THE MAN WITH NO LUCK
Buddy Werner was the best skier America has known, but he had no luck. His racing career encompassed three Winter Olympic Games. At Cortina in 1956 he was green. At Innsbruck this winter he was, as skiers go, an ancient. During one precious week at Squaw Valley in 1960 he should have been at his best—well-blooded in international competition and at the perfect age. Everyone expected him to capture the first men's Alpine Olympic medal in U.S. history. But eight weeks before the Squaw Games he broke a leg, and that precious chance was gone.
There were consolations. Recovered, he increased his collection of major European prizes to more than a dozen. For years he was America's lonely male Alpine challenger amid waves of Austrians, French, Germans and Swiss. It was Werner who broke the difficult trail along which the young Americans, Billy Kidd and Jim Heuga, came to win their historic slalom medals at the Innsbruck Games. Though there were no medals for Werner, skiers felt profound affection for him. On skis he was brave and skilled. As a human being he was modest and generous. When he retired from racing last month Olympic Ski Coach Bob Beattie wept.
The rigors of competition behind him, Werner at 28 looked forward to good years in the high places he loved with his pretty, auburn-haired wife, Vanda. There were many job offers. Last Sunday, after accepting one of them, he was taking part in the filming of a fashion movie for Willy Bogner, German stretch-pants manufacturer. On a Swiss slope an avalanche hit the filming party. It took four hours to find Werner. He had suffocated, as had the champion German women's racer, Barbi Henneberger.
GO SOUTH, YOUNG BALLPLAYER
The last frontier for major league baseball and pro football is the Deep South. As ground was broken for Atlanta's new $18 million, 53,000-seat stadium, Arthur Montgomery, chairman of the stadium authority, announced that the city had been assured of a major league baseball occupant for 1965 season, when, the contractor says, the stadium will be ready.
Stadium authority representatives say further that a professional football team is expressing interest in a move to Atlanta and the rumor around the National Football League has been that the team is none other than the St. Louis Cardinals. Actually, the Cardinals seem to have little reason to move. They definitely made money last year, according to Charles Bidwill Jr., St. Louis president, who attributes the rumors to the fact that Cardinal representatives visited Atlanta to discuss putting on an exhibition game there this fall.
BAD BRAKES AT DAYTONA
After testing 19 leading brands of brake linings at the Daytona International Speedway, the National Association for Stock Car Advancement and Research (NASCAR) found that 14 of them did not meet minimum safety standards. Only five brands passed the test, and some of these were not so good either.
Legislation, as recommended last year by the American Automobile Association, is clearly needed in these days of the 70 mph turnpike, but in the meantime what is the motorist to do? NASCAR suggests seeking out "only the most reputable brand names" and reliance on a good mechanic. "A mechanic who installs inferior brake-lining material not only risks serious and costly accidents," NASCAR points out, "but also risks losing his customers—permanently."
CONTRIBUTION TO CONFUSION
With weeks in which to study the films, ABC's Wide World of Sports had plenty of time to put together a rational account of the Clay-Liston heavyweight title fight and thus help clear up confusion compounded by persistent rumors of a fix (SI, April 13).
Instead, ABC muddled the situation even more. The confusion began at the outset with Interlocutor Jim McKay's flat assertion that Clay's victory was "the biggest upset in boxing history," though, in fact, Jim Braddock was a 10 to 1 underdog when he took the heavyweight championship from Max Baer. It continued with a description of a punch that landed flush on Liston's nose as a "slicing" attempt to open the cuts under his left eye even more.
Some of Clay's light blows, delivered with half-open glove, were gratuitously interpreted as attempts to stick a thumb in Liston's eye.
Worst of all, however, was McKay's closing hint that, what with the fight's "intricate" financial arrangements and the fact that Liston quit on his stool, there might have been justification for reports of a fix.
"Form your own conclusion," said McKay.
Our conclusion is that ABC could and should have done better.
Who says a good diet has to be dull? If you want to be slim, fit and germ-free, but are bored by isometrics, 50-mile hikes, carrot sticks and yogurt, consider the latest diet from behind the Iron Curtain—caviar and near beer. Ten days of it and you shake the world.
According to experts on the shores of the Caspian Sea, the only food that can be totally assimilated as muscular and nervous energy is caviar, which has, furthermore, barely one-fifth the caloric content of the not-quite-so-expensive spread. To wash down the caviar, Dmitri Korolev of the Soviet Soft Drink Institute recommends kvass, a kind of near beer the Russians brewed in modest quantities even before they invented Coca-Cola. Now they have perfected a quick fermentation process that will permit mass production of kvass. Basically rye grains, malt and sugar, the concoction has magic medicinal qualities of a kind that advertising men dream of. It has a slight (.5% to 2%) alcoholic content. It invigorates. It refreshes. It quenches thirst. It benefits digestion, metabolism, the nervous system, cells, bones and heart. It kills bacteria, too, probably on contact.
It also tastes like a mixture of wine, cider and soda pop, the Soviet Soft Drink Institute let slip. If so, the Institute should try it first on the Red Chinese.
