Whatever happens to our Davis Cup team in Australia later this month, it is clear that the U.S. has already won the international tennis competition for poor sportsmanship and bad manners. In tournaments leading up to Davis Cup play, our boys, when annoyed, have been heaving their rackets into the air and the nets, banging balls into the crowds and swearing under their breath loudly enough to be heard around the world. Barry MacKay, as might have been expected from past performance, has led all the rest, but Earl Buchholz has thrown his racket skillfully, Dennis Ralston has proved a dedicated sulker and Chuck McKinley has shown ability to drop-kick either the racket or the ball when he doesn't agree with an official call.
There are, of course, many precedents for tennis tantrums. Bill Tilden was the terror of linesmen and spectators alike; Suzanne Lenglen often behaved in a manner that would make Maria Callas sound like Goldilocks; Pancho Gonzales has done everything but take off his sneakers and pound them on the court a la Khrushchev. While there is never an adequate excuse for bad manners in sport, it is worth noting that Tilden, Lenglen and Gonzales were champions. Perhaps their excellence earned them a special measure of tolerance. MacKay, Buchholz, et al. aren't good enough to be rude.
George MacIntyre enjoyed a brief and spectacular career as a University of Miami quarterback. MacIntyre went into Miami's final game with a record of having played exactly zero official minutes this year. All he had done was hold the ball for place kicks. Then came his big moment. Against Air Force he went in to hold for a field goal, took the snap from center and fired a nine-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful fake. Coach Andy Gustafson was so impressed he left MacIntyre in. MacIntyre quickly responded by calling his own number. He hurtled into the line and broke his ankle.
UP IN TEXAS
Houston engineers are addressing themselves to an age-old riddle: How high is up? They're building an enclosed stadium for the new Houston entry in the National League, and the translucent plastic dome must be high enough to clear pop-ups, home runs and foul balls. How high is up?
Nobody knows. One study produced the figure 176 .feet. But this study was made in Brooklyn, and therefore is suspect. The generally accepted figure is 200 feet, but nobody knows whether this is correct, either. Some oldtimers claim that Babe Ruth hit pop-ups that came down covered with hoarfrost from the high reaches of the atmosphere. In this era Mickey Mantle and Rocky Colavito are noted for the altitude of their pop-ups.
The Houston club officials have vowed that no athlete appearing there shall be inhibited by the roof. This week a helicopter will fly over the site of the park. Down below, a bunch of the boys equipped with fungo bats will have the time of their lives smacking pop-ups and tipping fouls. The 'copter will take precise measurements, and the question of how high is up will finally be answered.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Athletic directors who believe college football and marriage do not mix well (and there are many such gentlemen) should know that of the 11 men chosen for the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Star team, nine are married, three are fathers.
•Open war between the pro football leagues will break out again when the NFL discovers that two top college prospects an Indiana end and a Washington State halfback, already are committed to the AFL and that more are on the way. The NFL is squirming under its self-imposed draft date of December 27.
•Russian Thoroughbred racing officials have allocated $3 million to buy foreign stock for breeding purposes and competition in international events. At England's Newmarket sales last week $26,460 of it made the first noteworthy Soviet purchases: three yearling colts by Alycidon, Grey Sovereign and Montaval.
•Las Vegas has put out an early line on the NFL playoffs. Jimmie (the Greek) Snyder, handicapper for the Hollywood Sports Service, makes either the Colts or the Packers three-point favorites over the Eagles in the championship game.
•Three National League clubs are after "retired" Red Sox Catcher Sammy White, but Sammy will return only if he can stay in the American League, where he can make a periodic check of his Boston bowling interests.
•Dallas Cowboy End Billy Howton, president of the NFL Players Association and second-leading pass receiver in league history, is considering a switch to the AFL's Houston Oilers next year. "Bud Adams [Houston Owner] offered me a lot of cash," said Howton. "But I watched an AFL game on television the other day, and it was pretty bad. I don't know if I'd want to play in a league like that." Have the Oilers seen the Cowboys on television?
WHO WIN IT?
Imagine a pro football game between the Colts and the Bears. The two teams pummel and pound each other up and down the field. There are 90-yard runs and 70-yard kicks and field goals and extra points and safeties. Finally the gun goes off, and it's over. But nobody leaves. Why? Because they're waiting for the decision. After 10 minutes of checking, cross-checking, adding and subtracting, the two judges and the referee turn in their cards, and a little man in a tuxedo walks to a field mike to tell everyone who won and by how much.
