NEW FACE ON THE PACE-OFF
At the National Hockey League meetings in Montreal last June an important rule change was made to end the tugging, hauling and crashing that turned face-offs at both ends of the rink into a matter of mass wrestling. The new rule says that there must be no physical contact (body to body or stick to body) between players taking a face-off. It will do away with the practice—used by nearly all teams—of placing a hulking defense man in the face-off circle in the defensive zone and having said bruiser crash into the opposing center, often a little guy. Usually, the center went sprawling, and a defender would swoop down on the puck, clearing it from danger.
The premium now is on a clean "draw," as hockey parlance puts it, and the referee will impose a minor penalty on offenders who make contact with an opponent outside of stick-to-stick contact. And this, of course, will give talented stickhandlers like Montreal's Henri Richard, Toronto's Dave Keon or Boston's Murray Oliver, among others, a chance to exploit their face-off talents without worrying about being driven up into the rafters. It should also open up the game, since players outside the face-off circle must remain in position to take the puck if it comes their way.
Some of the knock-'em-down-and-stomp-'em school are opposing the rule change, saying it will "sissify" the game. Our feeling is that it will improve it, putting a premium on skill as opposed to size and brutality.
September 27, 1964
MORNING LINE AT VEGAS
After he abandoned his handicapping business in Las Vegas, James (Jimmie the Greek) Snyder was chafed by inactivity. He has now turned to writing an oddsmaking column in the Las Vegas Sun. Here, on some upcoming sporting and politico-sporting events, are the odds as Jimmie figures them:
President Lyndon Johnson is 1 to 5 over Senator Barry Goldwater, "and the price will go higher because it's the trend." Johnson is even money to win by a plurality of five million in the popular vote. In New York State, Robert Kennedy is a 1-to-2 favorite over Senator Kenneth Keating.
The Phils are 1-to-50 favorites to win the National League pennant, but if New York's Yankees win in the American League the Phils will be 3-to-2 underdogs in the World Series.
In the National Football League, Green Bay is a 1-to-2 favorite to win the Western Conference title. In the East, St. Louis and Cleveland are co-favorites, each at 10 to 6.
And, finally, Sonny Liston is favored to beat Cassius (Muhammad Ali) Clay in their return match in Boston. The price: 11 to 5.
The third-fastest mile in Kentucky high school history was run last year by Mike Stout of Owensboro Senior High. Then, during the summer, Mike's family moved to Fern Creek, devastating Owensboro's dream of further glory. Because his parents had moved to another school district, Mike would be ineligible for athletic competition in Owensboro.
But Kentucky track coaches are not without resource. Owensboro's track coach, Joe Voyles, has solved it all. He went to court and became Mike's legal guardian.
In an astonishing number of countries, men—ordinary citizens as well as those who patrol what C. P. Snow calls the corridors of power—will hear with sadness of the death last week in New York of C. D. Jackson, a distinguished American and the Senior Vice-President of Time Inc., at the age of 62.
C.D. always had a sympathetic eye for this magazine. It was he who enabled SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to make it possible for the Hungarian athletes who escaped from the Communists at the 1956 Olympics to come to this country and start new lives. He was not a sportsman in the conventional sense, but he was in the deeper sense. He liked to fight, he liked action, he liked to take chances. He had great ability, but his greatest ability was to command affection. He was loved by many, and now they mourn him.
LONESOME PINE HAZARD
A huge old pine tree stands directly in the middle of No. 1 fairway at the new Port Royal Country Club course on Hilton Head Island, S.C. At some 330 yards from the tee, it represents an unusual hazard, and George W. Cobb, who designed the course, shudders every time he sees it. It stands because C. Y. Thomason, owner of the course, just could not bear to have it cut down.
Players who have bounced balls off it are less sentimental, though, and Thomason has begun to relent. A vote is taken from each golfer every time he plays the course. At the end of six months the fate of the pine will be decided by these votes.
LITTLE LEAGUE ABC'S
It was as simple as ABC-TV. Before that network taped the finals of the Little League World Series for its Wide World of Sports program, one of the TV directors dropped by the favored Staten Island team's bunkhouse to give the kids a pep talk about the big game.
"Whatever you do, fellas," he told the cast of anxious juveniles, "just be sure you face the camera."
DECLINE AND FALL
One hears from time to time that James D. Norris, the multimillionaire who monopolized prizefighting for a decade, has entered one of his horses in a race, but that is about all one hears of him. Norris has withdrawn into an obscurity that he has seemed to desire since he was driven out of boxing and his alliance with the underworld was exposed beyond possibility of denial. Just a few years ago his ruggedly handsome face was flashed on national television before every big fight. Now television has abandoned the fights, and boxing is at its lowest state in modern times.
