MURDER IN THE CORRAL
Outside Toronto a mare which had won Olympic and Pan-American gold medals for the Canadian Equestrian Team was bedded down in fresh shavings for the night. The caretaker, whose wife was out of town, took the German shepherd which normally guards the stables home for company. The jumper's owner, Stockbroker Tom Gayford, by coincidence also was away from home.
Next morning Big Dec, the 11-year-old thoroughbred, was in pitiable shape. With a baseball bat or a wrapped pipe, she had been beaten across the windpipe, shoulder and a previously injured leg that had kept the mare and Gay-ford from some earlier Olympic Trials. As there were no shavings in her mane or tail, there was no question of such accidental injuries as could occur when a horse thrashes around with colic. The overnight brutality ended any Olympic hopes for Gayford, although he will go to Munich as a coach. Big Dee will survive, but her competitive future is in question and the motive for the savage attack is still a mystery.
"It certainly wasn't done by a friend of mine," said Gayford sardonically. "It must have been a demented personality. But in a way you could say it was done beautifully. It was well enough executed to put her [and therefore Gayford] out of the way for a while. Thank God they didn't kill her."
But here in the U.S. there have been recent equine atrocities that made Big Dee's Mafia-style beating all but trivial by comparison. In California's San Fernando Valley, within a three-mile radius of Northridge, eight horses and ponies have been stabbed and mutilated. Another had a rope tied from neck to legs so that he strangled himself. Then he was disemboweled. A 10th horse seems to have been poisoned.
The compiler of these macabre facts is Mrs. Paul Burmeister, whose children's two ponies were slaughtered in their corral so expertly that Mrs. Burmeister believes the murderer has either worked on the killing floor of a slaughterhouse or is a very experienced hunter who has stabbed many animals after a kill to drain them of their blood. She points out that Teddy, a 7-year-old pony, was killed by one precise stab and then slashed unnecessarily an additional 32 times.
No one has yet been apprehended in this bloodbath, but the Southern California Horsemen's Council is trying to get this kind of offense upgraded from its present misdemeanor status to felony.
Wild ducks living in the protected environment of zoos have been known to survive for 30 years, but the life-span of a wild duck living in freedom appears to be about three years, with good luck. Almost none go five or more.
So wildlife experts were astonished when a wild mallard drake that had been banded at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Ala. in January 1944 was killed by a hunter on the Savannah River in 1972.
"We were so astounded we checked and double-checked to be sure the kill was authentic," said Wheeler Wildlife Manager Tom Atcheson. "This particular drake, an adult at the time, was banded by Henry Grammer in January of 1944. That's 28 years ago, and it must have been around two years old then.
"That old fellow must have seen a lot of sights in his day."
He must have dodged a lot of shotgun pellets, too.
THE SUMMER LINE
In the opinion of Harrah's Tahoe Race-book the Baltimore Colts are 5-to-2 favorites to win the American Football Conference and the Minnesota Vikings are 5-to-2 in the National.
Other Harrah odds:
AFC—Oakland 3 to 1; Miami and Kansas City, each 7 to 2; Pittsburgh and Cleveland, each 8 to 1; Cincinnati 10 to 1; New York 12 to 1; New England 20 to 1; San Diego 25 to 1; Denver and Houston, each 30 to 1; Buffalo 40 to 1.
NFC—Dallas 7 to 2; San Francisco 4 to 1; Detroit 5 to I; Los Angeles 6 to 1; Washington 8 to 1; Atlanta 12 to 1; St. Louis and Green Bay, each 20 to 1; Philadelphia and Chicago, each 25 to 1; New Orleans 30 to 1; New York 40 to 1.
COURTESY OF O'HARE
The pool used for the U.S. Olympic diving trials in Chicago's suburban Park Ridge is directly under the normal flight pattern of nearby O'Hare field, the world's busiest airport. Yet not once during the three days of competition was a diver shaken up by the noise of a low-flying jet passing overhead.
"The cooperation we got from the traffic-control tower at O'Hare was almost as astounding as the first-in-history perfect dive by Mike Finneran," reported Ron O'Brien, Ohio State diving coach. "For three days they rerouted the planes so that not once did they go over while contestants were diving."
AN ECHO FOR FIDO
A patent lawyer, John F. McClellan Sr. of Baltimore, now has a patent for one of his own inventions, a very odd one.
It is based on his theory that dogs are like people. He has noticed that if a person shouts and someone answers by mimicking that shout, the first shouter is likely to shut up. So he devised an instrument that records the barking of dogs, then sends the sound of the bark back in amplified form and at a wave frequency which dogs can hear, but not humans.
The next-door neighbor's dog can thus be silenced and the neighbor won't know how it was done, says McClellan.
Requests are pouring in for the device, but the inventor has as yet been unable to go into mass production.
