Having mismanagedhis team to the point where it is the worst in the National BasketballAssociation, Ned Irish of the New York Knickerbockers is now threatening toquit the NBA if he doesn't get certain concessions. Irish complains that as amember of the Eastern Division of the league his team is obliged to play thepowerful Boston Celtics and Philadelphia Warriors more often than WesternDivision members do. This is a phony complaint. In the NBA the home team keepsall the gate receipts; when the Celtics and the Warriors come to New York fansjam Madison Square Garden to see them, and Ned Irish makes money. When theKnicks go on the road the home teams lose money because the Knicks are a poorgate attraction. The Boston and Philadelphia owners have a legitimate complainton this score, not Irish.
The real reasonbehind Irish's threat to quit is a tall (6-foot-11) senior at the University ofIndiana named Walt Bellamy. The Knicks will undoubtedly have the worst recordin the league this year and therefore will get the first draft selection. Irishwants Bellamy. However, the NBA has awarded a franchise to Chicago for the 1962season, and part of the plan for stocking the new team is to give Chicago thefirst draft rights. Irish would like to browbeat the other owners into delayingChicago's entry for a year so he can get Bellamy. If the NBA officials allowthemselves to be bamboozled on this score by Ned Irish, they should be ashamedof themselves.
When Don Januaryearned $50,000 for his hole in one at the Palm Springs Classic, Lloyd's ofLondon paid the tab. Lloyd's has insured against holes in one for the last twoClassics, but is chucking the idea after paying off both times. In 1960, whenJoe Campbell scored his ace, Lloyd's had charged the tournament promoters a$4,800 premium, thus establishing odds of 9 to 1 against a hole in one by afield of 120 professional golfers playing 90 holes. This year Lloyd's raisedthe premium to $13,800 and thus cut the odds to a wink over 3½ to 1.
The correct odds,gentlemen, are 6 to 5, and you have done yourselves in both times.Incidentally, Don January, who took your $50,000 with his one smooth, beautifulshot, used 359 other strokes during the tournament. They earned him a total of$18.33.
In westernCarolina, where the spirit of moonshining survived both Prohibition and Repeal,the revenooers have enlisted some new recruits. Local Alcoholic BeverageControl agents are taking advantage of the fact that hunters and fishermenoften pursue their quarry in precisely those isolated areas where bootleggerslike to set up stills. They now offer a bounty to outdoorsmen for putting thefinger on sour-mash setups scattered through the lower Appalachians.
The ABC men havenever appreciated free enterprise in this field, of course, but they areespecially disturbed by some of the white lightning they have seized recentlyin the Greensboro-Winston-Salem area. Apparently the moonshiners are now usinggalvanized iron tubs and old car radiators in their operations, and the boozecontains deadly metallic salts. A number of deaths from the stuff have beenreported.
We're not certainwe approve of deputizing Americans to snitch on their fellow citizens. Asidefrom the ethical point, it may well lead to pitched battles between hunters andmoonshiners and higher casualties than all the poisoned hooch in Carolina. Butwe do concede a possible peripheral benefit. Get the picture: Homeward plodsthe weary huntsman. He is empty-handed. "Where yer bin?" says hissuspicious wife. "I," he says proudly, "caught three stills today,dear."
The temptation isto be gentle with the people who run the Bowie, Md. race track. Since theirwinter season began on January 21, they have endured blizzards, a fire and atrain wreck. But last Saturday's spectacle, in which three horses fell in thehalf-frozen mud in the first race and the jockeys thereupon refused to ride outthe remainder of the program, demeans the whole sport and demands the strongestcriticism.
One reason wehave racing these days in midwinter weather is that tracks have built heated,enclosed stands to keep people from freezing to death while they lose theirmoney. Apparently nobody gives a hoot about the horses that have to run and thejockeys who have to ride them. The horse owners, the track, the concessionairesand the state tax commissions all profit from sending animals out to risk lifeand limb in slop, slush and sleet. Horse racing should not be just anotheroutlet for human greed. It is supposed to be a sport. Let's see that it is.
