THE STUBBORN MEN
The Massachusetts State Boxing Commission's regal refusal to let an out-of-state referee handle the Floyd Patterson-Tom McNeeley heavyweight championship bout and the stubborn opposition of Cus D'Amato to any other arrangement has resulted in a needless impasse. There was precedent for an out-of-state referee since Rocky Marciano, long a resident of Florida, has been licensed to referee in Massachusetts. But the commission stood as stiff as dried cod, and the fight will now go elsewhere.
What stuck in the commission's craw was the blunt phraseology of the contract dropped on its table, without the customary diplomatic preliminaries, by Promoter Tom Bolan, a bit of an amateur in boxing. Had Bolan discussed the matter with the commission before his formal presentation everything might easily have been straightened out by a simple rephrasing of the contract, and face could have been saved all around.
Now Boston has lost the fight, and Bolan has lost his best site. It is not the first round he has lost since he became president of Championship Sports Inc. Bolan's first defeat came after he announced that either Eddie Machen or Britain's Henry Cooper would be Patterson's next opponent. He did this without consulting D'Amato, apparently because he believed the persistent rumor that Patterson no longer listens to his manager. But Patterson does, and at D'Amato's enraged insistence McNeeley became the opponent.
Where will the fight go now? It looks like Toronto, in very late November.
YOU CAN STILL MAKE IT
How old are you? Was that really semi-pro ball you used to play, or more like sandlot? Did you, truly, hit against Johnny Sain at Corpus Christi? Does that glove on the shelf in the garage feel very stiff and slick and old and cold when you put your hand in it? Well, cheer up. Warren Spahn, age 40, won his 21st game last week for the 11th season. That means he is still the best pitcher alive. And that means, of course, that anyone under 40 still has time to make the major leagues.
Anyone over 40 would do well to remember Satchel Paige.
THE SKIPPER SKIPS
There is a yachtsman named Bus Mosbacher, about whom two things are important: 1) he is a master of sailing tactics, and 2) he is a master of sailing tact. Last spring Mosbacher, the master of tactics, was invited to skipper Easterner to see if he could get the boat honed to America's Cup standards (SI, July 17). Last week Mosbacher, the master of tact, invited himself off the helm of Easterner forever. What he said as he left was, "I thank Mr. Hovey for a wonderful summer."
What he did not say was that Chandler Hovey, the 81-year-old Boston banker who owns the boat, gave Mosbacher and Easterner a fiercely frustrating season. In the first big race Mosbacher was handicapped by inadequate racing gear and coveys of Hoveys swarming around the boat. He still managed to beat the defending champion, Columbia, and the top contender, Weatherly.
This should have been a signal to Mr. Hovey. He should have decided that day whether he was going to continue sailing Easterner as a family boat and forget about the America's Cup. Or he should have given Bus and Easterner the things they needed to keep on winning and become one of the finest of all cup defenders. Things like new sails in time for major regattas, not two or three weeks late; things like a new boom to replace the limp, cumbersome sail-stretcher the boat now has; things like getting rid of extra berths and bulkheads and inefficient double shrouds; things like putting the very best crew aboard—and the Hovey clan ashore, where it belongs in a big-time race.
But none of this happened, and Easterner pooped along through summer, winning occasionally because no boat with Mosbacher steering is going to lose them all, but losing too often because no family fun boat can dominate in America's Cup competition. So, at the end of summer, the skipper quit. We want to wish the Hoveys happy family sailing. After all, it is their boat.
VIVA LA DIFERENCIA
At this moment, somewhere between Mexico City and Guatemala City, a 31-foot, 10-ton Army-surplus amphibious truck is rumbling along, filled with eight college boys, an electric banjo, assorted ukuleles and drums, 300 pounds of dog food, a dog and all the good will in the world. The expedition, informally approved by the State Department, is officially called "Operation Americas" and it is going all the way to Buenos Aires. The crew will live aboard the "duck" the entire time, traveling by road where there are roads, mushing amphibiously into the water wherever necessary. At each stop the crew members will sing folk songs. They are doing all this, said a spokesman, "to show the peoples of Latin America that we are no different than they are." Huh?
The University of Texas football team was far, far from home when it played way out in Berkeley, Calif., and it had brought along no cheerleaders. One of the Longhorn rooters rushed over to San Francisco to Bimbo's 365 Club, which until now has been known mainly as the site of a nude girl about a foot high who lives in a goldfish bowl. The enthusiast hired six cuties from the chorus line. Clothed (playsuits and high heels), they appeared on the field, kicked and squealed the team to a 28-3 victory over Cal. With a little bit of luck, this could get to be a trend.
EVERYBODY GETS HURT
Sam Snead was fined $500 and suspended six months for playing in a pro-amateur tournament in Cincinnati. The PGA said he should have been playing (if he played at all) in a PGA tournament at Portland, Ore. The ruling cost Snead his place on the prestigious Ryder Cup team for next week's matches in Great Britain.
