Two men were being sought last week in eastern Long Island for shooting a bald eagle. Ornithologists say fewer than 100 of the rare birds still live in the northeastern part of the country, and there are stringent laws for their protection. The men could receive sentences of a year in jail and $5,000 in fines.
The Long Island eagle killing was apparently an isolated wanton act, but elsewhere, notably in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas, hunting eagles for their feathers is part of a thriving black-market business. An undercover agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that in one instance he bought seven pairs of eagle wings for $302.82, a transaction so businesslike that the price included sales tax. He bought the wings in Ontario, where he was told they were part of a shipment of 29 sets of eagle wings that had come in from South Dakota. The dealer said eagle tails were going to a New York buyer for $30 each.
Buyers include Boy Scout leaders—apparently unaware that the feathers come from eagles—who use them for Indian headdresses in scout ceremonies. Items fashioned from eagle feathers are sold in curio shops in many parts of the West. Indian war bonnets, which require tail feathers from a dozen eagles or more, sell for prices ranging from $350 to $10,000, depending on size and quality. One war-bonnet maker in Montana says he sells as many as 10 a day to dealers at auctions in California.
The look of eagles, indeed.
You can talk all you want about ratings and TV criticism and who is a good sports announcer and who is a bad one, but the truth is, there is no clear, unquestioned standard of measurement. One man's Meredith is another man's Parseghian. The Touchdown Club of New York, a group of football devotees that includes coaches and athletic directors, as well as plain old fans, asked its membership to rate TV football broadcasters. More than 150 members responded. Their favorite announcer turned out to be Pat Summerall, with Chris Schenkel second. Keith Jackson and Lindsey Nelson were tied for third. Others in the top 10, in order, were Curt Gowdy, Frank Gifford, Bud Wilkinson, Tom Brook-shier, Jim Simpson and Don Meredith.
For the record, Alex Karras finished 16th, Howard Closely 17th. But what does the Touchdown Club know?
During one of his famous salary wars with the New York Yankees in the 1920s, Babe Ruth, defending his decision to hold out for what was then an enormous amount of money, argued that no man who works for another is going to be paid more than he's worth.
Apparently the baseball owners who paid big money to free agents these past several weeks tacitly agree with Ruthian economics, but not all their associates do. In a talk with Bob Maisel of the Baltimore Sun, a man presumed to be Joseph Iglehart (Maisel did not identify him), a part owner of the Yankees, said he had decided to sell his stock and get out of baseball.
"I just can't tolerate what is going on in sports today," he said. "I didn't go into baseball to make money, but I don't mean that I want to lose any, either. If I had taken the same amount and invested it at a fixed rate of interest, I'd have been better off financially. I made my money doing other things, and being part of baseball was my fun. Now, even though we're winning, it isn't fun anymore.
"Back when this free-agent business first started, I expressed my views about it at a meeting of our partners. Our management chose not to follow my advice. I just don't feel right being a part of what we have done.
"I'm not all sure some of these clubs haven't gone out and bought themselves trouble. I don't think Reggie Jackson was the greatest team man in the world with the Orioles last year, and he isn't likely to change with the Yankees, no matter how much they pay him.
"Anyway, I've made up my mind. I'm selling. There's nothing I like better than to see a team like the Orioles have a good, scrapping club next year, while some of these organizations that have thrown money around far beyond the realm of reason fall flat on their faces. Somebody has to put some sense, some perspective back into baseball."
WHEN ICICLES HANG BY THE WALL
Shakespeare the sportswriter is back, courtesy of Edward Murphy, his literary agent. This time the Bard is commenting on skiing:
"The icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter's wind." As You Like It.
"My very lips...freeze to my teeth." The Taming of the Shrew.
"Art cold? I am cold myself." King Lear.
"As cold as if I had swallowed snowballs." The Merry Wives of Windsor.
"Nay, you must not freeze; two women placed together makes cold weather." Henry VIII.
"Where are the...beginners...?" Romeo and Juliet.
"Instruct her what she has to do, that she may not be raw." Pericles.
"Speed thee straight, and make...thy turn." Coriolanus.
"But if thou fall, O, then imagine this, The earth, in love with thee, thy footing trips." Venus and Adonis.
"...dost thou fall upon thy face?" Romeo and Juliet.
"Be cheerful; wipe thine eyes: Some falls are means the happier to arise." Cymbeline.
"You are...much advanced." Twelfth Night.
"I spied an...angel coming down the hill." The Taming of the Shrew.
"She can turn and turn, and yet go on, and turn again." Othello.
