RENTZEL COME TO JUDGMENT
One could say that the law has dealt gently with Lance Rentzel, wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, who was sentenced to five years probation in 1971 after pleading guilty to exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl and who got three years probation last May after being caught in possession of marijuana. Though he also pleaded guilty to the latter charge, Rentzel is appealing on grounds that the evidence was obtained illegally.
Now Pete Rozelle, National Football League commissioner, after due investigation, has suspended Rentzel for at least the 1973 season for "conduct detrimental to professional football."
Rentzel accepted the suspension, but Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFL Players Association, did not. He announced the filing of a federal antitrust suit to overturn the suspension.
As commissioner, Rozelle has the special duty to protect the good name of pro football, an assignment baseball gave to Judge Kenesaw Mountain Land's after the Black Sox scandals all but destroyed the fans' faith in the game. That faith is essential to sport of any kind. Thus far Rozelle has defended it well. He acted promptly in suspending Paul Hornung and Alex Karras for gambling, albeit on their own teams, and that action did much to convince the followers of pro football, an ardent and ever-increasing bunch, that the honor of the game was in good hands. That belief was good for the owners, of course, but it was good for the players, too. Season after season, they have been increasingly rewarded.
But Garvey does not see it that way; in fact, he professes not to understand the meaning of the expression "conduct detrimental to pro football." We fail to understand why that should be so hard to understand.
In considering sentence, the courts rightly take into consideration the psychiatric problems of a defendant and with such knowledge may well deal leniently with him. But it is no part of Pete Rozelle's job to endanger the welfare of the game he supervises. Nor is it a part of Ed Garvey's job. He does his players no favor there.
If Arpad Czanadi, Hungarian chairman of the International Olympic Committee program commission, has his way, equestrian events at the next Olympics will be canceled. He says they do not meet the requirements of Rule 30 of the Olympic regulations, according to which an Olympic sport must be one practiced in at least 25 countries. The three disciplines now contemplated for the 1976 Games in Montreal do not meet the requirement.
Basically, there is a question of money, too. The Riem equestrian stadium used eight days in the 1972 Games cost, says Czanadi, about $5.6 million to build and now stands empty. Only three events—a pony show, a Bavarian vaulting championship and a dog show—are scheduled at the stadium this year.
Considerations like that might well induce Canada to advocate cancellation. In addition, the amateur status of equestrian competitors has always been questionable since, in the North American indoor circuit—Washington, New York and Toronto—the teams ride for about $56,000 in prize money.
WAIT TILL NEXT SESQUI
A few things went wrong at the Richmond, Maine sesquicentennial celebration.
On July 20 a lot of boats were to come up the Kennebec River to Richmond. But a combination of coastal fogs and misunderstandings prevented that. The Bath Municipal Band was three hours late for its concert. Floats from the Bath Iron Works were two days late. So was the Coast Guard buoy tender. And while the tender was placing belated buoys it struck a ledge, stuck there and eventually keeled over.
As a result, Lieut. D.O. Tilton, USCG, won the Lindsey's Law citation from Dr. Lindsey Lord, a retired naval architect who was one of the sesquicentennial's organizers.
The Law: "When your draft exceeds the water depth, you are most assuredly aground."
PAPA BEAR AND MAMA GATOR
They are a continent apart, but Florida's Mission Valley Golf and Country Club and British Columbia's Kemano course have hazards far more perilous than the everyday water hole or sand trap.
At Mission Valley, which is near Venice, Fla., Acie Datson Jr. was retrieving golf balls from a small pond near the 9th hole. What he did not know was that he was intruding on an alligator's private preserve. The alligator clamped down on his foot.
And at Kemano, about 50 miles south of Kitimat, British Columbia, seven grizzly bears took up residence near the course. As a result, golf scores rose sharply. "The golfers have a problem," says Gerald Smythe, conservation officer.
The bears eventually moved into town, looking for garbage. With tranquilizers unavailable, apprehensive residents shot a mother bear and three cubs. The rest, it must be presumed, are still somewhere around.
ANYONE FOR JAI ALAI?
The game of jai alai has achieved such popularity in the U.S. that top-class players are increasingly hard to come by. There are now eight frontons in Florida, and a ninth will open next year. The first gambling fronton in the U.S. to operate outside of Florida will have its inaugural in Las Vegas in November. Newport, R.I. has given approval for construction of a fronton. Another half a dozen states are considering jai alai's pari-mutuel legalization.
That gives players a chance to bargain for higher salaries. About 90% of the world's best players compete in Florida, lured there from either Mexico or the Basque country of Spain. Each year American frontons dispatch scouts to these areas to seek out roster replacements for players who have been injured, have retired or just are not good enough. Consequently, with the new popularity of the game, competition between frontons for players has become fierce.
Art Silvester, West Palm Beach fronton owner, has solved his immediate problem by signing players to long-term contracts, having "smelled a rat some time ago." He got tired of building up stars "and then having them stolen out from under us."
"But you can't blame the players," he adds. "They go where the money is best."
