NAMES IN THE NEWS
Congratulations to the newest member of the Massachusetts Racing Commission and to the latest basketball recruit signed by Southern Methodist. If their names are any indication, Robert J. Furlong and Ollie Hoops should enjoy great success. A tip of the hat, too, to Cornerback John Outlaw, who is retiring from the Eagles to work on his master's degree in criminal justice.
And three big cheers for a pitcher-outfielder for DeKalb High in Waterloo, Ind. who hit two homers and pitched a 16-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against Southside High of Fort Wayne, and then slammed two more homers and a bases-loaded single to help account for a 13-3 win in the nightcap, giving him nine RBIs for the day. Attaboy, Ty Cobbs.
And let's hear it for a 3-year-old filly who won her first race at Penn National, which had to close down for a day during the crisis at nearby Three Mile Island. Her name? Melt Down.
Is a racing greyhound with the improbable name of Joe Dump the greatest in history? Last week at Greenetrack in Eutaw, Ala., Joe Dump equaled the record of 27 straight wins set by Real Huntsman in 1951, and a lot of the Greenetrack fans, who have dubbed themselves "Dumpsters," think Joe Dump is the best ever.
Named after his owner, Joe Fallon, a former bulldozer operator, Joe Dump is just a shade over two, yet he already has racked up 36 wins, four seconds and one third in 44 starts. He won his 27 straight in only 172 days, while it took Real Huntsman 427 days. Quick out of the box from any hole, Joe Dump has led all the way in his last 15 races. His average margin of victory during the streak has been six lengths, and nine lengths in his last 10 starts. After every win, he receives two marshmallows as a reward. His admirers include Bear Bryant, whose son, Paul Jr., is the general manager of Greenetrack.
Still there are those who sneer at Joe when they compare his record with that of Real Huntsman. Real Huntsman raced over seven tracks and at four distances. Joe Dump has run only at two tracks, Pensacola and Greenetrack, and, moreover, all his races have been at a single distance, [5/16]ths of a mile. "There was 20 times more fanfare made over my dog than over Joe Dump," says Gene Randle, who owned Real Huntsman and who lives in Alabama. "I flew him all over the country. He went to visit people in hospitals, was on TV several times and was a regular on the banquet circuit. When we went to banquets, he always sat next to me. When I got on airplanes, he sat in the next seat. He had his picture made with more airline stewardesses than any animal in history. It was a real mess. I got sick of it."
Wobbler syndrome is a spinal disease that afflicts about one of every 300 thoroughbreds. In a typical case, the bones that encase the spinal cord slip into each other, compressing and damaging the cord and causing the horse to lose control of his limbs. When the horse can no longer stand, he is destroyed. Until recently there was no remedy, but now, thanks to Dr. Barrie Grant, head of the Equine Division at Washington State's Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Pamela Wagner, assistant professor, and Dr. George Bagby, a Spokane spinal surgeon, there is hope.
Asia Ruler, a promising 3-year-old colt, began to show symptoms of wobbles, a weaving and chopping stride, in training a year ago. Taken to Washington State at Pullman, he underwent a 2½-hour operation by Drs. Grant, Wagner and Bagby. After being given a general anesthetic, Asia Ruler was placed on his back, and the doctors operated through the base of his neck. Temporarily moving the windpipe to the side, the team fused the slipping vertebrae and corrected the condition. After recuperating for several months, Asia Ruler made his first start last November, and since then he has won twice in 11 races and finished second four times.
Following the surgery on Asia Ruler, Drs. Grant and Wagner operated on a number of other horses. One of them was Secret Intent, who was 1½ years old when he began to show symptoms. Now standing at stud at Washington State, the son of Secretariat will be covering a dozen mares who also underwent the spinal surgery, as the doctors seek to discover if wobbles is a genetic disease.
BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY
When the Maine senate received a bill to establish a special one-week deer season next December for hunters using muzzle-loading rifles, Senator Donald O'Leary proposed an amendment. Under his amendment, any muzzle-loading hunter would have to dress up like a Revolutionary War minuteman or wear a buckskin shirt and pants. And that wasn't all. The amendment required that "any person who shall wear the hunting apparel shall, during any time which he is hunting, be accompanied by a person beating a drum."
A number of O'Leary's fellow senators dismissed the amendment as frivolous, but last week O'Leary, who was opposed to the special season because deer would be yarding at the time and too easy to shoot, accomplished his purpose: the bill was killed in committee. O'Leary said with satisfaction, "I wanted to laugh it to death."
SAFE AT HOME
If the dispute between the umpires and the major leagues isn't settled, a Chicago group calling itself the Union of Mortified Protesting Spectators (UMPS), hopes that fans will stage a nationwide boycott of games this Sunday. "It has to be a real grass-roots movement," says Neil Tesser, who cofounded UMPS with a friend, Dave Jones. "We don't have any money to buy advertisements. We just hope people will hear about us through the papers and by word of mouth." The boycott has been dubbed Strike One, and if it doesn't work (and UMPS takes its lumps), the group will call for Strike Two and, if necessary, Strike Three. "Three strikes," says Jones, "and we move to Ecuador."
