John B. Connally, the former Secretary of the Treasury, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and a man touted for his fund of knowledge, has been lecturing at colleges across the country. While at the University of Pittsburgh recently, Connally was being escorted around the campus when he suddenly saw Pitt Stadium and exclaimed, "The Pitt Panthers! Joe Paterno!"
As columnist Roy McHugh of the Pittsburgh Press says, "There are gaps, quite obviously, in his knowledge of football."
POLITICIANS AND BOXING
A couple of governors, Milton Shapp of Pennsylvania and Hugh Carey of New York, have some explaining to do.
Shapp will be facing a potentially explosive situation if the state athletic commission, whose members serve at his pleasure, grants a manager's license to Frank (Blinky) Palermo, one of the most vicious hoods ever to have disgraced any sport. Former promoter Jackie Leonard, who was badly beaten in 1959 after he testified against Palermo and his crony, Frankie Carbo, last week recounted in SCORECARD how he still lived in fear of Palermo, despite the passage of years. Now Tom Cushman of the Philadelphia Daily News says he knows several people who have information about Blinky but are scared stiff about even having their names get out. "This reinforces the point as dramatically as anything I can say," says Cushman. "Palermo is simply something that boxing can't tolerate."
Instead of wasting time considering whether or not Palermo should get a license—of course he shouldn't—the commission should be trying to ascertain whether Blinky is indeed the undercover manager of Jimmy Young, the heavyweight contender, as has been the talk for months. But any mention of Jimmy Young's name might make the commission chairman, Howard McCall, twitchy. Last year McCall attended the Young-George Foreman fight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, plane tickets courtesy of promoter Don King. Governor Shapp might want to ask McCall about that.
In New York, Governor Carey, who took a sanctimonious stance when he learned that his commission chairman, James Farley Jr., had also been serving as chairman of King's scandal-ridden U.S. Championship Boxing Tournament, has now appointed a new chairman. He is Jack Prenderville, who has no qualifications whatever for this important position other than that he is a crony of Carey's and once ran his congressional office in Brooklyn. Prenderville says he was a fight fan years ago but that he really knows more about basketball. He coached basketball at St. Francis (N.Y.) College for two years, and his overall record was 19 and 32.
When a 12-foot-long, 300-pound bottle-nosed dolphin known as "Mr. Spock" swallowed a pointed three-inch bolt that a worker had accidentally dropped in his tank at Marine World/Africa USA, south of San Francisco last week, it looked like curtains for the dolphin. Veterinarian technician Ron Swallow (no kidding) tried to extricate the bolt from the first of Mr. Spock's three stomachs, but his arm was too short. The dolphin was taken to Peninsula Hospital, where a $5,000 piece of equipment known as a fiber optic scope couldn't get at the bolt either. Attendants ruled out surgery because recovery was doubtful.
Marine World President Mike Demetrios said, "What we need is a pro basketball player with a long reach. Too bad the Warriors are out of town."
Up spoke Mary O'Herron, his PR director and a Warrior fan, "Clifford Ray's home with a bad leg."
Ray was found and agreed to give it a try. He has a 45-inch reach, but the attendants were concerned he wouldn't be able to get his 16-inch biceps down Mr. Spock's throat. Ray's arm was lubricated, he was told to "just go with the flow," and he reached deep down inside. He could keep his arm inside the dolphin for only three minutes, lest Mr. Spock stop breathing. With 30 seconds to go on the clock, Ray found the bolt and shouted, "Got it!" With five seconds to spare, he withdrew the bolt. Call it Androcles and the Dolphin.
ARE YOU LISTENING OUT THERE?
The Atlanta Radio Club is organizing more than 5,000 ham operators in the area and one million throughout the world to extend an invitation to a spaceship from another planet to land in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium just before the Braves' home opener. For three weeks leading up to the April 7 night game against the Dodgers, ham operators are being asked to broadcast the following message:
"Living beings who travel throughout the universe from planets other than earth are invited to make a peaceful landing on earth at 1920 hours Eastern Standard Time on April 7, 1978. The location for this landing should be Atlanta, Georgia of the United States of America, at the Atlanta Stadium, latitude 85° 25 minutes west, longitude 33° 44 minutes north."
The pregame ceremonies will be stopped at 7:20 p.m. to await the landing. Carl Nichols, a spokesman for the Atlanta Radio Club, says, "If there are any intelligent beings traveling through outer space, there should be no way they won't pick up the message." A vice-president of the Braves, whose name is Bob Hope, says, "I honestly don't think a spaceship will land. But if one does, it will certainly be one of the biggest events in the history of baseball."
