A YEN FOR ZEN
This is an article from the July 29, 1963 issue
Sailing the broad oceans of the world right now are a dozen, perhaps a score, of a strange breed of men known in the South Pacific as "singlehanders," who have no purpose in life other than to sail small boats alone to no particular destination (Hermits of the Sea, SI, May 29, 1961). Generally they are old, but sometimes they are young. One of the youngest turned up this month in Yokohama harbor, sailing a 24-foot yacht, a cutter he bought a couple of years ago in Copenhagen. He is Alexander Welsh, 22, originally from Rosemont, Pennsylvania, a graduate of Rennes University in western France and an ocean wanderer for the past 22 months. In September 1961 he set sail from Copenhagen and has been sailing pretty much ever since—down the African coast, through the Canary Islands, from the Cape Verdes across the Atlantic to Panama, through the canal to Galàpagos Island, on to the Marquesas and thence to Ocean Island, which is one of the Gilberts.
Ocean Island was his last landfall before he reached Japan earlier this month—2,761 nautical miles that took 42 days, during which he ran out of most of his food and had to exist on canned beans and water for the final week. When he turned up at the Yokohama yacht harbor, he asked a passing yachtsman for a cigarette, explaining casually that it was the first he had had in weeks. He was not, he explained, entirely without resources. "I had my books on Spinoza,Montaigne and other philosophers to while away the time and the monotony," he said. And in Japan he wanted to study Zen, he added.
Japanese yachtsmen received Welsh enthusiastically, referring to him as "Kenichi Horie in reverse." Horie is the Japanese youth who sailed alone across the Pacific to San Francisco a year ago. The Yokohama city fathers planned a civic welcome—parades, a key to the city and all that—but postponed it when Welsh, defending his privacy, knocked an American photographer into the harbor, then holed up in his boat. "Welsh san is a philosopher," a sympathetic Japanese yachtsman apologized for him. "It is natural for him to dislike the press."
Welsh san's plans: to sail around Japan, then strike out for Hong Kong.
EARLY'S EARLY FOOT
Early Wynn's 300th major league victory touched a memory button for Joe DiMaggio—his last season with the Yankees and a career of 13 playing seasons beset with bone spurs, ulcers, a trick knee, arthritis, a strained disc, one apparent heart attack that turned out to be a severe muscle wrench of the left side and seriously pulled tendons of the left shoulder. (Center field at Yankee Stadium has been prowled by more than one ailing genius.)
"After my shoulder healed," Joe said, "I realized I couldn't bring the bat back as far as I used to. I didn't tell anybody, not even our trainer. The high hard one, inside, used to be one of my favorite pitches, and I hoped the pitchers would stay away from the area.
"But this pitcher discovered my weakness. Those high hard ones he threw had me tied up. In a week the news was all over the American League. I knew then I was through. It was my last season."
The pitcher's name? Early Wynn.
IRON MAN AT THE CHESS TABLE
One of the contenders at the Western Open chess tournament, in which Bobby Fischer took top prize of $750, was a heavy-set, cigar-smoking Chicago advertising man, Norbert Leopoldi, an annual and tireless fixture of the Open. The night before the final rounds he was seen playing Fischer in a small room adjoining the lobby of the Wenonah Hotel, and after a while word swept the tournament that Fischer had won $250 from him. He had, indeed, and next morning when Fischer was called early to start tournament play, the figure had risen to a reported $3,500. They had played all night.
Beaming good-naturedly, Fischer refused nevertheless to comment on the impromptu match. His friends explained that he did not want to be known as a chess hustler. Loser Leopoldi was less reticent. He said Fischer won 14 straight games at odds of a pawn and move or a pawn and two moves.
"We played all night," he said. "I think maybe I won three games."
The drowsy Fischer dozed off during his game with Arthur Bisguier and had to be awakened. He won it, then beat Hans Berliner to win the tournament. Presumably, he had pleasant dreams.
MORNING LINE ON COCKTAIL TIME
A friendly, hospitable man, Gene Fellows likes to sit down to dinner on time. He entertains frequently and pours lavishly, but if you have been invited for drinks at 6 and dinner at 7, be on time. If you arrive at 7:03, then, sir and madam, you will find all the company seated, and you must contemplate the vichyssoise without benefit of a preliminary Martini.
This is a drastic approach to the solution of an old difficulty and, while it is morally sound, it just does not jibe with concepts of hospitality and geniality. It is crudely legalistic. Gene is not crudely legalistic by nature. But, as we say, he does dearly like to sit down to dinner on time, so here is the splendidly sporting way he solved the problem. He became the world's first guest handicap-per. For a period of three months he and his wife meticulously clocked, to the minute, their guests' arrival times. They discovered that there is no one so punctual as a habitually late person: you can always rely on an hour-late person to be an hour late.
With their computations in order, they began to frame their invitations on their friends' individual track records. Those with a 30-minute average late-arrival time, for example, would be invited to a 7 o'clock party at 6:30—and so on. Gene claims he now can get as many as 14 couples to arrive at his home within 10 minutes of each other.
Are we spoiling it all by revealing the Fellows System? We wouldn't for the world. That isn't his real name.
