ROGER AND OUT
The other day a representative of Hochi Shimbun, the Japanese newspaper, appeared in the dressing room to ask Roger Maris 18 questions, the answers to which a baseball-happy Japan eagerly awaited. Among the questions, all politely presented to Maris, were these: What method of attack do you think is best to break any home run hitting slump? Is deliberate walking upsetting your equilibrium and your coordination? What do you do to maintain your playing condition? Is bat weight important? How are you reacting to the fuss over your home run race? Do you think Mantle will catch you and pass you?
Maris listened to all 18 questions and then said, "Mantle will pass me. That seems to answer them all." There is something we could say here about the relation of performer and press and about international good will. Instead, we'll just clench our fists, draw ourselves up straight, and say, "No Comment."
YOU PLAY TOO, COACH
September 24, 1961
The football teams that Coach Woody Hayes turns out at Ohio State are noted for their one-dimensional tactics. They rarely pass, they seldom kick, and their standard reaction to a crisis is a simple straight-ahead line plunge. It is extraordinary that the coach who teaches these tactics should himself react so differently to a crisis off the field.
Last week a reporter asked Hayes what he thought should be done about the bribery scandals that may be bearing down on college football. Hayes immediately tossed a wide lateral: the college deans, said Hayes, should help clean out gambling parlay cards from dormitories and other campus sites. Having thus thrown the defense into total confusion, on the very next play Hayes quick-kicked.
"You sportswriters have to back us up on that if you think anything of collegiate football. You've got to stay on top of this thing. You've got to make the player realize what an awful thing he could do to himself and his family."
This is quite clear. The deans must crack down on football cards, and the sportswriters must throw the fear of God into the athletes. We were wondering, Woody: what are the coaches supposed to do?
ANOTHER RECORD FALLS
According to the current issue of the sprightly magazine Audubon, a bird watcher has broken the record for total number of North American birds spotted in a single year. The old record of 572 species was set by Roger Tory Peterson in 1953. Now Stuart Keith of England claims he saw 594 in 1956. Soon the arguments will begin all over again: Are bird watchers simply better than they used to be, or was that the year of the lively bird?
The Cincinnati Reds are only minutes away from the National League pennant, but a few diehards, notably the New York Yankees, are still rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Is the reason tradition or the joy of East defeating West? Not at all. The reason is money.
In a Yankee-Dodger World Series the winning players would receive about $16,000 each, while the losers would get $9,000—thanks to that vast, 92,500-seat cavern, the L.A. Coliseum. Crosley Field in Cincinnati, by contrast, seats only 30,274. Thus, a Yankee-Red Series would mean only $11,000 to the winners and $6,000 to the losers.
Players on teams finishing second, third and fourth in each league also would feel the squeeze. If the Dodgers played the Yankees, runners-up would get $2,800, $1,200 and $715 each. With a Yankee-Red Series, however, they would get only $1,900, $875 and $600. Some weeks you just can't lay up a nickel.
The Government of the U.S. got badly burned when it tried to legislate drinking out of existence. Undaunted (or forgetful), Congress passed and last week President Kennedy signed bills aimed at curbing gambling in interstate commerce.
Under these new laws, you can be imprisoned for five years for carrying or sending across state lines records, ticket slips or other data used in bookmaking, the numbers game or sports wagering pools. Also, you can lose your telephone if it is used for bookmaking or other gambling.
One odd feature is that a person who furnishes a betting line on a baseball game, football game or fight goes to jail if he is giving the line to bookies—but he has a right to pass it along to coaches or similar athletic officials! Loopholes like this could make bootleggers—or lineleggers—out of collegians.
For 13 long, raucous years, the American public circumvented an attempt to protect it from itself. The public will do so again, especially if it is made easy. Legislation against gambling excesses is laudable. But first it has to be well thought out. Above all it should be workable.
The late Bert Williams used to sing in revues:
"Syncopation rules this nation, You can't get away from it—ow!"
Now it looks as if automation rules this nation, and you can't get away from it, ow. The latest example is chugging away at Georgia Tech where Tech Athletic Business Manager Bob Eskew, tired of losing friends and customers by his inability to give all of them priority at football games, has installed a computer stuffed with myriad electronic tubes. Fed the pertinent data, it comes up with who sits where. The machine asks some questions of its own: Is the prospective purchaser an alumnus? How much has he contributed to the college annually? Where did he sit last year, and where does he want to sit this year?
Eskew's electronic football seater allots 28,985 seats in 30 minutes, a chore which last year took Eskew's staff six weeks. It shows no favoritism. It put one of its own operators, an inactive alumnus, at the bottom row of the South end zone, almost out of the stadium.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Punch Imlach, manager-coach of the highly regarded Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, has not yet named his team's representatives for the NHL's Oct. 7 All-Star game. Reason: many of his top players have not signed contracts for forthcoming season and All-Star selection by Imlach would boost salary demands.
