FEDS VS. FIXERS
The record of Congress in passing laws that might help sport is low, very close to .000, but last week the Senate sent to the House a bill that could very well cripple sport's biggest enemy—the fixer.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Kenneth B. Keating of New York, calls for fines up to $5,000 and imprisonment for 10 years for those who conspire to fix sports contests by bribery. Most important, the bill gives the Federal Government an authority in the area it has not previously had. It makes it a crime to use interstate commerce facilities to rig any contest, amateur or professional.
The law may not appear to have very sharp teeth, but neither did the anti-racketeering laws Attorney General Robert Kennedy put through last September. Just one year later these new statutes warranted a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED article (Sept. 3) called The Bookies Close Up Shop.
Much of the detail for the new bill was drawn up by that onetime football star Byron (Whizzer) White, then an assistant attorney general and since promoted to the Supreme Court, one who knows the importance of frightening crooked gamblers away from susceptible young athletes. Now, if the former athletes of the House will get together, it may just be possible to get the Keating bill through quickly, despite the current closing rush. If so, the fixers who have been able to dodge local authorities could be driven out of business by the thought that they would then be dealing with the feds.
THE PICK: PATTERSON
Last week Floyd Patterson told how he had dreamed about his fight with Sonny Liston—which will occur in reality in Chicago on September 25—but woke up before he found out who won. And Liston says he had a dream about Patterson. "The dream told me just how the fight would end," Sonny said. Beyond that he ain't talking. Well, we had a dream, too. Patterson won in 15.
Wishful dreaming, perhaps, but we're picking Patterson in 15 rounds or, as they say, less.
The champion's greatest failing in his title defenses to date has been a singular lack of attention and, consequently, application. With the exception of the nights that he knocked out Archie Moore to win the title and Ingemar Johansson to regain it, he has appeared bemused and confused, or perhaps just bored, in the ring. It is clear that Patterson is only as good as he believes his adversary to be.
Since it is inconceivable that he will underestimate the glowering Liston, Floyd should be at the top of his form next week: fast, resourceful and hardhitting. Sonny has neither Floyd's speed nor the versatility of his attack. He is a relatively elementary, one-track fighter, whose greatest natural resources are enormous strength and punching power.
It would be disastrous for Floyd to try to slug it out with Sonny. He must, instead, utilize his prime asset: mobility. Then he will be exploiting Liston's major deficiency: immobility. Patterson, in sum, must make Liston fight Patterson's fight. If he allows Sonny to dominate the ring and get the punching room he likes, Floyd will assuredly be knocked down and, ultimately, out.
Since the big fight takes place 36 hours after we go to press, our account, with photographs of the action in color, will not appear in the next issue but in the issue of October 8.
THE BALTIMORE SLAM
The grand slam is a feature of many sports—from bridge to baseball—and varies in all of them. The constant factor is that it represents supreme achievement—but who is to say that a grand slam in tennis is worth more than a grand slam in golf? One can no more compare them than one can compare peaches to grapefruit.
Just now Rod Laver is the tennis player of the year because he achieved a tennis grand slam—winning the four top titles. But if either of golf's two dominant players, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, had made the grand slam in their game, there might still be doubt as to which is better. Both golfers are capable of the grand slam. The problem of determining essential superiority is not in them but in the nature of the game itself.
Factors like the quality of the competition in any given year come into it but in the main tennis runs truer to form than does golf. One top player can dominate tennis more easily than one of equal ability can dominate golf. A little-noted reason is the far greater number of times a tennis player hits the ball. In a 72-hole golf tournament the winning player usually will hit the ball from 275 to 285 times. On the other hand, in his final match against Roy Emerson at Forest Hills, Laver hit the ball 141 times in a single set. During the entire tournament he played 23 sets and hit the ball more than 3,250 times.
The greater the player, the greater the consistency. Right?
So in an exhibition match at Baltimore, the day after the nationals, Emerson beat Laver in straight sets.
