LIFE IN THE OLD DOG
President Kennedy last week urged that schools follow three recommendations made by the National Council on Youth Fitness: to give special training to physically underdeveloped kids; to provide all pupils with a daily minimum of 15 minutes of vigorous exercise; to rate the abilities of schoolchildren and to gauge their progress. This is a matter of high importance, said the President—as he had first said in this magazine (SI, Dec. 26, 1960)—and, of course, we agree.
We also agree with a good deal—but not all—that is said in this issue by the director of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania, George Munger (see page 38). Munger complains that Europeans pay more attention to their children's fitness than we do. Of course, he is more concerned with the rank and file than with athletic champions, but just the same we'd like to draw your attention to a report by Roy Terrell (see page 12), who accompanied the U.S. track and field team to Moscow, Stuttgart and London. The best that the Soviet, German and British fitness programs could produce were not good enough to beat our boys, who won all three meets. So let's save a cheer for the flower of our youth, which evidently is not yet totally decrepit.
VOICE OF THE REDS
July 30, 1961
Waite Hoyt, a 23-game winner for the Yankees in 1928 and for the past 20 years the baseball voice of Cincinnati, is a pleasant change from many of his radio-TV colleagues. Hoyt never gives you the phony vocal dramatics, he seems to know what he is talking about and he delivers it in an easy, folksy manner. He uses the apperceptive past tense in describing the action instead of the hysterical present (Robinson slid, rather than slides, into second). Listeners appreciate this and they enjoy his anecdotes, collected over a 21-year major league career.
When rain interrupts play, Hoyt talks baseball and tells stories, and people keep their radios turned on. One of his favorite subjects is Babe Ruth. The day Ruth died, his station called Hoyt in and he reminisced for three hours about his former teammate.
Hoyt's affection for baseball does not keep him from occasional sharp comment. "It's remarkable," he said recently, "the control some of these pitchers acquire when they suddenly are giving an intentional base on balls." A practice he frowns on is the manager-pitcher confab during a game. When Leo Durocher managed the Giants, he irked Hoyt with his frequent trips out to the mound. Hoyt summed up one of Leo's games with, "Well, the Giants won—by two runs and 12 conferences."
TIME TO SPARE
Frank Mazzei went bowling in Roslindale, Mass. one day last week. He bowled steadily for 110 hours and 30 minutes and claimed a new marathon world record. Mazzei, 24 and an ex-Navy man, is ambidextrous; he bowled both righty and lefty, and he stayed awake six days and nights on his marathon. Furthermore, he bowled rather well. He knocked down a total of 120,209 pins, made 115 strikes, 2,903 spares, had a high single game of 216 and his average was 119.
During his spree, Mazzei dropped 30 pounds from his 220-pound frame and his waist shrank from 40 to 36 inches. His feet, however, got bigger and bigger; he went from a size 10½ shoe to a size 13. He wore out eight pairs of socks, three pairs of shoes and two scorekeepers. He used up six bottles of skin lotion on his hands. Yards of bandages and adhesive tape were wound around his feet, legs and fingers. "I developed some bruises," he said, "but no cuts."
Every hour he took a 15-minute break to pour on lotion and eat. "I was in a trance at times," he said. "The second night and the third day were the hardest. But I was still picking up splits on the sixth day." When he stopped he slept for four hours on a cot at the alleys, then went home and slept 12 more.
One of his prizes was a year's free bowling.
NOW THE ABL
The newest professional sports association, the American Basketball League, plans its debut this fall, with eight teams stretching from Pittsburgh to Honolulu. Players and coaches are being signed to contracts (some through raids on the established National Basketball Association), schedules are being drawn up, press agents are pouring preseason ballyhoo into newspaper offices.
