BOLD FOR 12
Arnold Palmer, as readers of this magazine know, doesn't play a course—he assaults it. "Why hit a conservative shot?" the Sportsman of the Year asks. Why indeed?
Last week in the first round of the Los Angeles Open, Palmer hit enough bold shots to last him the rest of the winter tour. On the 18th hole, a 508-yard par 5, he tried to reach the green in 2. He hit a good tee shot, but on his approach he pushed a three-wood out of bounds into the practice fairway. He took a penalty stroke and tried again. The next shot went in almost the same spot.
"It is possible," Palmer reasoned later, "that I overcorrected on the third one." Palmer knocked that ball clear out of the course and onto a highway on the opposite side of the fairway. The fourth shot landed close to the third. Palmer finally made the green in 10, each of the out-of-bounds balls having cost him two strokes. He then two-putted.
January 16, 1961
When the erratic few minutes were over, Palmer, who finished 26th in the same tournament last year, seemed the least perturbed man around. "It was a nice round figure, that 12," he said, a perfect pupil of his own go-for-broke philosophy.
THE WORLD AND 1/50TH CHAMP
A fellow who doesn't know all there is to know about fractions had better not try to figure out the middleweight boxing picture. It was bad enough when Paul Pender was champ in New York and Massachusetts and Gene Fullmer was champ in the other 48 states. Now the chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission has announced that Sugar Ray Robinson is the champion of the world in Nevada.
The chairman, Dr. Joseph C. Elia, was one of many who thought the Robinson-Fullmer draw in Los Angeles should have been called a win for Sugar Ray. He suggested that the NBA investigate, and termed the decision "awful." The other day he sent a letter to the members of the Nevada commission announcing his decision that Robby reigns, since he should have been awarded the championship fight. So, for the record:
Fullmer is champion of the world plus 47/50ths of the United States.
Pender is champion of the world plus 2/50ths (or½5th) of the United States.
Robinson is champion of the world plus 1/50th of the United States.
Ten-year-old Kent Farney of Roeland Park, Kans. had a crow named Jasper, and boy and crow went everywhere together. Last year the crow failed to return home after accompanying the boy to school. He was gone until last week, when he came back with a four-word vocabulary: "Wigwam" and "Oh, be quiet." Kent's father, a veterinarian, figures somebody captured the crow, clipped his wings and gave him speech lessons. Jasper studied hard and waited for his wings to grow out. When they did he flew straight back to Kent without saying goodby, or "Wigwam," but maybe "Oh, be quiet."
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Jimmie (the Greek) Snyder, Las Vegas handicapper, has made Patterson a 3½-to-1 favorite over Johansson. It's even money that the fight won't go seven rounds.
•Note on offensive football: Only one man among the top 10 leaders in rushing, passing and total offense was on a team good enough to play in a major bowl. He was Joe Bellino, and Missouri held him to four yards.
•The trade that brought Catcher Haywood Sullivan to Kansas City was prompted by the club's own lack of foresight. Last summer the A's traded Harry Chiti; then they sold Danny Kravitz and allowed their other two catchers to be drafted by the league's new entries in Los Angeles and Washington. They had one catcher left on their roster: a youngster from the Class D Florida State League. Sullivan's batting average last year (in Boston) was .161.
•Composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who has glorified Russian peasants and soldiers, plans to compose a symphony in honor of soccer.
•Fred Haney, former Brave manager and now general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, is raiding the Milwaukee club for his office assistants. So far Haney has lured away farm expert Roland Hemond, Secretary-Assistant Treasurer Francis Leary and Equipment Man Tommie Ferguson.
ROLL OUT THE BARRELS
At Grossinger's, the always-throbbing resort hotel in the Catskill Mountains, an ice skater from Portland, Ore. jumped over 16 fiberboard barrels one day last week to become the barrel-jumping champion of the world. Moments later Jim Waldo, the jumper, was given a trophy by Yogi Berra, the New York Yankee baseball player. Then, shouting and laughing, everybody crowded around for pictures and autographs—of Yogi Berra.
Little wonder that barrel jumping is not the world's fastest-growing sport. Even for barrel-jumping champions, fame is fleeting to a point that is measurable in mere seconds. The biggest reward any jumper can hope for is the annual expense-paid trip to Grossinger's for the world championship. Little wonder, too, that there are only 17 creditable barrel jumpers in the business, 15 of whom showed up for last week's showdown. Why do they do it?
"I don't know—it's kind of fun," says Jim Waldo. A onetime figure skater in an ice show, Waldo is manager of an ice rink in Portland, but he had never jumped over a barrel until four years ago when he began to do it out of curiosity.
Leo LeBel of New York jumps barrels because his father before him jumped barrels. (His sister and his brother used to jump barrels, too, but now his sister is married and his brother, a paratrooper, jumps out of airplanes.) LeBel has jumped so well in the past that he has been world champion six times running, never being beaten until Waldo came along.
Georges Coallier, a 25-year-old French Canadian who finished second, jumps barrels because one of his teachers made him jump barrels when he was a boy. He is a Montreal policeman whose winter beat is a frozen lake in a city park upon which he skates eight hours a day.
Then there is Ronald Herrera who drives in stock-car and sports-car races when not styling hair in Manhattan's Lilly Daché beauty salon. "You want to know why I jump barrels?" said Herrera, whose honeymoon last week coincided nicely with the world championships. "I jump barrels because I like the free week's vacation at Grossinger's."