CHEERY NOTE FOR YANKEE-HATERS
The Las Vegas oddsmakers list the New York Yankees at an odds-on 1 to 3 to win the American League pennant. Numerologists, on the other hand, are studying prices on the other teams. They have noted that never in history have the Yankees won a pennant in a year ending in the figure 4. The Yanks were second in 1904; sixth in 1914; second in 1924; second in 1934; third in 1944; and second in 1954. This is 1964.
SCHOOL FOR NONSLUGGERS
The wane of amateur boxing in this country may be attributed, perhaps, to the low estate of the professional sport, where there are precious few heroes for the young to emulate. Or it might be attributed to our highly disorganized approach to control of the amateur game. At any rate, it is a situation that bodes no good for our performance in the Olympics. In Rome we took four medals to Russia's five. This year the situation looks worse for us, better for the U.S.S.R.
To develop their boxers, according to the French sporting newspaper, L,Équipe, the Russians have a system that works better than their agriculture. Boxers are divided into juniors and seniors and achieve qualification by age, ability proved in official bouts and even examinations on techniques, tactics and behavior in the ring. Before he can even get into a ring a boxer must be apprenticed for a year. It takes him two years to qualify for regional championships, three years for national or international competition. Only top senior boxers are permitted to score knockouts. The others win on the first knockdown. A first-round knockdown eliminates both contestants and is intended to be a cure for overferocity as well as poor defense. A senior boxer who has been knocked out must wait three months before he even resumes training and one year before competing. After the third knockout of his career, or after two knockouts in two years, the senior loses his license. Juniors must retire after two kayos.
It is a stiff system, rigidly enforced, and it works. The Soviet Union's senior boxers number 200,000, and there are almost half a million juniors.
A SWITCH ON GAFFS
The gaff, a largish hook for snagging big fish after they have been reeled in, has always been a useful but awkward part of the fisherman's kit. Now from Japan comes a switchblade device called the Surf and Stream Auto Gaff ("for automatic single-hand operation"). It measures just nine inches when closed, and obviously is an offshoot of the switchblade stiletto, long a status symbol in the asphalt jungle. Push a button on the handle, and the gaff hook springs out to lock in place and become a 17-inch instrument ideal for impaling stripers and bluefish in the surf. When closed, the gaff hook is recessed safely into the handle. There is a belt clip, a wrist thong and even a safety that prevents accidental exposure of the hook. Folded, it fits into a small tackle box or a pants pocket and, provided that it is kept out of reach of children and angry wives, it should be a useful addition to any angler's equipment. Cost: about $3.50.
STILL A STAR
For 10 years Paul Arizin of the Philadelphia Warriors was one of the most outstanding stars in the National Basketball Association's galaxy. When Eddie Gottlieb decided to abandon Philadelphia for San Francisco, Arizin decided it was as good a time as any to abandon the constant drill and travel of the NBA season. Besides, he had a good job in the off season with IBM, which was anxious to take him on permanently.
Arizin had performed notably for the Warriors in those 10 seasons. He led them to the 1956 championship, three times made All-NBA, twice topped the league in scoring and finished his career as second-ranking alltime scorer, with 16,266 points.
But Arizin could not stay away entirely from the game he loves. He decided to "keep active" with the Camden (N.J.) Bullets of the less arduous Eastern Basketball League. This season Arizin added another page to his illustriously crammed scrapbook. He led the Bullets to the EBL title. The last time Camden had won such a title was in 1920.
BRADSHAW ON THE FREE PRESS
When newsmen reported that a Negro had gone out for the University of Kentucky football team on opening day of spring practice, Coach Charlie Bradshaw declared that sportswriters would be barred from practice. Further, he lectured the press on its duties and responsibilities.
"In reporting our practices," he said, "I think the writer should ask himself, 'Will this help or hurt the university?' and that he should be guided by that." The story about the Negro should have been suppressed, he explained, "until it became news," and it would be news only if the young man made the team. (He has since quit the squad.)
Later, Bradshaw lifted the ban on writers at practice.
Bradshaw's stand is not at all unusual in sport (or politics, or business, for that matter). The truly sorry fact is that so many reporters take it lying down and report as fans, when their true function is to report as critics. Consider Bradshaw's approving evaluation of sportswriters who cover the Southeastern Conference: "Those writers never would write a line detrimental to their school." If true, that must make for very dull and uninformative sports pages.
Universities that are sensitive about academic freedom but permit bulldozing of newsmen with threats of exclusion from news sources betray their charters.
THEY SAID IT
•Alva Stem, parks and recreation director of Waco, Texas, on the installation of outdoor electricity outlets in huge Cameron Park: "They're for those who like to bring their TV sets, electric grills and fans—and rough it."
•Bobby Bragan, Milwaukee manager, after watching Bobby Bragan Jr. play the outfield for Mississippi State: "He went 0 for 4 for the old man. They say it's hereditary."
•Phil Rizzuto, on Yogi Berra's managerial aptitudes: "He smokes big cigars and props his feet on tops of tables."
•Tulane Coach Tommy O'Boyle, on his team's 1964 football prospects: "They are bright. We're like a horse who was 40 lengths behind and is now only 20 lengths behind."