Spills at Sullum Voe in the Shetland Islands, the new terminal for Scotland's North Sea oil, have killed an estimated 7,000 birds in the past five months, among them the rare black guillemot and the northern diver. The estimates may be low because birds oiled at sea are rarely found, but of additional concern is what's happening to the unique Shetland sheep, one of the oldest breeds in the world and one whose natural diet is seaweed. A hundred sheep already have died from either ingesting oily seaweed or being trapped in slime and drowned by the incoming tide. Two thousand sheep have also had their precious wool, which is extraordinarily soft and light, ruined by oil. The sheep, which are never clipped but plucked by hand, are the mainstay of the Shetland knitwear industry, and as Ian Caldwell, managing director of Shetland Fashions, says, "We now have a potential disaster for the sheep and knitwear industry on our doorstep. Everyone was concerned about the effect of oil pollution on wildlife and the environment, but everybody forgot about the sheep."
BUST AND BOOM
The gas shortage in Los Angeles has struck hardest at the owners of motor homes and campers, which average six miles a gallon for older models and 10 to 12 for newer ones. "It's not the price of gasoline that's hurting sales, it's the uncertainty of supply," says John Stanton, L.A. vice-president for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. Manufacturers started cutting back last year when the turmoil began in Iran, and Stanton says that most of the 100 manufacturers on the West Coast are now temporarily closed so they can reassess the market.
"Right now the Southern California near-term perspective is dismal," reports Boyd Plowman, senior vice-president for finance for Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc., based in L.A. Fleetwood has closed three of its 30 factories to reduce inventories and laid off 280 workers in New York and Georgia. The company's sales for fiscal 1978, which ended April 29, are down 29% from the previous year.
With the larger vehicles in a slump, sales of mopeds, which can get 100 miles to the gallon, have flourished. Edouard de Truchis, general manager of Cycle Peugeot in the U.S., says April sales were up 25% from March nationwide, and May sales should double April's. "Three years ago, Americans were buying mopeds for pleasure and fun," he says. "Now people are finding they need them for transportation."
Dick Schroeder of Mopeds-A-Go-Go, a retail store near the International Airport, says his sales are up 500% in the past month. But, says Schroeder, there is one small problem: "I can't get gas for my truck to go to the warehouse."
A Japanese glove endorsed by Oriole Pitcher Mike Flanagan has been lettered "Franagan."
TALK, TALK, TALK
There's a lot of talk going around the major leagues that the 1979 season is a big one for home runs. "Some balls are just carrying way beyond what they should," says Pitcher Steve Stone of Baltimore. The talk prompted a spokesman for Rawlings, the company that makes baseballs for both leagues, to say, "Last year we had a strike at our plant in Haiti, and consequently a lot of baseballs were rushed into circulation without being properly inspected. As a result, there were baseballs being used that weren't up to specifications and probably did not travel the way they should.
"This year we have been better able to institute quality control. The result is that the balls are of uniformly better quality and will carry better."
Sounds logical, but the figures reveal no great differences from last season. In the first 146 games played in the American League this year, batters hit a homer every 41.14 times at bat, not that much of a statistical increase over a homer for every 42.53 at bats for the same number of games last year. And in the National League, the difference is almost as slight: 47.5, compared with 49.05.
But wait, there's more talk. The makeshift umpire crews, who have been blowing calls left and right, aren't giving the pitchers the proper strike zone, it is said, and so there are more bases on balls. "Walks are up all over the league," says Ray Miller, the pitching coach for the Orioles. Well, that's true. This season American League batters have walked every 8.83 times at bat, as opposed to 9.84 for the same period last year. But by contrast, in the National League batters are walking less, not more. The figures are a base on balls for every 10.12 at bats this season vs. 9.46 last year.
Maybe the coaches and players should buy pocket calculators.
BOTTOM OF THE CLASS
Which high school teachers get the most extra pay for extracurricular duties? Football coaches, according to a state survey by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. They average $1,846 for their work outside the classroom, more, even, than athletic directors, who receive an extra $1,600 above their base pay as teachers. Next in line are boys' basketball coaches, $1,589; wrestling coaches, $1,430; track coaches, $1,058; soccer coaches, $1,056; and baseball and girls' basketball coaches, both of whom average $997. The top "non-athletic" extra pay goes to band advisers, who average $1,053. Yearbook advisers get $605 and drama advisers $568. Not much, but that beats department chairmen, who average only $480.
THEY SAID IT
•Tom Paciorek, Seattle left fielder, after striking out on three pitches against Yankee Ron Guidry: "Off what I saw of him, he was unhittable, unbeatable and unthinkable. I might have been more impressed if I had seen more of his stuff."
•Jeanne Austin, mother of 16-year-old tennis star Tracy: "When Tracy was eight, she would beat the best ladies at the tennis club in California, and then go over to the baby-sitting area and play in the sandbox."