Why is this Japanese chap wearing such a distinctly un-Nipponese costume and performing in the Ice Capades as one of its star skaters? Very interesting. It seems that Sashi Kuchiki is a former baseball catcher—a good one who was a rising light in the Japanese major league in the '50s. But one day a base runner crashed into him at home plate and fractured his shoulder, permanently injuring his throwing arm. Kuchiki was despondent for months, until a friend took him to an exhibition by Dick Button, the Olympic skater. The young Japanese fell for skating, hard. Admittedly, there were a few problems: he had never been on skates in his life, he could not afford lessons and there were very few ice rinks in Japan. But he obtained movies of Button and taught himself to skate just by studying the films. By 1958 he was Japan's national skating champion, and is now in his 11th year as a star of the Ice Capades where he sometimes skates with torches.
TCU's All-Southwest Conference Defensive Tackle Charlie Davis, who carried 19 classroom hours last fall, plans to take life easier now until he gets his degree. This semester he will be taking electives in Gourmet Cooking and First Aid. Explains Davis, "If you burn yourself in the kitchen, you gotta know how to doctor it."
You might feel gullible believing it, but it's true. Mrs. Stephen Calder, wife of the president of Calder Race Course, was in a sand trap on a Miami golf course when a sea gull picked up her ball and dropped it on the apron of the green. While Mrs. Calder was still gawking, a second sea gull lifted the ball and, on one bounce, placed it close to the hole. "I was eating an apple, so after I putted out, I gave the gulls the core," Mrs. Calder said smugly. "The poor things were hungry." Sounds like pretty seedy recompense.
Vice-President Gerald Ford was finally presented with a high school varsity football letter. Back when Ford was an all-city player in Grand Rapids, his alma mater—South High School—did not give letters. In fact, it does not now, because it has become a junior high school. But the local people took note of Jerry's recent job change and had a special award made. Amazing what a guy has to do to get his letter.
"It's been nice," says Ellen Feldmann, the first woman declared eligible for varsity competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But there doesn't seem to be any glut of niceness in her relations with male members of the Virginia swimming team, and maybe even a shortage. Miss Feldmann complained that the athletic department wasn't willing to pay to put her up in a hotel room—the boys stay in athletic-dorms. Therefore, she did not make the trip to Clemson and Wake Forest recently. "It was not a question of whether I'd win. I knew I'd win," she says. "Clemson and Wake Forest are horrible teams." Feldmann is also angry because teammates waved towels to encourage a male Virginia swimmer to stay ahead of her in one race. "We're the hardest workers on the squad," she says of herself and Susan Allen, a new recruit. "In practice, I know all I have to do is gut it out the last 300 or 400 yards and the boys will give up. I just laugh."
Steamtrain Maury Graham, prince of the hoboes, had sporting advice for Richard Nixon. If the President really wanted to save energy on his frequent trips to San Clemente and Key Biscayne, said Graham, he should travel by freight train. And in case there was any uncertainty on the rules of the game, Steamtrain graciously added, "I'm willing to go along and show him the ropes." But now he has withdrawn the offer. Upon sober reflection, Steamtrain decided that it would be undignified for the President of the United States to hop freights. He said the suggestion was a bum trip.
Most entertainment enterprises get some bad checks, but when Philadelphia's Spectrum was receiving a lot of rubber all autographed by the same guy, President Lou Scheinfeld ordered an investigation. The chap plastering them with bad paper turned out to be someone called Alonzo, last name withheld. We shall refer to him here as Alonzo Bouncepasser. Bouncepasser was not a criminal, only a lonely deaf-mute who enjoyed the crowds and excitement at games but was too poor to pay for tickets. The Spectrum decided not to press charges. Instead, it invited Bouncepasser to be its guest, free, at certain events that were not sellouts.
"I never went to ball games or played baseball," says Vincent Gardenia, the actor who portrays the tough manager in Bang the Drum Slowly. Gardenia further admits, "In the picture, when they told me to go to third base I had to ask where it was." Despite that, he is being mentioned for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, a dizzying pinnacle for a man who attained fame as Archie Bunker's Italian neighbor—and no doubt wonders what Mrs. Robinson and Joe DiMaggio have in common.
At the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where Ping-Pong was the only athletic outlet for years, the boys have organized a basketball team called the Peabody Pacers. Starting Forwards Spencer Schuyler and Bernie Gorgini are piano majors, and Center Bob Martin studies musical composition. Schuyler, the captain and manager, is sometimes the only one who shows up for practice, what with daily classes and six hours of music practice. "I'm a basketball freak," he says, and moodily practices his shooting alone. Schuyler has to keep his percentage up. If he doesn't, someone is sure to yell, "Don't shoot, piano player!"