LOVE BY FIAT
After long intransigence, the AAU and the NCAA now seem (see page 49) to have arrived at a less than cordial but nevertheless effective rapprochement that will permit proper representation of the U.S. in international competition. It is a little sad, just the same, that it finally became necessary for sport to work out its problem under the gavel of the Attorney General of the U.S., whose responsibility is more in the field of crime. Still, Robert F. Kennedy did bring the AAU and the NCAA together—twice, no less—and by force of personality (which includes a genuine love of sport and a practical understanding of the international propaganda value of athletics) fashioned a victory for common sense.
A sorry-looking four-point buck deer was hauled into a Utah hunting camp near Cove Fort recently and other hunters wondered why Don and Billy White of Richfield, Utah wasted a shell on it—or even bothered to bring it into camp. Mostly bone and skin, it had only two teeth left and its antlers were nothing to admire. But it was a prize nonetheless.
Even in the safety of zoos, deer seldom reach the age of 20. In the woods their average life expectancy is five years. A deer that lives to the age of 10 in woods free from hunters has lived a long life. This one was 29, an age determined by a tag dated 1933, which apparently had been attached to one of its ears by employees of the Utah Department of Fish and Game.
This old buck, able to survive for almost three decades against predators, including hunters, and the perils of Utah's bitter winters, must have been one of the wisest of his kind.
CAUTION IN K.C.
Kansas City and its baseball team, the Athletics, are in the midst of one of their periodic reconciliations. Owner Charles Finley has confessed that last year he had a roving eye and that it was focused on Dallas. But now he has promised that, for the time being, at least, he will be faithful in his fashion. Once again he is wooing the fans, trying to sell them season tickets. This year he made no effort to sell season tickets and never bothered to deny the charge that he wanted attendance to slide to give him a better excuse for moving the team.
As in many domestic situations where one partner has shown a tendency to stray, there are reservations on the part of the one spurned. In response to Fin-ley's request that Kansas City build him a new stadium, city and Chamber of Commerce officials got together the other day and framed an answer that, addressed to the owner of a ninth-place ball club, was exemplary for its caution. Give us a first division team, they said, and then we'll see about building you a stadium.
THE WELL-PACKED SLACK
The obstreperous tournament galleries in the esteemed golfing countries of the U.S. (6,000 courses, 6 million golfers) and Great Britain (2,000 courses, 3 million golfers) might well profit from the behavior of their inexperienced Argentine cousins during the recent Canada Cup matches in Buenos Aires (SI, Nov. 19). Fresh in mind are this summer's gallery stampedes during the British Open at Troon and the American PGA in Philadelphia. By contrast—though their country was in contention for the team title until the very end and an Argentine player, Roberto de Vicenzo, actually won the individual championship—the reputedly hot-blooded Latins were as courteous to the players as a dancing school class might be to the prettiest girl in the minuet.
Crowds were large (15,000 turned out for the last two rounds) and enthusiastic, but the marshals, who carried gay, peppermint-striped poles to augment the usual tee-to-green gallery roping, had only to ask "Silencio, por favor," to command the utmost in discipline.
The gallery was not only one of the best behaved in the world, it was probably the most beautiful. Luscious Argentine girls turned out in colorful, tight-fitting Capri slacks. "'Distractions, distractions, distractions," a golfer moaned appreciatively. "Why do you think I played so horribly? I could hardly keep my eye on the ball, but I wouldn't have changed things for anything."
Of course. Better by far to be distracted by a well-turned figure than by an ill-turned mob.
The Pickwick Bicycle Club, founded in England in 1870, the year Charles Dickens died, is the oldest cycle club in the world. Members address each other by the names of characters in Pickwick Papers, meet periodically to smoke old shag in churchwarden pipes, to drink rum punch and to recall the halcyon days of penny-farthing, or high-wheeler, cycles, so called because one wheel is large, like a penny, the other tiny, like a farthing.
The high-wheeler is coming back, and England puts on a penny-farthing race annually. Old and young alike pound away over a London track for four laps, roughly equivalent to a mile. And now Americans arc getting interested. Leo J. Cohen, president of the Los Angeles West Coast Cycle Supply Company, which supplies about a thousand dealers all over the U.S., recently placed an order at London's Cycle and Motor Cycle Show for a hundred penny-farthings at $280 each.
The fad for penny-farthings began in the 1870s, and reached its zenith during the Gay Nineties here and in England. In April 1884 Thomas Stevens started from San Francisco to ride round the world on a penny-farthing. He made it by December 1886.
It takes a lot of work to make a good penny-farthing. The front driving and steering wheel is the main problem. For tall men in the old days they ranged up to 62 inches in diameter. The Falcon model Mr. Cohen has ordered will have a 48-inch front wheel. Its tires are solid rubber and weigh some 50 pounds. Mr. Cohen will have his Falcons in time for Easter. He anticipates a big demand, and is planning to order more than his initial hundred. "Everyone will want to ride them in the parks," Cohen predicts. It's about as easy as mounting a horse, with the aid of a step, but once up look out for low-hanging branches.