"I felt as innocent as a babe in the woods when I went up to Cincinnati," Snead drawled the other day. "I wrote Portland three weeks before their tournament, gave my regards to everybody, and told them I wouldn't be coming out. The Cincinnati invitation came at the last minute and I figured it wasn't anything more than a glorified exhibition. So I went. Five minutes before I'm set to tee off someone tells me I'd better get permission from the Portland sponsors, so I sent off a wire right away. When I finish 18 holes I come into the clubhouse and there's the answer: 'Permission not granted.' " Snead pulled out of the event on the spot, but the suspension came anyway.
The code which Snead violated is spelled out clearly in the PGA bylaws, and there is no doubt about its applicability here. It states that any player who has won a PGA-approved or co-sponsored tournament in the preceding calendar year must receive permission to duck any regular PGA show in favor of another event. The rule is designed to protect PGA sponsors who seek to enlist the best fields for their tournaments. But does it work that way? Golfers who generate as much excitement as Snead can take in as much money playing exhibitions and making appearances as they can competing on the tournament circuit. In this case the punishment is in reality being inflicted on the sponsors of tournaments held between now and March, when the suspension expires. They would gladly give up a dozen Joe Zilches if they could count on the Sneads to bring in the crowds. This penalty merely hurts the sponsors it is designed to protect.
A PLAN TO SAVE THE MINORS
"The demise of the minor leagues," says Robert J. Philbin, a 48-year-old freelance sportscaster, "is only a breath away. This is no time for rule makers to go into prolonged consultation. The minor leagues' revival by the summer of 1962 depends on some drastic action that may well involve pulling off the old corn plasters and injecting a new wonder drug." Mr. Philbin's wonder drug is called Hitter's Choice and some of its rules follow:
1) Since baseball gives a decided advantage to the left-handed hitter by giving him a step less in reaching first base, Hitter's Choice allows the hitter to proceed to either first base or third upon hitting the ball.
2) Once the hitter commits himself to either third or first, any further progress around the bases must be made in the same direction.
3) The bases are enlarged an inch on each side (total four inches) and this allows all the bases to be doubly occupied. A home run with the bases doubly loaded would then account for seven runs.
4) Instead of four balls and three strikes, Hitter's Choice allows three balls and two strikes. Pitchers would be afraid to throw balls and hitters afraid to take strikes and the game would thus be speeded up.
5) If two runners try to reach the same base both must make it safely or else a double play results. This, of course, would mean that a left-handed shortstop would be just as valuable as a right-handed shortstop because he could make the pivot at second base and throw to third to complete the double play.
6) If a fly ball is hit to the right fielder only the man on first could try to score; if it goes to the left fielder only the man on third could try to score.
BAD DEAL (CONT.)
There is another move afoot to monopolize harness racing in New York state. And since New York racing so clearly dominates and sets the standards for the sport nationwide, it is disturbing to observe the inaction of the New York State Harness Racing Commission in the face of this challenge.
When the owners of Yonkers Raceway tried to gain control of Roosevelt Raceway recently (SI, July 24), public protest thwarted the deal. Now William Zeckendorf's real estate firm of Webb & Knapp is reported trying to buy control of both tracks and apparently already has Yonkers in the bag. No one seems concerned by the fact that a state commission strongly recommended that no one group should own two racing licenses. The purpose of the ruling, an excellent one, is to keep any single group from controlling the policies of racing from March to December in trotting's prime market. We assume the people involved have so much political power that they think they can ignore such sound recommendations.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
George Gareff is commissioner of a very minor football league, but when it comes to handling disciplinary problems he is a major leaguer. Two weeks ago Gareff was among 6,000 spectators watching a United Football League game in Columbus. With 51 seconds left to play and the Columbus Colts leading 27-14, Gene Kellogg, a Cleveland Bulldogs' defensive end, knocked down Field Judge Bob Donald with a surprise punch to the ribs. Almost simultaneously, according to the commissioner, Cleveland Assistant Coach Billy Reynolds, who once played halfback in the big leagues but didn't seem to learn anything, raced onto the field and grabbed Umpire Mike Mileusnich, who fell to the ground.
Unlike Commissioner Joe Foss of the American Football League (who "punishes" by secret memorandum), Commissioner Gareff took prompt and public action. He suspended sneak puncher Kellogg for the season, threw Reynolds out of the league for life. Judge Landis would have beamed his approval.
THEY SAID IT
•Beano Cook, University of Pittsburgh sports publicity director, on why an outstanding basketball player dropped out of school: "He got tired of his dad writing him for money."
•Eddie Erdelatz, ex-Oakland Raiders coach, when asked what he had studied at St. Mary's: "The morning paper."
•Herb Leggett, Phoenix, Ariz. banker, on swimming pools: "After serving as bartender and lifeguard, you conclude that a swimming pool is a thing of beauty and a joy for others. A peculiar property of water is that it stimulates the thirst—for everything except water."