Now it turns out that Charlie Finley, the contentious owner of the Oakland A's, may have decided to hold Dick Williams to the letter of his contract because of a conversation he had during the World Series with Frank Cashen, general manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Finley knew that Williams, who had a year to go on a long-term contract, was going to quit, and he began to look around for a new manager. One who interested him was the Orioles' Earl Weaver.
"Charlie called me at home on Saturday, the next to last day of the Series," Cashen told Bob Maisel of the Baltimore Sun. "I wasn't home, but the message said Charlie would call back. He did the next day, the final day of the Series. He intimated to me, or at least I got the impression, that he had already given the Yankees permission to talk with Williams and that he was seeking permission to talk with replacements. He wanted to talk to Earl Weaver.
"I said to him, 'Charlie, I'm not going to do it. I believe in the sanctity of the contract, and we have a binding contract with Earl for next year. He was offered a good one-year contract, and he accepted it. I don't intend to get into a bidding contest with you. I know you give multi-year contracts, which would put us at a disadvantage. I'm not going to give you permission to talk to him.'
"But," said Cashen, "I told him that I would call Weaver and tell him of the conversation. If Earl wanted to resign and talk with Finley about managing the A's, I would not stand in his way. I did call Earl and tell him that, and also that I refused Finley permission to talk to him about managing as long as he was under contract with the Orioles.
"Earl thanked me but said he had signed with us in good faith, was happy here and did not want to talk with Finley about managing the A's. That's the whole story."
Except that Finley subsequently told Williams he was holding him to the letter of his contract despite his resignation and that he would not release Williams to sign with the Yankees unless Oakland received compensation.
Oklahoma can't go to a bowl game despite its undefeated (once tied) record because it is on NCAA probation for recruiting violations, but its fans are savoring a perverse kind of bowl victory anyway. In fact, Oklahoma this season appears to be more of a bowl champion than in years when it did play in one of the postseason spectaculars. For instance, unless North Carolina State beats Kansas by 28 points in the Liberty Bowl, Oklahoma will be the winner there, since it knocked off Kansas 48-20 during the regular season. Similarly, Auburn had better beat Missouri by 28 in the Sun Bowl, for Oklahoma defeated Mizzou 31-3 a while back. As for the once highly respected Cotton Bowl, there is little doubt about Oklahoma's preeminence. When Texas and Nebraska meet, the memory of their games with Oklahoma will cast a deflationary pall. Nebraska was shut out 27-0 by the Sooners; Texas was trampled 52-13.
Pro basketball players as a group are currently the best-paid athletes. Specific evidence of this was unearthed by Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sportswriter Don Fair, who recently got hold of a copy of the Seattle SuperSonics' salary list, much to the distress of the team's management. Salaries are supposed to be secret—and no wonder. For a team that is winning only about a third of its games and is trying to stay out of last place in its division, the Sonics are really dragging down the bread. Jim McDaniels is on a seven-year contract that will pay him a total of $1,870,000, or an annual average of $267,000. Spencer Haywood is being paid $1.5 million over six years, an average of $250,000, although Haywood recently received a salary boost that will put him closer to $300,000 a year. John Brisker is at $1,025,000 for six years. All are on no-cut contracts. Coach Bill Russell's salary was not on Fair's list, but he is reported to be getting a quarter of a million a year. Lowest-paid Sonic was the since retired Pete Cross, at a subsistence-level $42,333.
Over a seven-year period Seattle's player salaries total about $6.6 million, yet the payroll is said to be second in the National Basketball Association to that of the New York Knicks. Even so, says Coach Russell, "Compared to other people and other things, some of our players are underpaid."
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY
Now that Secretariat is about to turn his attention from good healthy exercise to sex, a look at the up-to-date list of those in the syndicate that owns him seems in order. The syndicate members, each holding one $190,000 share in the stallion, are: E. V. Benjamin Jr., agent; David Brooks; J. B. Faulconer, agent; Chance Hill Farm (Bertram Firestone); Mr. and Mrs. Milton J. Dance Jr.; F. Eugene Dixon Jr.; Marubeni America Corporation; Mrs. Richard C. duPont; William S. Farish III; Fontainebleu Farm (Zenya Yoshida, Japan's leading owner); Gilman Paper Company (Howard Gilman, president); Walter Haefner (owner of Ireland's Moyglare Stud); Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hexter; Jonathan Irwin (of Ireland's British Bloodstock Agency Ltd.); Warner L. Jones Jr.; Howard B. Keck; Dan R. Lasater; Pierre Levesque of Canada; Dr. William W. Lockridge; Paul Mellon; Mereworth Farm; Alfred G. Vanderbilt; George Strawbridge Jr.; Ogden Phipps; Capt. A. D. D. Rogers (of Ireland's Airlie Stud); Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Stokes; Tartan Farms; and E. P. Taylor of Canada. If Secretariat proves fertile, each of these 28 shareholders—several of whom are professional front men for investors who prefer to remain anonymous—is entitled to send one mare to him next year. In addition Mrs. Penny Tweedy, Secretariat's owner during his racing career, retains four shares, two for the estate of C. T. Chenery and two for the family-owned Chenery Corporation; Claiborne Farm, which put together the syndicate and where Secretariat will stand at stud, gets three shares; and Lucien Laurin, the colt's trainer, gets one. That's a maximum of 36 shares, or 36 mares that Secretariat may be asked to service in his first year at stud. At Claiborne his stall is the one formerly occupied by his late sire, Bold Ruler, and before that by his grandsire, Nasrullah.