"No member ofthe Yankees," said General Manager Roy Harney last week, "will take apay cut this season." This fact ("first time ever with a club I'vehad") is the reason for the speed with which Yankee stars have been signingtheir contracts. In swift and wondrously silent succession such wranglers asMickey Mantle, Bob Turley and Whitey Ford have accepted management's terms.There are a few grumblers—but what .230 hitter can turn down the same money hegot last year? "We like early signings," says Hamey happily,"because they show the players are keen to get started. They give a lift toour whole operation."
In Los Angelesand Washington, meanwhile, the new American League clubs are using signings andsalaries to turn the best of their castoffs into local heroes. The Angelsrecently signed Bob Cerv and Ted Kluszewski with gobs of publicity and overlygenerous $30,000 contracts. The new Senators startled the baseball world withtheir quick—and, no doubt overpriced—signing of perennial holdout GeneWoodling.
The Angels willneed a full bag of stunts to get a solid hold on L.A. fans. They play 13straight games on the road before opening in Wrigley Field. When they do limphome, it won't be to meet crowd-drawing New York or Chicago; there are threegames with the fifth-place Minnesota Twins and two more with the eighth-placeAthletics. By the time May arrives, Angelenos may be wishing the Pacific CoastLeague was back in town.
•CanadianFootball League Quarterback Bernie Faloney, former U. of Maryland star, wonderswho owns him. He was traded by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the MontrealAlouettes for Sam Etcheverry. Now that Etcheverry has jumped to the NFL bothclubs want Faloney, and a court will have to decide who gets him.
•The Los AngelesLakers franchise may soon be sold. Laker President Robert Short of Minneapolisis negotiating with M. C. McConnell, a Los Angeles executive, who has offered$388,000 for controlling interest.
•ClevelandIndians Vice-president Nate Dolin, who says it costs $295,000 to develop aplayer of Pitcher Jim Perry's ability, estimates it also costs $114,000 foreach man the Indians bring up who fails to make the club.
•The resignationof several top football officials is forcing Southeastern ConferenceCommissioner Bernie Moore to consider putting a gag on coaches. The officialsare irked by repeated criticism in public.
•One reasonDePaul's basketball team has been having troubles lately is that Coach RayMeyer, looking ahead to the NIT in New York, has been teaching an eastern-style(or gentler) game. DePaul has played three western-style teams recently andlost three straight.
The rules of theNational Collegiate Basketball Coaches Coat Throwing Association, saysPresident (and St. Joseph's coach) Jack Ramsay, are very simple. To gainadmittance, a coach must toss his coat during a conference game or tournament.To stay a member, he must make at least one throw a year.
Ramsay explainsthat the distance of the tosses contributes points toward Coat Thrower of theYear honors. "Quality of the garment is also considered," he says."I recently threw a cashmere coat. That won me a flock of points."
Evil Eye Finkel,boxing's celebrated hex artist whose repertory includes the Slobodka stare("a certain kind of stare with the eye"), the zinger and the doublewhammy, is coming out of retirement for the Patterson-Johansson fight. Evil Eyesays he was never really retired but, "I wasn't looking for no action. Ihit a baseball team here. I hit Georgia for the University of Miami. I hitFrance, and Hitler threw his hands up. The Mumbler does the maneuvering."(Mumbles Sober is Evil Eye's manager.)
"I'mmaneuvering him pretty good," mumbles Mumbles. "The price is $50 to$500, but if the fella's poor we give him a break."
Evil Eye does notperform at his best without money. He is going to work for Johansson, but theterms have to be made. "Patterson's got to get the zinger," says EvilEye balefully.