Richard Perry, athletic director at the University of Southern California, intends to "go to war" against the U.S. Volleyball Association. He made that decision last week when seven of the eight players on USC's national championship women's volleyball team dropped out of school. They want to be in the 1980 Olympics, and the USVBA, which wants a competitive team, decided that anyone who hopes to play in Moscow has to start year-round training in Colorado Springs March 1. The USC coach, Chuck Erbe, also left to become an assistant coach of the Olympic team, but it's the departure of the students that really disturbs Perry. He says, "They'll take these kids out of universities and use them up for three or six or eight years, then leave them without any alternatives. That's not right."
Perry has no doubt that the USVBA training program will be successful. "The team will be better in 1980 than it would have been. Then after 1980, maybe men's volleyball will do the same thing. And our water-polo team will say, 'We haven't beaten Poland in 100 years. Let's take all the kids out of school and concentrate on water polo.' Gymnastics could say the same thing. And we'll end up emulating the East German or Polish model.
"That model is fine for East Germany and for Poland. But is it fine for the United States? My opinion is no. Our model is to develop kids to be fine athletes and to prepare them to be contributing citizens."
Every time Nelson Burton, the hard-hitting left wing for Hershey of the American Hockey League, came on the ice or acted threateningly toward a Springfield player, a bunch of fans in Hershey Park Arena cheered wildly and waved signs. When Burton was sent to the penalty box for fighting, they went bananas. Burton did not know who the fans were, but then they sent him a note, explaining that they were Juniata College students taking a course in behavioral analysis and had chosen to cheer for him as part of an experiment.
"We didn't know that much about the Hershey players, so we selected one at random and it was Nelson Burton," says Professor Charles Wise. "What we were trying to do was influence his performance on the ice, trying to urge him on to possibly perform better than he might otherwise. We were hoping to get some kind of a reaction. We weren't trying to encourage him to get into a brawl, but I have to admit it certainly excited the class when he did."
Burton isn't the first athlete to have attracted the attention of the class. Wise once took his students to a Pittsburgh Pirate doubleheader where they started cheering like crazy for Rightfielder Dave Parker. "It became contagious," says Wise, "and after a while just about everybody sitting along the first-base side was cheering Parker. We couldn't conclude that what we did had any effect, but Parker was the batting and defensive star of both games that day. It made the class feel pretty good."
The striped bass, the glamour inshore gamefish of the East Coast and a valuable commercial species, has been taking its lumps of late. Pollution has virtually wiped out spawning in the Delaware River, chemical contamination and power plants have taken their toll of Hudson River fish and the Chesapeake Bay system hasn't had a good hatch, or what biologists call "a dominant year-class," since 1970.
"Basically, we're fishing on 1970 fish and older right now," says Ben Florence of the Maryland Fisheries Administration, "and since 1970 we've had mediocre production and just can't sustain the levels we're used to. A pretty good handle is our commercial harvest in Chesapeake Bay. We take approximately half of the commercial harvest on the whole East Coast. In 1973 we harvested approximately five million pounds of striped bass. In 1977 the harvest dropped to one million pounds, 20% of 1973's. It's been a straight-line drop."
In an effort to boost the striper population, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has proposed a ban on all commercial fishing this spring in spawning rivers and part of the bay itself. Warren K. Rich, assistant attorney general for the department, says the ban on spring fishing is "a very preliminary step in a national effort that Maryland is going to try to spearhead to conserve striped bass. It may have a significant impact, but to have a major effect we are going to need other states' cooperation," because stripers migrate from the Chesapeake after spawning.
Lefty Kreh, the perceptive outdoors writer for The Baltimore Sun, says, "No one denies that the Chesapeake Bay has declined in water quality. Few will deny, too, that we have a serious striped-bass problem. What is done in the next five years may determine for all time what happens to the striper on the Atlantic Coast."
TIED TO BE FIT
Time was passing slowly on Noah's ark, so the lion suggested to the giraffe that they choose up sides for a football game. The giraffe agreed. The lion's team kicked off, and on the first play from scrimmage the monkey handed off to the rhino, who charged up the middle for 10 yards. On the next play the rhino rambled all the way for a touchdown. At halftime the giraffe's team was leading 42-0.
Early in the second half the monkey again handed off to the rhino. The rhino headed for a hole in the line, but the centipede, who was playing defensive tackle, reared up, grabbed the rhino and threw him to the deck, causing a fumble. The rabbit, who was playing free safety, picked up the ball and scored for the lion's team. The lion was elated. "Fantastic tackle!" he exclaimed to the centipede. "Just fantastic! By the way, where were you in the first half?" The centipede replied, "I was lacing up my shoes."
SEEING THE LIGHT
Inquiries in three races and a broken saddle in another delayed the day's program at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans to such an extent that the sun was setting before post time for the last race. This situation was not lost on hunch players who bet on a long shot named Plum Dark to win. He paid $25 40.
THEY SAID IT
•Susan Hemond, 18-year-old daughter of White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond, asked if her winning time of 5:29 in the mile in a track meet at Pasadena City College was her best one. "It's my only one."