If Secretariat performs satisfactorily, says Seth Hancock of Claiborne, he will probably be bred as an experienced stallion to a full book of 42 to 44 mares in his second year. These extra "seasons" will be awarded to syndicate members by lot. "I'll drop the names in a hat," says Hancock, "and pull out the number of extra seasons I decide on. The ones whose names are pulled out get the extra seasons. They can breed another mare to him or sell the season to another breeder. The following year I'll put the remaining names in a hat and draw again, and we will go through the same process year by year until everybody has had an extra season."
BLOOD AND SNOW
"I haven't seen anything like that since the VD slides they showed us in the Navy," said a middle-aged man. He was one of 260 ski enthusiasts gathered at the first session of "Skicon 73," a three-hour course given by doctors, all avid skiers themselves, at the Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nev. They showed slow-motion color films of arms, legs, necks and pelvises in the process of being contused, cracked and shattered. They showed slides of X-rays of fractures and the great amount of hardware sometimes needed to put things together again. They showed pictures of open, bloody wounds and told what can go wrong with cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal systems of skiers who approach the slopes without respect and preparation.
The gory point made, the doctors gave advice on how to get into condition, how to prevent accidents, how to ski safely. Local ski shops and manufacturers' representatives showed how to use and maintain bindings, boots and skis.
Because the neighboring Sierra Nevada is said to contain more facilities than any ski area of comparable size in the world, local hospitals are overburdened with disabled skiers every winter. The medical center hopes that "Skicon 73" will help to reduce the casualty list. The first class was such a success that 250 more fought their way through wind, rain and snow to pay the $1 fee for a second session, and dozens have already enrolled for a third session. The more now, the doctors figure, the fewer later.
SQUASH THIS ONE
Doctors were less blunt in Scotland. An antismoking poster showing a young man lying dead on a squash court was captioned, "A lot of young men stop smoking suddenly." Squash players were furious. Doctors at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where the poster was displayed, asked that it be removed on the grounds that it was misleading and could stop people from playing squash and other games. "We were disturbed to see sudden death and physical exercise linked in this dramatic form," said one doctor. It would have been more sensible, the doctors argued, to show the young man at a bus stop, or in a restaurant or slumped over a steering wheel.
His sensational start as a golf professional—he won and was second in his first two tournaments as a pro—has made 21-year-old Ben Crenshaw a most marketable commodity. Crenshaw's pleasant good looks and remarkable golfing ability brought the commercial flies abuzzing, and he was quickly asked to endorse everything from shaving cream to snow tires. However, his financial advisers are saying no for the time being. "The offers that Ben has received are unbelievable," says Bill Sansing, one of Crenshaw's business agents who also serves as one of Jack Nicklaus' financial pros. "If we accepted even half of them, Ben would be set financially for many years. But after consulting Nicklaus and Ben's father Charley, we decided that the wisest move at this time is not to accept any of them. About the only agreement we have made is with the advisory staff of a golf magazine.
"Nicklaus says that a young golfer should get out and play golf, and not worry about money—that will come if Crenshaw is half the golfer all of us think he is. Jack says he has seen many young golfers hurt their careers by getting dollar signs in their eyes. So for a year or two Ben will get practically no commercial exposure away from the golf course."
In the meantime Crenshaw won't starve. He won $76,749 in his first two starts, and if he were to continue at that fantastic rate he would earn $600,000 in 1974. Who needs endorsements?
HI THERE, SPORTS FANS
A man in Illinois has a 7-year-old son who learned to read last year in the first grade and has since consolidated his skill by regularly reading newspaper sports sections. One day not long ago he asked his father if he had ever been in the hospital. The father replied no, he hadn't, not ever. The boy looked at him for a moment or two and said, "One of these days you'll have a heart attack and have to go to the hospital." Pause. "That'll break up your no-hitter."
THEY SAID IT
•Bob Cousy, explaining why he resigned as coach of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, who are in last place in the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the NBA: "Maybe they need a new voice screaming at them."
•Bill Ford, owner of the Detroit Lions, after his team's 20-0 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins: "They had the distinction of disgracing themselves from coast to coast instead of just locally."
•Tom Heinsohn, Boston Celtic coach, on why he played basketball instead of football at Holy Cross: "If I was going to get beat up. I wanted to be indoors where it was warm."
•Glenn Potter, Brigham Young basketball coach, describing three different defenses his team is currently using: "No. 1 is the funnel, where we lead them right to the basket. No. 2 is the sieve, where we let them go anywhere. No. 3 is the matador, where we just wave at them as they go by."