THE OLD FRONTIER
Even more than had been expected, President Kennedy's conservation tour turned out to be political. But, for the record, he did have some things to say about conservation. In Laramie, Wyo. he said that the conservationist's basic desire to hoard our natural resources is completely outmoded. "Our primary task now," he said, "is to increase our understanding of our natural environment to the point where we can enjoy it without defacing it, use its bounty without permanently detracting from its value, and, above all, maintain a living, evolving balance between man's actions and nature's reactions."
Later, near Billings, Mont., the President called for support of three pending Administration programs to activate his theories:
1) The Youth Conservation Corps, based on the old CCC, to put young men to work maintaining national parks and forests.
October 6, 1963
2) The long-debated, long-delayed Wilderness Bill to preserve forever primitive areas in national forests.
3) The Land and Water Conservation Fund Bill, a long-range plan for using state and federal funds to develop new recreation areas.
The President's interest in conservation is genuine—his Administration has created three national seashores, for one thing—and we wish he had stuck to this important topic.
THE MATCHLESS MATCH
Call us dreamers, but we think there ought to be a match race between those splendid harness horses, Speedy Scot and Overtrick. Never has there been a pair like them. One is a trotter, the other a pacer. Each this year captured the classic 3-year-old race for his gait: Speedy Scot won The Hambletonian, Overtrick the Little Brown Jug. When Speedy Scot last week flowed powerfully to a 1:56[4/5]-mile clocking at Lexington, Ky., he became the fastest trotting racehorse of all time (although others have been faster under the ideal conditions of time trials). When Overtrick won the Jug, both his heats (1:57⅕ 1:57:[3/5]) were faster than any before on a half-mile track.
To those who protest that trotters just do not race against pacers, we say it is time for a change. The difference in gaits is precisely what would clothe this battle of world champions with unparalleled suspense. Pacers, swinging both legs on one side simultaneously, are thought to have an inherent edge in speed—a bit less than one second in a mile—over trotters, which step out with the left front and right rear legs, then right front and left rear, etc.
But a fraction of a second is not enough to spoil our dream of a race between Speedy Scot and Overtrick. They are about as even in speed potential as horses can be, and we are already letting our thoughts roam over niceties of position and strategy: the advantage of having the rail, whether there would be an all-out sprint from the gate or whether Drivers Ralph Baldwin and Johnny Patterson would play it cool for three-quarters, then put on a save-the-fortress charge. Such a contest need not be just a dream. We warmly recommend that it be made possible.
WHAT'S GOOD FOR FLORIDA
Although jai alai exists handsomely in Florida, it is played nowhere else in the U.S. The Basque game—something like handball except that the players use a long, curved basket called a cesta to carom a hard ball off three concrete walls—is nothing much to watch, for all its speed, unless you have a bet down. It has been tried without legalized gambling in cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, drew curious crowds briefly, and expired.
Now a new crusader, Jack I. Goldner, a Manhattan dress manufacturer, has formed the Knickerbocker Jai-Lai Fronton Corporation and, after misspelling the name of the game, is seeking to win for it the same gambling privileges horse racing enjoys. It will, he asserted at a preliminary meeting, be a tourist attraction, a new industry and a new source of revenue. There are six jai alai frontons (arenas) in Florida, he said. Last season they drew well over 1 million bettors who wagered $41 million, of which the state, claiming better than 5% of the action, got some $2 million. Translating Florida figures into a hypothetical New York situation, Goldner concluded that the state would realize a gorgeous $24 million in extra revenue, something New York politicians have been looking for most eagerly of late.
There will, to be sure, be opposition from the horse racing interests, who want the pari-mutuels all to themselves, but Goldner is confident that no politician can pass up the kind of money he is dangling.
LOSER, SPARE THOSE SPARERIBS!
Norm Gerdeman, Houston Colt steward, and his wife Evelyn pride themselves on setting a fine table for visiting ball clubs. Instead of crackers and peanut butter, they provide such delicacies as barbecued spareribs, gravied chicken, corn, cucumbers, cantaloupe and other delights ballplayers make for avidly, win or lose, after a game. The players appreciate the succulent stuff, but losing managers do not.
After the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Colt .45s, Manager Fred Hutchinson watched his hungry players forget their loss and rush from the field to the victuals. "Run, you—— —— ——," he shouted, "run! That's all you think about, getting your bellies full." The players kept on running.
Then Gene Mauch, Phillie manager, watched in disgust as his team lost in the ninth inning to the Colts, a game that could have kept them in fourth place and maintained hopes of a share of World Series money if they had been as eager for hits as they were for spareribs. When Mauch found the team munching on the Gerdeman goodies, he rushed to the table, upturned it and sent spare-ribs and chicken with gravy over walls and ceiling and onto the expensive suits of Wes Covington and Tony Gonzalez. "Little Leaguers!" he called the players, among less decorous epithets.
The Gerdemans, contemplating the mess, sighed that it was bound to happen sooner or later, but they may have to go to stainless food if it keeps up.