FISHING, TEXAS STYLE
Water skiers and fishermen are not known for their compatibility. Water skiers disturb the fish, the fishermen say. One of the few who likes both sports is a Texan named Bob Caldwell and the other day he managed to combine them. Skiing on Grapevine Lake, near Dallas, Caldwell saw thousands of sand bass feeding voraciously on the surface. Eagerly he got into his boat, where he found an old yellow-feathered spinner but neither line nor rod. While his brother James protested the impossibility of the idea, Caldwell attached the lure to the ski rope and started trolling.
To the astonishment of brother James and of fishermen going for the sand bass in more conventional ways, such as with rod and reel, the bass began to strike the spinner and kept on striking until Caldwell had landed 10 of them. Then he generously turned the ski rope over to brother James, who caught the first three fish of his life.
DEL FOR THE JUG
Every horse in this week's Little Brown Jug at Delaware, Ohio has broken two minutes for the mile, which makes the field one of the fastest in harness-racing history. And since Delaware's saucerlike track puts the premium on speed rather than stamina, chances for a new world pacing record are excellent.
The chances are, also, that a big bay colt named Coffee Break will be the favorite and another bay named Ranger Knight will be the second choice. But we remember what that celebrated harness man, Del Miller, said a year ago. He said Meadow Battles would win this year's Jug. Meadow Battles is a son of Adios. Del will be driving him. Thought you'd like to know.
THE PRO WAY AND AMATEUR WAY
Rolling along the freeways of Los Angeles and environs is a new wave of automobile bumper strips, fluorescently proclaiming: "Go, College Football!"
More than bumper strips will be required to make college football go in southern California as it once did. The strips are a belated, possibly futile, effort by the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce to bolster sagging attendance at games of the city's two major colleges, USC and UCLA. The presidents and athletic directors of these two schools have lately been bemoaning lack of interest not only in college football but in basketball and track and field, too. Just last week Dr. Norman Topping, USC president, sounded off about it.
"It seems to me," he said, "that the university is going to be professional sport's best source of talent, yet I wonder if it isn't possible that we are seeing a case again of professionals eating their young."
Dr. Topping had reference to a bitter dispute between the two colleges and the Los Angeles Lakers (basketball) and Los Angeles Blades (hockey) over dates in the Memorial Sports Arena. The colleges had assumed they would get six Saturday nights merely by publishing a schedule and announcing opponents. But the extremely valuable dates were awarded instead to the two professional teams, who had gone to the trouble of making sure the premises were available before renting them.
College athletics, despite a "fans be damned" attitude, succeeded in Los Angeles when it had the only ball. Since World War II a few competing attractions have moved in—the Rams, the Dodgers, the Lakers, the Blades, the Angels, horse racing, Disneyland and, yes, the Roller Derby. Along with them came a professional promotional attitude that did not involve weeping in public. Perhaps Dr. Topping has forgotten last season's UCLA-USC basketball game when no ticket seller even bothered to show up at the Arena on the day of the game.
THIS IS NO BRAHMA BULL
One of the world's most unsung, unknown and unhopeful minority groups, the IAABO (International Association of Approved Basketball Officials), gathered in New York the other day to hear its poet laureate, Colorado State College Coach John Bunn, interpret the rules for the coming season.
A tall, erect, rosy-cheeked man with white hair and a kindly face, Bunn spoke for almost four hours without a rest, quoting extemporaneously from Rule 4, Section 7, Parenthesis B, or Rule 2, Section 10 with unflagging accuracy and evangelistic fervor.
Near the end of the third hour, Bunn peered over the top of his silver-rimmed spectacles and announced that this year the Rocky Mountain Conference will test a new rule that may be adopted later by the NCAA. Its intent is to curb over-zealous coaches (an admitted redundancy) who, by their sideline histrionics, incite home crowds against officials and the visiting team.
