PROBLEM FOR PETE
Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the action taken last week by the New York State Racing Commission, which suspended three men for 30 days and moved to revoke the license of another for the part they played in the undercover ownership of racehorses—including the crack 3-year-old, Jim French—by a hoodlum the FBI says is associated with the Genovese crime family. Two of the suspended men are Johnny Campo (SI, May 3) and George Poole, both outstanding trainers; the one who may be set down permanently is Frank Caldwell, ostensibly the principal owner of Jim French when the colt ran in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont.
The fourth man—and here is the rub—is Ralph Wilson, a millionaire breeder and owner of horses whose interests outside racing include ownership of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. Wilson protested the action of the Racing Commission, saying the charges against him "involve nothing more than a technicality. I strongly resent any implication by the commission that I knowingly participated in anything of a devious nature...."
The commission charged that Wilson in eight instances "violated or attempted to violate or assisted in the violation" of its rules. It said he sold racehorses—including Jim French—to Ralph R. Libutti, also known as Robert Presti and Nicholas Spadea, who was not a licensed owner and who had been barred from tracks in New York State since 1968. Libutti, whose arrest record goes back to 1954 (conspiracy to rob, bookmaking, car theft and burglary), was arrested last Friday by the FBI on a 1969 forgery charge. The commission said Wilson issued bills of sale for the horses to other people, even though Libutti was the actual purchaser; Libutti's illicit ownership of the horses was thus concealed.
The 30-day suspension was, as racing people admitted, a slap on the wrist. Its importance to Wilson was how it would sit with Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the NFL. Alex Karras and Joe Namath came under severe pressure from Rozelle for associating with people the football commissioner deemed unsavory. How savory is Ralph Libutti?
NAME OF A NAME
There is a town in Illinois named Polo whose high school football team is nicknamed the Marcos. It could be worse. They could be called the Ponies.
OF A NAME
The University of Miami has a 6'4", 220-pound tackle called Golden Ruel. "It's not such a bad name," says Ruel, whose father, a former FBI agent, is Golden Sr. "He could have called me Slide."
For eight years Formula I drivers went to Mexico City in the fall for the last race of the Grand Prix circuit. This year's event was canceled, and indications are it may never be renewed as a Grand Prix championship race. The Mexican auto racing association says the reason for the cancellation was the death of Pedro Rodríguez, Mexico's foremost driver, who was killed in West Germany in July. However, the race had lost its Grand Prix status earlier because of the drivers' disenchantment with racing conditions last year. Crowds broke down the high-wire fence and sat on the very edge of the asphalt speedway. The worried drivers were continually aware of sunbathers, chess players, mothers suckling infants, couples necking, all within a few feet of the cars zooming by.
Jackie Stewart refused at first to race unless the public was herded behind the fence. A worried official said that messing with the spectators would not work—many had stayed up all night for the spots they had—and that the race better start. If it did not, Stewart was advised, the crowd was likely to express its disappointment on cars, drivers and officials. So the 1970 race was run but, despite promises that there would be better crowd control in the future, the drivers wanted no more of the Mexican Grand Prix.
One unhappy Mexican said, "For seven years, the spectators behaved. On the eighth, not understanding the danger, they tried for a closer view of the race. For that one mistake, we are out." Another added, "If Pedro were alive, we might have a chance to save the race. Now it is too late."
An 81-year-old British lady named Mrs. Lily Parry teed off at the 95-yard 8th hole of the Pontypridd Golf Course in Wales. Her tee shot went straight, bounced a couple of times, ran up to the cup and dropped for a hole in one. Mrs. Parry's heart sank. Her companions were whooping it up, declaring that she must be the oldest woman ever to make an ace, but Mrs. Parry had made holes in one twice before and, a widow for 10 years, all she could think of was how much it was going to cost her to stand drinks back in the clubhouse.
Isn't it about time to stop the barbarous habit of having the golfer who shot the hole in one treat the crowd? Surely, this is one of the least admirable of defeated man's ploys to get even. Golfers will point out that anyone who fears a hole in one coming on can take out insurance, either formally or through a cooperative program in the club. But that only begs the question. Why shouldn't the insurance be the other way around? Members should be obliged to toast the hole-in-oner and buy him drinks. Maybe even dinner. Maybe for him and his wife and his children and a couple of maiden aunts, if he has any. Make it an occasion for him to remember with pleasure, not dread. After all, for one hole he—or she—was a perfect golfer.