It is, however, difficult to take the new league seriously. The ABL was organized by Abe Saperstein, the voluble, energetic promoter and originator of the Harlem Globetrotters. Saperstein owns the ABL's Chicago franchise and he is also the league commissioner. This is an impossible situation—as if Charlie Finley could function properly as owner of the Kansas City Athletics and baseball commissioner as well. Over a 15-year period now, the NBA has demonstrated that, aside from team salaries, travel costs are by far the largest item of expense in the operation of a pro basketball team. This was true even when the NBA's teams were concentrated in the eastern half of the country; it is true today and some NBA teams are still struggling to meet those expenses. The new league is scattered over 5,000 miles; the travel costs over a five-month season will be staggering. The NBA, with established stars like Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, also discovered its salvation was the money it was able to persuade NBC to pay for television rights. Even today, when more than $500,000 of TV money are split among the eight teams each season, a few like Detroit and Cincinnati have trouble balancing their books. The ABL has no television commitments. It will have difficulty getting any without top-grade players, in the face of competition not only from the NBA but, in the first half of the season, from pro and college football.
Saperstein's creation would seem to have little hope of success. He is, however, a superb salesman, an indefatigable hustler, the man who took a group of so-so Negro athletes, named them the Globetrotters and made them a prime attraction from Moscow to Hollywood. We wish him luck.
GO FAR, PAY CASH
These are tough times for the pro football scout—mainly because of the rivalry between the AFL and the NFL. Recently some scouts and coaches from both leagues were hoisting a few in a Buffalo bar and commiserating about what has become a sellers' market. "Checks aren't any good any more," said a scout. "The big thing for the kids is the dough they can lay their mitts on. And twenties are better than fifties—a bigger bundle to hold." Everyone nodded, and for the moment the AFL and NFL were in total agreement. "Pay them everything they ask the first time," advised a coach. "Don't haggle. Every successive visit costs you more."
The talk turned to the way more and more pro teams, looking for a fresh advantage, are adding college coaches to their sub rosa scouting staffs despite NCAA disapproval. "The head coach takes a pious attitude," a scout said wryly, "but the assistant coaches are cooperative." "But don't ever send the check to his office," cautioned a colleague. The group clinked glasses.
A scout for the Houston Oilers told of a shattering experience. "When Mike Ditka of Pitt went to Honolulu to play in the Hula Bowl, I was planning to go to Hawaii also, just to remind him to stop off in Houston on his way home. But I was talked out of the trip, he flew from Hawaii to Chicago instead, and the Bears got him." "These days," sighed a coach, "you've got to be ready to go anywhere and pay anything." The group clinked glasses on that too.
BETTER HOMES AND SAND TRAPS
Golf and suburbia are being squeezed ever more tightly into the shrinking Lebensraum around our cities and they are apparently learning how to coexist. Perhaps the opportunity to fall out of one's house onto a course for a fast nine or 18 holes compensates homeowners to some extent for the bombardment of roofs and the splattering of picture windows by hookers and slicers. However, there remain a few dissenters, and one of them, a Rye, N.Y. movie executive, took his case to the State Supreme Court the other day. His house happens to be 20 feet beyond a green that has traps in front and a high bank behind it, encouraging golfers to overshoot. Admittedly in a unique position, the movie executive complained that so many golf balls showered down on his property—especially wood shots, because this is a long hole—that his 3-year-old daughter could be allowed out of the house only if she held her hands clasped over her head, while her baby sister, if unaccompanied, was not allowed out of the house at all. When the children were in the yard, complainant or his wife had to hang around near by to listen for the thwack of club meeting ball and then scan the skies for the missile.
Under a settlement arranged by lawyers for both sides, the club agreed to put up a fence 45 feet long and 20 feet high, plant eight large trees (for further protection) and supply screens to shield the windows.
Since he bought the house in April, the movie executive has collected more than 40 golf balls that plunked onto his property. Oddly, not a single golfer has asked to play out from the yard.
Samuel Reshevsky, who has been playing chess fairly steadily since 1917, is currently engaged in what its sponsors call "the most eagerly anticipated event in U.S. chess." He is playing a 16-game match with Bobby Fischer, aged 18, the U.S. champion, who started to play seriously around 1951, or some 34 years after Reshevsky. To forestall any agitated queries about the outcome, it should be said at once that there is no hurry—the match will last until nearly the end of August.
