THE CONTINENTAL CADDIE
Perry Como, Jimmy Brown, Alvin Dark and other tolerably well-known amateurs got together for golf in Pittsburgh's Ham-Am tourney. ("Am" stands for amateur, "Ham" is self-explanatory.) But aims, not names, were the news. Ham-Am proceeds will enable the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association to greatly expand its caddie scholarship program, which already has provided 122 scholarships over 22 years. Better yet, the Ham-Am solicitude for caddies is contagious. While arranging a golf tour to Puerto Rico for member clubs, West Penn Secretary Jim Potts convinced Hilton Hotels International not only to contribute $5,000 to the scholarship fund but to aid in a caddie exchange program. Pan American World Airways then volunteered free transportation to Puerto Rico. (The airline wanted to call the arrangement Ham-Am Pan-Am, a suggestion the Pennsylvanians rejected as commercial and unpronounceable.) As a result, two Pittsburgh boys have just returned from a week of caddying and sightseeing in Puerto Rico, bringing back with them two island boys who will caddie and visit steel mills in Pittsburgh. Now the Ham-Am folks expect to expand the exchange, adding Hawaii and Japan next year. "We hope," says Potts, "to get two of those Japanese girl caddies here."
STATUE OF SECURITY PLAY
Among the hazards of football coaching is the problem of how to get from the bottom to the top without really going broke. To make it, a young assistant must switch schools on the way up—the average head coach finally arrives after four moves. But the system, with its attendant shortage of security, is hardly one to inspire badly needed young blood, and this season the American Football Coaches Association will come up with a program to solve it, a sort of retirement insurance end-run.
"With each move," says Arkansas' Coach Frank Broyles, architect of the plan and one who made his way to the top in four moves, "the young coach has to drop and lose the benefits of each school's retirement plan. On about his fourth move—when he is 45—he's in trouble." Under the association program, member coaches now may pay into their own company and carry the policy along from school to school. It would mature at 55, pay up to $908 per month at 65. That problem solved, AFCA Trustee Broyles' next project is for the old blood: uniform contracts for head coaches. And, finally, there's that little old hazard of winning the game every Saturday. No solution in sight there.
July 12, 1964
THEY CALLED HIM FIREBALL
He got the nickname as a sandlot baseball pitcher, but "Fireball" always seemed just the right tag for Edward Glenn Roberts in his role as a stock-car driver, one of the country's boldest and best. He won more major races than any other man on the circuit, earned about $500,000 in 15 years at it and was a Southland legend. Roberts' career was punctuated with crashes, but he always came through. For weeks after he cracked up May 24 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway it seemed he would make it again, despite severe burns over much of his body. Then pneumonia and other complications snuffed out his life last week.
The Roberts tragedy comes in a season unusually beset by fire and death. The first fatality came in January, and the Memorial Day pileup at Indianapolis took two more lives. Several other drivers have escaped death although badly burned. The sport is caught in new controversy over all this, but the searching appraisals are certain to bring safety improvements. Redesigned fuel tanks are a possibility, and at last week's Fourth of July race at Daytona one sponsor experimented with cockpit equipment designed to spray the driver with fire-retardant chemical in a crack-up. In spite of such activities, racing and risk will always run parallel. The drivers know this. Safety margins can and should be improved, but it is an honorable calling for those who choose to accept racing's hazards along with its high rewards.
As a racing man, Roberts was proud of his sport and quick to point out its progress. In a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED article earlier this year he faced the prospect of death with a fine matter-of-factness. Roberts said then: "If I were to generalize, I'd say we all know we could be killed tomorrow and we live hard." Fireball Roberts lived to be 33.
THE INVISIBLE UMPIRE
Let some baseball innocent ask a scientist a question and you've got trouble every time. "Can you really measure how far Sandy Koufax's curve breaks?" someone asked Dr. R. A. Gudmundsen. Said he: "I can do better than that. I can engineer a system that accurately calls balls and strikes," and, oh boy, here we go again.
Frighteningly, Dr. Gudmundsen sounds like a man who could really do it, though he stresses he is theorizing and does not intend to redesign baseball or eliminate umpires. But remember that's just the sort of thing the scientist said in that old movie—and the next thing you knew there was this monster clomping around scaring all the Transylvanians. Dr. Gudmundsen is with the Research-Engineering-Reliability staff of North American Aviation's Autonetics Division in Anaheim, Calif., and that sounds scary enough for any baseball devotee.
Autonetics, as everyone should know, means electronics, and the hottest thing in that field today is LASER (Light Amplification by Simulated Emission Radiation) beams. Dr. Gudmundsen's concept, he says, would use low-power, infrared LASERs. They would send out fan-shaped beams, spot the ball in flight and flash the reports to the scoreboard. Nearby, color-filtered television cameras would adjust the LASER beams to player heights and stances by reflection from shoulder and knee patches on uniforms. A vertical LASER beam—say, coming up from home plate itself—might be used to complete the system.
And what of the umpire in this plan? Dr. Gudmundsen maintains he still would have plenty to do. Like stepping up to the plate with the whisk broom and brushing it off to let the little light shine through.