PASSING OF A SPORTSMAN
Arthur Christiansen was the most famous editor in Britain when ill health compelled him to leave the London Daily Express six years ago. He was also Fleet Street's youngest editor when he took over Lord Beaverbrook's daily at the age of 29. Last week, at 59, he died while rehearsing a television show in Norwich.
In pushing the Express circulation from under 2 million to more than 4 million, "Chris" put a lot of energy into building up his sports section. He brought to sport the same combination of ardor and naivete with which he approached all aspects of the news. He was a great fan of Arsenal, the famous London soccer club, and his support was most enthusiastic when the team was suffering lean years. He made the paper's horse racing page one of the best in the country and was never at a loss to give a friend an inside tip on the day's races. The tip invariably lost.
Newsmen all over the world—even those who disagreed with his colorful but often controversial methods—will miss him.
BLOCK THAT HALF POINT
Haskell Institute's Indians are said to have played two football games in two days back in the '20s, and Kansas is known to have played two in three days in the mid-'30s, but such feats have long been thought to have vanished with the era of iron men and wooden goalposts. Living (but just barely) proof to the contrary is the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College team, which a week ago played two games 250 miles apart within 24 hours. "We weren't trying to prove anything," said Coach Maurice (Red) Wade. "We just wanted to get Western Illinois on a four-year contract and this was the only night they had open. Washburn held us to the game scheduled for the following day." Twenty-four hours and a Kirksville, Mo.-to-Topeka, Kans. bus ride later, after surprising strong Western Illinois 22-0, Northeast lost to weak Washburn 7-6.
Odder yet were the doings in Wisconsin. At Sheboygan, Lakeland College students were building floats, planning decorations and preparing for a Homecoming football game against Milton on Oct. 5. At Wisconsin's Milton College, students were selecting a theme, electing a queen and preparing for a Homecoming game against Lakeland—on Oct. 5. Came the horrid realization: a scheduling mistake had been made. Well, you just can't have a Homecoming when the football team is Awaygoing. Officials negotiated a compromise. Each school will get a Homecoming game, Lakeland on Friday and Milton on Saturday. Each will count half a game in conference standings and statistics will be averaged. Like most compromises, this one has its faults. For one, how is that averaged final score going to look in the record books if it reads, for example, Lakeland 7½, Milton 6½?
Casting about for a possible permanent home for their annual championship playoff game, the eyes of some National Football League owners have lighted on New Orleans—and New Orleans is delighted. No decision will be made until next spring's annual league meeting, but there are signs that New Orleans is near the goal and running fast.
The idea of a permanent playoff site has been around for several years—chiefly because inclement Christmas-week weather has marred so many playoffs in the East and Middle West. The motion has always been tabled, even though influential television sponsors have complained about the blacking out of such important markets as New York. After all, followers of a team like to be there in person when it wins a title. Nevertheless, the search for a minor market city with good football weather and good football facilities has continued.
With a metropolitan head count of less than 1 million, with Tulane University's Sugar Bowl stadium seating 81,000 and with a subtropical climate, New Orleans seems to fit the bill. Furthermore, the city is hungry for professional football. The NFL exhibition doubleheader of September 7 drew 51,218, a record for an unfranchised city. Tickets to the exhibition were sold, incidentally, on a racially unsegregated basis and New Orleans hotels also have been desegregated, thus eliminating what might have been an obstacle.
Dave Dixon, who promoted the exhibition, will make the New Orleans presentation at the league's winter meeting. There are those who say that several NFL owners and officials are behind him.
THE HONEST ANGLER
It's a rare book about fishing that denies itself such traditional trash of the outdoors writing trade as cutely infallible prescriptions for the ravishment of trout, or the reading of undecipherable streams, or the tying of improbable knots. When one does come along it should be hailed. Hail, then, to Red Smith on Fishing (Doubleday, $3.95), a collection of newspaper columns the author has published since 1948. Smith has fished from Finland to Ireland, with the bass of Wisconsin as an annual vacation lure, and for such disparate species as salmon and sail-fish, Chilean trout and Homosassa bass. He has managed to do all this without coming up with one worthwhile suggestion for the angler who would follow in his wake. It is a relief to read him. The Smith Act is to tell about a fishing trip, pleasantly and amusingly, as it really happened, and both houses of Congress should pass it and the President should sign it.
THEY SAID IT
•Gene Mori, board chairman of Hialeah racetrack, turning down an offer to buy it: "A man could own 20 banks, but he could own but one Hialeah."
•Shelby Metcalf, Texas A&M basketball coach, noting that the Aggie-Texas basketball game will be televised next season: "They haven't sold the game to a sponsor yet—but Gillette has bought the fight afterward."
•Bob Brown, Nebraska's All-America candidate, telling how he got himself ready to play Carl Eller, Minnesota's All-America candidate, to a standoff: "I had his picture pasted on my mirror at home. Every day last summer I looked at it and said that September 28 is going to be the day."