Whether or not there was an overwhelming public clamor for it, the match was certainly eagerly anticipated by Reshevsky. Ever since Fischer edged him out of his place as the best American player in 1958, Reshevsky has been urging match play rather than tournaments as a true test of comparative ability. Before he and Fischer began playing last week, they had met six times in various tournaments, each winning one game with four drawn.
When they settled down to the first game in the current series in Manhattan, Reshevsky looked fit, calm, sunburned and even a little eager and excited. Normally he plays with excruciating slowness, but this time he was quick and aggressive, making it transparently plain that the occasion was a major one for him. He played the kind of chess that has made him a world figure since he was 8 years old, thriftily hoarding minute advantages that become consequential in the end game, while Fischer seemed stunned by his intensity. Reshevsky won decisively. The second game was turnabout. Fischer had the older prodigy looking as dazed as he himself had looked the day before, and he won in 38 moves. They were both by then at top form, wary but aggressive, so the outcome was predictable: they drew the next game. After one more New York encounter, they are going to Los Angeles to play the next eight games, after which they will return to New York for the final four.
The odds now favor Fischer, because he can play Reshevsky's cautious kind of chess better than Reshevsky can play Fischer's daring and adventurous sort. The high caliber of the chess suggests that the match should have been held long ago. It is doing both these hardened infant prodigies a lot of good.
The proposed purchase of a controlling interest in Roosevelt Raceway by the owners of Yonkers Raceway has now been canceled, and a good thing, too. As we pointed out (SI, July 24), this bold move to establish a monopoly over harness racing's biggest market should never have been considered seriously in the first place. We trust that what was attempted overtly and discouraged by public criticism will not be accomplished covertly through dummy stock sales, and we urge the racing commission to be alert to this possibility.
The principals in the proposed sale chose to announce its cancellation in full-page advertisements in New York newspapers. These were remarkable for unprovable flat—and self-satisfied—statements based on questionable logic, all designed to allow the managements of both raceways to bow out of the deal as gracefully as possible. Most of the explanations deserve to be ignored. One, however, should be so thoroughly refuted that it never comes up again. That is the claim that monopoly control would somehow improve the quality of racing. The fact is that monopoly power means track management could set all the conditions for racing, including the amount of purse distribution, and horsemen would race under those conditions or not race in New York. Competition protects the horsemen, the public and the sport generally. It must be preserved.
As seems eminently suitable in the Electronic Age, the L.A. Dodgers are now using a walkie-talkie set to enable the bench to communicate better with the third-base coach and vice versa. If the practice catches on, and since history tells us there is an effective counterweapon for every weapon, here's how a bench-third-base conversation may sound in the near future:
"Cherry Blossom, this is Ridge Pole. Do you read me?"
"Ridge Pole, this is Cherry Blossom. I read you loud and clear."
"Cherry Blossom, this is Ridge Pole. I am getting static and your signal strength seems to be weak. Over."
"Ridge Pole, this is Cherry Blossom. Turn up your volume. Over."
"Roger. Coming in AOK now. This is Ridge Pole, incidentally. When are we going to get a man on base?"
"Pretty soon. Signal Mountain Top to hit the first waist-high fast ball."
"Cherry Blossom, Mountain Top is rounding first—"
"I can see him."
"You want him to continue?"
"This is Cherry Blossom. No."
"Too late. Here he comes into third. You want him to slide? ...Static is drowning you out, Cherry Blossom.... The Pirates are jamming us. Come in, Cherry Blossom...."
Mountain Top gets credit for a double, anyway.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys' quarterback, upon discovering that pass-catcher Cleveland (Smiley) Jones is three inches shorter than Eddie LeBaron's 5 feet 7: "I hope I can hit him. I've been throwing to LeBaron, and you can't hardly throw any lower than that."
•Gardnar Mulloy, 47 and a strong advocate of open tennis, on a possible cure for what ails the amateur game: "Tennis in this country should be controlled by a well-paid czar. Me or Billy Talbert or Jack Kramer has guts enough and know-how to handle the job."