Before the Chicago Bears disposed of the College All-Stars 28 to 17 last week, some definite opinions had been formed about the 1964 professional rookies by the men who know them best: the scouts. This crop would not, it was confidently predicted, be remembered with as much relish as the Jim Taylor-John Crow-Dan Currie-Bobby Mitchell-Alex Karras-Lou Michaels group of 1957, or that banner corps from 1951, the year that provided Frank Gifford, Hugh McElhenny, Les Richter, Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, Bill George and Bill Howton, among others. What the All-Stars would be remembered for was the distinction of being the most comfort-driven group of recent years.
Several of the All-Stars were whipping around the campsite in cars either purchased with staggering bonus money or provided by coddling pro management. Players giggled at passes they dropped in workouts, made plans for that evening's assault on entertainment areas, then yawned at their busted signals. Said one high-priced pass receiver to an inquisitive spectator: "I got in pretty early—early this morning." For one of Otto Graham's last important workouts before the game, some key players were absent. Some were doctoring injuries, but some, frankly, had overslept.
FAITH OR WORKS
August 16, 1964
It is quite possible that Alvin Dark, the intense, religious manager of the San Francisco Giants, truly believes that Negro and Latin American baseball players lack the "mental alertness" of their white peers. Dark is a Southerner, and it would not be surprising if some doubts about racial equality linger in his psyche. Most of us carry a few bits of undisposable illogic from childhood into adult life.
This, of course, does not excuse a generalization of the sort Dark made—if, indeed, he made it. He was quoted by Stan Isaacs, sports columnist for Long Island's Newsday, as saying of Negro and Latin ballplayers: "They are just not able to perform up to the white ball-players when it comes to mental alertness." Dark has since said he was misquoted, and in a dramatic team meeting last week denied that he holds such sentiments. (Willie Mays' reaction to Dark's short speech was to go out and hit two home runs.)
Whether or not Dark said what he is said to have said, the incident must be considered in the context of his baseball life. If he is short on faith, he is long on works. Both as a player and a manager, Dark has always been scrupulously fair to Negroes and Latin Americans. He has treated them as individuals, not stereotypes. He has knit together a club that was chaotically divided, partly by racial and nationalist hostility, at the time he took control.
With Dark's job in jeopardy as a result of the furor over the debated remark, it is significant that Jackie Robinson, his bitter rival on the ball field years ago and always uncompromising in questions involving prejudice against the Negro, quickly came to Dark's defense. Robinson knows the score in this area as few do and, under Branch Rickey, learned the hard way that works are what count.
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NOW THE NO-ARMED BANDIT
As labor-saving devices go, this one will add a mere footnote to the history of the age of automation, which has scant sentimental interest in the fact that the days of the one-armed bandit are numbered. Since early June the bandit's successor—a no-armed slot machine which requires only that the addict insert a coin to set the cherries and bells a-spinning—has been undergoing a successful trial run in Las Vegas' Thunderbird Hotel. Its inventor, Jack La Vigna, took it out the other day for a final check before tooling up for mass production. Before too long, he believes, Nevada's 18,000 traditional machines will be supplanted by his own, which already has won the approval of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
It has won the approval of casino operators for a number of reasons. For one thing, its smaller depth and width permits the installation of twice as many machines in the same precious casino space. Jackpot payoffs are automatic, making it unnecessary for an attendant to check the symbols and make a manual payment. It has only some 50 working parts to get out of order, as against 2,000 in conventional machines, which is what motivated La Vigna in the first place. He used to repair the one-armed bandits and "got fed up getting out of bed at 4 in the morning to make repairs."
He may, in fact, get little more than extra sleep out of the invention. In the U.S., at least, gambling devices cannot be patented because, to the legal mind, they are not "useful."
Disagreeing with an umpire's decision, Norm Larker, who plays first base for the Tacoma (Wash.) Giants, huffed back to the dugout and established some sort of record there. He hurled 12 bats, uncounted baseballs and eight batting helmets onto the field. Then the umpire threw something. He threw Norm Larker out of the park.