PEACE AND COEXISTENCE
The student exchange system has helped improve understanding between nations. Now Maine and Florida are about to try to understand each other via tourist exchange. During January Floridians will go to Maine to study skiing, clambakes, square dancing, skating, dog teams and maple syrup poured on snow. A body of Maine tourists will visit Florida for courses in salt water fishing (southern style), water skiing, skin diving, tennis, golf and beachcombing. Total cost, $259 for six days and five nights, including round trip air transportation.
The idea was cooked up between the Bangor (Me.) Daily News and the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) News, normally rivals for the winter tourist trade, since both states bill themselves as year-round vacation spots. Now if California will just send a delegation to Florida to investigate stone crabs and if Florida will send a group to California to look into abalone steaks, a whole new era of interstate amity may ensue.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•The Southwest Conference and the Big Eight will agree early next month on a letter of intent, with February 15th as the earliest date for signing football prospects. This may lead to similar agreements throughout the nation. Such agreements would force athletes who jump from one school to another to forfeit one or two years of eligibility.
•The University of Minnesota's athletic department will be reorganized after Ike Armstrong retires as athletic director in June. Three men will do the jobs he has been doing: an intercollegiate director, a physical education director and a budget and facilities director. Other Big Ten athletic directors are concerned that the same format may be adopted elsewhere in the conference, thus decreasing their stature.
•Hottest prospect in the American Hockey League is Dick Meissner, 22-year-old Hershey Bear winger, who scored five goals in five games recently. Meissner has one of the hardest shots in the league, is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. The fastest player on his team, he is a sure bet to return to the Boston Bruins, who sent him down for experience.
•Governor-elect William Scranton of Pennsylvania would like to change the state's harness racing act along lines suggested by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Shep Tangles with the Boys (June 5, '61). He wants to make it illegal for politicians to participate in track ownership. Expect a move soon after he takes office.
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
One recent day a 6-foot-5, 17-year-old Negro stepped onto the football field in Lancaster, S.C. and threw a football into a stiff November wind. The ball traveled 70 yards in the air. The youngster apologized that it did not go farther. Hadn't warmed up, he said.
This is Bennie Blocker, who may yet be one of the finest football players ever produced in South Carolina. Playing for Barr High School the past four years, he:
Ran for 1,034 yards as a sophomore, scored five times and threw eight touchdown passes; rushed for 1,245 yards in eight junior-year games, scored eight touchdowns rushing and passed for 14 more; in 10 games this season ran for 1,505 yards, scored 14 touchdowns, passed for 11 touchdowns. The statistics would be more dazzling except that occasionally he caused himself to be removed from a game by scoring too many touchdowns. At halfback he sometimes fouled up plays by starting so quickly he got to the line before the quarterback could pivot and hand him the ball. He is a 10-second man in the 100.
Now 23 colleges have been in touch with him, including several from the Big Ten. Recently he spent a weekend at Indiana University, where his coach, Roosevelt Gilliam, did graduate work. In the upper 20% of his class since elementary school, Blocker will have no trouble getting into college.
To Gilliam he is "a coach's dream."
"Bennie is a good basketball player and track man, too," says Gilliam, "but the thing he was born to do in this life is play football and he can do that better than anyone I've ever seen."
One other thing. He took up punting this season and averaged 39.7 yards.
EXCELSIOR IN FINLANDIA
The national sport of Finland is track and field. Though its latter-day runners have hardly been burning up the cinders in the style of Paavo Nurmi, the Finns do have a national hero in Pentti Nikula. And now, five months after this former glassblower soared 16 feet 2½ inches, the Finns are assessing the results.
The main result is that Finnish youth has gone mad about pole vaulting. Within a week of Nikula's record not a single pole could be bought in Helsinki at any price. One Finnish firm rushed a desperate order to Japan for bamboo, enough to make 500 poles, and sold out in advance even before the raw material landed on its doorstep. Even so, undaunted boys from Turku to Oulu were vaulting anywhere, from backyards to roadways, with any piece of wood they could fashion into a makeshift pole. At last count, more than 200 young arms and legs had been broken.
THEY SAID IT
•Tommy McDonald, after his Eagles were butchered by Green Bay 49-0: "I hear the Packers are going on the New York Stock Exchange. If so, I want a piece of them."
•Jack Curtice, Stanford coach, on his team's loss to Southern Cal: "We did everything we were supposed to do. We held Willie Brown to one yard, Hal Bed-sole caught only two passes, Ben Wilson was contained. So, who was that that beat us 39-14?"
•Joe Louis, after watching Elvis Presley in the film Kid Galahad: "He boxes better than he sings."
•Pat Culpepper, Texas linebacker and All-America prospect, explaining his fierce desire: "I've got to hit somebody every play; that's what I'm there for. I might be the biggest coward in town after the game, but while it's going I'm prepared to fight anybody."
•Sonny Liston at a Los Angeles press conference: "I don't care where I fight Floyd Patterson, just so we get paid. One of you guys want to put it on in your basement and you got cash—in the basement we goin'."