FAREWELL TO THE BUFFALO
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whose escape from ruling on the constitutional problems of civilization is to get out of it and into the wilderness, recently did a canoe float down the Buffalo River, which flows for 110 miles through the dim canyons and towering bluffs of the Boston Mountains of northern Arkansas. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for reasons which seem adequate to the Corps, would like to destroy the Buffalo River. The Engineers want to dam it forever.
When the justice got back from his float, he expressed an informal opinion:
"Someday," he said, "Americans are going to wake up to the fact that they need more than beer and television for entertainment. When that awakening comes, I hope all the wilderness beauty spots like the Buffalo will not be gone. The Army engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation seem to be in a race to see which can put more land underwater and destroy our facilities for outdoor recreation. The high country in the West is heavily impounded. The Forest Service is building roads. You can't have roads and wilderness at the same time."
May 20, 1962
BIRDIE'S EYE VIEW
"I'll be an awfully surprised man," Birdie Tebbetts, manager of the Milwaukee Braves, was saying the other evening, "if someone in the National League doesn't break Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs this season. The reason I say that is because I don't think any player is going to tighten up going after a record that's only one year old. Although I haven't looked at any figures, I just know that more home runs are being hit in the National League this year than were hit at a comparable time in the schedule in 1961."
On that score Birdie is absolutely correct. At corresponding stages in the seasons, National League sluggers hit 219 homers in 1961, 280 this year.
Birdie has two basic reasons for his expectation.
"The first," he said, "is that expansion gives some of the better hitters a chance to hit against weakened pitching. And this year almost every team can send up two hitters back-to-back who can hit long balls, and the first guy up in such a situation has a big edge. No pitcher can pitch around him and wait for the second guy.
"I won't say who I think will beat Maris' record, but there are a lot of big hitters around with a tremendous chance to do it this season."
There are, indeed. It looks like a bad year for pitchers.
HOCKEY BOOM IN DIXIE
Ice hockey came to the South five years ago when a Baltimore team was burned out of its rink and the only refuge it could find was in Charlotte, N.C., which donated its spacious Coliseum facilities to the Maryland club. At first Charlotte folks called it "hockey ball" and inquired if the game was played on horseback, but the southern city has since become an enthusiastic member of the Eastern Hockey League.
And it didn't stop with Charlotte. Greensboro, N.C. picked up the puck and led the league in attendance during the 1960-61 season. Then Knoxville, Tennessee, with a new arena, got a team and made money with it last season. Now it appears that another division of the EHL is in the making down south. Buildings with ice facilities and ample seating have been constructed in Jacksonville, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee. The South, indeed, has the finest playing arenas in the league. Southern Division players dread the trip north because rinks and conditions are so inferior to theirs.
What's more, those once naive Charlotte fans have developed a sound knowledge of the game. They cheer the good offensive maneuver and hiss the goalie when he blunders.
THE NEW LOOK
The game of football has been "improved" by means of rules changes every year since 1871, when Harvard played a form of it known as "the Boston game" in which a radicalism permitted one to run with the ball instead of kicking it or bunting it with the head. The "improvement" of the coming season is a rule that permits the punting team to down the ball within its opponent's ten-yard line. Some coaches, among them Frank Broyles of Arkansas, believe the change will result in fewer upsets.
The old rule made it impossible to prevent punts from rolling into the end zone for touchbacks that put the ball on the 20-yard line. Without this gift of unearned yardage, it is reasoned, the weaker team will find itself pushed deeper into its own territory faster.
Point-spread bettors, take notice.
The kind of rifle marksman who can put successive bullets through a dime-sized hole at 100 yards does not accomplish this without the kind of tension that snaps cables. At the end of a big meet such marksmen are drawn and haggard, their finely tuned trigger fingers vibrating like a plucked G-string on a bass fiddle.
There are some exceptions, to be sure, among them Lenore Jensen Lemanski, a winsome, blonde 21-year-old school-teacher who can sit on her ponytail, and her pretty troupe of shooters—her mother, Mrs. Marvin Jensen Driver, her sister, Candy Jensen, 17, and Candy's school chum, 17-year-old Sharon House. The ladies are looking forward to the national women's small bore championships at Camp Perry, Ohio, the first week in August. They are looking forward to the championships as they always do, as if they were a lark.
"Other shooters are funny," says Lenore, who teaches at Oneaway, Michigan. "They get all tense the day of a match and they want to get all the sleep they can and eat only the right foods. Shooters watch their diets very closely so they won't eat foods that speed up their pulse rates because that's supposed to make it harder to hold a true aim. Anyway they all just die when we go out at 2 a.m. the morning of a match and eat hamburgers and milk shakes and potato chips. But I think that digestion stuff is all in their heads. We don't notice any harm."
Harm, indeed. Lenore has set three women's records in a single weekend. She won championships in 1959 and 1960 but relinquished last year to Janet Fridell by a single point, 4,775 to 4,776. Mrs. Driver was national women's any-sight champion in 1960, the year Candy won the junior championship.
