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Poor old NBC. It originally had TV rights to two pro football games last Sunday as well as the World Series. Because of a time conflict, it had to let another network take over the earlier of the two football games, which CBS did. NBC died a little when it realized the football telecast would start an hour before the Series game, thus giving CBS the chance to lure away a substantial part of NBC's audience with—oh, this hurts—what really was NBC's game. Then it died a lot when the rains came and washed out the baseball game, leaving NBC, like the girl in the old song, with time on its hands and nowhere to go on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.


The ABC news commentator Howard K. Smith, who is based in Washington, last week had some fun on his program with neighboring Baltimore, which is nationally famous for Orioles, Colts, Bullets and crab cakes, and locally famous for the distinctive way it mangles the English language (SI, Oct. 10, 1966). After moaning about the repeated successes of Baltimore vis-√†-vis Washington, going back to the War of 1812, Smith said, "I have hunted for something unfavorable to say about Baltimore and I've come up with this: they can't speak English there. They call their city Balimer, Marelin. They call garbage gobbidge. Legal is pronounced liggle. Paramour is their word for power mower. If you ask directions, remember that Droodle Avenue means Druid Hill Avenue. Clays means clothes. Doll means dial—the phone. Cancel means council, as in town cancel...and the team they meet in the Series is the Pittsburgh Parrots."

A Baltimore city hall press aide named John W. Eddinger tired off a reply to Smith: "We heard you owen the TV about Balimerese. What's so funny about a paramour to cut the grass, we'd like to ax? Anyway, air Awrioles won the Murican Lig, and we invite you to be air guest at air ball park when they padder the Pittsburgh Parrots in the World Series. Jawn us in Balimer, buoy. It'll give you a chance to excape D.C. oncet. Balimer is right next dewer, only a few molls from your hayome. Come owen over. Lissern to thousands of Balimoreans yell, 'Gayo, Awrioles, gayo!' "

And the city comptroller, Hyman A. Pressman, composed a poem:

"Harrid K. Smiff is a padder puff. He treated the city of Balimer rough. He oughter visit Balimer and mebbe try Our Marelin urshters or lemon moran pie.

If he falls on the payment or itches in his pants,
We'll give him a ride in our ambolance."
Good night, Harrid.

In Maryland, as in some other states, the payment of a special fee allows an automobile owner to obtain license plates imprinted with a single word of the owner's choosing. The veteran starter of races at Maryland's thoroughbred tracks elected to have his last name on his plates, which creates quite a stir when he tools around the highways. The starter's name is Eddie Blind.


Bob Lurie of Holliston, Mass. was sitting south in a duplicate bridge tournament. He and his partner had bid three no trump but Lurie, playing the hand, could count only eight sure tricks. As he studied the alternatives open to him, he suddenly felt ill. He lay down on the floor and one of his opponents at the table. Dr. Malcolm Colmer of Scarsdale, N. Y., examined him. The doctor felt that Lurie might be experiencing a mild cardiac irregularity and immediately called for an ambulance.

As they waited for the ambulance, Lurie said he would finish the hand. But when he sat at the table the distress returned, and again he was obliged to lie down. Annoyed—he had been playing well and this was the final hand of the evening—he called for his cards and said, "I can play it from here." And he did, with the doctor pausing now and then to check his pulse. From his supine position Lurie chose a tactic that forced Dr. Colmer, of all the unkind cuts, into a lead that gave his patient the ninth trick and the contract.

The triumphant Lurie was then taken to a hospital where he learned that he had made a top score for that particular deal, that he and his partner were best overall for the evening and, certainly least important to a dedicated bridge player, that his momentary illness was not serious.


