MAN OVER MACHINE
One of those electronic computers that tries to decide a political race five seconds after the polls close was let loose in Buffalo last week. The occasion: the All-America football bowl game between the East, led by Quarterback George Mira of Miami, and the West, quarterbacked by Don Trull of Baylor.
The coaches involved in the game fed a Burroughs 283 computer scads of analytical information, and when the machine had digested all this it burped back the word that Don Trull and the West would beat Mira and the East, 25-24.
For the first half, the computer looked as knowing as the neighborhood bookmaker. The West led, 7-0. Mira, who will play for the San Francisco 49ers this fall, started so slowly that at one point he was replaced by Gary Wood of Cornell, marking the first time an All-America ever got relieved by an Ivy Leaguer. But then, in the second half, Mira came to life. The first three times he got possession of the ball, the East scored. First he passed for 11 yards for a touchdown, then he ran a wild 31 yards to set up another touchdown after being trapped behind the line, and finally he passed 30 yards to set up still another touchdown. The East won, 18-15. All told, Mira had 21 completions for 306 yards, won the game's Most Valuable Player award and crackled with an electricity that the computer surely could have used.
EXIT CHAMP, ENTER CONTENDER
Considering that ex-World Middleweight Champion Gene Fullmer has not fought since Dick Tiger pulverized him last August in Nigeria, has not trained seriously in 10 months, has talked wistfully of retiring for at least two years and has all his marbles and plenty of money in the bank, it was hardly surprising last week when Fullmer officially announced he was quitting the ring. "I have had it," said Gene. "I am hanging them up." But that was not all.
Fullmer's manager, Marv Jenson, had drawn a whopping turnout of newsmen to the free-lunch press conference at a Salt Lake City hotel. After Fullmer spoke, Jenson stood and announced that he, too, was retiring from the fight game. Jenson, a member of the Salt Lake County Commission, is in the midst of a hard campaign for a second term. By retiring, Jenson wished to assure the press and the voters that he could not be accused (as he had been in the past) of being more concerned with boxing than with county business.
"I don't get it," said a cub sports reporter. "Fullmer was knocked out almost a whole year ago. Why all the big announcements now?" A political reporter replied: "I get it."
THE NEGRO AND BASEBALL
A new book is out that merits the attention of anyone interested in the impact of sports upon American life. It is Baseball Has Done It (Lippincott, $2.95), written by Jackie Robinson and edited by Charles Dexter. The theme of the book, of course, is that baseball has proved that integrated Americans can live and work together peacefully. As Roy Campanella says, "If life in general was a baseball game in the National or American League, this country wouldn't have these problems today."
This does not mean that the book is sweetness and light. It is, by turns, from the heart and from the gut—and almost always compelling. Once or twice Robinson, who along with other players recounts his baseball experiences as a Negro, sees malice where there was none, and he chides Willie Mays and Maury Wills for declining to contribute to the book. ("Willie didn't exactly refuse to speak," writes Robinson. "He said he didn't know what to say. Maury Wills flatly said, 'I don't want to be involved in a controversy.' ") The stories by the players are fascinating. Vic Power tells of the troubles of being married to a light-skinned Puerto Rican in Kansas City; Bill White recalls being the only Negro playing for Danville, Va.; Henry Aaron complains of being labeled a dimwit. (As a matter of fact, he reads James Baldwin.) The most eloquent of all is Bill Bruton, who tells of encountering prejudice and overcoming it and who ends his story by saying, "Baseball is a curious anomaly in American life. It seems to have been ingrained in people in their childhood. It has done wonders for me, made me someone instead of no one. It has given me many, many good friends, my home, my good neighbors and almost anything a man can ask for. Baseball is, after all, a boys' game, and children are innocent of evil. So even adults who are prejudiced revert to their childhood when they encounter a baseball player and they react with the purity of little children. Now we players must go on and purify all of American life by spreading baseball's message of tolerance."
In 117 years the U.S. government has issued more than 1,500 different postage stamps, and only a handful have honored sports. Baseball has had a stamp, and so have the Pan American Games, the Olympic Games and, oddly enough, the American Turners. Now fishermen, or, to be precise, the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association, are pushing for a stamp to honor their sport. The AFTMA has submitted two designs by Artist Robert Hegeman, and the chances are good that one will be accepted. One bears the slogan "Number One Outdoor Sport," which might peeve contentious swimmers or boaters: the other stamp extolls fishing for health, "Physical—Mental—Moral."
We do not care which design Postmaster John Gronouski, a casual fisherman, decides to issue. We just hope he issues one of them. If a furor develops, it probably will be a squabble among fishermen themselves. For one, both the stamps portray a largemouth bass, and this may send trout fishermen into a suit. For another, and this is a quibble, both bass seem to be gut-hooked—which indicates that the fishermen shown are using live bait, and the AFTMA is not going to sell any artificial lures that way. Worst of all, both fishermen have too much slack in their lines, and the bass are almost sure to get away. As any real fisherman can tell you, that never promotes mental health.
