FISHING'S NEW LINE
What do Bing Crosby, Critic Lionel Trilling, Sportscaster Curt Gowdy and Nader Raider David Zwick have in common? Fish, and a very strong feeling that until now the estimated 45 million fishermen in the United States have had the collective political bite of a minnow. In New York last week Gowdy and Angler-Author Lee Wulff headed an impressive group of similarly minded sportsmen in forming The American League of Anglers. The ALA hopes to recruit four million members within two years at $10 a head, and for a change rattle around like sharks. Chairman Gowdy said, "We have to fight pressure with pressure. We have to get organized with legislation that will stop polluters, the real estate encroachments, the stream diversions and the foreign fishing fleets that are gobbling up the fish along our shores."
Organization of the ALA has been going on quietly for three years among representatives of major angling and conservation interests. Directors include Otto Teller, chairman of Trout Unlimited; Ray Scott, president of BASS; Charles Cadieux, president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America; Carl Lowrance of Lowrance Electronics; and Crosby, who has written the major fund-raising letter. The ALA has a slogan: "Fish don't vote...fishermen do." Politicians can expect to hear about that.
Al McGuire has little truck with people who would raise the baskets to lessen the advantage of the big man in basketball. "It's true it's only a matter of time before some team recruits two 7-footers who can play like Bill Walton," the Marquette coach says, "but raising baskets in every gym in the country is economically not feasible. You might as well lower the floor."
McGuire's solution? Well, two, the first serious. "Outlaw the tip-in," he says. "When a player gets an offensive rebound, make him get it back outside a circle as in playground ball on a rebound.
"Or, you could electrify the goal. When a guy turns blue you know he's got his hand in it."
There are signs in Britain, be they ever so slight, that the famed violence at football matches is abating, or soon jolly well will if the authorities have their way. F.C. Langworthy of Kent reports in a letter to the London Daily Express that "presumably because of the current shortage of toilet rolls not one such missile was hurled onto the field" in six games he watched over TV. For crimes worse than papering, two football grounds in Liverpool have special rooms with "security rings" fixed to the walls for shackling rowdy spectators. And in Birmingham, Magistrate Grahame Hands, taking exception to a brick that whizzed past his wife at a recent match, has called for the setting up of labor camps for spectators convicted of violence. Good show.
GIVING THE CALL
For the hockey spectator who thinks he has heard everything, he hasn't. It seems there will always be one more slap shot at rinkmanship. Take Vancouver, where Canuck fans, bored with booing and possibly with the court trials of ex-President Tom Scallen, have taken to bird calls. The fad started one night when the crazy cry of a loon was heard across the Pacific Coliseum. The following game produced a duck call and a goose call, presumably for the eggs the Canucks were laying. Last week, a good dozen sportsmen were echoing bird hoots back and forth in the upper reaches of the place and a downtown sporting goods store was getting in a supply of crow caws.
Earlier, calls of another sort—for prayer—were the order of the day in Bloomington, Minn., where the North Stars, slightly more blessed than the Canucks, were greeted with messages exhorting them and their followers down evangelical paths. ""Did you know God's last name isn't damnit?—Your friend, H.N.," read one message in large colored letters flashed between commercials for beer, cigarettes and other crass businesses on the big board of the Metropolitan Sports Center. "Even in this age of inflation...the wages of sin remain the same," read another message. "Did you know that grace is not a 5'2" blonde?" and "Jesus saves...and with today's prices that's a miracle," were others. H.N. stands for the Holy Nativity Lutheran Church of Minnesota, which is paying $600 for the 15-second messages, shown three times at nine games this season. They are drawing fair comment, but one of them must engender all sorts of ambiguous reactions in the hearts of true North Star fans. It goes, "We are working to beat the devil." At least.
There is a timeworn wheeze among pro golfers that you drive for show and putt for dough. Tom Weiskopf, who won seven tournaments last year and $318,000 in prize money, disagrees. "If I could place the ball by hand on every driving hole at 260 yards, I'd win more tournaments. That's because if I missed the next shot, the ball still would be up by the green. Even if I could drive into the fairway 80% of the time instead of 70%, I would win more tournaments. Driving probably is as important as putting."
The Appaloosa, with spotted hide and wispy tail, has never made racing's social register, but to the thoroughgoing horror of the Establishment, it may yet be seen at Churchill Downs on a future race day. Interest in the breed picked up considerably when Secretariat, the fashionable gentleman of impeccable lineage, got Leola, a Kentucky Appaloosa, in foal.
Considering her origins—forebears are represented in ancient Chinese and Persian art—Leola is not exactly the downstairs maid of other romances. The first Appaloosas on this continent are said to have been brought to Mexico by Corte. They were bred extensively by the Nez Percé Indians of the Pacific Northwest in a region drained by the Palouse River (hence the name). Crosses with other breeds resulted in a sturdy, compact horse that had the overall appearance of a well-bred cow pony, for all that meant in the East.