Of the 250 players currently competing in the U.S. only two are Americans. There's a fair chance that there will be more, when the money gets good enough.
OFF THE OLD BLOCK
Barbara Nicklaus, Jack's wife, gave birth to their fifth child the other day. Michael Nicklaus checked in at seven pounds, four ounces and with a three handicap.
FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY
Back in 1964, long before Henry Aaron harbored dreams of beating Babe Ruth's home-run record of 714, he was involved in a play that, if it had turned out otherwise, would now have him one homer closer to the record.
The story has been told before, but never better than by Bob Uecker, who was the villain. Uecker used to catch for the Phillies, the Cards and the Braves. Now a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers, Uecker was considered to be a player who hit like a feather but thought like a ton.
Uecker was catching for the Cards at the time. They were entertaining the Braves in St. Louis.
"Curt Simmons was feeding Aaron off-speed pitches and curves, no fastballs," Uecker remembers. "I knew that Aaron got impatient and he would step into the pitch."
Aaron did step in and homered to the roof in right field. But, says Uecker, "as he circled the bases I called the attention of the plate umpire, Chris Pelekoudas, to the cleat marks, which showed that Hank was out of the batter's box.
"When Hank reached home plate, Pelekoudas was there with his thumb in the air, barking 'You're out!'
"Aaron was fit to be tied—one of his rare displays of emotion—and it looked for a while as if even the St. Louis fans might riot. But the decision stuck."
And so Aaron was euchred—by the Cards.
A TALE OF TWO BUDDIES
One of the more touching stories in sports was the binding relationship between two NBA teammates—Maurice Stokes, who was hospitalized with posttraumatic encephalopathy until his death 12 years later, and Jack Twyman, who had himself appointed Stokes' legal guardian and initiated numerous fund-raising drives to pay Maurice's hospital bills.
The warm relationship between Twyman, a white, and Stokes, who was black, now has been made into a movie, Maurie. For the most part the screenplay adheres to the actual story but, regrettably, there are no film clips of Stokes in his Cincinnati Royals playing days, and Bernie Casey, the former 49er and Ram wide receiver, is not too convincing as a basketball player. But this isn't so much a sports story as it is a story of the human spirit—Twyman's selflessness combined with Stokes' determination to recover from the crippling brain disease.
Quite a similar tale is told in Bang the Drum Slowly (SI, May 21), a movie version of the 1956 Mark Harris novel about a major league pitcher's efforts to conceal the onset of his catcher pal's fatal illness so that the catcher might have another season of the game he loves. This one has been a long time coming, but it's still a good story. So is Maurie.
SOMETHING TO GET SORE ABOUT
The "soring" of the Tennessee Walking Horse, a practice that cruelly injures the forelegs or feet of the breed in order to make the animals pick up their front hooves in a high-stepping, prancing gait, was outlawed by Congress in 1970. It still goes on. A federal grand jury has indicted 31 persons for the soring of horses during the 1972 Cotton Carnival Horse Show in Memphis.
Illegal soring practices include the use of chemical irritants—oil of mustard on the pastern area just above the hoof, or similar use of antimony butter, creosote, iodide of mercury, or gasoline—all of which cause an irritation or blister when rubbed into the skin. The front legs are then covered with "boots"—round leggings that strike the irritated area when the hoof hits the ground. The resulting pain causes the horse to jerk up its feet quickly, thus bringing about an exaggerated high step. A Memphis veterinarian likens the pain to that a human would experience if he tried to run with a large blister on his foot.
"It just hurts too bad to keep your foot on the ground," he explained.
Most of the techniques leave clear evidence in the way of ugly scars, but the sadists who sore horses are becoming more sophisticated. They are discovering ways to do the job without leaving evidence—driving nails into the feet, pricking with needles and the like.
The law itself would have been quite unnecessary, the vet said, if horse judges had had the simple guts and integrity to "excuse" sored horses from the ring.
"Sored horses are easy to identify," he said, "and any judge worth his salt can tell merely by watching the horse walk or simply checking his feet."
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Unitas, 40-year-old quarterback of the San Diego Chargers, asked why his knee is bothering him: "It's old."
•Chi Chi Rodriguez, pro golfer: "The first time I played the Masters I was so nervous I drank a bottle of rum before I teed off. I shot the happiest 83 of my life."
•Marty Januszkiewicz, Baltimore Colt rookie, on the unaccustomed chore of signing autographs for admiring youngsters: "You make a big J, a couple of squiggles and some bumps. Who knows the difference anyway?"
•Mickey Herskowitz, Houston sports telecaster: "Duane Thomas may be the only man in Washington who isn't talking."
•Lee Trevino, pro golfer, on the PGA's lengthy $500,000 autumn tournament: "I can't stay two weeks in one place even at home, so how in the world could I spend two weeks in Pinehurst, N.C. in the middle of winter?"
•Julius Boros, 53-year-old pro golfer: "I'll play any woman golfer in the world even-up—and use only one club."