The nationwide running boom shows no signs of peaking, judging from the runaway sales of The Complete Book of Running by James F. Fixx. Published by Random House only two weeks ago, it is outselling every other book on the Random House list, is in its fourth printing with 85,000 copies off press and is No. 7 on the B. Dalton book-chain list of best sellers and No. 8 in The Washington Post.
A former magazine editor, Fixx began running 10 years ago when his weight ballooned to 213¾ pounds. Now a lean 159, he looks 10 years younger than his age (45) and is absolutely flabbergasted by the reception his book has received. "If it had sold 10,000 or 12,000 copies, I would have been perfectly happy," says Fixx, now on a promotional tour. There is one discordant note: he ran the New York City Marathon in a slow (for him) 3 hours and 27 minutes. Says Fixx, "Publicizing a running book is a lousy way to train."
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
Sakowitz, the Houston department store that sometimes out-Neimans Marcus, is offering just the thing for the jogger's Christmas stocking: a home jogging track. "Just provide us with at least one-eighth mile," says the Sakowitz catalog, "and we'll provide you with a stone-asphalt-based track coated with (easy on the feet) urethane." The price: $62,500.
WORD FROM THE BIRD
A year ago at this time, Mark (the Bird) Fidrych, the rookie Tiger pitcher who had enthralled Detroit fans with his 19-victory season and his antics on the mound, would be putting on a ruffled shirt and a tuxedo to attend another banquet in his honor. Now the Bird gets up early in the morning in St. Petersburg, Fla., puts on jeans and goes to Huggins-Stengel field to work out with Detroit's team of neophytes in the Florida instructional league. He is testing his shoulder, which was so racked by tendinitis this past season that the Tigers sent him home in August.
"When you're hurt, you wonder," the Bird says. "The wondering is over now. I can throw." Last week he worked two innings against the Phillies' youngsters and gave up only one scratch hit. Says the Bird, "I hope to have a better third year than any year I've ever had. What's going to happen will happen. I'm still playing. If I win, the people'll come out. If I lose, they won't. Correct me if I'm wrong."
The new Oakland franchise in the North American Soccer League has been nicknamed the Stompers after "the forgotten heroes of the wine industry, the men and women who used to stomp the grapes." It gets worse. The booster club has been named the Winetasters; the season-ticket holders, the Connoisseurs; and the youth group, the Tiny Bubbles. Wait, there's more yet. The three decks of the Oakland Coliseum are to be divided into Champagne, Chablis and Rose sections, and a dancing group of cheerleaders is called the Corkpoppers.
The Tokyo Entomological Society charters 30 buses on a weekend to take members on a field trip, and Japanese department stores devote sections to books on insects and insect-collecting equipment. In the opinion of Dr. Ross H. Arnett Jr., a biology professor at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., Americans would do well to emulate the Japanese and take up insect collecting as a pastime or sport. "Compared to photography or even fishing, the equipment is inexpensive, and the exercise is great," Dr. Arnett says. "And beetles are a great place to start."
Beetles, says Arnett, who is directing the massive North American Beetle Fauna Project, which aims to identify every single beetle in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, are the most successful order of life on earth. With 300,000 named species, beetles comprise about a quarter of the grand total of 1,122,637 known species of life. There are more species of beetles than of plants, and new ones are being discovered at the rate of 1,500 a year, Arnett notes. Some entomologists hold that only 10% of the beetles that exist have been discovered.
Arnett, who has worked at the Smithsonian and taught at Catholic University and at Purdue (where he bucked heads with the dean, Earl Butz, who didn't want him going out of Indiana to collect), got involved in beetles when he was a sophomore at Cornell 38 years ago. Part of the excitement of beetle collecting is that they come in all shapes and sizes and occupy every habitat in the world except the open sea. The largest, heaviest and probably the strongest insect in the world is the Goliath beetle of equatorial Africa. It is bigger than a mouse and has a wingspread of almost a foot. The hairy-winged beetles, the Ptilidae, which live in the spore tubes of fungus, are the tiniest insects, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
Weevils are beetles with snouts. The town of Enterprise, Ala. has the only monument to a pest in the world. It was erected "in profound appreciation" to the boll weevil, which toppled King Cotton but caused farmers who switched to peanuts to prosper. Hear that, Jimmy Carter!
The earth as we know it, Arnett says, could not survive without beetles, which serve as food for fish, birds and other wildlife. Moreover, beetles consume plant matter and carrion that are recycled into the soil. The scarab beetles feast on dung. "It's nutritious," says Arnett. "I'm not saying it's delicious."
Torrance, Calif. and Anchorage, Alaska have started bicycle programs that other communities might wish to look at—and ponder. They are using lost or stolen bikes, which haven't been claimed from the police, to supply free rides to the public.
The Torrance program, which began last year, was suggested by Jeff Bartick, a playground director, who said that some residents who wanted to ride in park-sponsored group excursions lacked wheels. The city council approved a pilot plan, and the Park and Recreation Department picked out 10 bikes from a police warehouse and restored them. All a resident has to do is make a reservation. No identification is necessary, and so far the program has worked well.
