PRAISE FOR LO SCHIAVO
Some criticism has been leveled at Rev. John Lo Schiavo, president of the University of San Francisco, for his Draconian decision to drop varsity basketball at USF (page 62). Too severe, some said. Too harsh. Look at USF's glorious basketball past. Couldn't something be worked out?
But Father Lo Schiavo decided that the reputation and integrity of the university were at stake, and there has been outspoken support for his action. Dean Smith, coach of North Carolina's NCAA basketball champions, said, "He was right. The integrity of the university is far more important." Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, said, "I very much admire Father Lo Schiavo. I think if you can't control the people who refuse to understand that a school has a primary function to be an academic institution with integrity, then athletics are not worth it, no matter how important they are." Bobby Knight, Indiana's volatile basketball coach, said, "I was shocked that a university president would be willing to do that. It was a courageous move. The move he made was the only way many athletes and coaches will understand that control rests with the president. We need more like him."
AS OTHERS SEE US
Pacific Islands Monthly is a lively little journal that covers doings in the islands of the Pacific, from Tahiti to Fiji to New Caledonia to the Solomons. Sometimes the rest of the world seems a bit odd to the folks in those remote parts. For example, Great Britain. A century ago Britain regularly sent missionaries to the islands to convert the heathen. Now, according to the May 1982 issue of the Monthly, an ex-captain of Western Samoa's rugby team, the Reverend Faitala Talapusi of the United Reformed Church, has gone to the English Midlands to bring Christianity to the population there. "Basically, Britain is an irreligious country," says Talapusi, and the Monthly points out that while 80% of the people in Western Samoa actively practice Christianity, 80% of those in England never set foot in a church.
Nor does America get off unscathed. The same issue notes that two students from Samoana High School in American Samoa have won football scholarships to U.S. colleges. Moamoa Vaeao will attend the University of Hawaii and Taleni Wright will go to Arizona State, trying to emulate the football careers of such Samoan stars as Mosiula Tatupu and Wilson Faumuina. "American 'gridiron,' " comments the Monthly, "like baseball, appears to be one of the main reasons why universities exist in the United States. Ability to play the game seems as much an asset as brains when competing for a place in the university."
Harvey's Wallbangers, otherwise known as the Milwaukee Brewers (SI, July 12), are a breed apart. Not only are the Wallbangers the hardest-hitting lineup in baseball, but they also have the oddest collection of biographical data in the game. Manager Harvey Kuenn, for example, has survived stomach surgery, a heart-bypass operation and the amputation of his right leg below the knee. First Base Coach Ron Hansen is one of only eight men in major league history to pull off an unassisted triple play, which he achieved in 1968 when he was toiling at shortstop for the Washington Senators. Hansen's opposite number, Third Base Coach Harry Warner, played professional ball for 17 consecutive seasons, all of them in the minor leagues—without so much as a sniff of the bigs. And the full given name of Pitching Coach Cal McLish is, as all trivia buffs know, Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.
And it isn't just the teaching faculty, so to speak. Pitcher Pete Vuckovich was a blue baby at birth and nearly strangled on his umbilical cord. When he was 1½, peritonitis set in after his appendix burst. At 2½, he had a tumor removed from his temple in an eight-hour operation. At 20, going 105 mph, he drove off an interstate highway in the rain, and though he wasn't injured, his car rolled over six times as it tumbled down a 60-foot embankment. At 21, he narrowly escaped electrocuting himself when he just missed backing into a 15,000-watt generator. Vuckovich says, "Now you know why I don't get excited when somebody rips a line drive off my head. I live life to the fullest."
"The people who live around here better pray a lot because this is what fishing must be like in hell," complained Jimmy Houston of Cookson, Okla., one of 279 fishermen taking part in a bass tournament on the Ohio River at Cincinnati. "It's not that there aren't fish in the river—heck, I caught 29 today. But only one measured over 14 inches."
