TAKE A MILLION GIANT STEPS
This is an article from the Feb. 25, 1963 issue
"Eight to five Sawyer makes it," quoted Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder on the Las Vegas morning line the other day. Snyder's odds on Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer, who proposed a 25-mile march from Carson City, was epigrammatic of the walking-for-fitness fad that has suddenly taken on the proportions of a national frenzy. Provoked by a lighthearted correspondence between Marine General David M. Shoup and President Kennedy (which raised the question: Can today's Marine measure up to 1908 standards set by another vigorous president, Teddy Roosevelt?), Americans everywhere are on the march.
First to go the 50-miles-in-20-hours route were, of course, the Marines. But then others, with no honor to defend, started walking, too, and trod everywhere from 6½ miles (sedentary Press Secretary Pierre Salinger) to 62 (two St. Bonaventure students who walked to see a basketball game). Thirteen chilled models stepped stiffly around the turf at Laurel race track. A Massachusetts politician made ready to push off the 50 miles with a member of the clergy, who said he'd skip rope to vary the pace. Seven Congressional secretaries limped into the Maryland countryside. Said one, after 30 miles, "Another mile would have been like taking that extra Martini." Peter Frelinghuysen, Republican Congressman from New Jersey, walked from the Capitol to pay his respects to the Lincoln Memorial, and California's Marin County dispatched 400 students into the hills. A task force of journalists, on the march north from Syracuse, ran into a blizzard, but made 29 frozen miles anyway. A dozen Southern Illinois boys dribbled a basketball for 55 miles. Regular fitness advocates like Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, the Boy Scouts and Sierra Club members acquitted themselves dutifully.
To all this champions of walking like Dr. Paul Dudley White nodded vigorous approval, but other doctors anxiously cautioned against pacing off too much at a whack. There were some complaints, naturally, like that of the weary Boston lady reporter who said, after 26 wind-whipped miles, "Don't take the first step, or, if you do. break a leg." But on the whole, the marchers were extraordinarily cheerful.
General Shoup, President Kennedy and the Marines may be thanked for provoking a massive step away from the TV armchair.
With contract offers from five major league baseball teams, All-America Guard Rod Thorn of West Virginia has decided not to play pro basketball, a decision that cuts deeply into what was already the National Basketball Association's weakest draft list in years. After Art Heyman of Duke, the pros see little else in the way of talent. Thorn would have gone early in the draft to either the Chicago Zephyrs or the San Francisco Warriors, teams that need backcourt help. Now the Zephyrs—if they don't get a shot at Heyman—will go for Jerry Harkness of Loyola of Chicago, a 6-foot-2 forward who would be switched to guard.
Heyman should go to the New York Knickerbockers as long as they can maintain their last-place, first-draft ranking, but no one is ever sure of the Knicks, who lean to picking big centers—with a notable lack of success. This year the only esteemed big man coming off the campus is 6-foot-11 Nate Thurmond of Bowling Green, who'll probably end up with Detroit.
Other first-round picks are likely to include Tom Thacker of the University of Cincinnati (to the Royals), Gus Johnson of Idaho and Bill Green of Colorado State. Johnson is eligible for both the draft and another year of college play. But he is married and aging at 24, and says that he will turn pro if the right offer comes along. Green is the leading scorer of the college seniors, but at 6 feet 6 he is too small, pro scouts say, to score in the pros as he does in college—from in close.
Such slim pickings are leading the NBA table talk right back to where it was a year ago—to Jerry Lucas. If Lucas comes in, a mediocre rookie crop would come up smelling like roses.
THE SPORTINGEST GAME
The North American mammoth was one of the largest of all elephants, sometimes growing to a height of 12 feet. He became extinct 8,000 years ago, and precious little else is known about him. However, thanks to a new sport that has attracted a following in Portales. New Mexico, we are beginning to pick up a few facts.
Bone hunting is the new diversion around Portales, where residents have banded themselves into the Llano Archaeological Society and spend their spare time hiking the Great Plains area in search of potential archaeological sites that are in the paths of new roads or other planned construction.
A while back Jess Collins, a relief mail carrier, spent a busman's holiday tramping through a gravel pit at Blackwater Draw and came upon the partly exposed skeleton of a mammoth. Your common variety of amateur archaeologist would have grabbed a shovel, thereby ruining the value of the find for science, but the bone hunters of Portales know better. Collins summoned experts from the Museum of New Mexico.
Expert digging unearthed the bones of five mammoths, and enough artifacts to give a picture of every major time period on this continent.
Blackwater Draw, it was revealed, was one of the best water holes in the Staked Plains area. Hunters of every era killed game there and left behind bones and weapons. Dr. Fred Wendorf, the Museum's chief archaeologist, has concluded that tribesmen of the period hid in long grass near the pond until the mammoths were wading, then picked out a single beast for attack and killed him with their best weapons—puny, stone-tipped spears.
"The mammoths were not bogged down and helpless," Dr. Wendorf said. "We can tell that by the position of the bones. They were able to charge their attackers, and it must have taken a lot of courage to hunt them."
THE INSIDE TRACK
•American track and beauty fans may get another look at Germany's Jutta Heine this summer. She will run here if the proposed U.S. dates do not conflict with the German championships.