This, of course, is ridiculous, and this, of course, is roughly what happens in boxing. As shown once again last week when Gene Fullmer and Ray Robinson waged a draw in Los Angeles (see page 16), boxing keeps both its fans and its fighters in darkness. The ex post facto decisions are unfair to both, and they open the door to hanky-panky.
If the scoring had been posted round by round it might have changed the very outcome of the Fullmer-Robinson fight. Fullmer says he was told by Manager Marv Jenson that he "had the fight won." Therefore, says Fullmer, he coasted toward the end. As a matter of cold arithmetical fact, Fullmer was ahead by one point, the smallest possible margin, after 10 rounds. If he did coast, it nearly cost him his title. Robinson picked up the point and thus drew the fight.
If boxing officials could be persuaded, or ordered, to post their scoring round by round, no such situation—or alibi—could develop. A fighter going into the last round losing by a lot of points would know he had to fight like hell. A fighter barely breaking even after 10 rounds would know he dared not coast. And the fight fan (remember him?) would know what was going on, too. This is not a new idea, but for some reason boxing officials keep resisting it. They have nothing to hide, have they?
THE TRA'S TROUBLES
The best-policed sport in the United States is flat racing, and the reason is the Thoroughbred Racing Associations. The TRA's police agency is headed by ex-FBI man Spencer Drayton, who sees to it that racing keeps its fingernails manicured and its face washed. Last week, for reasons best known to themselves, two major track owners gave TRA a good kick in the teeth by resigning.
The two are Eugene Mori (Hialeah, Garden State) and Mrs. Marjorie Lindheimer Everett (Balmoral, Arlington, Washington). They were sore, they said, because Drayton, heretofore in charge of security, recently was named executive vice-president of the over-all TRA. "We felt," said Mrs. Everett, "that racing's security arm should be further separated from the administration of the sport. And just because Spencer Drayton is supposed to be a good policeman doesn't mean he's any good at anything else. Who is Spencer Drayton to tell tracks what to do when he has nothing at stake?" Mori was less outspoken. "I have a high respect for Drayton," he said, "and I never intend to hurt anyone. I thought our resignation would sort of blow over pretty quickly."
This last is not likely. There was a strength in the unity of the TRA; it encompassed 48 tracks. Now, thanks to the Mori-Everett pull-out, TRA will have about $100,000 a year less income and no tracks in Florida or Illinois, both major racing states.
TRA prestige, which had been at its highest, obviously is not helped by these losses.
But it cannot be said Mrs. Everett and Mori have gained any dignity by their exit. Mrs. Everett, in particular, departed with a gratuitous mot: "Drayton couldn't track an elephant in the snow." To which Drayton retorts: "When a few individuals want a code of standards but one that doesn't apply to them, when they are not willing to contribute their own talents to the national interests of racing, they are acting selfishly."
In the coming season a lot of horse owners are going to ask themselves if they want to play in a game where part of the gang picks up its marbles (and its money) and goes home if it can't have its own way.
LET BARNEY DO IT
It is going to be a long, hard winter for the ragtag collection of youth and age known as the United States national amateur hockey team. Hardly a year has gone by since the U.S. beat the Canadians and the Russians for a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, a victory that was worth two sputniks and a lunik in terms of international prestige. Now the team is ready for another year of competition with the same Canadians and Russians, and the outlook could not be worse.
Only 16 players, one 60 years old, showed up at tryouts in the Boston area recently, and only one or two of them are good enough to qualify. Jack McCartan, the superb goaler for the U.S., has turned pro. Jack (Gundy) Kirrane of Brookline, Mass., captain of the Olympic team and a strong, hard-nosed defenseman, can't afford to leave his job in the Brook-line fire department. Billy Cleary will not be able to play. He is in business now and, like Kirrane, can't afford the time off.
