WATER, AS IN HARD
The name is Staudacher, accent on the ache. He is in a hospital in Alpena, Mich. He is strung together with wire and plaster, but mostly with guts. Johnson & Johnson are his bed pals. If racing highspeed powerboats were jumping out of airplanes, he'd be the guy whose chute didn't open, but who fell in a haystack and then got shot by the farmer for trespassing. Les Staudacher is 51, large and, presently, a mass of fractures and bruises. Three times he has tried for the world water-speed record (260.35 mph), with crashing results. He reached 260 mph on Nevada's Lake Pyramid four years ago, and walked away from the wreck. Back home in Michigan a year later, he blew the engine out of a new aluminum jet hydro he was controlling by radio half a mile away—body still uninjured and ambition still unfulfilled.
He immediately designed a new jet hydro out of aluminum, provided by Alcoa, and last month took Miss Stars and Stripes II on a test run over Hubbard Lake, Mich. He hit, simultaneously, 280 mph and something unreasonably hard just below the surface. His rudder was torn off, and Miss Stars and Stripes II zoomed straight for shore. Typically for him, Staudacher hurtled free, bounced along the beach and landed in a puddle. The jet crashed upside down in the trees.
For a while doctors thought Staudacher would not walk again. Then last week, blinking at his awesome progress, they revised their diagnosis: he will walk with a slight limp. He will race again. Messages immediately began pouring in from relieved friends, including the people of Alcoa, who sent their fond regards. "Tell them," said Staudacher, "to send aluminum."
June 16, 1963
COLOR IT FUN
A family fishing trip certainly sounds like good wholesome fun. Yes, well, there is now one Texas family that next week may just go around the corner to the pool hall for its good wholesome fun. A man and his wife, fishing on Benbrook Lake near Fort Worth, found that they differed as to how to bait a hook. "He hit me with a Coke bottle," the 38-year-old wife said later, recapitulating the action for the police, "and then I conked him on the nose with a flashlight, but I fell overboard."
There she raged, refusing to get back into the boat, so her 14-year-old son jumped into the lake with life preservers. The husband then drove the boat away. To get cigarettes, he said. You could see how he might want a cigarette. "But after an hour we figured he was lying," his wife said. Another boat picked them up after three hours in the water, the husband explained everything ("I was tired of fooling with them") and the wife did not press charges because she still loved him. Great. Just so long as they don't take up flying.
COMING WITH THE WIND
The only ground left untouched by the sweep of big-league baseball and football has been the Deep South, where Atlanta, for one city, has for years been clamoring about what a fine figure of a franchise it would make. Abruptly last week the clamor stopped and the action started. Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., who "promised" his million citizens the big leagues, reactivated the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, and the authority came across immediately with plans to begin construction in August of a stadium that will seat 45,000 for baseball and 55,000 for football on a downtown site soon to be fed by 11 expressways. The planners, some of Atlanta's biggest spenders, hope to have 20,000 seats and an invitation to a major-league baseball club ready by next season. They feel it is a question not of when but which American League team will be theirs. They go further. They expect to be in the National Football League by 1965.
THE SANITARY SPITTER
"I had worked on this pitch for some time. I knew I couldn't always get by with my fast ball. You get old, you know. So I picked up a tip on how to pitch a spitball. Without spit. Before the game and between innings I'd work some slippery elem, a gumlike moist resin, into my sock. The inner one. The sock would keep the gum nice and moist. Perfect."
Van Lingle Mungo was talking. The old Dodger fast bailer (1931-41) said he once pitched a baseball 118 miles an hour, but pshaw, man, that was only part of the fun. It was pitching that gum ball for nine seasons without getting caught, or exposed (SI, June 3), or spreading germs that tickled his recollection. The trouble with modern spitballers is imagination, he said. Imagination is the key to a good, crooked pitcher.
"When a batter would hit a foul ball up in the air, everybody would look up, including the umpires," he said. "That's when I'd reach down on my sock and come up with the elem. Great stuff. Made it just like a homemade spitter. It was my 'out pitch' for more than five years."
DOWN WITH PROPRIETY
The most unappetizing spa, by fa, and reasonably unpopular nevertheless, is the one we just blundered across on Hampstead Heath in London. There are actually three little ponds operating there, situated so that one is for Men, one is for Women and one charges admission, which is to say, Mixed. The mixed pond also has ducks, fish and an occasional rat. It is deep and mysterious. It is rumored that some Londoners have been caught dead in it, "down in that muddy hole under the raft," but this is sensationalism. Only one body was ever found under the raft.
At any rate, the regulars who swim there, described by one fastidious Londoner as "an odd lot, nature lovers and vegetarians and that sort," have been doing so for 20 years without coming to any more harm than a second-degree sunburn. Sunbathing in the nude is fashionable, and at this time of year the regulars "cook themselves like bits of steak," all crowded together in the sun patches like a Victorian posed cricket photo, adopting ritualistic postures to insure a tan even under the armpits. One man stands on his head for hours. But all that sizzling skin finally got to the head keeper, who demanded that people be decent, even here. The regulars immediately staged a demonstration against him by diving off the high board fully dressed. The head keeper was successfully subdued. The spa quickly settled back down to abnormal.
