TWO ON THE AISLE, PLEASE
When last we left the Olympic construction site in Montreal (SCORECARD, June 2), the word was that the 1976 Games would go on as scheduled despite labor troubles. The next problem involves obtaining the tickets that will get one into the stadiums, and Montgomery Ward, the exclusive distributor in this country, advises that now is a good time to make your move.
Ward's computer ticked off the latest totals June 12, and print-outs show that while tickets for every sport are still available, all gold-medal events are already sold out in basketball, gymnastics, swimming and diving. Taking in everything from early rounds to finals in 21 sports and including ceremonies at both ends, Ward figures that there are 334 Olympic events that one might attend. The U.S. allocation was 700,000 tickets. More than 225,000 are gone, and tabulations to be released this week show the pattern of main spectator interest: eight out of 27 basketball events are sold out; two of 25 in boxing, one of eight in cycling, eight of 10 in equestrian events, four of 18 in fencing, six of 12 in gymnastics, one of 19 in handball, 17 of 36 in swimming, diving and water polo, 18 of 24 in volleyball, two of 17 in weight lifting, 15 of 21 in wrestling.
Scratch the opening ceremonies, says the computer, but if carrying out the torch interests you, seats for the closing rites are still available—with the equestrian Grand Prix jumping team finals as a bonus, since they'll be staged earlier in the same stadium.
As outlined in an earlier report (SI, April 21), seats are sold on a first-come basis and sales close Aug. 15. After that, if you like field hockey you'll love the Olympics.
On the theory that it isn't enough to merely sing the national anthem at sports events in this bicentennial year, here came a U.S. Army detachment trundling two 75-mm cannons into New York's Shea Stadium. The crowd of 31,809 on hand for the Yankee-Angel game was asked to stand, and the strains of The Star-Spangled Banner rose on the night air. So did the 21-gun salute from the cannons in the outfield. And when the smoke cleared, everybody saw that our flag was still there—but there was a hole in the left-field fence and the right one was afire.
Enter the grounds crew to put everything back together and exit the Army artillery. The rest of the shelling that night was confined to Angel Pitcher Nolan Ryan, who gave up five runs and lost the game.
The class was over and 71-year-old Silverio Mazzella started strolling home—but not far away a knife-waving assailant stopped him and demanded all his money. So Mazzella kicked the robber in the stomach, grabbed him by the neck, took the knife and returned to the Bronx classroom for a bit of show-and-tell. Lord knows, the teachers were pleased: subject of the evening had been a police-sponsored physical defense course for senior citizens.
The comforting golf report of the week comes from Elephant Hills Country Club in Rhodesia. The rule book says that players may take a free drop with any ball that lands in a hippopotamus print.
ALL IN FAVOR SAY RIBET
For those innocents who have often wondered what goes on when an august body like a state senate convenes, an answer comes this week from Ohio. Among bills in the...well, in the hopper, is one that would legalize pari-mutuel betting on frog racing under supervision of the state racing commission. The state would O.K. race permits, set dates, provide inspectors for each contest, and take a percentage of the handle, √† la horse racing. As an additional safeguard, officials could enforce rules against such trickery as frog drugging and also levy fines of up to $100 for anyone entering a toad in a frog race.
State Senator Oakley Collins is backing the bill on behalf of the Meigs County Croakers, an organization that conducts frog-jumping contests, and the lawmaker allowed that he might enter the next one himself. He has his own frog, of course. Name of Secretariat.
GOT THE CAR RIGHT HERE
The scheme may not work at Indy—in fact, it may not work at all—but a thing called Dragzacta is off and running at Maryland International Raceway, a drag strip just outside of Washington, D.C. Track operator Tod Mack has installed $2 pari-mutuel windows so that fans may bet on the cars of their choice, and the system operates the same as playing the horses. Well, almost. Mack insists that the track takes no money out. Donations to charity are the key to the setup, and the operation will be supervised by three local Jaycee chapters; 83% of the total handle goes to build the payoff pool, 10% goes into the charity fund and 7% will be reserved in a contingency fund for special events.
The first two weeks of dragging under the new operation brought in $250 for charity, Mack says, and he hopes that all this will prove to be legal. "Now that the New Jersey state lottery is involved in a legal numbers racket," he says, "how can anyone fault us? In fact, I think this system will probably catch on around the country."
Maybe so. But at least one driver was over-revved by the prospect of folks betting on horsepower rather than horse power. He took on too much weight in fuel for his straightaway run of roughly two furlongs—and lost by a bumper. "All those bettors backing me made me nervous," he said.
The old girl was 28, pushing 100 by human standards, and her former owners had decided that it was the glue factory for Miss Reed. But when the standardbred broodmare showed up at Florida's Castleton Farms to be "put down," as they say in the sport, Manager Houston Stone couldn't bring himself to do it. Her career earnings of $1,289.09 on the county-fair circuit and best mile pace of 2:13 weren't stunning, true, but she had borne 17 offspring, she wore a certain maternal air and, besides, Stone is obviously an old softy.
