PROBLEM FOR THE PROS
This is an article from the July 2, 1962 issue
Two months after Dick Mayer won the 1957 Open Championship the USGA was embarrassed to learn that its new champion was involved in splitting his wirming purse of $50,000 at another tournament with a golfer who had earned less than $400. Mayer and Al Besselink had made a pre-tournament arrangement to share 90 to 10 should either win top prize.
Reasoning that one of the great attractions of professional tournament golf is that the public assumes that the players are competing on an all-or-nothing basis, and that this type of sub-rosa arrangement is thereby a fraud, the USGA made it a condition of entry in its Open championships that there be no prize-splitting.
The Professional Golfers' Association might well have followed suit but so far has done nothing. The practice of prize-splitting remains as common as three-putt greens on the PGA tournament circuit. When two golfers on the pro tour, having tied over the regulation 72 holes in one of the weekly events, stand on the first tee to fight it out in overtime for first place, the chances are that they are fighting solely for a title and resultant perquisites, that they have already agreed to split evenly the total prize earmarked for first and second places.
We think the PGA might well adopt the USGA rule.
FAIR PLAY FOR CRITICS
The slugging of Earl Lawson, Cincinnati sportswriter, by Vada Pinson was, no doubt, an impulsive act which Vada regretted immediately. Too much should not be made of it, perhaps, but it does have some unpleasant implications if it continues to go unnoticed by baseball authorities.
There is already quite enough pressure and blandishment on newspaper sportswriters to serve as press agents for the home town team rather than as critics whose services are dedicated to the fan first and the team only secondarily, if at all. If the pressure takes the form of physical punishment without penalty, then sound criticism and objective writing will become as extinct as the spitball, which means there will be only a little of it around.
We suggest that the baseball commissioner regard the slugging of a writer as he would regard the slugging of an umpire, and impose the same severe penalty. Or else equip all writers with umpires' masks.
TOLEDO THROWS A PARTY
The world amateur wrestling championships came to the western hemisphere for the first time last week—specifically to Toledo, Ohio, on which wrestlers from 31 nations descended with stunning effect. Toledans were captivated by the sight of the Japanese doing the twist and the discovery that Russian cigarettes have two-inch filters. All over town the visitors were partied. An Army ROTC sergeant's Japanese wife gave a cookout of Japanese dishes for her homeland team. Sheriff Bill Hirsch, a Rumanian himself, gave the Rumanian team deputy sheriff badges and held a cookout for the South Africans. Five Iranian students at the University of Toledo met their country's defending Greco-Roman champions at the airport, waving banners that wished "Good Luck, World Champions." Turkish students from the University of Michigan waved flags and led cheers when a Turk was on the mat. The Miracle Mile drive-in movie entertained the Rumanian team, turning it loose in the refreshment stand at intermission. The Toledo Blade complained editorially that there just weren't enough wrestlers to use up the town's supply of hospitality.
One piece of hospitality was very much worthwhile, and if widely copied might go far to raise wrestling's status as a sport in this country. The Toledo Edison Company presented the championships with four large scoreboards, enabling the fans to know exactly how all the judges were scoring. At most amateur meets the uninitiated spectator is puzzled and bored by the referee's esoteric signals of points scored, and has no notion of which wrestler is ahead until the match is over.
HAVE A SCOTCH AND SCOTCH
So that New York Scotch drinkers won't have to contaminate the precious stuff with the chlorinated sludge that comes out of their taps and may, indeed, preserve the utter national purity of the product even as it is being consumed, Bloomingdale's department store is importing water from Scotland. Called Scotc H[Sub 2] O, it comes in green six-ounce bottles that sell for 22¢ each, and its bottlers aver that it is "taken from natural springs by the Castle Rock at the world-famous Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh."
There's a thought in this for anyone who owns a spring in Kentucky.
S O S FOR PIDGY
Francis Chichester, the 60-year-old British sportsman who sailed alone across the Atlantic in 1960 (SI, Oct. 10, 1960), is at sea again trying for a new transatlantic record to New York, but this time he is not alone. Two days after the starting gun was fired on Plymouth Hoe, a lost and weary homing pigeon fluttered down onto the Gipsy Moth III's deck and huddled under a sail. Chichester forthrightly decided to call her Pidgy.
Pidgy got seasick and would eat nothing but bits of broken biscuit, and those sparingly. The despairing Chichester, who has been radiotelephoning reports of his progress for publication in the Guardian, called for help. The Guardian staff went to work on the problem, seeking the advice of the Curator of Birds at the London Zoo, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Severn Wildlife Trust.
The experts recommended fresh greens, hard to come by 700 miles at sea, and nuts, oatmeal and biscuit, all of which Chichester had aboard.
On this diet Pidgy perked up a bit. From 950 miles out, Chichester advised the Guardian that the pigeon had cooed for the first time since coming aboard.
"I've developed the habit of talking to myself," Chichester informed the newspaper from 1,106 miles. "It comes through talking first to the pigeon, and then going on talking to myself. She sits in her little hut watching me."
