TROUBLE AT THE SUMMIT
Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson's announcement that he intends to fight Sonny Liston this summer was made before his advisers had won consent to what they regard as a most important clause. Patterson's negotiators are insisting on a firm return-bout guarantee if he should lose—the kind of agreement that enabled him to win back. the title from Ingemar Johansson. They want Liston to put $150,000 (which he doesn't have) in escrow before the signing and they want an additional healthy sum tied up from Liston's purse at the signing.
In addition, Liston is going through the throes of corporate reorganization intended to erase the stain of Gangster Blinky Palermo's participation in his career. A new manager is being readied. When this manager is approved by the Pennsylvania boxing commission, plans are to cut up Sonny this way: Liston is to get 50% of his purses less expenses; Jack Nilon (new manager) 33‚Öì; Lawyer Mort Witkin (also Blinky's lawyer on occasion) 10%; and Trainer Willie Reddish 6‚Öî%. As for Georgie Katz, the original all-is-aboveboard manager, to whom Liston no longer speaks, his 10% is to come off the top until his contract expires.
When the financial finagling is finished it will be a pleasure to contemplate the fight, the most attractive heavyweight title match since the days of Joe Louis. The only thing we don't like about it is a persistent suspicion that Blinky Palermo, now at large on $100,000 bail from his federal conspiracy conviction, will somehow manage to profit from it.
March 12, 1962
UCLA Football Coach Bill Barnes is junking the single wing and will go exclusively with the T formation next season, thus ending the long reign of the "glory system" inaugurated by the late Red Sanders 14 years ago. Lack of good tailbacks, the key to the successful single wing, is the reason offered by Barnes for the switch. "We have passers and we have runners," Assistant Coach Dan Peterson said, "but damn few who can do both."
Barnes is merely following a pattern. One by one, the good teams have dropped the old-fashioned single-wing offense for the slicker T. Old-fashioned or no, we're sorry to see it go, especially from a team that produced such as Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson. And we're going to miss those games between teams using entirely different offenses. At least the single wing still survives at Tennessee, where General Neyland popularized it and would, presumably, defend it with his life.
THAT'S ALL THERE IS
Some of the football prestige of the University of Maryland came from the feats of the brothers Modzelewski, known as Big Mo and Little Mo. Big Mo (Ed) was an All-America fullback and Little Mo (Dick) made All-America as a tackle, then went on to the New York Giants.
Now there is another Modzelewski brother in football, though not at Maryland. This one, Eugene Daniel Modzelewski, chose New Mexico State University because, as he put it: "If I went to Maryland I'd be following two All-America brothers. At New Mexico State I'm just another guy and I'll be making it on my own."
And what do they call Eugene Daniel, last of the Modzelewski brothers?
They call him No Mo.
Ernest Hemingway's brother Leicester, 16 years younger than Papa, hunted and fished with his big brother and listened to him. His book of recollections and observations, My Brother, Ernest Hemingway (World, $4.95), contains much on Hemingway the sportsman as well as other aspects of an active, creative, daring life.
He is shown as an expert big game fisherman and a boxer out to win without courtesy. There is some material on his hunting enthusiasm (though little on bullfighting).
About boxing, Hemingway admonished his brother: "You don't have to be a good sport when you box. You only have to be a good opponent." He enjoyed the weekly fights in Key West when he lived there, but he hated fouls. One night when a low blow caused the heavy favorite to sink to his knees, Hemingway leaped into the ring and grabbed the fouler by the ear. Ernest said something to him, something rather harsh, we may assume. Whatever it was, it caused the offender to leap toward the center of the ring yelling, "He was fouled; I fouled him."
Hemingway was similarly outraged by bad hunting tactics, bad fishing technique, dirty war methods and, most especially, bad writing.
COLD NIGHT IN OJO CALIENTE
There usually isn't much excitement in Ojo Caliente, a tiny village in northern New Mexico. You can take a hot sulphur bath at the hotel or watch television at the cantina, and that's about it. So when State Senator Albert Amador heard about donkey basketball, he arranged for a game at the school gymnasium. He sold lots of tickets, and a good crowd turned out. The teams (whose members volunteered to ride the donkeys) were suited up and ready, and everyone was in a festive mood.
Time for the game came, but the donkeys did not arrive. The crowd did a lot of visiting; everyone was patient, because things do not always start on time in Ojo Caliente. After a while Senator Amador called the state police. They found that a truck carrying nine donkeys and a Shetland pony—all dressed in heavy rubber shoes suitable for gym floors—had left Los Lunas, scene of another game. The crowd waited; the players stood dejected like 10 half-dressed Don Quixotes. Some spectators bided time at the cantina.
Senator Amador drove to Espanola and joined forces with the state police. Together they found the truck in a parking lot. The donkeys and pony were awake and sober; the two drivers were asleep and muy borracho. When awakened, they explained that the truck had broken down and they had had a few drinks while they worked on it. The weather was very cold. Pretty soon neither truck nor drivers were in any condition to proceed. They were taken to the Espanola jail so that they would not freeze.
