END OF THE ASPIRIN AGE?
This is an article from the Oct. 23, 1961 issue
When the owners of the new National League baseball teams, Houston and New York, completed the raffle in Cincinnati which gave them 45 players for a mere $3,650,000, a fan could only breathe a sigh of relief. We hope that this maneuver, supplying these two new teams with "players" for the 1962 season, ends baseball's most trying and tiresome times.
Consider the events of the last three years:
First, there was the shifting of the Dodgers and Giants to the West Coast (and the concern about building Chavez Ravine and Candlestick Park).
Second, there was the expansion and subsequent dilution of the American League to include new franchises in Washington and Los Angeles, and the transfer of the old Washington franchise to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Third, there was the aborting of the Continental League.
Finally, there was the expansion of the National League.
Now that all this moving and shaking has been accomplished we hope not to hear another word about expansion, not to have to concern ourselves with new franchises or player pools or land grabs. Baseball needs a historical continuity, and we hope it will begin rebuilding one.
CALL OF THE WILD
Two moose hunters prowled the bush of Flin Flon, Manitoba, giving out their best grunting moose calls. Each got closer and closer to his prey. They gave a final blast on their horns, stepped around a big spruce tree and confronted each other.
DOWN IN FRONT
For many a long year now, professional basketball has let some of its coaches get away with all sorts of antic behavior. They kick and scream and stomp their feet: they dash out on the court for loud debates with referees, and they incite crowds to huge commotions. This year the National Basketball Association shouted, "Hold, enough!" and said a technical foul will be called if a coach rises to his feet to vilify an official. There are even a few signs that the NBA means business and will enforce its policy. The other night at Madison Square Garden the steam-heated Boston Celtic coach. Red Auerbach, jumped up in his customary fashion to protest a call during an exhibition game. He had hardly straightened his knees before Referee Norm Drucker called a technical foul, giving the New York Knicks a foul shot and Red a $25 fine. Minutes later Auerbach rose in quasi-righteous wrath again and immediately found himself facing that grand and imperious "to the showers" signal that has maintained the decorum of baseball for half a century.
Mr. Auerbach, an excellent coach when not an agent provocateur, retreated to the far reaches of the grandstand, and the game proceeded peacefully and with no loss of interest. We hope to see this rule enforced just as rigorously during the season.
THE STOLEN GAME
Fritz Crisler, the University of Michigan's athletic director and former football coach, was musing about his favorite game the other day and decided that it has become too "stereotyped." Said Crisler: "Little by little, football has got to the point where everyone does the same thing. Maybe it's the fault of the NCAA rules committee. The old sleeper plays, the sideline and talking plays, the hurry-up huddle have disappeared one by one. Coaches spend so much time recruiting and watching movies that they don't have time to be inventive. With the current practice of exchanging game films, they don't need to be. Every time one coach does something a little bit different, everybody else knows about it in a matter of days, so what's the use? They watch so many movies you'd think they'd go cockeyed when they came out in the light."
We think there is a world of wisdom in that simple speech by the old coach whose teams racked up a 116-32-9 record. The exchange of films is a standard and valuable practice in pro football, which is a business; it is not so good for college football, which is (or should be) a sport.
MADE IN JAPAN
When an American pitcher wins 20 games he becomes a hero, his salary rises, he shaves and smokes on TV, he relaxes at poolside, he rolls around the banquet circuit and the next season he wins 9 and loses 14.
In Japan, however, where per capita baseball interest is higher than in the U.S., it signifies hardly anything to win 20 games. No hothouse flowers, the Japanese pitchers think nothing of starting every third day, and it is not until a pitcher wins 30 that he begins to get extra attention.
But even in Japan, Kazuhisa Inao is unique. He entered baseball as a teenager, won more than 20 games six years in a row. This year, at the age of 24, Inao shows a record of 42-14. He has appeared in 78 games for the Nishitetsu Lions of the Pacific League (a Japanese big league), and the team, which finished in third place, played only 140.
The immediate conclusion is that Inao should be rushed to the U.S. and suited up, but he thinks he is better off in Japan. There he is a national hero, and a movie was made of his life (Iron Arm Pitcher). Here the lead role would be played by Tony Curtis, and the next year Inao would win 9 and lose 14.
AN OWNER'S OWNER
All owners in sports these days seem to have attended the same school, wherein they studied a form of three-button unctuousness and mealymouthed double-talk. No graduate may ever find anything wrong with sport, and if he does not adhere closely to the school's dictates, he must turn in his red-white-and-blue blazer to the dean.
One of the fundamental teachings of the school is that when an owner fires a coach or manager he must make the following statement: "It really isn't old Joe's fault that the team is losing, but we have agreed that at this time a change might be in the best interests of both of us."
Last week we marveled at the forthright statement of Bud Adams, the owner of the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, when he fired his coach, Lou Rymkus. Adams said, "Our decision is based on a conclusion that the material on hand has not been used to its fullest potential." In other words, Rymkus hasn't been doing a good job. Turn in your blazer, Adams.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Major league officials have sent 216 baseballs (1961 models) to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor for testing. Comparisons will be made with similar tests run in 1956.