Small wonder, Chichester.
PASSING OF A FRIEND OF SPORT
During a night game with Cincinnati the Los Angeles Dodgers spelled out a message on the scoreboard: "The sports world at large and baseball in particular has lost a good friend in Reese Taylor." With that the flags were lowered to half-staff in tribute to a man who had much to do with bringing the Dodgers to California.
Resse H. Taylor was a giant of industry, a driving force in civic affairs, a disciple of the arts and greatly loved as an ardent sportsman. He died last week, just a few days short of his 62nd birthday. In his lifetime he had accomplished much. In business he was chairman of the board of the massive Union Oil Company of California. In the arts he championed the dream of a music center in the civic complex and he was a director and vice-president of the Hollywood Bowl Association.
But it was in sports, perhaps, that he made the most friends. His company sponsored TV and radio presentations of feature Thoroughbred races at both Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, Dodger baseball games, the famed Pacific Southwest tennis tournament and many other major sports attractions. He was a former president of the Los Angeles Turf Club and a director of the Southern California Tennis Association and of the Youth Tennis Foundation of Southern California. An avid baseball fan, he held box seats for both Dodger and Angel games and he always found time to see his son and grandson play in the San Marino Little League.
On the day of his death his daughter, Maggie, won a quarter-final match in the junior girls competition of the Southern California tennis championships. Her father had told her not to default because of his illness.
One of Reese Taylor's dreams, yet to be realized but in the planning stage, was the development of a tennis center in Griffith Park with grass courts for Davis Cup competition.
It would make a fine memorial.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Houston's heat and humidity are a joint factor in the National League pennant race favoring Los Angeles over San Francisco. The Dodgers have only one game left in Houston, but the Giants have three. Jocko Conlan had to retire in the fourth inning of a doubleheader there, and Don Drysdale lost 12 pounds the same night.
•American Football League players will not be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Reason: the National Football League is paying much of the $500,000 it will take to establish the hall at Canton, Ohio.
•Colorado, recently placed on probation by the NCAA for illegal recruiting practices, spent $201,128 in the 1961-62 school year for athletic scholarships, most in the Big Eight.
NO PLACE FOR HACKERS
Entered in the National Collegiate golf tournament last week were 216 players, some of whom had no reason to be there at all. As a result the two qualifying rounds were nightmarish, for players and officials. After 13 hours of play on opening day there were 46 players on the course, floundering about in the dark. It was necessary to begin the second qualifying round at 6 a.m. next day.
The NCAA golf committee is properly indignant that so many duffers were entered in a tournament they could not possibly hope to win. One of them shot a 102, a figure that might have made a much more reasonable entry list.
Three solutions are being considered:
1) regional qualifying, 2) regional committees to select the players for the national tournament and 3) separate tournaments for small and big colleges.
The last suggestion does not appeal to us. There are good reasons for separating the small and big colleges in sports like football, but golf is a game in which they do have a chance to compete.
MR. MURPHY'S CHOWDER HEAD
The thinking horseplayer shudders whenever he hears that politicians are turning their watery, greedy eyes toward his sport—as, from time to time, they do. Since horseplayers must contend with enough bad news as it is, we report only reluctantly that the politicians are about to go at them again in New York State, where even now in the Metropolitan Area 20¢ of every $2 bet is dropped into the bottomless tax pit, not to mention the 10¢ that goes to the track. Not only that but this time the politicians are of the worst possible stripe. They are tax collectors.
Troubled that the new Finger Lakes race track had misjudged its proper season, which turned out thereby to be a losing one, with resultant loss of anticipated revenue to the state, Tax Commissioner Joseph H. Murphy has ordered a study to find out how the state can increase its revenues from all tracks, harness and Thoroughbred.
"One of the things we want to know," he said, "is why the daily average attendance at Belmont is 6,000 smaller than at Aqueduct." That means, he glowered, that the state's daily take at Belmont is $60,000 less than at Aqueduct.
Any horseplayer could tell him that Aqueduct is more easily reached from the heart of New York City and has a superior mechanical plant. It's easier to get there and to get a bet down there.
It just might be passing through Commissioner Murphy's mind that the state would profit by confining New York racing to Aqueduct, closing down Belmont. But this would be a threat to the esthetics of the sport and a quick route to the point of diminishing returns. For most bettors Belmont is a little bit harder to reach than Aqueduct, but it is more beautiful, a very pleasant place in which to dawdle away an afternoon and a dollar. That is why many who never go to Aqueduct do go to Belmont. To tamper with the traditions of Belmont would be to hold a knife at the throat of a very productive goose.
THEY SAID IT
•Sammy Baugh, on the improvement in high school football: "The algebra teacher used to be the football coach. Now the football coach is the algebra teacher."
•Casey Stengel, on his Mets: "We're in such a slump that even the ones that are drinkin' aren't hittin'."
•Herb Elliott, announcing his retirement from racing: "The time will come when men can't keep on pushing themselves much faster. When that happens they'll start clocking in hundredths of a second, because the improvements will be so minimal."