How it got there is told in James Norris and the Decline of Boxing by Barney Nagler (Bobbs-Merrill, $4.95), a book of estimable coherence when one considers what a tangle of events and personalities the author had to unravel. The strange alliance between Norris and Frank Carbo, a murderous hoodlum who became prizefighting's underworld czar, is explained fully, if not the character flaw that permitted Norris to tolerate him. The tragedy of that brilliant lawyer, Truman Gibson Jr., finally convicted of conspiracy for doing Norris' dirty work, comes through clearly. And the Byzantine conniving that went on behind the scenes of so many big fights is traced by a writer who has done his research thoroughly—even though he has reported it belatedly. (When Norris and Carbo were the despots of boxing only this magazine and a handful of sportswriters protested.)
Boxing will come back, no doubt, as it always has. When it starts the long climb one hopes that those who dominate it will remember the lessons to be found between the covers of this fascinating book.
MAX THE SCISSORS
How do you keep girls out of a football player's hair? "Cut it off," says Max Spilsbury, Arizona State College coach. A hide-peeling ex-leatherneck who believes in tearing a man down so that he may build the raw material back up again the Marine way, Spilsbury makes head-mowing mandatory for all freshman footballers.
Some years ago Max the Barber got tired of hot freshman prospects whose wavy hair irresistibly tempted coeds to rearrange it. After the first few weeks of practice, the game's prospects tended to forsake football for less painful sport. ASC freshies are immediately outfitted now with unrearrangeable (and unattractive) hair. It is not uncommon to see a tackle tough as grade-B beef sporting a Friar Tuck trim. There are also Mohawk cuts, nude cuts, tufts, plaits and neatly carved initials. Each year more imaginative revenge is wreaked by upper-classmen for bob jobs they once endured.
This is all a far piece from the days when stripe-jerseyed, moleskin-breeched football idols cultivated luxuriant crops of cranial shrubbery but, says Spilsbury, "There's a purpose in it. When these kids come to us, they come to play football. They don't have time to fall in love." Well, there was a purpose back then, too. In those helmetless days players grew Beatle-styled hair as padding to protect their skulls. We offer that argument to the coeds at Flagstaff.
It once was considered quite a feat to hike the Appalachian Trail over its entire 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. Now it has begun to seem like a Sunday afternoon stroll.
Charles Eversole, a 45-year-old retired chief petty officer, his 18-year-old son John, and their 7-year-old beagle, Snuffy, arrived at Mount Katahdin one day last week, ending a trek that began March 31 at Springer Mountain in Georgia.
Two days later Mrs. Emma Gatewood of Cheshire, Ohio did it—and for the third time. Mrs. Gatewood will be 77 next month.
Paul Richards, general manager of the Houston Colts, has never forgotten that he used to be field manager of the Baltimore Orioles. This year in spring training, for example, in the presence of outsiders, he gave Manager Harry Craft some advice on how to run the Colts. Like the lady making soup in the headache remedy commercial, Craft bridled: "Paul, if you don't mind, I'd like to run this show myself." Said Richards: "Sure—if that's the way you want it."
And last week that's the way Craft got it. Richards sacked him and promoted Third-base Coach Luman Harris. Since Luman has been around Richards for years, he knows, one suspects, that what matters is how Richards wants it.
NATURE UNBALANCED AGAIN
There is a type of fisherman who is not satisfied merely to catch fish. He wants more fish, and he may be about to get them. Science has developed a fish that is both stupid and greedy, and it is being caught by the thousands.
At the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society last week Dr. George W. Bennett, chief aquatic biologist of the Illinois Natural History Survey, reported on experiments that his assistant, William F. Childers, has conducted to develop a stupid fish with a good growth rate. He settled on the sunfish and, after crossing a number of species, came up with several hybrids, crosses between the bluegill, green sunfish, red-ear sunfish and warmouth, some of which seem to be the answer. One cross, the bluegill-green, is not only wonderfully obtuse but is superbly hungry at all times. Cast to him and he is totally unable to resist the lure.
Unhappily, the solution already has created a new problem. Five thousand of the hybrids were developed in an Illinois Department of Conservation lake and fishermen were encouraged to go after them. In just two weeks they caught 4,000. Chances are the hybrids will not last long enough to provide much more fishing, let alone spawn.
CAMILO COOLS IT
Maddened by the slowness of the Minnesota Twins pitcher, Camilo Pascual, against the Baltimore Orioles one night last week, a reporter started keeping a rather different kind of scorecard.
The eighth inning, he noted, began at 10:46 p.m. It took Pascual 20 minutes to pitch to five batters. During that time he adjusted his cap 25 times; hitched his trousers 17 times; took off his glove and rubbed and rerubbed baseballs 18 times; looked around twice at the dugout, four times at the outfielders; conferred with his manager once and his catcher three times; scraped the rubber on the pitching mound 15 times; wiped his forehead 12 times; scraped the dirt on the front portion of the mound 41 times.
And how did the fans like all this? Not one bit.
THEY SAID IT
•Elmer Vickers, Tropical Park general manager, explaining why he goes to work five days a week even when his track is not operating: "My doctor tells me it's the only way to work off the frustrations of two days of golf."
•Mrs. Bart Starr, asked if she noticed any difference in the Green Bay Packers this season: "Well, I think Paul Hornung looks older. He'll probably shoot me for saying this, but his hairline is receding quite a bit."