FOR 12¢ PLAIN
Jim McGregor of Portland, Ore. is a fellow who likes his penthouses in Monte Carlo, his aperitifs on the Via Veneto, his yachting in the Congo. Thanks to basketball, he has been able to indulge his tastes. McGregor is le coach international, having done wonders in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Sweden and, currently, Peru, where he instructs the national team. Countries are so glad to have him they set him up in grand style, which is just the kind of style the obdurate American Athletic Union thinks a basketball coach should not be in. A "professional," Dan Ferris, then of the AAU, called him a few years back when he closed this country's doors to McGregor's touring Swedish team. The Swedes went home without playing a game, and McGregor sued Ferris for $750,000 damages. Litigation dragged on. Last week the case came to trial in New York. The jury was not out long. Lucky Jim. He was awarded 12¢.
The Montreal Canadiens were worried about a slump in morale, and the New York Rangers were the greatest slump area in the National Hockey League, so last week the two clubs swapped goalies: Montreal's Jacques Plante, the greatest of modern times, for New York's Gump Worsley, the most shot at. There were other younger players involved who may eventually prove to be more important, but the big business was Plante for Worsley and, if at first it seemed extraordinary, it was easy to figure out. Plante had become erratic—some brilliant games, some awful. He was sensitive, resentful and a gripe. He evidently needed a change. Worsley is a Montreal native and will be going home. He owns a bar there. He will be happy there. He is a leader, and Montreal needs a leader. The trade first hit Plante like a massive hemorrhage. "Just like that," he said, "a friend tells me I'm traded to New York. It was like telling me my wife had died." Then he recovered his senses, thought how novel it would be to lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup. Well, imagine that. He said the first thing he would do would be to ask the Rangers for a raise.
SCORE ONE FOR STRAIGHT SHOOTING
Michael Lunt, a 28-year-old Englishman whose fiancée pulled his caddie cart around the course, won the British Amateur Championship last week at St. Andrews, and that was refreshing because it was so different. Americans usually win. But if the other finalist, John Black-well, had been victorious it would have been even more refreshing. Blackwell, of the Blackwells who make marmalade, is 48, a resident of Sandwich, England, a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and an individualist who cares not about appearances. His irons are rusty, his brassie more a St. Andrews' artifact than a usable tool. He once had a terrible slice. His solution was to keep his swing the same, but have the heads of all his clubs twisted 30°. His other equipment last week included a camp-stool that he sat on between shots, and a flask of vodka and orange juice that he took shots from while sitting on the campstool. It was all enough to get him to the finals in a field that included the best amateur golfers of the U.S. and Britain. At that point Lunt won 2 and 1 with his special equipment: youth, determination, logic and golf clubs that had their heads on straight.
WHO'S GOT A SECRET?
America's Cup races could almost be called sinister if anybody involved could keep a secret, or knew one. The latest inside information, in the form of a Rudder magazine article written by Australian Crewman Frank McNulty, is that a "supersecret" electronic navigator system was used aboard Gretel. Some super-secret. The same British-made Decca set was also installed aboard Weatherly, hidden behind a panel—a secret panel—and each crew knew the other had the gadget even before the races began. The Gretel's supersecret turned out to be a super dud—during the very first race its battery gave out, causing Gretel to go wide of her first mark.
Similar systems will probably be fitted aboard all the new cup boats when they are built, though David Boyd, designer of Britain's challenger, claims he abhors mechanical contrivances. "I'll have none of that claptrap," he says of the fancy linked winches used aboard Gretel. Some of the things Bend's new boat will have when it is launched later this month are a keel like Columbia's, an underbody similar to Gretel's and the wide beam of Nefertiti. Whether this amalgam will prove more successful than Designer Boyd's poor plodding Sceptre will be determined soon in match races between the two. Owner Tony Boyden has no doubts. If the new boat can't beat Sceptre, he said, she'll never put to sea again.
LA DOLCE VITA
Carry Back, only 5 years old but retired to stud, will return to racing this fall. Owner Jack Price said Carry Back had been quite busy at Ocala (Fla.) Stud Farm. He had a full book and a waiting list. "But," said Price, "I think he's becoming bored."
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Murray, Duke football coach who is often bothered by midnight telephone calls after games: "My wife answers and says, 'Coach Murray is asleep now, but if you will leave your number, I'll have him call you when he gets up, at 5 in the morning.' "
•Johnny Pesky, Red Sox manager, about ace Oriole lefty Steve Barber: "Steve can pitch for any team in any park. He can pitch any place. Even on the moon. I wish he'd go to the moon."
•Indianapolis "500" winner Parnelli Jones on the explosive aftermath of the big race: "I've been congratulated more times for punching Eddie Sachs than I have for winning the 500."
•Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist, after meeting Alabama Coach Bear Bryant: "Bear talked about literature, and I talked about football."
•Weeb Ewbank, new coach in the American Football League, after viewing movies of his New York Jets: "You can't grade them, because you don't know what they are trying to do."