•Rumor that Duke Snider will be one of Los Angeles Dodger expendables when National League starts to stock new franchises in New York and Houston now seems close to fact. In recent interview, Snider snapped, "Next year I'll be hitting in either New York or Houston."
•Watch for more grass racing in 1962 at America's Thoroughbred tracks. Officials have noted that fans like grass because form is more consistent than on dirt (57.9% of first-or second-betting choices have won at New York tracks this year), bigger fields come out for grass races—which means more mutuel handle and more profits all around.
Sign discovered on a tree near a pond in Maine: "Anyone found near this private trout pond will be found there next morning."
The announcement from Chicago that a $400,000 horse race will be upon us next season came as a surprise even to those who have been watching Thoroughbred racing's dollars-without-sense attitude of recent years. Chicago Thoroughbred Enterprises, Inc., the operator of Arlington and Washington parks, has discarded two good races of past seasons, the Arlington and Washington futurities, and molded them into one tidy, inflationary package called the Arlington-Washington Futurity. CTE expects the race to pay $400,000 in purse money for its first running next September, with the winner making about $200,000.
The super-duper, big-money race is all the rage now, and this new one merely serves to point up the silliness of the notion that the biggest money winners are always the best horses. In next year's Arlington-Washington Futurity, there will be payoffs of roughly $75,000, $50,000 and $25,000 to the second-, third-and fourth-place finishers. When a horse can finish fourth and drag down $25,000, a new and preposterous era has indeed dawned on racing.
MAIL-ORDER GOAL POSTS
The ancient American custom of yanking down the goal posts after a football game hardly seems worth anybody's high policy conference. But the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia police had one last week, and for good reason: a 14-year-old boy is still hospitalized a month after being conked in a goal-post melee at Municipal Stadium.
Police Commissioner Albert Brown announced that 150 policemen will be on hand for Eagle games and that anybody who goes on the field will be arrested. The Eagles, in turn, have agreed to provide for those infantile adults who simply must have a fragment of a goal post for their dreambook of memories. The club will tear down the posts after each game, splinter them up and put pieces in the mail to anyone who requests them. This may be a foolish idea, but is 100% guaranteed not to put any young boys in the hospital.
HELP THE HANDICAPPED
Leafing through the record books (isn't everyone?) we were bedazzled by the following: "Most Games Won, One Club, Two Bespectacled Pitchers, N.L.—41—Pittsburgh, 1927: Carmen P. Hill, 22, H. Lee Meadows, 19."
There's a man around who for several years has been trying to talk to dolphins (known to most people as porpoises) and get them to answer. The common-sensical man might mutter, "I've got nothing to tell a dolphin," but Dr. John C. Lilly has good reason for studying the possibilities of interspecies language and cooperation. He tells it all in his new book Man and Dolphin (Doubleday & Company, Inc.).
Dr. Lilly used a system based mainly on rewards to make his friends respond and to gain their confidence. As peaceable as they are (there are no known instances of dolphins attacking man), it is pretty tough finding a common interest with a dolphin. "They have no written records and make no artifacts," Dr. Lilly points out. "They lack hands like ours and are not building anything." Their transportation is built in and they can swim at 20 knots, covering thousands of sea miles in a few days in search of food and warm waters. They don't need to sleep as we do, because they don't have to resist gravity. Dr. Lilly finds them brighter than the chimpanzee, the dog, cat or rat, and to learn about them he suggests we abandon our smug idea that we are so superior.
If we can establish communication with dolphins—which so far he has done in primitive fashion—Dr. Lilly thinks we may learn from the experience to communicate in the future with forms of life on other planets. He also thinks we might even get the dolphins to cooperate as spies and transporters of nuclear warheads should we need them. The Communists may be up to that trick too—which brings up a fascinating question: Will the first talking dolphin shout, "Long live NATO!" or will he simply bark, "Nyet!"?
THEY SAID IT
•Russell Whitley, Miami heavyweight, after two straight knockout victories: "I haven't taken out no money yet. Me and my manager are saving my purses, and someday when we get enough we're going to buy me a robe."
•Athletic Director Bob Faris of George Washington University: "Last season our football team worked out right next to a canal. We could never throw to the right for fear of getting someone drowned. We were the only team in the nation with a trainer and a lifeguard."
•B. W. King Jr. of Graham, Texas, after his 10-year-old son shot at a dove, missed but sent a shower of feathers flying: "You've got it picked. Now if you can just get it killed, you've got it made."
•Baltimore Oriole President Lee MacPhail, on where he could be found if the big-money Yankee-Oriole series this week is rained out: "You can find me either on top of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or under it, depending on how soon you get there."
•Dave Freed, captain of America's incompetent Davis Cup team: "I wasn't so upset the other day when a letter came addressed to 'David The Dope.' That's the privilege of all sports fans. But how did the post office know where to deliver the mail?"