The Saratoga National Fish Hatchery in Wyoming has 12,000 unusually difficult little mouths to feed, every one a choosy eater. The mouths belong to a precious batch of pure golden trout, and genetically pure goldens are rare because they crossbreed readily with rainbows and cutthroats, whose genes increasingly dominate succeeding generations. Thus it was a happy day when a survey party found pure goldens in Bull Lake Creek in a primitive area of remote Wind River Reservation. After persuading the resident Shoshones to lend a few brood fish on condition that offspring be returned, the Wildlife Service caught 50 trout, which they packed in ice, laboriously backpacked to a clearing and ferried out by helicopter.
When the tiny fry finally did hatch out, they were so wild they were spooked by the slightest shadow of a human, and they gave standard U.S. Government Issue fry food the old fisheye. To give the little trout privacy, Saratoga men rigged water sprays to interfere with the trout's vision of passing humans. But the goldens simply did not know what to do with the dry prepared food that less wild trout eat with relish. Fortunately, the hatchery men found another solution: they added a few greedy little brook trout to the troughs to set an example. Quite unlike goldens, brookies are omnivorous chowhounds and discriminating breeders. It worked.
"You know how kids are," says Hatcheries Director Robert Stephens. "When one kid eats something, they all want it."
HERE'S ANOTHER WAY
A 17-year-old golfer from Virginia has come up with what may be an absolutely new way to miss a putt. Competing in the U.S. Golf Association's Junior Amateur Championship at the Eugene, Ore. Country Club, Louis Anderson sent a putt curling toward the hole on the 7th green. Then—disaster! His caddie was unable to get the pin out of the hole. Heaving mightily, the caddie managed to lift it about six inches. Trouble was, he lifted the cup with it.
The perfectly stroked putt reached the point where it was supposed to drop from sight. Instead, it hit the side of the cup with a clank and bounced off.
"I don't know if it upset me," Anderson said, "but I bogeyed 8, 9, 11 and 12."
THE WILD BLUE WATER
The U.S. carrier Lexington still bears some of the scars of its World War II battles, but last week it became vulnerable to another sort of attack—to the irresistible onslaught of 19 junior winners of the National Model Airplane Championships, which had been held at the Dallas Naval Air Station. For the past 17 years the Navy's air arm has thrown itself wholeheartedly into support of this annual "world series of model flying."
This year the Navy instituted a fascinating reward. The day after the finals, the winners—aged 8 to 16—were flown from Dallas to the Naval Air Basic Training Command Headquarters in Pensacola, Fla.
In Pensacola two admirals greeted the kids, and a Navy band saluted them. Then, over the next several days they were introduced to the innards of Navy training, experienced the thrill of taking off and landing their model planes right on the Lexington's storied old landing deck and captured the hearts of the Lexington's officers and crew.
At the end of it all, one boy was asked what he thought of the tour. His answer was like something out of an old brown page of history. He expressed the outstanding impression of military life of everyone who has ever worn a military uniform.
"I didn't think the dairy products were too fresh," he said.
It may be too late for the device to do wonders this year in Tokyo, but in the future Russia plans to be plugged in and ready. They have been at work in the Moscow Physical Culture Institute and, in the years to come, Soviet swimmers will be wired for sound.
The thing that bothered Institute Teacher Vyacheslav Belokovsky is that performance in "dry" sports is measured largely by watching the athlete run, throw or jump. In "wet" sports the coach has been able to watch the swimmer only dimly underwater and, because of light refraction, has had to take the swimmer's unscientific word for what actually happened. So Belokovsky and Victor Bykov, an engineer, invented an electronic faultfinder for swimming coaches.
The machine, reports Novosti Press Agency, is better than underwater filming because it spots swimming form instantly. Sealed "pickup" elements are attached to the swimmer's arms and legs. Hydrodynamic pressures on the pickups are converted to electric signals; the signals run along flexible wires attached to a sliding overhead cable—and it comes out here, in a poolside box with amplifier and recorder. Peaks and valleys are then graphed on the tape and tell all, says the institute.
So far there is only one of the new stroke-detectors. But Belokovsky says Australia is interested in it and there will be more. The U.S. vote on the underwater bug is not in yet.
THEY SAID IT
•Earlene Brown, beautician and shot-put winner at the Olympic trials: "My best weight is 196 pounds. But I've never made that."
•Governor John Connally, addressing Texas high school coaches: "You're the only group of people who get more advice on how to run your business than we elected public officials do."