Senator Amador phoned the crowd in Ojo Caliente. Everyone agreed that it was a cold night. Things like that can happen. Everyone was happy that the donkeys and the pony were all safe, and could imagine the sight of those heavy rubber shoes. Many talked the whole affair over in the cantina. It sure was a cold night, even in Ojo Caliente.
Senator Amador promised to refund all the tickets. Nobody asked the teams to play basketball without the donkeys, so the boys got dressed, and they did not mind. If there's anything more exciting than the arrival of donkey basketball, it is the nonarrival. The senator probably didn't lose a single vote.
All in all, it was one of the most exciting evenings Ojo Caliente has had in a long time.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•The American Football League wants to make Miami's Orange Bowl the site of a 1963 all-star game with the Canadian League. The game is tentatively set for the second Sunday in January.
•Unlikely as it sounds, Princeton has the best freshman basketball player in the country. He is Bill Bradley of Crystal City, Mo., a sturdy 6 feet 6, who will take over the mantle of Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson next season. He tops his frosh squad with 30 points a game, sets up plays and leads in rebounds and assists.
In 1958 Bobby Fischer met 20 high-powered contenders for the chess championship of the world and finished in a tie for fifth place—which was considered remarkable only because Bobby was then a 16-year-old high school sophomore.
At 17 Bobby dropped out of school and spent most of his time in international chess tournaments. Viewed unsparingly, he didn't do very well. In four years, during which he competed steadily, tenaciously and sometimes with little objective reason for confidence, he failed to win a single international tournament. Once he finished 16th among 20 entries, many of them unknown. He concentrated on beating the leaders and big names, while failing to beat players far down in the standing.
But last fall there were signs that Bobby was maturing to a steady, balanced view of the whole field: in a major tournament in Bled, Yugoslavia he did not lose a game, though he finished second to Mikhail Tal in the standings. And last week in Stockholm, Bobby gave indisputable proof that he has reached a new stage in his career. He wiped up the field of 23 superlative chess masters in the next-to-the-last stage of the elimination to decide who is to play Russia's Mikhail Botvinnik for the championship of the world. He did not lose a game, led the tournament from the start and more than held his own with the trio of powerful Russians—Tigran Petrosian, Ewfim Geller and Victor Korchnoi—who had walloped him in the past. Bobby not only won first place (along with prize money of 1,200 kronen, or $229.96), he won it dazzlingly, spectacularly, two days before his 19th birthday. Now he goes on to Cura√ßao, Dutch West Indies, to meet the eight finalists. If Fischer plays as he played in Stockholm, Botvinnik will not be champion of the world much longer.
AAU SCORES A FEW
The conflict between the AAU and the NCAA has degenerated from reasoned argument to vituperation. Now Olympic Sculler John B. Kelly Jr., an AAU partisan, comes forward to make the best case we have seen for his team. It is not necessarily irrefutable, but it is thoughtful. Kelly contends:
1) The AAU can operate on less than $175,000 a year, but the many federations that would strip it of power probably would need more than $75,000 each.
2) Uniformity of rules can best be preserved by a multiple-sports governing body. With separate federations, the rules in some sports might be dangerously at variance with international requirements.
3) "Very often the personal interest of coaches in athletes is in direct conflict with the broad view required of administrators and overseers in a sport."
4) Amateur athletics can best be administered by amateur sportsmen.
5) The AAU Age Group Swimming Program produced virtually every member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic swimming teams, men's and women's.
6) It has been left to the AAU to develop long distance runners and walkers, and to "encourage" meet directors to include such international events as the 400-meter hurdles, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the hop, step and jump, and the hammer throw in the programs of relay carnivals and conferences.
Kelly does concede that the AAU has begun to make "'sweeping changes" as a result of the row. Whatever the outcome of the controversy, the supervision of amateur athletics in this country is clearly going to undergo a radical face-lifting.
THEY SAID IT
•Steve Belko, Oregon basketball coach, discussing 7-foot sophomore center Mel Counts of Oregon State: "He's a real good center, and you could cut him in two and he wouldn't make a bad pair of guards."
•Kyle Rote, describing the ball-carrying prowess of Cleveland's Jimmy Brown: "It's reached a point where our best defensive men run off the field, waving and shouting for joy, 'I touched him, I touched him.' "
•Gus Triandos, the Baltimore Oriole catcher, on managers: "I never liked Paul Richards when he managed us. Always looking down his nose, snickering and all. Big deal. But I liked him better than Casey Stengel. At least Richards was consistent. With Casey you never knew how you stood from one day to the next."
•Los Angeles Dodger Shortstop Maury Wills, leading his teammates through calisthenics at their training camp: "O.K., now, everyone inhale and" (long pause) "dehale."
•Birdie Tebbetts, Milwaukee manager, lamenting the sore shoulder that makes Catcher Del Crandall a question mark for 1962: "That guy has had more physical examinations than the astronauts."
•Les Richter, linebacker of the Los Angeles Rams, on being asked to serve as honorary chairman of Dental Health Week in Los Angeles County: "I can think of no one more deserving of this high office. Do you want me with or without my teeth?"