"OLE" INSAN LUIS
In the Mexicanborder town of San Luis, 20 miles south of Yuma, Ariz., there was a bullfightlast week. It was not a good fight, by Spanish or even Mexican standards, butit splashed a bit of color across the drab dust of San Luis. Much of the colorflowed from the eager aficionados who swarmed across the border. Theirinfluence was strong and a little disquieting: bullfight announcements withARTE vs. VALOR at the top and Pepsi-Cola ads at the bottom; new Cadillacsspewing sand in the arena parking lot (many got stuck and had to be towed out);barefoot Mexican kids selling Wrigley's chicle; stands speckled with leggyblondes in slacks and awed grandmothers in winter coats.
The natives hadcolor, too, and it wasn't all of the sleep-in-the-shade variety. Sun-tanned,khaki-shirted laborers from Sonora and Baja California roared through thestreets in late-model Chryslers and Pontiacs. During and after the corrida,they washed down their tacos with cold bottles of Coke. And they watched thefights with no more enthusiasm and little more understanding than theirAmerican ringmates.
The man they hadall come to see was Luis Procuna, for years one of" Mexico's best matadorsbut now a faltering 37. Procuna was terrible. He cut no ears, took notriumphant turns around the ring and got almost no applause. He simply couldn'tstand still; when the bull charged, he danced and dodged like a welterweight.Procuna's companion on the card was a handsome youngster from Mazatlàn namedJose Ramon Tirado. Slender and graceful and working reasonably close to hisbulls, Tirado produced the one good fight of the day: he fought his secondanimal cleanly and smoothly and dropped him on the third thrust. It was aone-ear job, but San Luis is a two-ear town, so Ramon got two, plus ladies'shoes, hats and wineskins.
When it was allover, everyone threw seat cushions into the ring. Small boys scaled the fenceand began belting each other with them. The bull was dragged through the battlezone unnoticed, until one boy ran up brandishing his cushion. He hesitated fora moment, then gave the bull three whacks across the chops, thereby completingthe best faena of the day.
Dr. Joseph C.Elia has resigned as Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission at a timewhen the sport cannot afford the loss of even one good man. Elia objectedloudly to the decision in last December's Robinson-Fullmer fight, insisting itproved the necessity of round-by-round scoring. For this and other suggestedreforms to save boxing from what he calls the "ravages ofparasitic-lecherous type individuals," Elia was subjected to enough localpressures to force him to quit.
We agree withElia on the advisability of having the judges' and referee's scoring madepublic after each round (SI, Dec. 12), and applaud his attempt to have thisdone at the forthcoming (March 4) Robinson-Fullmer rematch. A few weeks agoElia wrote to both fighters asking for their opinions. Robinson quickly repliedhe was "in complete accord." It took two letters from Elia to getFullmer's "definitely opposed."
About Elia'sresignation, Robinson says: "It was through Joe Elia that I agreed to go toLas Vegas for the rematch with Fullmer. He's a man of great integrity, andthere should be more like him in boxing. I can only hope I'll get a fair shakein the fight. But if I get there [Las Vegas] and find anything that looks outof line, I won't fight."
Into the debate about soft Americans (SI, Dec. 26) comes Franz Renger of Graz,Austria with a dissenting opinion. Americans, says Renger, are in betterphysical shape than Europeans, not because they have more money and a betterdiet, but because they are more active as sports participants ("moresportlich" is the way he puts it). Renger is currently a ski instructor atSugarloaf in Maine, where he finds his pupils "much more serious abouttheir sport than Europeans. They really want to learn, they work harder andthey need fewer lessons to master skiing technique. Europeans are moreinterested in socializing than in sport."
South CarolinaState Attorney General Daniel R. McLeod recently ruled: "Auto racing is notan athletic sport." Bob Colvin, president of Darlington InternationalRaceway, replied: "If Mr. McLeod maintains his views, then, on advice of mystate senator, the Raceway sees no need to pay the state any more amusement taxand requests a refund for the last 11 years in excess of $400,000."
Your move, Mr.McLeod.