Coastal areas are beginning to turn to their local sea gulls for the latest report on pollution, if you accept a theory advanced by Richard Anderson, acting director of the Maine Audubon Society. While some species of birdlife have diminished toward the vanishing point because of man's abuse of the environment, the sea-gull population has been doubling every dozen years or so. One bird's poison is another bird's meat. There is an old Thorne Smith book in which the hero, who has been turned into a sea gull, is befriended by a real gull. "Want to fly over and eat some garbage?" the new friend asks. Smith knew his gulls. "They have a strong, rapid digestive system that can even digest steak bones," says Anderson. Because of this they flourish and multiply wherever man leaves garbage uncovered or untreated. For example, some now commute 90 miles or more each day from crowded nesting areas along the Maine coast to gourmet hot spots around Boston.

In one way the gulls would seem to be a blessing: as scavengers that help get rid of messy garbage. But they don't get rid of all of it and, worse, they carry tapeworms that pass into water supplies via the birds' droppings. Fish, particularly salmon, are vulnerable to tapeworm infestation.

Anderson strongly recommends doing away with open, burning garbage dumps and other exposed waste areas. "We'll know the environmental problem is improving when the gull population declines," he says.


The current flap about artificial turf came into sharp focus during the recent Dolphin-Jet game in Miami's Orange Bowl. The Poly-Turf surface was matted and seemed to be covered with a fine dust, which created a very slippery situation. Coach Don Shula of the Dolphins reported later that players had slipped 59 times during the game (Miami, outslipping New York 33-26, lost the game 14-10). Once, on a reverse, Paul War-field of the Dolphins had an open field ahead of him. "I made a sharp cut," said Warfield. "Whether I'd have slipped on regular grass I couldn't say, but I never slipped so fast before in my life. I was on the ground before I knew it."

Poly-Turf fared better last Sunday, with slippage almost nonexistent in the New England Patriots' stadium in Foxboro, Mass., despite a steady, heavy rain. It is said to have longer fibers and more padding than either Astro Turf or Tartan, and it is the only artificial surface endorsed by the NFL Players Association. Ordinarily, it is vacuumed and swept after every game. "The grain here runs north to south," said the Orange Bowl's Al Rubio, "so we vacuum it from south to north and then sweep it the same way. That keeps it from matting." Unfortunately, a high school game was played in the stadium the night before the Dolphin-Jet debacle. "It takes the better part of a day to vacuum and sweep the field," Rubio explained, "and we just didn't have time to get it done by game time."

Art Spinney of American Biltrite, which makes Poly-Turf, thought pollution might have been the culprit. "We have one field on which we have a hell of a problem because of nearby steel mills," said the former Baltimore Colt lineman. "This film of dust may be residue from planes. We'll vacuum this and then clean it with a shampoo."

While awaiting the shampooer, which had to come from South Carolina, Spinney arranged a jerry-built cleaning device. Sixteen old-fashioned scrub brushes were nailed to the bottom of a wooden form and dragged over the field. Faintly embarrassed by the simplicity of his scrub-brush rig, Spinney added, "This will agitate the fibers, and that will break the dust and rejuvenate the surface. You have to remember, synthetic turfs are still in their infancy. Matting is indigenous to all of them. You can look at fields installed by our competitors and find much the same thing. It's like your living-room carpet."

Except, of course, that Paul Warfield doesn't cut downfield on his living-room carpet.

Another setback for artificial surfaces in Florida occurred at Calder Race Course, the brand-new thoroughbred track near Miami. When Calder opened last May, one of its shiny features was its Saf-T-Turf track, an all-weather surface produced by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, which also makes Tartan. By the end of the summer horsemen were so opposed to Saf-T-Turf that the Calder management reluctantly agreed to cover it over with sand. What makes this particularly frustrating is that the Calder track was built by William McKnight, the horseman who owned the superb Dr. Fager and who is chairman of the board of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.



•Larry Lacewell, assistant football coach at Oklahoma, on the Sooners' successive games with Southern California, Texas and Colorado: "I can't figure how we missed scheduling Russia."

•Mel Daniels, Indiana Pacers center, on his first meeting with Artis Gilmore, star rookie of the Kentucky Colonels: "He said I taught him a lot. I couldn't quite figure that one out. All he did was get 30 points and 23 rebounds."