BASS, the fishermen's group that sponsored the tournament, picked the Ohio as the site of the competition in part for the publicity the event would generate in a metropolitan area like Cincinnati. It got a bit more than it bargained for. In the tournament the total weight of all legal-sized bass (14-inch minimum in this case, with a maximum of seven "keepers" a day) caught by a fisherman during the three-day competition determined the winner, but nearly half the competitors at Cincinnati failed to catch even one fish large enough to qualify. The winning total weight of 16 pounds, 5 ounces was a record low for the winner of a BASS tournament.
There also was something of a scandal. Some fishermen, frustrated by their failure to catch anything of legal size, stationed themselves along the river near Cincinnati's public landing, where fish caught by competitors were weighed in and then released. One of them, Tom Jurkewicz of Crystal River, Fla., landed seven keepers on the last day whose combined weight zoomed him into second place. Officials conceded there was nothing in the rules against fishing near the release point, but eyebrows were raised by miffed also-rans. Next year, said BASS, when the world bass-fishing championship will be held at Cincinnati, the catches will be carted downtown, weighed there and then sent off in fish-tank trucks to be released elsewhere.
The phone rang in United Press International's sports department on a recent Sunday afternoon and the following conversation ensued:
"How did George Burns do in the golf tournament?"
"Who is this?" (Sports desks don't' have time to look up information for everyone who calls.)
"This is his wife."
"Oh. Just a minute. Let's see, he finished in a six-way tie for 12th."
"How much money did he make?"
Knowledgeable track and field fans agree that pole vaulters are a breed apart. They're marvelous athletes, the best all-around athletes in the sport, except for decathlon competitors, but they tend sometimes to be a little odd, a little strange, a little quirky.
Consider David Volz of Indiana University, the American record holder in) the event (18'9½"). Volz lives in Bloomington, Ind., locale of the popular film Breaking Away of a few years back. He has been known to visit the flooded limestone quarry that was featured in the film and leap into the water from the topmost, ledge. He also jumped from the catwalk near the ceiling of the Indiana University Field House to the pole vault pit 50 feet or so below.
In any case, Volz has developed extraordinary presence in midair. At the U.S./West Germany/Africa triangular meet in Durham, N.C. at the end of June, at which Volz set his American record, he did an amazing thing. According to veteran track and field observers who were watching the pole vault competition that day, on his record attempt Volz jostled the crossbar loose as he went over it, and then casually reached out and replaced it on the standards before dropping into the pit. There is nothing in the rules that says a competitor can't do that, and so the attempt stands as a legal vault—and a record.
DUKE AND HIS DUCATS
The University of Southern California is threatening to sue the NCAA over sanctions the collegiate governing body has placed on USC for various infractions of the rules. The Trojans have been blistered with plenty of unfavorable publicity in recent years because of the special treatment and financial emoluments its star athletes have received, but apparently it may have been ever thus, although perhaps to a lesser degree. At any rate, if you leaf through The Trojans, a history of USC football by Ken Rappoport you find mention of a lineman named Marion Morrison of Glendale High School who entered Southern Cal in 1925. Rappoport says Morrison, on a football scholarship, "soon established himself as a scalper supreme. He got two tickets as a player himself and then bought tickets from other students. He turned these into fast profits, buying them for $10 and selling them for $15."
Marion Morrison, as trivia fans know, became a great success later after he changed his name to John Wayne.
DEAN'S DREAM TEAM
Baseball fans are forever arguing about alltime All-Star teams, but 18-year-old Dean Aldridge of Arcadia, Calif., who has been a collector since he was eight, has a different slant on the subject. Dean, who has amassed a valuable 125,000-card collection, has used two standard guides, Card Price Update and The Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide, and his own knowledge gleaned from his extensive forays into the market to prepare a lineup of the cards valued highest according to player position. With current values, here's his team:
1B—Lou Gehrig (card issued 1934, current market price $225); 2B—Nap Lajoie (1933, $7,000); 3B—Eddie Mathews (1952, $350); SS—Honus Wagner (1910, $15,000); LF—Ted Williams (1954, $650); CF—Mickey Mantle (1952, $1,000); RF—Roger Maris (1967, $700); C—Yogi Berra (1951, $350); P—Eddie Plank (1910, $6,000).
