BOXING'S SILLIEST HOUR
The World Boxing Association, as it calls itself, though it is in fact nothing more than the old National Boxing Association in a sillier hat, seems about to proclaim that Cassius Clay is no longer heavyweight champion of the world. It also seems to be about to depose Sonny Liston as a challenger. The reasons, stated with studied vagueness by the WBA president, Ed Lassman of Miami Beach, are that Clay has "set a poor example for the youth of the world" and that Liston—well, no adequate reason is given for the denigration of Liston but it seems to have to do with his troubles with a Denver traffic cop. Lassman also is mentally disturbed about a prefight contract by which, for $50,000, Clay is said to have given Liston the right to promote Clay's next fight. Lassman conceded to The Miami Herald that he did not know whether such a contract did in fact exist but was going ahead with a poll of his membership on the assumption that it does.
Despite denials, it is quite obvious that Clay is being persecuted for his membership in the Black Muslim movement. One need not admire the Black Muslims to concede that Clay, as a free American, has the right to belong to the movement, even though, in its assumptions of exclusive truth and arbitrary power, it somewhat resembles the World Boxing Association.
No WBA ukase can persuade the world that Cassius X Clay, or Muhammad Ali, or whatever his name is, is not heavyweight champion. He won that title in the ring and he will lose it there or resign it voluntarily.
THE DEAF EAR
The only "temporary wartime" luxury taxes that have not been reduced substantially are those on club dues, including golf club dues, and horse and dog track admissions. On the other hand, expensive lobbying has paid off for such as nightclub owners and jewelers. Now the clubs, especially golf clubs, are planning to do some lobbying of their own. Several of them have so far banded together in the National Club Association, which aims to cut club taxes. At Boston's Harvard Club last week Frank A. Hathaway, general manager of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and secretary-treasurer (unpaid) of the NCA, told of his unfortunate experience as a lobbyist for tax reduction.
"I went to see one Congressman," he said, "and he spent the entire time peeling an apple with his back to me. I don't think I was getting our message through to him."
Back in 1935, when the long-range investor's world seemed not too bright, one could purchase a share of stock in the Santa Anita racetrack for $5,000. After splits, that share today has a net value of $280,000
Now, then. On last January 6, Los Angeles Turf Club stock had a bid price of $540. The same stock, 66 days later, was $840 bid, $880 asked.
On one of the richest strands of beach in the Northwest, from Moclips, Wash, south to Copalis Rocks, the kill of marine animals seems to be complete. It may yet extend farther south. Seabirds, tube worms, moon snails, Dungeness crabs, mussels, barnacles and all such creatures apparently are gone. No one knows how long it will take for the razor clam, staple diet of the Quinault Indians, to come back. Recreational clam digging in the area has attracted one million trips a year and provided an annual sports crop of 14 million clams, not to mention 125,000 pounds collected by the commercial fishery. Both commercial and recreational clamming have been closed indefinitely.
The disaster began when an oil and gasoline barge grounded off the beach near Moclips. The U.S. Coast Guard, the State Department of Fisheries and other agencies recommended that a heavy-duty seagoing tug be used to pull the barge off the shoal, but the single adequate salvage vessel in the Northwest, Salvage Chief, was 20 hours down the coast on another job. Heavy seas frustrated attempts to get other tugs to the site, and finally, on the high tide of St. Patrick's Day, the small tug Sea Witch tried what it could. As the lesser of two evils, half a million gallons of oil and petroleum were dumped into the sea to lighten the barge, which otherwise might have broken up on the rocks and spewed its entire cargo of 2,300,000 gallons.
Now storms and high tides have swept away every gross indication that the disaster happened. The beach appears clean again. There is even some hope that juvenile clams may have survived to re-establish a crop in future years. Determination of culpability, if any, and the extent of damages are to be assessed in the courts.
LONG SHOT WINS STORTFORDIAN
The great Stortfordian flea classic for black 3-year-olds had its fifth annual running at Hunsdon in Hertfordshire the other day and was so successful and attracted so much international attention that its sponsors now are dreaming of a flea's equivalent to horse racing's Laurel International.
Though many more applied, arriving in small boxes mailed from all over Britain, only 30 fleas qualified for the race, which was run over two lanes of a 20-foot stretch of white ceiling tile. (The white made the black fleas more visible.) A can of DDT stood ready, in case it should be necessary to destroy a flea with a broken leg, or in case any of the contestants escaped into the crowd. Last year the entire field so vanished, to the dismay of breeders. An odds board supplied information for wagering, and betting was brisk.
The race is sponsored by the Old Stortfordians Rugby Club and was supervised by Course Marshal David Garwood, whose uniform was a bright-blue corduroy jacket, gray corduroy trousers, pink striped shirt and Stortfordian tie. The event was conducted under the rules of The Royal Flea Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, whose Clause 3 forbids the racing of fleas less than 3 years old.
Spurred along by rolled-up newspapers, bicycle pumps and books slammed just behind their hindquarters, the fleas got off to a splendid start. One Stortfordian dangled a carrot in front of his flea because it had come from a donkey. The winner? A 100-to-1 shot named, naturally, Cassius.
NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS
Despite the recent announcement of J. Walter Kennedy, first-year boss of the National Basketball Association, that attendance around the league was up a tidy 8% over last season, there is no joy in Philadelphia, whose 76ers wound up the winter with attendance down 50% from a promising early-season start. It just might be that a news brownout by the Inquirer and the Daily News, both owned by Triangle Publications, had something to do with it.
The brownout began January 21 when, according to the magazine Greater Philadelphia, Jack Kiser, Daily News sports-writer, was in New York to write about a game between the 76ers and the Baltimore Bullets. A telephone call from Philadelphia advised him that his paper would use only two paragraphs. Since then, two paragraphs it has been, though the rival Evening Bulletin has given thorough coverage to 76er games. Then there was the night when an Inquirer reporter, depending on his newspaper's one-line advance notice of a game ("76ers vs. New York, 8:30 p.m., Convention Hall"), went to the Convention Hall to cover it, only to discover that the teams were playing at the Arena, a mile away.
The 76ers' owners say they are puzzled. They wrote to Walter Annenberg, president of Triangle, requesting an audience to find out what the team had done to offend him. The letter was hand-delivered. There was no reply. Nor will any reporter on the Annenberg newspapers admit he knows what is behind the brownout.
There is no plan to sell the 76ers, the owners declare. But another year of being double-teamed by the Inquirer and Daily News may force them to surrender.
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK
In victory Tex Schramm was predictably humble, a regular plain pipe rack of an old country boy who just, by golly, tried to do his best. He said things like, "We sure have been lucky," and "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." Artfully, he managed to look more like a Salvation Army tambourine player than manager of a National Football League club which in three months had acquired two of football's finest pass catchers without losing a single man from its starting team.
First there was the Buddy Dial deal. Now there is Tommy McDonald. The Dallas Cowboys have in these two the pleasant prospect of 100 pass receptions a season. Add Dallas veterans Frank Clarke and Pettis Norman to the mixture and the Cowboys may have the most-dangerous mob of receivers in football.
For the rights to Dial and McDonald, the Cowboys sacrificed their first draft choice (Scott Appleton, who signed with Houston in the American Football League, to the embarrassment of the NFL's Pittsburgh), Kicker Sam Baker and Lynn Hoyem and John Meyers, reserve linemen. The latter three went to the Philadelphia Eagles, who could use a punter-place kicker and have defensive and offensive holes in their line.
"We're happy we were able to help ourselves and at the same time help them," Schramm said piously, perhaps in humble recollection of some sour trades of other years. To be sure, the Cowboys still have problems. One of the big ones is that it is going to be awfully hard for Tex Schramm to look like a village idiot the next time he goes trading.
A J TO REMEMBER
The America's Cup competitors during the '30s were known as J boats. They ranged up to 136 feet in length, carried more than a ton of canvas and towered to the height of a 15-story building. Came World War II and all the American Js were scrapped, and income taxes and construction costs prevented the building of new Js. One British survivor, moored in the mud of the sleepy Hamble River, is Endeavour I, the British challenger that all but won the cup in 1934, and, indeed, came nearer than any challenger in 112 years. After 16 years Endeavour I is being readied for her final sail, across the Atlantic to Newport, R.I., where, if the Newport Historical Society can raise sufficient funds, she will be preserved as a proud relic. Her current owner, R. S. Clement Lucas, keeps watch from a nearby pied-à-mer in another J boat which he has converted to pine-paneled urban living quarters. He will miss his elderly blue giant but wants her to have a more worthy resting place. Like Endeavour, Lucas has had some success on the water. He won a silver medal for Britain in the 1920 Olympics—for rowing.
The United States Trotting Association, often regarded as little more than a records-keeping section for the sport, has finally bared some teeth. It has punished seven harness racing drivers in what was described as "the most drastic action ever taken by the USTA."
Two drivers, Edward N. Morgan Jr. of Casstown, Ohio, and Donald McKirgan of Mt. Gilead, Ohio, were suspended for five years on charges of collusion to win races at Scioto Downs during July and August. Five others were suspended for lesser periods or fined. In announcing the penalties, USTA President Walter Michael promised to tolerate no collusion or dishonest racing.
It would be rather peculiar if he did have such tolerance. What the USTA needs, in addition to good intent, is as strong a nationwide protective agency as flat racing has in the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau.
THE ALL-PURPOSE CAR
U.S. Patent No. 3,125,368 is for a combined car bumper and bottle opener that adjusts to all sizes of bottles and cans. Inventor Rafael Bonnelly believes automobile manufacturers can incorporate his design at little or no cost and without impairing the bumper's functions.
THEY SAID IT
•Rusty Staub, Houston infielder, on why he preferred the rustic camp at Cocoa, Fla. to the old base in Apache Junction, Ariz.: "No rattlesnakes."
•Floyd Patterson, on Cassius Clay as a fighter rather than a preacher: "Clay is a very, very smart fighter. He fought Liston much better than I did."