PAYOFF FOR A PIPER
George M. Steinbrenner III, who in signing Jerry Lucas (see page 22) achieved a coup that surprised the National Basketball Association, the sports world and even himself, is a round-faced, fast-paced 31-year-old Cleveland businessman. A graduate of Williams, he spent two years on the football coaching staffs of Northwestern and Purdue. He is now vice-president of the family-owned Great Lakes Steamship Company, president of the Cleveland Pipers basketball team, and the most quoted member of a group of 17 generally youngish Cleveland men whose personal businesses range from a national restaurant chain (James V. Stouffer) to a coffee company (John Schanz) and a shipping concern (Charles Hutchinson). The group has, among other things, run a Cleveland charity campaign, rallied public support to a seemingly doomed bond issue and heeded the request of the city fathers to buy the Pipers, an industrial league team that was foundering. Steinbrenner promised Cleveland a winner. He delivered it in 1960 when the Pipers won the NIBL, and again last year when they won the first championship of the new pro basketball league (ABL).
He is engaging, but precipitous. His hiring and firing of players and coaches got him condemned by the Cleveland press last season, and he has regretted that. But he points out that the team was a winner, as forecast. At the box office it was a loser. Tickets, literally, could not be given away. "We are civic-minded, but we are not philanthropists," Steinbrenner says. "Things must change."
The key to changing them is the meticulous two-year effort to sign Jerry Lucas. So thorough were Steinbrenner and his group that they had, for example, found out what Lucas and his wife liked least about their Columbus apartment—noise overhead. They found a one-story, well-soundproofed apartment project in Cleveland, invited the Lucases up for a look in case Jerry should sign, and tipped off the landlord to emphasize the soundproofing.
Last weekend Steinbrenner stopped in Columbus during a hectic no-sleep swirl from Buffalo to Cleveland to New York and gave Lucas the last revision of the Piper contract. Had he really believed that Lucas would one day be a Piper? Steinbrenner was asked. "I never thought we had a chance to get him," he answered bluntly. "Not a chance."
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Lee Grosscup is trade bait. Look for him to go to the Minnesota Vikings, whose coach, Norman Van Brocklin, thinks Grosscup can be a championship quarterback. Van Brocklin has one of the most valuable first draft choices in the league to trade.
•President Kennedy's oppressive policy on entertainment expenses may, as a by-blow, hurt all professional—and some amateur—athletic teams. Football, baseball, basketball and hockey owners are worried because the Internal Revenue Service will look askance at money spent for season boxes, on the questionable theory that little, if any, business is conducted in tax-deductible boxes at sporting events.
•The first American victory in Europe's No. 1 trotting race, the $80,000 Prix d'Amérique, may come next January when Driver Delvin Miller has a go with Harlan Dean, his 1961 Hambletonian winner. Miller believes the game (but ofttimes sore-legged) son of Harlan has the stamina to outtrot Europe's best in the long (1‚Öù miles) French race.
KNOCKDOWN ON CLASSICS
According to Vintage Cars in Color (Viking), "The [classic car] enthusiast can still, if he is lucky, pick up excellent...machines quite cheaply...." Well, that depends on what you call cheap. Last weekend in a spring setting of dogwood, cherry blossoms, baby carriages and Good Humors, nine classic cars, ranging from a two-seat, boat-tail 1926 Isotta-Fraschini to an elegant four-door 1930 Bentley saloon with sun roof, were auctioned off to settle the estate of Mrs. Marjorie Winifred Bird, at Brookville, Long Island. Although none of the cars had been used in more than 20 years, and many had been vandalized by souvenir hunters, these amazing old machines brought $37,850 from six enthusiastic bidders. Jacques C. Tunick, a short, red-faced heavy-equipment dealer from Stamford, Conn., was the big buyer. He plunked down $17,050 for four cars, including a pompous 1930 Duesenberg four-door sedan and a racy 1930 Mercedes-Benz coupe. Tunick said he doesn't really know why he collects classic cars, rarely drives or shows any, and has no idea how many he has stored in barns and garages around Greenwich, Conn.
The prize package at the auction, a sleek black two-seat Duesenberg convertible (vintage 1931 or 1932—even the experts weren't sure) with red leather interior, spoke wheels and a rumble seat, went to Dieter Holterbosch, the 40-year-old Lowenbrau importer, for $10,000. A CBS television reporter asked Holterbosch what he planned to do with the car. "Will you drive it to work?" he asked. The classic-car buffs sighed in mock disgust. Said Holterbosch, "Why, no, I'll use it just on Sundays to pick up the papers."
THEY SAID IT
•Gary Player, explaining why he just missed a 197-yard hole-in-one at the Colonial Invitational: "I couldn't read the break in the green from the tee."
•Gus Mancuso, former catcher, after watching the swift Dodger, Willie Davis, run: "At long last baseball may have come up with a guy who can steal first."
•Bobby Layne: "Buddy Parker is one of the few coaches who remembers he used to be a player. If every player in the National Football League could work for the coach he likes best Pittsburgh would have 900 players."
•Joe Black, PGA tournament supervisor, on what's wrong with young pro golfers: "They're too young, some of them. It looks like a glorious way to make a living, so they come out here with somebody backing them and start fooling around. They spend more time playing gin than they do practicing."
•UCLA Football Coach Bill Barnes on the Green Bay Packers: "What I'd like to pick up is their guards. They lead plays with the authority of Mitch Miller at a sing-along."