Until recently, that is, when the Kentucky legislature, by almost unanimous votes of both houses, recognized the Appaloosa for racing purposes. There are 990 Appaloosa owners and almost twice that many registered Appaloosas in the Bluegrass. Leola cost a mere $300, but because of her liaison with Secretariat bids of $25,000 and more have been offered for her. They have not been high enough to persuade her owner, Manager Bill Taylor of Seth Hancock's fancy Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., that it would be politic to part with her or her foal.
Even so, money does not always recognition give. Helen Tweedy, Secretariat's owner, has steadfastly refused to approve the registration of Secretariat as the father of Leola's putative foal. Obviously, registration would inject class into Appaloosa lines, says Dan Miller, head of the Silver Strikes Equal Syndicate of Brownsville, Texas and a big Appaloosa man, "but if Secretariat isn't registered, everybody will still know who the sire is."
Miller might have added there are other thoroughbreds whose owners have not been too proud to allow registration—Vaguely Noble and Crimson Satan, for two. So if Mrs. Tweedy's refusal sounds, like "Never darken my door again," Appaloosas still may take comfort. Many a royal line began in darker circumstances.
As an index of the nation's economic health, the goat and rabbit population snuggles right in there with housing starts or automobile production, the Countryside and Small Stock Journal claims. In hard times, people raise their own food, and the little creatures are a lot easier and cheaper to handle on the family lot than a cow. The Journal's circulation is at a record high and "business is so good it's terrible," says Editor Jerome Belanger. "We used to cover goat and rabbit shows, but now our readers are more interested in eating animals than in winning blue ribbons with them."
Naming horses, as admirers of Alfred Vanderbilt have noted, can be an art, but often it is nothing but a stab, particularly in harness racing. Compare, for instance, Vanderbilt's Native Dancer, the get of Polynesian and Geisha, with all those Hanovers, which are about as exciting reading as the legends printed on the ends of shoe boxes.
But relief may be in sight. An advertisement placed by Stoner Creek Stud of Paris, Ky. in the March issue of Hoof Beats, publication of the United States Trotting Association, listed pacers and trotters that had been named with true wit. Among others were: Storm, out of Gray Sky; Siberia, out of Vacation Time; Motorcycle, out of Hell's Angel; Body Guard, out of Baby Sitter; Drive In, out of Flicker; Chatterer, out of Miss Blue Jay; Antique, out of The Old Mare; Burger Queen, out of Filet Mignon; String Puller, out of Marionet Hanover; Confidentially, out of Whispering; and perhaps best of all, Shotgun Wedding, out of Exciting Speed. If some of these win, too, this could be a trend.
The opium of the people, Karl Marx notwithstanding, could be lotteries. Taking their lead from the capitalist states, the Soviets have gone lottery mad, Christopher S. Wren, a correspondent for the New York Times, reports. Tickets are sold "just about everywhere," Wren says, "in savings banks, post offices, shops, newsstand kiosks, theaters and parks, and even on domestic airlines. Sometimes lottery tickets are handed back as small change."
There are lotteries to support sports, the armed forces, books and art, but the one that entrances most Russians in that product-poor country is the state-run Money-Commodity lottery, held eight times a year. Tickets cost 30 kopecks (about 40¢) and the payoff is a million rubles ($1,300,000) worth of cash and, more prized, consumer goods.
Well and good, until a seventh-grade class in Odessa pooled resources and bought 23 tickets and thereby lifted the curtain on a scene that would do justice to the worst-planned society. One of the tickets won a Zhiguli, just the automobile a student's father had been waiting patiently to buy. He offered 5,000 rubles ($6,500) for the Zhiguli and immediately ran into a storm. "Why you and not me?" another parent argued; and, anyway, who owns the winning ticket? Only 27 of the 34 kids in the class were present the day the tickets were bought and some chipped in more than others. Greed ran rampant before a little soviet of parents children and teachers decided to donate everything to the school. Pravda, the national newspaper, applauded the communal spirit shown but concluded ruefully that in the "new man" of Marxist society, old "instincts and petty passions are sometimes revived."
The prospect is mind boggling. Biff Pocoroba of the Braves and the Mets' Bob Apodaca wind up as a battery and Casey Stengel lectures about them over national TV.
THEY SAID IT
•Tom Burleson, North Carolina State center, on being 7'4": "I can't miss a class. The professor doesn't have to call the roll to know I'm not there."
•Mary Leslie Ullman, Brown University ice hockey player, refuting charges that she and her teammates were unsportsmanlike in a game against Cornell women: "Hockey is hitting people. What's all the fuss about?"
•Bob Commings, new football coach at Iowa, explaining why he will call plays during games: "I'm on a one-year renewal, and I'm not trusting my paycheck to someone on a four-year scholarship."
•Al Attles, San Francisco Warrior coach, describing his club's late-season collapse giving the Lakers the division title: "I told them that we had a chance to determine our own fate—and we did."
•Jack Kramer, after praising Tom Okker for possessing the game's most potent top-spin forehand since Fred Perry's in the '30s: "What makes Okker's stroke all the more amazing is the fact that he does so many things wrong."