"...was carried with more speed before the wind." The Comedy of Errors.
"Tremblingly she stood and on the sudden dropp'd." Antony and Cleopatra.
"Then slip I...down topples she." A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"I am sorry one so learned...should slip so grossly." Measure for Measure.
"What, art thou lame?" Henry VI, Part 2.
"I will visit thee at the lodge." Love's Labour's Lost.
"Pull off my boots: harder, harder." King Lear.
"They sit conferring by the...fire." The Taming of the Shrew.
Are you going to believe this? An item in London's Sunday Times says that the Russians are playing tennis on ice, with the players using ice skates, an orange ball and conventional rackets. Sounds like one game they really did invent.
GEORGE ON SARDINES
People who leap into new diets and esoteric foods guaranteed to ensure health have been taking a flyer recently on sardines—people beyond a certain age, that is, because a diet heavy in sardines supposedly gets rid of wrinkles. After Mike Royko, the Chicago Daily News columnist, did a piece on this magical property of the aromatic little fish he received a phone call from 81-year-old George Halas, the vigorous, opinionated owner of the Chicago Bears.
"I just read that you're going on that sardine diet," said Halas. "Don't do it."
"Why not?" asked Royko.
"It's no good."
"How do you know?"
"I tried it," Halas said. "I ate sardines for breakfast every morning for four days. It was terrible."
His ankles swelled, Halas related, his lungs became congested and he felt bloated. His doctor advised him to lay off the sardines. The doctor also prescribed pills to rid his body of excess fluid.
Halas and other critics of the sardine diet say that while eating the fish in great quantities helps get rid of wrinkles, it is because the body retains so much liquid "that your wrinkles pop open."
"That's what the sardines do to you," Halas told Royko. "You store up too much fluid. After the doctor gave me those pills, I was running to the washroom every 10 minutes."
Fifteen minutes after Halas phoned, another man called, obviously someone in Halas' age bracket. He asked Mike for the name of the book that described the sardine diet. Royko told the caller what Halas had said about his experience with sardines. In Chicago the Halas name sometimes evokes reverence, sometimes not. This was a not.
"It made Halas sick?" the caller asked.
"Good!" he cackled, and hung up.
COMING UP SHORT
Bobby Kilgore, a senior who plays basketball for Central High in Omaha, has been getting letters and phone calls from college basketball coaches in all parts of the country asking him if he wouldn't like to pursue his higher education on their campuses, and maybe play a little basketball on the side. Kilgore, a good but not sensational high school player, might have been impressed by all the attention—he had invitations to visit Mississippi State, Southern Methodist, Iowa, Tulsa, Weber State and Montana, among others—if it hadn't been for that typographical error.
Kilgore played in an Omaha high school holiday basketball tournament last winter, and the program listed his height as 6'11½". One of those sports newsletters that disseminates recruiting information to college coaches pounced on that vital statistic. "They had a list of the 40 tallest players in the nation," Kilgore says. "I was No. 4."
He is also 6'1½", or 10 inches shy of his published height. For this reason Bobby has declined to accept any of the invitations. "I don't want to shock them," he says.
Now, before the Super Bowl settles the final question of the pro football campaign, let us look back on the regular season and determine who the real winners were, who was there when it counted, which teams won bets for their supporters, with or against the points. It's all very well for Oakland to brag that it won 13 of 14 games, but for a loyal fan betting the Raiders every week it was closer to a .500 year—eight bets won, six lost. The Vikings weren't that good, a Minnesota bettor breaking precisely even so far as the point spread was concerned—six wins, six losses, two ties. The champs? In the NFC it was the Bears, 7-7 in league play but 10-4 vs. the spread. In the AFC the Colts and the Steelers, both division champions, were betting champs, too, at 10-4.
The worst team to back in the entire NFL was Buffalo, losers to the points 11 times in 14 games. Tampa Bay was almost as bad, beating the points three times, losing 10, tying once.
The standings against the spread:
The best division to bet on was the NFC Central; its teams were 30-22-4. Worst was the NFC West.
THEY SAID IT
•Harry Walker, former major league baseball player and manager, on his reaction when he was given a $2,500 bonus to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1939: "I felt like one of those instant millionaires."
•Jim Ard, Boston Celtic center: "If I'm going to play against Abdul-Jabbar, I'd like to have a month's notice."
•Mrs. Pat Coleman, Maryland boxing trainer: "I'm going to be famous one day. Sports is a shortcut to fame. Look at them Chris Everts and Billie Jean Kings getting to do all them commercials. That's what I want to be."