Under the rule, said Bunn, "A coach must remain seated on the bench at all times during the actual play. If he so much as raises his fanny off that bench he'll get socked with a technical foul."
That's like telling a cowboy to sit quietly on a Brahma bull, and it should be just as much fun to watch.
VIRTUE TRIUMPHANT IN ABILENE
The people of Abilene, Texas recently outlawed pool halls. Now the only places in Abilene where you can go shoot a little snooker are the YMCA or Hardin-Simmons University or the First Baptist Church.
PROSPERITY FOR GUNNERS
The happy hunting note sounded in the article on page 97 is due not so much to the bountiful largesse of Mother Nature as to a man-made miracle endorsed by Congress and signed into law 25 years ago this month. At that time the Pittman-Robertson Act, called by conservationists the single most important advance in the history of American hunting, was passed. It provided that a federal tax on sporting arms and ammunition be collected specifically and solely for the restoration of wildlife.
It was obvious in the early 1930s that, all game was fast disappearing. Nesting, feeding and breeding areas were shrinking annually; ranges were being destroyed without replacement; game management programs were often outmoded and frequently detrimental. Pittman-Robertson was the answer. Under the act each state is responsible for solving its own game problems and, initially, for financing its wildlife projects, but the states are guaranteed reimbursement up to 75% of the cost of each restoration project.
In the past 24 years more than 200 million Pittman-Robertson dollars have been invested in the nation's wildlife. More than 2½ million acres of land have been acquired by 47 states for the improvement of habitat and the development of public hunting grounds. More than 457,000 game birds and 84,000 game animals have been transplanted to new or more suitable ranges. Scientific research has revolutionized game management programs, substantially reduced diseases and virtually eliminated parasites like the screwworm, which a few years ago almost wiped out southern deer herds.
Most significant of all, the U.S. hunter himself, through the act, has personally engineered the renaissance of American game. Because of his support our vanishing herds not only have been rescued but have achieved health and population levels unequaled in the last century. With the exception of waterfowl shooting, which has its own special problems, the outlook today is the brightest in recent history. Hunting has become one sport in which no one need say, "Wait till next year." Next year is here.
MARY ELLEN, STAY HOME
The cheery irresponsibility of women at racetracks is well known. They do the oddest things and still somehow manage to make getaway money. We have now a bad case of the wet shoulder from a father, a racetrack veteran and great student of form, based on the experiences of his 25-year-old daughter, Mary Ellen, and her girl friend on their first unaccompanied and unsupervised visit to the races.
"On Monday we went to Rockingham Park to the horse races," Mary Ellen wrote home to Daddy, "and had a whale of a time. We were there for six races and only lost 90¢ apiece." The girls were betting $2 on each race, putting up $1 apiece. Somehow they managed to hold three winning tickets in the six races and come up with a $1.80 loss. A clue to their system is contained in this sentence: "In the third and fourth races we picked the horse most likely to win and then bet on him to show and each time our horse came in first." Despite the implications of this proud confession, Mary Ellen went on to report that "we are now professionals and can read the tote board and everything."
"Great grouse!" said her father, who talks like that when excited. "They pick three out of six and lose 90¢ each. Never send youth to the window."
THEY SAID IT
•Pitcher Bobby L. Miller, with an 0-12 record, on how things are with the Mets: "I'm not starting, and the other day they told me I wasn't going to relieve any more. Is there anything else?"
•Sonny Gibbs, TCU quarterback: "I want to play pro ball, but I want to get that pigskin first—I mean that sheepskin, or whatever you call it."
•Pepper Wilson, Cincinnati Royals' general manager, on his inability to sign veteran Dave Piontek: "He says he'd like more money. It would give him a feeling he's wanted."
•Ben Agajanian, tutor for Dallas Texan place-kickers, explaining that from the time he joined the New York Giants he tried to avoid physical contact: "Steve Owen called me aside and said, 'Ben, there are a lot of bruisers who may come after you, but just remember this: the bigger they are, the harder they hit.' "