Things do come to an end, don't they? In Sydney, Australia, a two-column advertisement read: "For sale. Twelve-meter yachts, Vim, Gretel I and Gretel II." The ad went on to explain that the proposed sale of the yachting stable that had challenged twice for the America's Cup was the result of a decision not to try again in 1974. Yachtsman Sir Frank Packer explained: "I feel the economic and financial climate, not only in Australia but throughout the world, makes the commitment too onerous to enter into."
The ad was quite practical: "Each has an outfit of sail, gear and spare parts. Vim and Gretel I are afloat...in Sydney Harbour. Gretel II is stored ashore at Newport, Rhode Island. Please direct inquiries to Australian America's Cup Challenge Association, Box 4088 GPO, Sydney, NSW 2001." No prices were given.
TOMORROW AND TOMORROW
Jerry Seltzer of the Roller Derby made a short speech a few weeks back as that bizarre sport neared the end of its season. In light of the admonition voiced so often last Sunday during the seventh game of the World Series, Seltzer's talk was refreshing: "On Saturday of this week [he said] there will be no tomorrow for the 1971 International Roller Derby League Season. That is to say, on Friday of this week there will be a tomorrow for four teams, but that tomorrow will only be Saturday, which will be the last tomorrow for the two teams that survive the day before, which, as you recall, will be the next to the last tomorrow. This is true, of course, in any sudden-death Roller Derby World Series as compared to that other World Series, in which there can be as many as four no tomorrows for a team that has lost the first three games...."
In Roller Derby, Seltzer went on, no one worries "about playing them one at a time or putting on the skates one foot at a time or having it rain on both sides of the field while the wind is blowing only toward the north goalpost. We like to get tomorrow's work done today in the belief that game plans are only effective when you bump and run, rush the net and move the runner along. In conclusion, I'd like to point out that there's plenty of parking available."
Accompanying the printed text of the talk was a "Statistics of Address," which went, in part:
Times interrupted for applause
Pauses for laughter
Drink orders during address
LAST OF THE SPECIES
Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson drew little more than local attention when they breezed past the 500 mark in career home runs this season. Even though only 11 men have reached 500, seven got there during the past six years and it seems almost commonplace.
But now it is beginning to look as though Killebrew and Robinson may be the last to reach 500. The new, bigger ball parks and fast artificial turf are changing hitting styles from long ball to line drives, and the era of the home-run specialist could be over. Next on the list among active players is Willie Mc-Covey with 370 homers, but Willie, going on 34, is almost crippled with injury and was able to hit only 18 this year. Six others are between 300 and 366, but only one, Norman Cash, was able to hit 30 home runs this year, and Cash will be 37 in November. Ron Santo, youngest of the group at 31, would have to average 30 homers a season for six years to approach 500; Santo had only 21 this season.
Young lions like Johnny Bench and Reggie Jackson could do it—if they add another dozen high-homer seasons to what they have done already. But Frank Robinson wonders if they will stay in baseball that long. "Young players don't think about putting in 16 seasons like I have," he says. "They don't have to. They are much better paid than we older players were at the same age. They have investments, they take care of their money, and they have good jobs and business opportunities waiting outside the game. They don't have to play as long."
NEW ENGLAND STYLE
A football game between Rhode Island and Vermont is not the same as Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, but a sequence of plays in this year's battle between those two New England titans is not likely to be repeated at any level of college football. Behind 20-16 in the fourth quarter, Vermont had a first down on Rhode Island's nine-yard line. It gained five on first down, lost five on second down, threw an incomplete pass on third down. A fourth-down pass was incomplete in the end zone, but Rhode Island was charged with interference, and Vermont had an automatic first down on the one. It lost a yard, gained a yard, threw another pass. Again, pass interference was called and again Vermont had an automatic first down on the one. Abandoning its risky, if rewarding, passing game, Vermont stayed on the ground for four straight plays. It gained 2½ feet on the first one, was stopped for no gain twice and, on last down, ground to a stop just short of the goal line.
Rhode Island took over, with the ball literally on the one-inch line, and was offside on its first play. Penalty: half the distance to the goal, or to the half-inch line. A penalty moved the ball out to the five, and from there Rhode Island began to move, culminating its drive nine plays later with a 15-yard run for a touchdown.
Summing up, Rhode Island held Vermont for 11 plays inside the 10 and then marched 99 yards, two feet and 11½ inches to score. Top that, Cornhuskers.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Helms, Texas assistant coach, on Arkansas Quarterback Joe Ferguson: "With him in there, third and long to Arkansas is like first and 10 to everyone else."
•Charlie Fox, San Francisco Giant manager, on Willie Mays' eating habits: "In 20 years Willie Mays has gained a pound and a half. He is one of those athletes who knows how to take care of himself. You spread a buffet for the team after a game, and the young players will gobble everything in sight. Willie will take one stick of gum."