THAT'S TELLING HIM
During a recent blackboard session for the Denver Bronco football coaches, George Dickson, the defensive backfield coach, wrote the word KISS in large block letters where an intricate maneuver was to be drawn. Head Coach Jack Faulkner and the rest of his aides looked wonderingly but said nothing. Finally Faulkner asked Dickson what it meant. Looking straight at his boss, Dickson replied, "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
HERE COMES AYRES
There are as many flaky horses as humans, but the truly interesting ones in both categories are those with talent that filters through the flakiness. One of these is a 3-year-old trotting colt named Ayres. Last fall Ayres trotted the fastest mile by a 2-year-old on a half-mile track in the sport's history. An hour later, halfway through the second heat of the same race, he indicated to his driver, Johnny Simpson, that one heat was enough for him, and had to be urged to finish. An hour after that, in the middle of the third heat, Ayres apparently decided to show Simpson that he really was fed up with this foolishness; when he got to the paddock draw-gate, he trotted right off the track and back to his barn, despite Simpson's best efforts to change his mind.
All winter Simpson surrounded Ayres with other horses to keep the colt from trying any tricks, and last Friday the months of patient work seemed to have paid off. Ayres met Speedy Count, his chief rival for Hambletonian honors this year, and beat the Count soundly. Simpson handled Ayres gingerly; he took him way back at the start, kept him free of traffic and sent him all the way on the outside to overtake the Count in the last half mile without touching him with the whip. Now Ayres should be the Hambletonian favorite in September.
This early preview of the big event was raced at Del Miller's track in Washington, Pa., the world's first with the synthetic surface developed by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (SI, July 8, 1963). It has lived up to its promise as a safe, all-weather, form-sustaining track, but far more important is what it has done for the ordinary well-being of the horses. On other tracks—trotting or Thoroughbred—bone fractures occur by the dozen every year, and scores of horses literally break down. But through a full season of racing and winter training on Miller's synthetic surface, not a single horse has suffered a broken bone of any kind.
MIGHTIER THAN THE BULLDOZER
The challenge came in an open letter in The Washington Post. It was addressed to Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall, offering combat on the East Potomac Park F golf course, a wonderfully gentle, nine-hole layout that Udall had doomed to make way for a parking lot. "I want him to see it from a player's standpoint and not just as something on a planning table," the letter said. The man behind the golf gauntlet: mild-mannered Political Cartoonist Herblock, stirred to a superb editorial anger and ready to represent those who would rather fight than switch.
The charm of F course is that it is easy to get to and easier to play; it is inexpensive and dear to the hearts of capital duffers. When Udall accepted—"I'd love to play with him, not for the golf, but for the conversation"—the Herblock gallery showed up with please-save-the-course placards, but found the duel confusing. Herblock shanked his first tee shot. Udall hit a construction truck on the second; Herblock gave him a mulligan and when Udall teed up again the truckers ran for cover. Finally, Udall won the match, 46-51. But Herblock won the duel.
"Herb," said Udall at a post-game press conference, "you were so right and we were so wrong. We're going to save the course. Trees and green space are becoming more dear, and we've got to figure ways to save all we can." Replied Herblock: "Udall is a great public servant."
It went on like that, proving what many knew all along: the pen and putter are mightier than the bulldozer. A young exchange student from San Salvador had watched the episode. After the game he timidly approached Udall and said: "I just want you to know that I learned more about America today than in all the time I've been here. You are an important man in the government, and yet you admitted in public that you were wrong."
NO FAST BREAK IN TOKYO
Hank Iba, the coach of the U.S. Olympic basketball team, is so worried about his chances in Tokyo that last week he traveled from Oklahoma to Akron to confer-with Assistant Coach Henry Vaughn. Iba and Vaughn spent a day and the better part of two nights devising ways to avoid becoming the first losing American basketball coaches. Both agree this could happen. Vaughn, who just completed a tour behind the Iron Curtain, says the Czechs, Yugoslavs and Russians are stronger than ever. "We will break if we get the chance," says Iba, but Vaughn cautions, "We won't get much of a chance, especially against the Russians. They have learned to control our break by jamming the offensive boards, knocking down the middlemen to draw a foul and getting defenders back rapidly. We won in '60 with great talent and the fast break. This time we have good talent." Says Iba, "The boys had better pick up desire and defense in their three weeks of training at Pearl Harbor." Good place to do both.
WORKOUT FOR THE RAT PACK
One of the world's leading authorities on stress and its effects on the human body. Dr. Hans Selye, has been conducting experiments with a team of "athlete rats" and has come to some conclusions about humans and exercise. Summed up, they say: "Start exercising at age 35 at the latest. Keep at it for the rest of your life."
The athlete rats, forced to exercise, later resisted all attempts to induce heart failure in them when subjected to stresses which killed off sedentary rats. Exercise protects even against emotional stress. Dr. Selye maintains.
He practices what he prescribes, too. The 57-year-old researcher puts in 50 minutes daily at a bicycle machine.
THEY SAID IT
•Gabe Paul, Cleveland Indians' president, on Houston's domed stadium: "It will revolutionize baseball; it will open a new area of alibis for the players."
•Bitsy Grant, former southern tennis champion: "One day one of those 7-foot guys is going to take up tennis instead of basketball and he'll run everybody else off the court. Think of the advantage he'll have just on the serve and at the net."