RUMBLE ON THE COURT
Last week, during a pro basketball game between the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knickerbockers, Detroit's George Lee and New York's Kenny Sears got into a fight on the court. Lee connected once and fractured Sears's jaw.
This is the latest and possibly the most serious consequence of what is wrong with pro basketball. The NBA's overseers apparently believe that rowdy behavior on the court by players and coaches is good for the box office. They encourage it by refusing to deal out severe penalties to the participants when it occurs.
We believe the NBA policy is wrong. President Maurice Podoloff should call in his club owners and order them to stop their coaches from inciting violence by childish squabbling with officials. The coaches should be ordered to bench players who appear to prefer boxing and wrestling to basketball. If they persist in turning court games into gang rumbles, these players should be barred from the sport—permanently.
"I told my wife, Eloise, that I would call her if I won the jackpot," said Therman Gibson, the man who last week won $75,000 on NBC's television show, Jackpot Bowling, by rolling six consecutive strikes.
"Eloise was sitting home in Detroit with my two daughters, Barbara Kay and Patricia Ann. Normally, the show is put on tape, so we bowl on the Coast at 5:30 in the afternoon and my wife sees the show in Detroit at 10:30 when the tape is put on TV. I promised Eloise I'd call her right away if I ever won.
"Last week, however, one of the announcers had to do the Rose Bowl game, and so the show went out live coast to coast. Since Eloise didn't receive any call and assumed that the show was on tape, she also assumed that I didn't win. She and the girls sat there watching, and after I rolled the fifth strike she turned to the girls and said, 'Kids, now don't get excited, because your father misses this last strike and doesn't win the $75,000.' Well, all of them sat there knowing I wouldn't make it, and when I did, they all jumped around the room screaming and hollering and hugging one another.
"I tried to get to a telephone and call Eloise, but photographers kept wanting pictures, and I couldn't get to a phone. Finally a man came over and said, 'Mr. Gibson, there is a long-distance call for you from Detroit.' I ran to the phone, figuring it was Eloise, and the voice on the other end said, 'Nice going, Therman. A few of the boys were just sitting around the bar here in Detroit and decided to call you up and congratulate you.' "
VOTE ON THE BACKSTRETCH
Early last year some of the parking attendants at New York race tracks tried to organize a union. They were earning $11 a day. Their counterparts in California were earning roughly twice as much. The first organizing effort failed, but it attracted the attention of Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters. They have now moved in, through New York Local 917, and are organizing the attendants and backstretch employees, which include grooms and exercise boys.
The horse men, fearing Teamster influence at race tracks and claiming that union demands will drive some horse owners and trainers into bankruptcy, are organizing in opposition. One of their spokesmen, Jockey Club Member and Wall Street Broker Gerard Smith, says, "If the Teamsters succeed, there will be no more racing in New York after five years and none elsewhere in the U.S. after 10 years."
The Teamsters' major demands include a six-day week (instead of seven), $84 a week (instead of $65), a day's sick pay and a day's vacation for each month worked.
The first important point to be settled (it is now in arbitration) is whether the New York State or the National Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction in the case. The horse men have argued for the national board because grooms and exercise boys travel extensively during the racing season. The Teamsters prefer New York's board. No matter which board takes the case, there will be a vote of backstretch employees this spring when all stables return to New York from winter training. If 51% of approximately 2,200 grooms and exercise boys vote yes, the Teamsters will be in. If the Teamsters do not get what they call a "fair vote," they plan to call for a strike.
The New York Yacht Club, custodian and defender of the America's Cup, last week tossed a thin line of hope to the British sailing fraternity, which has lost 16 times in 16 tries for the cup. If the NYYC beats the Australian boat in next year's challenge, it will definitely race the British next. And, if Australia wins, New York will step aside and let the British have first crack at the Aussies.
This ought to please the Royal Thames Yacht Club mightily. It was preparing a boat when the news of the acceptance of the current Australia challenge broke last April 28. But definitely not pleased were U.S. yachtsmen, some of them New York Yacht Club members. Club member Olin Stephens, successful designer of the last U.S. defender, was the first to speak out: "I'm disappointed the New York Yacht Club took that attitude. If we lose the cup, I think we should get the first chance to win it back."
Actually, the NYYC didn't risk much when it took "that" attitude. As long as Olin Stephens designs our defenders, we never will have to "win it back."
CAST OF CHARACTERS
•Asked how he'd like pitching in Boston's Fenway Park, newly traded Gene Conley replied, "I don't know. I've never pitched in a phone booth before."
•Dr. Frank Vandiver of Houston, pro-South Civil War historian, saw only part of the Blue-Gray bowl game on television. "The Gray was behind, so I turned it off," he said.
•Jess Neely, Rice football coach, visited the New Orleans Fair Grounds race track after the Sugar Bowl game. Asked how he made out, Neely replied: "I did all right. I arranged for a ride back to the hotel."
SILVER ANNIVERSARY WINNERS AT WORK
Five years ago SPORTS ILLUSTRATED established the Silver Anniversary All-America awards, honoring men who earned varsity letters on the football field and then achieved distinction in postcollege careers. The award winners have formed the Silver Anniversary All-America Foundation, Inc., and have chosen as president Charles T. Kingston Jr. (right), Hartford, Conn. insurance counselor who attended Trinity College and was a 1958 selection. The foundation plans to 1) provide postgraduate scholarships for outstanding student-athletes, 2) promote amateur football and 3) instruct and impress youth with the value of sound, balanced higher education. We applaud its intentions and again congratulate its members.