Such is not the case in Anchorage. The Alaska Center for the Environment reconditioned 70 bikes, painted them white for easy identification and put them in brightly colored racks in the downtown shopping area for public use. All 70 bikes disappeared. Undismayed, the center placed another 90 bikes downtown. Eighty of them disappeared. Some have been found abandoned in outlying areas of the city and in the boondocks, and the hope is that most will be recovered before snow buries them.
Still the environmentalists are not discouraged. They're planning to put out a third batch of bikes on the theory that the public has to get used to getting something for nothing.
Think you're through with Anchorage, eh? Get this. Anchorage is going to play in the Eastern Basketball League this season. Yes, the Eastern Basketball League, with such teams as Providence, R.I.; Quincy, Mass.; Asbury Park, N.J.; and Lancaster, Scranton and Allentown, Pa.—all a mere 5,000 miles away.
The Anchorage team, to be known as the Northern Knights, is the brainchild of Jack Brushert, who has served as general manager of the successful Anchorage Glacier Pilots baseball team for the last eight years. Brushert has hired Bill Klucas, a scout for the Houston Rockets, as coach for $2,000 a month, plus a house and car and bonuses, depending on how high the team finishes. Among the players trying out are Freeman Blade, recently cut by the Phoenix Suns; Jerry Thurston, dropped by Golden State; and Matthew Hicks, the top scorer for Northern Illinois University last year.
The Northern Knights, who already have a radio contract, said to be the first for pro sports in Alaska, will play 21 home games in a local high school gym and 10 games on the road. To make sure opponents show up in Anchorage, the Northern Knights will pay their round-trip air fare, which will come to about $7,000 per team. Tickets are scaled from $5 to $9, and Brushert says that with concessions, yearbook sales, and advertising and radio income, the team can break even with an average attendance of 1,200. However, he expects that the Knights will draw an average of 2,500. "We are in a unique situation up here," says Brushert. "There's nothing much to do. So we feel that if you put on a good show, it's a good sports situation."
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Captain John Smith ran all over Pocahontas when they met recently. Smith, the captain and fullback for the Wynne, Ark. high school team, gained 226 yards in an upset of unbeaten Pocahontas High, 35-6.
THE $6 MILLION BOY?
Jockey Steve Cauthen, 17, is having a year without peer. A couple of weeks ago he became the first jockey to win more than $5 million in purses. Cauthen broke the record of $4,709,500 set by Angel Cordero in 1976. "Steve don't give the record long," said Cordero. "He just go out and break her."
Now Cauthen is driving hard for $6 million. Last week he won 10 races, including the $200,000 Washington, D.C. International, to push his earnings up to $5.5 million. Whatever the final total, Cauthen's record is stunning, especially considering that he did not get to ride in the Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont and also missed a month because of injuries suffered in a fall.
Moreover, Cauthen is virtually assured of becoming only the second jockey in the last 35 years to lead the country in total earnings, total winners and winning percentage. The first to do it was Willie Shoemaker, who has turned this trick four times. Shoe, however, did not win the jockey triple until his fifth season. Cauthen has been riding for a grand total of 18 months.
FATHERS & SONS (CONT.)
Speaking of fathers and sons in football, as we did several weeks ago, it would be hard to top the quartet that showed up for freshman practice at Dartmouth this fall.
There was David Shula, a split end and safety, since elected a co-captain, son of Don, the Miami Dolphin coach; Jeff Kemp, a quarterback, son of Jack, the former Buffalo Bill quarterback who is now a Congressman; Len Jardine Jr., a split end and halfback, son of the former coach at Brown; and Frank Ryan Jr., a quarterback who quit after 10 days, son of the ex-Cleveland quarterback who is Yale's athletic director.
Ben Weider of Montreal, the founder and president of the International Federation of Body Builders, last week received word that the 1979 Asian Games will include body-building as a demonstration sport. More significant for Weider, Monique Berlioux, the executive director of the International Olympic Committee, wrote to congratulate him, a gesture that gives Weider new hope that body-building will someday be an Olympic sport.
Weider says that still another country, Afghanistan, has joined the body-builders federation, upping the total to 97. He bristles, however, at the Sovetski Sport articles attacking body-builders in the U.S.S.R. (SCORECARD, Nov. 7). The criticism, says Weider, was instigated by a weight lifter and "was provoked, quite simply, by sheer jealousy. The two sports attract a similar type of people, and weight lifters are angry at the rapid growth and popularity of body-building in the Soviet Union, both in terms of numbers participating and crowds attending competition. There is no doubt that body-building has taken members away from weight lifting...and the weight lifters don't like it."
THEY SAID IT
•Bert Jones, Baltimore Colts quarterback, on his career after football: "I'd like to be an entrepreneur. They threw that word about in economics and I always wondered what it meant."