As with other collectibles, baseball card prices are subject to severe fluctuations. Thus, the Mantle card has fallen sharply from a high of $3,800 in 1979. On the other hand, the price of the Wagner, the MVP of baseball cards, has been stable for years. The Maris card is of special interest. When Maris was traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals in 1967, Topps mistakenly pictured him in a Yankee uniform, caught the error and stopped printing the cards. The cards were blank on the back; Maris' statistics hadn't been printed. Some of the blank-backed cards got on the market, and they've been coveted ever since.
Aldridge is obviously a very provident young man. He owns five of the cards himself—Lajoie, Mantle, Maris, Williams and Gehrig—with a total value of $9,575. Just think: Only $21,700 more and he could own the whole lineup.
A less admirable type took more direct action late in July to augment his collection. A thief raided an exhibit at a shopping mall in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y. and, ignoring $75,000 worth of antiques, swiped prize baseball cards on display from the $10,000 collection of Mark Draper, including a 1933 Babe Ruth worth $325. Hey, that's no way to build a dream team.
WHERE THERE'S A WILL
In an attempt to "dramatize and call attention to" the need for physical activity, 32-year-old William Hill of Sierra Vista, Ariz. decided to run 90 miles nonstop through Death Valley. No slouch, this Will Hill. He did some research and found that July is historically the hottest month of the year in the Valley. The hottest week is July 19-25. The highest temperature ever recorded there, on July 15, 1972, was 201°. Hill planned his run for July 23, starting at noon. He trained for his ordeal by running in place inside a sauna, doing calisthenics in a steam bath and running in a rubber suit.
Escorted by a van provided by his sponsor, a local International Fitness Center, Hill set out in 106° heat—it went up to 121°—and covered the first 20 miles in close to four hours, a reasonably brisk pace. He seemed to have things well in hand until, unexpectedly, a sandstorm kicked up. With alkaline dust stinging his skin and choking his breath, Hill struggled on another six miles. It wasn't until the wind blew the sunroof off the van that Hill decided to call it quits. "How do you train for a sandstorm?" he asked plaintively.
Despite his disappointment, Hill is looking forward to a 100-mile run on his birthday in October and then next year in Hawaii an "Iron Man" competition, one of those 75-mile torture courses divided into three parts: cross-country run, bicycle race and ocean swim. He has the problem of preparing for ocean swimming in arid Arizona but thinks he's found the answer: an isometric contraption devised by Jack LaLanne which, when worn in a pool, simulates the pull of ocean currents. Now, if there's a sandstorm in the Pacific....
GOOD STICK, WRONG FIELD
Randy Nixon had a frustrating time two weeks ago in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley. On Sunday, using a driver, he nailed a 229-yard shot for an ace on the 14th hole at the Wentworth Hall Country Club in Jackson, his first hole in one. Problem was, Nixon is trying to make good on the tennis tour, and the next morning he lost his first-round match to sixth-seed Peter McNamara in the Volvo International, held in neighboring North Conway. Worse still, Nixon, still an amateur, couldn't accept the $800 he would have won in the tennis tournament if he had been a pro. By the time he finished paying for the mandatory round of drinks he had to buy after his hole in one, he had barely enough cash left to get out of town.
THEY SAID IT
•Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, defending in a Senate debate his state's position as a major brewer of beer, after an opponent raised the possibility of a punitive tax on that beverage: "With respect to my home city of St. Louis, we once proudly had the title 'First in booze, first in shoes, and last in the American League.' We lost our American League team. Our shoes went to Taiwan and Korea. God, do not take from us our beer."
•Dale Berra, Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop and son of noted linguist Yogi Berra, on the comparisons being made between him and his father: "Our similarities are different."