All that was five years ago, and it is how Miss Reed got her present job. There is a difficult transition period for just-weaned fillies and, at Castleton, separated from their natural mothers, they turn to Miss Reed. And there she is now at 33, believed to be the oldest harness horse in the U.S., strolling through Castleton's pastures, with the weanlings following in parade. Since Miss Reed is such a fine nanny, who could say her neigh?
SPLASH GRAY HACKLE
As swimming pools go, this one was just dandy: 120 by 100 feet, filled with 500,000 gallons of water and located in an urban setting at Humberstone, Leicester, which is north of London. Problem was, the pool is unheated, and English summers being what they are—largely chilly and damp is what they are—Owner Mark Warrilow was going broke waiting for hot sunny days so that he could charge 30 pence a head for swimming. And that's when the idea jumped up and bit him.
Disregarding suspicions that he was bonkers, Warrilow dumped in a load of sand and gravel to cover the pool's tile bottom. Then he stocked the thing with 375 rainbow and brown trout, and let out the word that the pool was available for fly-fishing. That was a couple of weeks ago, and the rest is financial history: by last week local anglers were lining up to pay ¬£1.50 perchance at the new fishing hole. Warrilow makes his own rules: only eight fly-fishermen at a time are permitted at poolside. Fishermen may keep two for the frypan, all others must be released. One of the first customers, a local businessman, caught 30 trout in one session, using both the deep end, 9 feet, and the shallow, 2 feet, and went home satisfied. Warrilow is now getting inquiries from local fishing clubs whose members want to rent the pool by the day to keep the action to themselves, and the operation is called a big success. "With the price of petrol sky high, we see this as an attractive alternative to traveling miles to fish rivers," says Warrilow, "and they're probably polluted anyway."
The trout run from 8 to 10 inches and Warrilow says, perhaps over-enthusiastically, that they average just under two pounds. He will restock as needed. Right now, they're easy to catch, no matter what the fly, but it will probably get harder as they get smarter. Being snatched out of and dumped back into a swimming pool several times a day is going to get very old very fast.
PICKING UP THE PACE
Fair warning to those running nuts who are even now training for next year's Boston Marathon: shake a leg. Qualifying time for the 26-mile, 385-yard race stays at 3½ hours for women and men over 40. But for men under 40, says Marathon Director Will Cloney, the time is hereby trimmed to three hours flat, and you must prove it. And if that doesn't cut down this year's nearly unmanageable field of 2,078 they might consider shooting all stragglers.
BUTE OF A PROBLEM
When Pennsylvania recently joined a number of states in lifting the ban on Butazolidin as a painkiller, horseracing columnist Russ Harris of the Philadelphia Inquirer, aware that others also are considering the move, got to wondering if perhaps someone shouldn't have asked the horses first. In fact, reported Harris, the horses might well be trying to tell us about it.
"A horse that feels pain will try to protect himself and is much less likely to break down or injure himself severely than a horse that feels no pain because he has been given an analgesic to kill it," Harris wrote. He went through the Daily Racing Form charts covering the 35 racing days before the drug was legalized, and there was not a single breakdown at Keystone racetrack. But in the first 35 days following approval of the drug, nine horses broke down—meaning that the jockey was forced to pull up, and the horse was either destroyed or removed from the track by ambulance. Seven of the nine had been given Butazolidin. Nobody, least of all Harris, is maintaining that his Keystone statistics are conclusive, but he figures that they ought to raise doubts. "Even if the horse survives," he said, "the injury is usually so serious that the animal is out of action for six months or more."
GRIDIRONS IN THE FIRE
For the benefit of those summer haters who are already longing for the crack of helmet against shoulder pad, there is this off-season stirring in the college football world:
Michigan, that familiar Rose Bowl bridesmaid, has become the seventh Big Ten school to approve cutting the conference's exclusive tie to Pasadena. If the Big Ten-Pacific Eight plan goes through as expected, runners-up in both conferences will be permitted to accept other postseason bowl bids. Apparently the only questions still to be decided are how many may play (the Big Ten favors perhaps as many as four in one year) and whether to divide the extra bowl income among all schools.
The fact that the Rose Bowl shed its own exclusive one-game status by permitting the pros to use the famous stadium for the 1977 Super Bowl is a minor item in the new plan, says Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke. The main idea, he says, is the prestige gained from more bowl participation—the effect of bowls upon national rankings, the TV exposure and attendant fan support—plus the fact that more widespread bowl games will help member schools in recruiting. And how soon can one expect this flood of powerhouse football? If all goes as anticipated, at the end of the 1975 season.
THEY SAID IT
•Jones Ramsey, University of Texas sports information director, asked at a meeting to suggest what the NCAA might do to celebrate the bicentennial in 1976: "Well, let's see. What did we do in 1876?"
•Bill Peterson, former Florida State football coach, on being accepted for the Florida Hall of Fame: "I'm very appreciative of being indicted."