•Wallace Butts, athletic director at the University of Georgia for 24 years and its former football coach, has resigned, though it is not yet announced. Butts had been accused by the athletic board of trying to undermine confidence in Coach Johnny Griffith.
•The best amateur Norwegian and Swedish cross-country skiers are asking under-the-counter payments of up to 10,000 kroner ($1,930) for competing in the biggest crowd-pulling events at Scandinavian resorts.
•Susquehanna's Jim Garrett, with the longest collegiate undefeated streak in the country, is No. 1 candidate for the top football coaching spot at Yale. Garrett has coached tiny Susquehanna in 22 straight games without a defeat.
THE CHINESE STRIKE IS HERE
A world which has long accepted the rabbit baseball is not going to be shocked too much by the lively bowling pin, but 25 disgruntled professional bowlers, each with a strong personal interest in the game, have formed a National Committee for Honest Bowling Conditions to protest it. "Business hasn't kept up with expansion," an official of the Bowling Proprietors Association explained to The Wall Street Journal. The assumption seems to have been that cheaper strikes and spares would boost the gate.
"If you make it easier for someone to get a better score, you're going to improve your business," an official of American Machine & Foundry, which makes automatic pinsetters, reportedly said. On the other hand Frank Baker, executive secretary-treasurer of the American Bowling Congress, holds that "the new pins can't offer any advantages except increased durability."
Maybe not, but a Dallas bowler named J. B. Solomon gripes: "I wish we could have a chance to knock down some pins honestly, instead of bouncing them off the walls."
EXCELSIOR IN TACOMA
What the kite-flying altitude record may be is difficult to say, since it is an unsupervised sport, but three boys in Tacoma, Wash.—Richard Leonard, 12, Robert Burrus, 12, and Artis Collins, 13—believe they have made it. They claim 10,050 feet.
They laid out 15¢ for a supermarket paper kite (red and black, with spacemen and a rocket pictured on it) and on Wednesday last at 3:45 p.m. they started letting out measured balls of cord. The day was ideal for kite-flying and the kite went up and up—and up and up.
It kept on going up hour after hour, and the boys finally based themselves in Richard's house, flying the kite out of his bedroom window with the cord fastened to a bedpost. At intervals during the night they rose and checked the cord. All was well at 3 a.m., the cord pointing upward on a long, tight slant into the sky. It was A-OK at 4 a.m. and at 5. But along about 6 o'clock the cord snapped and fell limp and the kite dropped somewhere in distant woods.
Total flight time: some 14 hours, at the end of almost two miles of line. Richard would like the kite back if someone should come across it—red and black, with spacemen and a rocket and endless twine.
RIGHT FOOT FORWARD
In teaching the young how to stroke a tennis ball it is normal to say: "On the forehand stand with your feet sideways to the net and, at the moment of impact, have your weight planted on the left foot." There is a fellow running loose around the country now, a teacher no less, who says you should face the net and, at the moment of impact, have your weight planted on the right foot. It is a radical departure from tradition, like refusing to pay amateurs, and it is creating a certain uproar in the guild. What the man says is that the experts teach one way and play the opposite way. He has photographs which, he says, prove it. He shows Bruce Barnes hitting a forehand with his left foot off the ground, the right foot firmly on the turf. It gives an eerie sensation. He has Herbert Flam hitting a backhand with his right foot off the ground. He has Sidney Wood doing the same improbable thing. He says don't keep your eye on the ball until after it crosses the net and bounces—just watch its general direction—and even then, he says, you can't possibly see it hit the racket, despite the fact that you may have been taught to watch it hit the racket.
He even has rotten things to say about SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S book on tennis, written by Bill Talbert, and showing, among other things, Don Budge's academic approach to the serve. He despises it. Some men (and magazines) might resent this, but we don't. Dick Bradlee, tennis tutor and author of a recent book, Instant Tennis, A New Approach (Devin-Adair, $3.95), is convinced that he has something, and whether it turns out to be an epiphany or dandruff he may at least have stirred the hidebound into a reexamination of how they teach, and to ask themselves if this differs to any important extent from how they play.
NOW, THE VIEWABLE MASTERS
No major golf tournament has put up a sold-out sign before, but this year the Masters is going to do it. On the final two days of the event last year crowds of 40,000 fought to catch glimpses of the action, too many even for the well-designed Masters course (SI, May 28, 1962). What's more, attendance has been increasing 10% a year. 'The Masters is popular because people can see and enjoy it," says Tournament Chairman Cliff Roberts. "There is no use having any larger crowds." With that, it was announced that the ticket sale would be limited, though very likely just on the last two days of the event. The Masters will announce a week ahead of time how many tickets will be available at the gate. Other big league pro sports have been doing this for years. It is high time golf realized it is big league too.
THEY SAID IT
•Casey Stengel, New York Met manager, on how to cope with Maury Wills, base thief: "Pitch harder to him. Don't let him get on. What's the use of putting the boy on base? You're just irritating yourself."
•Buster Brannon, whose TCU teams have been consistently bad since moving into a modern field house, cautioning a fellow coach: "Don't be in any hurry to build a new gym. That way you lose your alibi."