BREAKS OF THE GAME
A San Francisco housewife, Mrs. Alice Sobel, rushed her young daughter to the hospital with a broken arm. In the emergency ward a nurse asked, "Skateboard?" Mrs. Sobel was surprised. "How did you know?" "Oh," said the nurse, "we're getting them by the dozens."
Skateboards are the latest rage, largely on the West Coast, home of fads. They are from 16 to 30 inches long with roller-skate wheels mounted on both ends. To ride one is to surf on a city street. There is no thrill quite like dodging cars, especially in hilly San Francisco. In Los Angeles one youthful 'boarder allowed, "If you don't learn how, you crash and burn. The unofficial world's record is 42 miles an hour down Sunset Boulevard."
As in the hula hoop craze of some happy years ago, manufacturers are moving in fast, rolling out boards by the thousands at up to $20 each. Many makers are months behind on orders. But some adults think the craze cannot go fast enough.
In Burbank the city council has so many reports of fractures and injuries it has considered making the skateboards illegal. And last week one more police chief investigated new casualties amidst a rash of complaints from citizens. He instructed his patrolmen to stop all skateboarding on public property. That incident? In Albuquerque. The trail of broken bones is stretching east.
THE GOURMET BEACHCOMBER
A couple of years ago in Stalking the Wild Asparagus (SI, October 22, 1962), Euell Gibbons took his readers afield and showed them how many edible, not to say delicious, items of food are to be had for the plucking in woods and fields, and even in the vacant lots of cities. These are so varied and so easily attainable that Gibbons likes to throw "wild parties" at which all foods on the table and even the wines are, in fact, wild.
Now he has performed a similar service for those who live or vacation at the seashore. Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop (McKay, $5.95) covers all coastal areas of the U.S. from Maine to Alaska. Excellent line drawings by Catherine R. Hammond make it easy to identify sea and shore creatures like the Magdalena Chiton and the owl limpet. And Gibbons, a gourmet who used to be a beachcomber, also supplies excellent recipes. Lovers of the clam, the oyster and the scallop are introduced to the delights of whelks and periwinkles. Edible seaside plants are described, as are methods of preparing "a beautiful green salad" from glasswort, a shore and marsh plant, or boiled vegetables from such as the sea blite and the goosetongue.
You could do worse than to carry this book with you along the shore this summer. One never knows when a goose-tongue might show up.
Their on-the-job training program will cost about $13,175, according to this company in New Mexico. But when it is completed the employees involved should really understand the work. They are, reported Groves Archery Corp. spokesmen, teaching 13 Indians how to make bows and arrows.
LITTLE MEN-AND WOMEN
Robert Williams, 12, overcame a paralyzing nerve disorder to become one of the fastest pitchers in a Galveston Texas junior league this year. In the opinion of some parents in the league he overcame the disorder too well and became too fast. During a recent game, a number of parents threatened to withdraw their sons from the league if he were allowed to continue pitching. In fact, they circulated and signed a petition to that effect. One mother screamed "killer" at Williams from the stands, and another promised to "get him" if her son did not.
Young Williams, who had pitched only four innings and who had never hit a batter, was sent to shortstop. (The Giants might try this device on the Dodgers: "Here, Koufax, grab this glove and let's see what you can do at short.") The boy then proceeded to hit two triples and a grand-slam home run and to steal home, accounting for most of an 11-1 victory. He was then threatened again and had a baseball thrown at him. His father decided it was time to quit the league.
At last report the entire league had suspended operations, three officials connected with the petition were gone and a public apology to Williams had been issued by the league's sponsor—the Galveston Evening Optimist Club.
Both were larcenous long shots, but the Dagenham dog track betting coup beats England's Great Train Robbery of last summer for sheer engineered sneakiness. And if the bookies had not got together and refused to pay the plotters, the profit to the gang that rigged the odds at Dagenham would have come to about $28 million, considerably more than the train bandits got for working harder.
The gang of bettors struck last week at Dagenham Greyhound Stadium near London. About 100 of them manned the 31 tote windows, stalling and strong-arming customers away while they made forecast bets on dogs they did not expect to win, thus running up the odds on the favorites. Simultaneously, more confederates in London bet similarly with bookmakers, and tied up all telephone lines to the track so bookies could not lay off the bets and reduce the odds. Result: The tote payoff coupling the first and second dogs was at 9,872 to 1 odds, and the gang stood to clean up. Then the bookies struck back.
The public was deprived of its chance to bet, they ruled, therefore they were declaring the race void. It could never happen here. Because our tracks are more vigilant than their tracks? No. We could never rally that many crooks to agree on which dogs they liked.
THEY SAID IT
•Hal Lanier, young and respectful Giant second baseman, asked what he would do if, while going back for a pop fly, Willie Mays should call him off: "I'd say, 'Yes, sir.' "
•Dr. Fred Hovde, president of Purdue University, one of two Big Ten schools never to have played in the Rose Bowl: "All the other presidents in the conference have told me what a king-sized headache the Rose Bowl game is. But I'd like to find out firsthand."