The Canadians do not have such problems. They pay the salaries of hockey players who have to leave steady jobs. The Russians treat their international athletes with the same monetary respect as a champion worker at the Magnitogorsk works. But the United States—bless its lily-white soul—sends its international amateur teams (e.g., volleyball, basketball) into competition with a hearty "Good luck, chaps," and little else. Our hockey team must play an exhibition tour to raise money for simple expenses. At the try out camp Boston U. Coach Harry Cleverly supplied pucks and sticks himself. The Boston Arena provided two hours of ice time (worth $30 an hour) every day for a month. The turnout, according to Walter Brown of the American Hockey Association, was "the smallest and poorest lot we've had in years." There were several high-schoolers, and there was 60-year-old Barney Zarakov of Medford, Mass. "I won't make it," said hockey nut Zarakov, "but look at all the free ice time I'm getting." We wouldn't like to bet that Barney won't make it.
THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Pity poor Leon Lentz. He went fishing with fellow Banker Henry Harris and Investment Broker Ben Willis. The three North Carolinians tied into a sassy blue marlin off Cape Hatteras. Harris hooked the fish and fought it for 30 minutes. Since he occasionally has back trouble, Harris then turned the rod over to Willis. But Willis also has a history of back trouble, so he handed the rod to Lentz after 10 minutes. Lentz, sound of back, hoisted and reeled but lost the estimated 400-pounder almost within gaffing distance of the boat. It was not enough that Leon Lentz then had to listen to opprobrium from his two fishing companions. He had to go home to bed and stay there for several days. Diagnosis: back trouble.
From the top handicappers to the lowliest tout, everybody knew that the 4-year-old brown mare, La Muchi, was a bum horse. But last month, when 28-year-old Jockey Leopoldo Barcena took her over, she began making news at Argentina's Cordoba race track. After a long succession of also-rans and dead-lasts, La Muchi placed twice in a row and made a pile of dinero for bettors who had anticipated her revival.
Last week La Muchi was entered in a 1,400-meter race at Cordoba and, happily for insiders, she went off at 30-to-1 odds. She started in second place, lagged to fifth after the second turn and entered the homestretch all but out of contention. With 300 meters left, La Muchi gave one snort, galloped past four horses, knocked off the leader and won by a length. It was one of the most astounding finishes ever seen in Argentina, until the judges got the idea of looking under La Muchi's saddle.
There they found five dry-cell batteries, a transistorized voltage booster and two thin copper wires. The wires ran down the stirrups. When Barcena pulled a ring hidden under the saddle, 100 volts would crackle into La Muchi's belly through the jockey's spurs. It was a new twist on an old method of improving the breed, but track officials were insulated against it. They disqualified La Muchi. They also arrested Barcena, who confessed all with a certain note of pride.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
•Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes, who believes "a boy's single greatest educational experience is the football he plays," has added some thoughts on graceful losing. Said Woody: "People who say 'Aw forget it, boys, you played a good game anyway' I despise. I really hate them. We don't step on that field to be a fine football team—we step on it to win."
•Houston's major league status seekers have put their slogans on the train to see if they'll get off at Cornville. They will. Executive Secretary George Kirksey says, "Our franchise in the National League is a license to go to work. We are aiming for a world championship, starting now." General Manager Gabe Paul adds, "When I came to work I was told the word 'can't' is not in the vocabulary of the Houston Sports Association."
•After Navy's Joe Bellino won most of the postseason football awards, Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Times Herald commented: "Soon you will read that Bellino has run off with the Frank Merriwell Cup and the Sicilian Athlete of the Year award, and the Vassar seniors will vote him the football player they would most like to get through their guards."
•Tom McAllister, Oregon Journal outdoor editor, took his wife on her first deer-hunting trip. McAllister already had his deer when they came face-to-muzzle with a beautiful buck. He waited for his wife to shoot. Nothing happened. The deer finally strolled away, trailed by Barbara McAllister's words: "Oh, you sweet dear little buck."
TRY, TRY AGAIN
It took three days to settle a soccer game between St. Brigid's and Sacred Heart, grammar school teams in Baltimore's CYO league. After four 10-minute quarters on the first day, the schools were tied 1-all. Two five-minute overtime sessions produced no score, and neither did an additional 15-minute "sudden death" period ordered by the referee. Darkness came, and everybody decided to replay the game the next day.
But the second day was almost a carbon of the first—four 10-minute periods, two five-minute overtimes and "sudden death." Result: another standoff. The coaches, worried that the boys were getting tired, but feeling that lasting friendships were being formed, scheduled a third day's competition. A few minutes before the end of the game St. Brigid's Pat Brooks blasted a kick into Sacred Heart's goal, and the test match was ended. The two teams had met three times previously during this season. The scores: 1-0, 0-1, 0-0.