BASEBALL—At the winter baseball meetings in San Diego and Los Angeles, PHIL PITON, 60, assistant to the late George Trainman, was elected to succeed him as president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the minors), and the Pacific Coast League took over two International League franchises (Indianapolis and Little Rock). This reduced the IL to eight teams and increased the PCL to 12. In a belated effort to help the four expansion teams, the major leagues decided to allow them to keep four first-year players next season without having to count them on the 25-man roster. But the biggest news at the meetings was a flurry of trades. The Braves, who desperately needed a hitting outfielder, obtained FELIPE ALOU plus Catcher Ed Bailey and Pitcher Billy Hoeft from the Giants in exchange for Pitchers Bob Shaw and Bob Hendley plus Catcher Del Crandall. The Indians also got a hard-hitting outfielder in LEON WAGNER from the Angels for First Baseman Joe Adcock and Pitcher Barry Latman. Then Cleveland sent Outfielder Willie Kirkland to the Orioles for Outfielder Al Smith. In the only interleague trade, Philly Outfielder DON DEMETER and Pitcher Jack Hamilton went to the Tigers for Pitcher JIM BUNNING and Catcher Gus Triandos. World Series Star BILL SKOWRON returned to the American League when he was sold by the Dodgers to the Senators.
BASKETBALL—BOSTON finally lost its second game, to the Royals 118-108, but it took 48 points by Oscar Robertson and 21 by Jerry Lucas to break the Celtics' eight-game winning streak. The Eastern Division leaders quickly spoiled all the fun, however, by defeating Cincinnati 112-107 and Baltimore 114-97. After its big win, CINCINNATI dropped two out of three and fell five games behind the Celtics. PHILADELPHIA lost two in a row to the Hawks and then upset the Royals 126-116 to hold its 4½-game lead over last-place NEW YORK (1-3). LOS ANGELES barely held its lead (.007) in the West as it lost two out of three games while ST. LOUIS was winning three out of four. Wilt Chamberlain scored 59 points (the most in the NBA this season) against LA, but it was not enough and third-place SAN FRANCISCO (2-2) lost 110-101. The next night Wilt sank two foul shots with five seconds remaining to beat the Lakers 114-112. Improving BALTIMORE ran up four straight wins before losing to the Celtics and was suddenly only 2½ games behind the Warriors. Last-place DETROIT defeated the Hawks 112-108 to end a seven-game winless streak.
BOXING—JOEY GIARDELLO of Cherry Hill, N.J. won a 15-round decision over Dick Tiger of Nigeria in Atlantic City to become the new middleweight champion of the world (see page 18).
In his first fight since he lost the light heavyweight title to Willie Pastrano in June, HAROLD JOHNSON of Philadelphia outboxed Henry Hank of Detroit to win a unanimous 10-round decision in Philadelphia's Blue Horizon Arena.
December 16, 1963
FOOTBALL—NFL: The tic between the Giants and the Browns for the lead in the Eastern Division was shattered when New York crushed Washington 44-14 and Cleveland lost to DETROIT 38-10. But PITTSBURGH provided most of the excitement in the next to last week of the season by edging Dallas 24-19 on Theron Sapp's 24-yard run with two minutes left in the game. The surprising Steelers, who were fourth just three weeks ago, can become the Eastern champions if they defeat the Giants in their last game. ST. LOUIS, tied with the Browns for third, whipped Philadelphia 38-14 on Charley Johnson's four touchdown passes. In the Western Division GREEN BAY overwhelmed Los Angeles 31-14 (see page 55), but CHICAGO held its half-game lead by running over San Francisco 27-7. All of the Bear touchdowns against the '49ers (the only team to beat them this season) were scored on the ground. Johnny Unitas had another big day, and BALTIMORE romped over Minnesota 41-10. Playing only three quarters, Unitas completed 17 of 22 passes for 344 yards and three TDs (61 and 27 yards to John Mackey and 24 yards to Ray Berry).