Professional basketball plans to return to television this winter after a year's absence. The National Basketball Association could not get a sponsor—among other things the NBA scared sponsors off by consistently showing its worst teams the last year the games were aired—so the league decided to sponsor itself. The NBA is lining up stations for an independent network and, beginning in January, expects to air about 11 games on either Wednesday or Friday nights. That would be prime viewing time, to be sure, but if the NBA showcases itself with good teams, with good basketball announcers (Chick Hearn, Buddy Blattner), and at a good time (January is a fine time to start—after football is out of the way), it could be the one big step toward providing an enthusiastic audience.
Sir Thomas Lipton, who tried and failed five times, made it pretty clear that something besides persistence was needed to bring the America's Cup back to England. But for what it's worth, Sir Thomas' spiritual heir, Tony Boyden, seems well stocked with the old man's tenacity. "People spend their money in different ways," says Tony, who has a pot of it. "I have decided to spend mine winning this event."
All last week, Boyden's brand-new, duck-bottomed challenger, Sovereign, fresh off the ways and designed by the same man who built the sluggish Sceptre, was busy in the Firth of Clyde testing her strength against her predecessor. On the whole, though not formidable enough to set U.S. yachtsmen atremble, the new 12 looked good enough against a considerably improved Sceptre to vitiate Boyden's earlier pessimistic threat that "If Sovereign can't beat Sceptre, I'll send her back to the boatyard and forget the America's Cup." Even with her maiden suit of badly fitting sails, and a crew unfamiliar with her idiosyncrasies, the new boat seemed to be faster upwind than the old one, particularly in light air. Downwind, however, despite a huge parachute spinnaker that looked more like a parachute than a sail, the difference was far less marked. And though Designer David Boyd expressed himself as "quite happy at this stage" about his new design, persistent Tony Boyden seemed to have his doubts. Before Sovereign's new bottom was even properly wetted, Boyden declared that he was going to commission Boyd to design still another challenger just to put Sovereign on her mettle.
"I'm sure I've bought the best yacht Britain can produce for the next 10 years," he said, "but there's no boat in England adequate to test her against."
In boats and crews, Tony Boyden says, "I'm always on the lookout for new blood. I'm even teaching my chauffeur how to sail. You can't do more than that, can you?"
Eddie Crowder, new Colorado football coach, liked the size of the boy seeking an athletic scholarship, but he did not like the look of his high school marks. The youngster, however, assured Crowder he was capable of doing much better in college.
"What's your IQ?" a skeptical Crowder inquired.
"Twenty-twenty," the boy said, with quiet pride.
BABES IN THE WOOD
This is the season when children wander into the woods and get lost, and it might be well to remind search parties that lost children are not the same as lost hunters. Hunters will answer a searcher's hail, even send up signals to guide the searchers to them. Children often will do neither. They live in a world that is half real, half imaginary. It includes real people, like parents, and also Mother Goose, Mickey Mouse and Maverick.
Near Hyde State Park, N. Mex. a while back a 6-year-old boy from Los Angeles wandered away from a picnic area. Though in all probability he never moved more than a mile from the park, it took an army of police, park rangers and volunteers to find him. During the night, it turned out, he had found a lean-to shelter in the park but was afraid to sleep in it because he thought it contained witches. Furthermore, he told Joe Roach, deputy chief of state police, he had seen deputies searching for him on horseback, but did not call for help because, for some reason that might be traced to TV westerns, he was afraid they would shoot him.
Some of the search party were reminded of two other children who were lost in the same area a few years ago.
"We heard someone calling out our names," one of them said after rescue, "but we hid because we thought they might be bears."
HEALTHY, GROWING BOY
As basketball coach at Kansas State, Tex Winter has won or shared six Big Eight championships in the past eight years. It seems a little odd, then, that he should regard the signing of another basketball player as "the happiest moment of my coaching career." But the player is Nick (The Stick) Pino and, at 7 feet 1, he will be the tallest man ever to play in the Big Eight, where Wilt (The Stilt) Chamberlain, then a mere 7 feet, played for State's archrival, the University of Kansas.
As a junior at St. Michael's High in Santa Fe, N. Mex., Nick took part in only three games because he was not sufficiently developed as a player. But Dick Shelley, his coach, taped boards on Nick's elbows to force him to keep the ball high and take advantage of his height. The boards did the trick, and Nick played it high last season as a senior, scoring 1,035 points for an average of 32.3 per game.
Back home in Kansas, Coach Winter was aglow at the prize he had captured from 83 colleges and universities. First thing he did was order special basketball shoes for Nick to lace on next October—size 19. The feet are in keeping with the rest of him. Nick's doctor has predicted that he will grow to 7 feet 2 or 7 feet 3 and increase his present weight of 243 pounds to about 270, quite sufficient to keep him from being pushed away from the backboards.
THEY SAID IT
•Mickey Mantle, injured Yankee, after batting practice at the Minnesota Twins' Metropolitan Stadium: "This is the greatest home-run stadium I've ever seen. If this were my home park I'd hit 90 homers some year."
•Sam Snead, on Jack Nicklaus: "He's a fine pair of golfers."
•Mrs. Woody Hayes, to a telephone caller who said her coach-husband was a fathead: "What husband isn't?"