and baseball players, for that matter—would disagree, but Roberto Clemente says baseball is a stronger game now than it was in the simple, 16-team days before expansion.
"Because there were so few openings years ago," the Pirate outfielder explains, "players used to be 28 to 30 years old before they made it to the majors. They'd play many more seasons in the minors before they were brought up.
"Now they are 20 to 22 years old and they are up here throwing bullets. Maybe baseball players express the way the world is. The players who come up from the minor leagues today don't worry about anything. They just want to make good, and they want to do it in a hurry.
"When I was breaking in, a rookie was scared. He wouldn't get much attention from his teammates, and usually there weren't more than a couple of rookies on each team. Now there are a lot of rookies on all the teams, and this might be taking off some of the pressure."
FOR SOBER CONSIDERATION
The pink elephant is a myth in most of the world but not in Kenya's Tsavo area, where there are something like 25,000 of them, all clearly observable by the utterly sober. Not only that, one of them has three tusks.
The pink comes from the crimson dust or mud of the country. Elephants enjoy mud baths. The extra tusk is an anomaly, and its proud owner recently wandered out of the sanctuary of Tsavo National Park, where hunting is forbidden, into an "open" district of central Kenya. There he was suddenly in danger of being shot by trophy hunters of the bizarre or by African ivory poachers armed with bows and poisoned arrows. Kenya's game department has decreed therefore that, as a "special specimen," he must not be molested.
A three-tusked pink elephant might ordinarily be considered a sufficient curio, but in northern Kenya, officials say solemnly, there is a four-tusk monster.
DUROCHER EXPOSED AT LAST
It never has been a burning issue, but the question of Leo Durocher's age has come up from time to time and Leo has been of no help in fixing it. Now he admits officially that he will turn 65 on July 27.
He has not admitted this in so many words, of course. What he has done is to apply for his baseball pension—$1,945 a month, the largest amount ever handed out in baseball.
Until now Durocher has kept his exact age clouded. He has had at least three different dates of birth in the "official" baseball publications. But the baseball pension system puts a deadline of sorts on certifying a particular date of birth.
An ex-player or manager can start collecting his pension any time after he reaches 50. If he chooses not to collect it at that time, the money stays in the fund and the pension payments he eventually will receive grow larger and larger. At 65, though, the pension payments no longer increase. They stabilize at the last plateau.
To start getting his monthly check, the pensioner must apply 30 days before his 65th birthday. If he does not, it is the same as turning down money—and Durocher is not about to turn down $23,340 a year for vanity's sake.
That's how we found out, Leo.
SOME PEOPLE NEED KEEPERS
The Detroit zoo was forced to hire additional security guards last month to protect its animals from brainless, heartless gawkers who have been killing them with everything from arrows to firecrackers. But the problem is not limited to Detroit.
At Seattle's Woodland Park zoo autopsies on the bodies of two river otters showed that they died of eating flashbulbs tossed into their pool. Deer, handfed candy and ice-cream bars on stick handles, die from swallowing the sticks. Harbor seals playfully—and fatally—catch and swallow pennies tossed to them. One seal was found with 400 coins in its stomach. Another seal had eaten two socks, three gloves, a plastic bag and some string, resulting in a fatal intestinal blockage.
There's a reason for those DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS signs.
The fugitive was wanted on half a dozen criminal charges but, passing Margaret Hayward playground in San Francisco, he saw a baseball game in progress and could not resist stopping.
It was the annual Police Inspectors vs. FBI contest.
Two cops spotted him and made the arrest.
AND A PAIR OF CHAPS?
Now Roy Rogers has golf boots that jingle, jangle, jingle.
He ordered a bright-purple pair in the high-rise cowboy style from Clarence Troillet, Little Rock bootmaker, who had made a similar pair for a friend of Roy's.
"There is a lot of work involved in converting regular boots to golfing boots," Troillet complained. "It took me six hours and I don't want to make another pair for anyone."
Writing in the Maryland Conservationist, State Forester A. R. Bond had this to say:
"One tree has the cooling effect of five air conditioners.
"Noise levels are reduced by six to eight decibels by green belts 100 feet wide.
"One acre of growing trees will scrub clean the air polluted by eight automobiles operated for 12 hours.
"The same acre will absorb the carbon dioxide produced by 50 automobiles during 12 hours.
"A green belt less than 300 feet wide will produce the same effect on the atmosphere as a one-mile increase in altitude."
GRIN AND BARE IT
It is well known that coaches gnash their teeth during moments of stress and that moments of stress are commonplace in sport. Now, after 20 years of coaching, Dick Smith, diving headmaster at the Air Force Academy and twice an Olympic diving coach, will have to pay the price. He has worn an eighth of an inch off his upper teeth.
Smith used to wear a capping plate but would frequently lose it out of his mouth or his pocket while bending over at poolside. Now he is having the whole upper echelon rebuilt—at a cost of about $250 a tooth.
And he has a full set of teeth.
CROSS FIRE FOR TREVINO
It is bizarre enough that there are those who—by some curious, twisted logic—blame Gary Player for South Africa's apartheid policy, but another golfer, Lee Trevino, encountered something even more grotesque last week.
Playing in the Amana VIP tournament at the University of Iowa, Trevino looked up to see a large sign reading "Trevino Chicano or tanned Gringo?" It was held by a man and woman of apparent Mexican ancestry, which is Trevino's, too. There was speculation as to what the sign meant. The holders said something about Trevino turning his back on Chicanos by playing a white man's game.
Trevino, customarily witty, could think of no funny lines to handle the embarrassing situation except that when a security guard asked if he should run the sign holders off the course, Trevino said, "No. It's so damn hot out here, let them sweat a little."
They sweated a while, then left. But the day was not all a loss for Trevino, despite the sign and the fact that he failed to win the Amana tournament for the first time in three years (Bert Yancey fired a course record of 63 to Lee's 74). Although Trevino did not win the $2,500 prize, he did pick up appearance money. Some of this went to his son Rick, who is eight and a Little Leaguer.
"They're buying a new field," Trevino explained, "and at first he wanted me to buy the whole 40 acres. They had been peddling candy to buy this field, so I promised him I would send $500 and told him, 'Send me the candy, I'll peddle it myself.' "
THEY SAID IT
•Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, president and head baseball coach of Grambling College, pitching batting practice at age 65: "I'm still loving people. Prejudices tend to make people sick."
•Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tiger pitcher, on his paunch: "All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, 'See? There's a fat guy doing O.K. Bring me another beer.' "