OLYMPIC FASHION NOTE
There are members of the U.S. Olympic track team who never have worn dress shoes; they have lived out their young lives in sneakers. Other athletes bound for the Summer Olympics have never owned a jacket. Now, thanks to the largess of Sears, Roebuck, every one of the 479 men and 133 women bound for Munich will have outfits, from socks to suitcases, costing over $500. Sears donated $500,000 to the U.S. team but makes an off-the-rack guess that it will have spent close to $1 million for red, white and blue parade uniforms (page 21), travel outfits and proper dress for a White House dinner before the team departs.
In Washington, 19 tailors, 21 fitters and seven seamstresses have been put to work on problems that would boggle a Savile Row expert. Wrestler Chris Taylor weighs 420 pounds. He has a 23-inch neck, 62-inch chest, 59-inch waist and 33-inch thighs. The smallest male athlete, Gymnast Makoto Sakamoto, weighs 120 pounds and has a 14½-inch neck, 26-inch waist and 25-inch thighs.
Swimmers have exceptionally broad shoulders while track and field athletes are justifiably the fussiest about their feet. "Be careful," cautioned Marathoner Kenny Moore. "I've got two sizes. One foot is a D and the other an E."
One tailor remembers a team member commenting that he liked his outfit so much he was going to get married in it after the Games.
SAVONAROLA AT PENN STATE
Penn State football teams have compiled some impressive statistics over the past few seasons, but the one of which Coach Joe Paterno is proudest is that all 19 seniors on his 1970 Orange Bowl team graduated within one term of completing their athletic eligibility. Paterno holds that "An athlete who does not graduate is grossly underpaid as an entertainer. One who graduates is overpaid." Too often, he feels, a college abandons its responsibility to an athlete when he completes his athletic eligibility. Paterno proposes that the National Collegiate Athletic Association can do something about this by depriving a school of one grant-in-aid for each athlete who (excluding military service) does not graduate within one term after the end of the academic year in which he completes his eligibility. The penalty would be for one year and, in the case of football, would begin with the next recruited freshman class.
Penn State and the rest of the Eastern Big Four (Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia) have agreed to a limit of 100 football scholarships now, but Paterno would like to see the number reduced to 95. He has another interesting suggestion. For each incoming student-athlete whose scholarship prediction is 3.0 or better, the school would be eligible for one noncounting grant, with a limit of three for each incoming class. Thus, a school would be rewarded for recruiting intelligent athletes.
Two other standards which Paterno would like to sec adopted—and which already prevail at Penn State—are a normal-progress rule and a 2.0 grade-point requirement. The normal-progress rule means that an athlete may never be more than 10 credits behind his entering class during any school year. It is a way of making sure the athlete does not fall so far behind that it would be useless for him to stay in school after completing his eligibility. The national grade-point requirement is 1.6.
Paterno's chance of gaining support for most of his proposals is a good fourth-and-27 shot. But at least Paterno is one coach ready to gamble instead of punting.
The Florida crawfish is a poor relation of the Maine lobster, but there are those who love it. The annual opening of the crawfish season in Florida waters may be compared to the start of a land rush in the old West. Thousands turn out equipped with legal devices—their bare hands, nets or traps, the last requiring a $50 license—and illegal types, such as spears and gigs. Marine-patrol officers made more than 100 arrests on last week's opening day.
But the season got off to an inauspicious start. Instead of the 100,000 to 200,000 pounds of crawfish tails brought in by the commercial fleet on previous opening days, less than 20,000 pounds were delivered to market. A scarcity of legal-sized crustaceans prevails.
That may have sparked the voracity of poachers. Off Big Pine Key, marine-patrol officers found two men following a boat whose occupants were observing the law. The law-abiding chaps were discarding undersized crawfish, and those following them were picking up the babies, just about the size of shrimp. Skin divers accused a crawfish-trap owner of trying to run them down with his boat. He suspected them of stealing from his traps. Another trap owner threatened to shoot a diver he caught stealing.
It was like that in the old West, too.
TWO VOTES FOR AVERY
Often abused for his fogyish views on real amateurism and honesty in sport, Avery Brundage, on the verge of retirement as head man of the Olympics, can count on at least two highly placed supporters. They are none other than Jesse Owens and Bob Mathias, Olympic greats of other years.
Dick Cavett interviewed them on a recent show and asked what sort of person they favored as a replacement for Brundage.
"If you have a weak man in Mr. Brundage's job," Mathias answered, "you won't have the Olympic Games as they are."
"If they're going to replace him," Owens added, "they should replace him with the same kind of man."
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Peterson, Houston Oiler coach, on Houston's preseason game against Dallas: "I'm not surprised that Dallas is starting five nonregulars against us. I know I'd do it if I were in Tom Landry's position. In fact, I'd like to be playing Houston myself."
•Dr. David Kurtz, U.S. pioneer of white-water sports, on the lack of interest in this country: "The problem is that most Americans still look at the canoe as a recreational vehicle, nice for picnics on a Sunday afternoon. We have about 1,500 competitive paddlers registered, whereas West Germany has at least 60,000."
•Bill Veeck's reaction to the announcement by Nick Mileti, owner of the Cleveland Indians, that all weekday games next year will be in the daytime: "Why not try it? What has he got to lose? At least he'll save on the light bill."