•Fight fans planning to attend the December 4 heavyweight championship fight between Floyd Patterson and Tom McNeeley in Toronto will have trouble booking hotel rooms. Reason: December 2 is Grey Cup Day in Toronto, when the Canadian pro football championship is decided. Most hotels are already booked to capacity.
•New markings near the face-off circles in the National Hockey League are to stop skaters from moving in on opponents before the referee drops the puck. Cross marks make it mandatory for skaters to hold position, and insure a clean draw.
WINNER ON THE SIDELINES
The world champion sports car racer is in a peculiar position. He doesn't have a car to race. Phil Hill won the championship in a race marred by the death of fellow Ferrari teammate, Count Wolfgang von Trips, and 15 others at Monza last month. Since then, Hill has had to pass up all races because Ferrari has declined to race. "Their racing department is closed," Hill said. "The cars are in pieces. Why? Maybe it's because of the Von Trips thing, but I'm not sure. Anyway, they don't have to give me any reason for it."
Hill attended the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, N.Y. as honorary chief steward, and intends to be on the sidelines in upcoming races. "I may enter the November 26 Formula I race at Mexico City," he said. "I hope Ferrari can be coaxed into assembling a Grand Prix car for me." Clearly, Phil Hill is not yet ready to entrust his reputation to any other manufacturer.
FIRST FOR GARY
Consider Gary Miller. Bright, young, healthy, effervescent Gary Miller. Gary is, alas, one of those guys that start throwing the football around in April, begin to put oil on the old baseball glove in December and shoot hook shots at the hoop in the playground come August. Sure, Gary's a season-beater. On October. 10 at 2:30 p.m., Gary traveled 30 miles from his home in Salt Lake City, Utah to Brighton. There he found 20 inches of snow on the ground, took a practice run in preparation for his ski instructor's exam, twisted a ligament and wound up in an, elastic cast. Felicitations to Gary Miller, first reported ski casualty of the season.
SHAKE, RATTLE AND WIN
The State Gaming Control Board of Nevada has completed a two-year survey which indicates that anyone who gambles in either Reno or Las Vegas has a better chance of winning than he thinks he does. Well, that's their story anyway. At twenty-one, or its variation, blackjack, the house has an edge of 2½% over the player, and a good player can often cut this down to 1% (the house rules in Nevada make the dealer stick with 17 or over). At roulette the odds favor the house by 5.26% on a double zero wheel and only 2.7% on a single zero wheel. The slot machine gives the operators a big edge, sometimes as high as 10% over the player.
The best bet for the gambler is craps, where the house take is a mere 1.4%. Worst bet? A game called blackout bingo. You put up a quarter. If you cover all 24 of your numbers in 52 calls, you can make $1,000. Odds against: 60,458 to 1. So when in doubt, roll the bones. Maybe you won't win, but at least you'll lose more slowly.
John D. Hertz, who died last week at 82, was a man capable of running a highly successful car rental business and a highly successful Thoroughbred racing stable without Letting the commercialism of the first corrupt the sportsmanship of the second. He came into racing as a jockey's valet, one of the most menial racing jobs, at the outlaw track in Roby, Ind. From then on he spent most of his spare time studying horses, and became one of racing's most astute breeders and buyers.
A typical Hertz move came in August 1927, at Saratoga. He showed up late for a 2-year-old race and didn't know the names of the starters. As the field entered the stretch, two horses pulled away and ran head and head through the stretch. Near the finish one horse turned his head and tried to bite the other. Hertz was a man who believed what he saw in racing and not what he heard. He told his stable agent to buy the horse that had savaged regardless of the cost. "The one who tried to bite interested me," Hertz said, "because he was the fighter." The next year that horse, Reigh Count, won the Kentucky Derby. Fifteen years later Reigh Count's son, Count Fleet, won the Triple Crown, and eight years later Count Fleet's son, Count Turf, also won the Derby.
Hertz ran all his horses in his wife's name and was the breeder of all his wife's winners. Thus far, no decision has been reached as to whether Mrs. Hertz will keep the "yellow silks, black circle on sleeves, yellow cap" flying on America's tracks. The world of Thoroughbred racing hopes she will.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Amalfitano, San Francisco in-fielder, after learning he had cost the Houston Colts $125,000: "I'll have to go out and get another life insurance policy; I'm worth more than I thought."
•Wally Butts, University of Georgia athletic director, speaking at the San Antonio Quarterback Club: "The definition of an atheist in Alabama is a person who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant."
•Tony Hulman, owner of the Indianapolis Speedway, announcing that the last 2,142 feet of bricks on the main straightaway will be asphalted over for next year's "500": "Greater speed definitely is not our objective [safety is], but new records will be a distinct possibility next May as a result of this action."
•Doug Harvey, new player-coach of the New York Rangers: "The biggest adjustment is becoming a loner. The coach doesn't pal around with his players. When I played with Montreal I liked to buddy around with the guys. Now I can't."