Jerry Wolman, 36, a Washington building contractor, bought the Philadelphia Eagles for $5,505,000. "Ever since I was a kid and hitchhiked from Shenandoah, Pa. to Philadelphia to see the Eagles play, I wanted to own this team," he said.
AFL: BOSTON scored 31 points in the first half and rolled over Houston 46-28 to break its first-place tie with the Oilers in the muddled Eastern Division race. Cookie Gilchrist ran 243 yards and scored five touchdowns (both AFL game records) as BUFFALO swamped New York 45-14. The victory moved the Bills out of the cellar into a tie with the Oilers for second and dropped the Jets into last place. OAKLAND scooted to within a game of San Diego by upsetting the Western Division leaders 41-27. The Chargers had led 27-10 at the end of the third quarter but, paced by Cotton Davidson's two TD passes and one TD run, the Raiders scored 31 points in the last period. In the only meaningless game of the day KANSAS CITY finally found someone it could beat and trampled last-place Denver 52-21. It was the Chiefs' first victory in eight games.
COLLEGE: NAVY won a trip to the Cotton Bowl by barely beating Army 21-15 (see page 22), and AIR FORCE was selected to play in the Gator Bowl after coming from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Colorado 17-14. Don Trull raised his national season records to 2,157 yards gained on 174 pass completions as he led BAYLOR into the Blue-bonnet Bowl by romping over SMU 20-6. PITT, however, will play nowhere on New Year's Day, despite a gaudy 9-1 record. The Panthers finished their best season in 26 years with a narrow 22-21 victory over Penn State. In other games NEW MEXICO slipped by Arizona 22-15 to take the Western AC title for the second straight year, RICE overpowered TCU 33-7, WYOMING edged Texas Western 7-6, and TULSA beat Louisville 22-16. As the season ended, so did the jobs of a handful of coaches. Georgia's JOHNNY GRIFFITH resigned and was replaced by Vince Dooley, Auburn's freshman coach. Washington State's JIM SUTHERLAND will not get a new contract, and STEVE SINKO, head coach at Boston U., was wished "success in the future" as he resigned with a 1-6-1 record for the year. Wake Forest's BILLY HILDEBRAND and Tennessee's JIM McDONALD were also released, while GLENN FRASER, Ohio Wesleyan's head coach for 17 years (92-52-8), resigned after a losing season.
GOLF—DAVE RAGAN JR. and MICKEY WRIGHT came from behind with an eight-under-par final round to win the $40,000 Haig & Haig Scotch Mixed Foursome tournament in Sebring, Fla. by one stroke over Mason Rudolph and Kathy Whitworth.
HARNESS RACING—DONALD BUSSE of Kingston, Ill. drove 201 winners in 1963 to take the national championship for the first time. Bob Farrington, the leading dash-winning driver for the past two years, finished second with 198.
HOCKEY—CHICAGO had its worst week of the season as it just managed to tie Boston 2-2 on Bobby Hull's goal with 31 seconds left to play, and was shut out (first loss in nine games) before finally defeating Montreal 3-0 (Glenn Hall's fourth shutout). TORONTO Goalie Johnny Bower was ill, but the Maple Leafs were hardly concerned since his replacement, veteran Don Simmons, shut out Montreal 3-0 and Chicago 3-0 before letting up a little in a 5-3 win over Detroit. That made four wins in a row for the Maple Leafs and moved them ahead of MONTREAL (2-2) into second place, eight points behind Chicago. DETROIT (1-2) broke a seven-game winless streak, but the biggest surprise was BOSTON, which had its best week (one victory, two ties and a loss). This mild resurgence lifted the Bruins into a fifth-place tic with NEW YORK (one tie, two losses).
SOCCER—In New Brunswick, N.J., Defending Champion ST. LOUIS shut out Navy 3-0 to take the NCAA title for the fourth time in five years.
TENNIS—DENNIS RALSTON won his second Australian title by defeating Fred Stolle 8-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Melbourne's Victorian championships. It was the last tournament before the Challenge Round for the U.S. Davis Cup team, which is entering its final two weeks of practice under the guidance of Coach Pancho Gonzalez.