With the Olympic flame doused for another four years, let us pause now and reflect on some matters discernible in the afterglow.
Item: Avery Brundage, properly distressed by improper officiating in boxing and by ludicrous and unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of some fighters (one loser slugged a referee, another refused to leave the ring for 45 minutes), hinted that the sport might be banned from future Games. That is scarcely a solution. It is up to the international federations to provide impartial judges and to control participants. An ancient, classical, worldwide sport, boxing deserves a place in any Olympic program.
Item: At the Rome Olympics of 1960 everyone laughed at the Japanese who, 500 strong, swarmed everywhere to jot down the most minute details necessary for the running of an Olympiad, even to the precise color of grass required. Ah so, but no one laughed in Tokyo. Rather, the reaction was one of awe that so gigantic an undertaking could be directed with neither confusion nor officious heavy-handedness. Events went off as scheduled, no official got in the way of any performer, there was always a wind gauge present when a world record in track was set. The Mexicans, hosts to the next Games, came to Tokyo with only 200 officials and a casual air. "We are not sure we can guarantee the organization of these Games," conceded Professor Manuel Aquilar, Mexican chef de mission. "The weather will be nice, though."
Item: Come 1968, watch the Germans. Their combined East-West team garnered 50 medals—two less than were collected by all the British Commonwealth nations combined, placing them third behind only the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. They collected eight in the U.S.-dominated swimming and diving, won a gold medal in yachting, finished two-three-four behind American Fred Hansen, world-record holder, in the pole vault and, in the decathlon, universally considered to be the supreme test of an athlete, captured first, third and sixth. They could very well be even more of a force at Mexico City.
Herbert Hoover's love for sport was as genuine as his love for stricken mankind. He had been baseball manager at Stanford University, and his affection for the game survived to the end. He was long a familiar sight at Yankee Stadium, seated in a box along the first-base line, pencil in hand, scorecard in lap, meticulously jotting down hits and strikeouts, double plays and errors. When, as President of the U.S., he threw out the first ball of the season, he did it with unfeigned joy.
As for fishing, few have written more eloquently about a sport that has inspired much literature. His humor had a gentle bite. He once described Calvin Coolidge's back cast as "a common danger." And in his book Fishing for Fun and to Wash Your Soul (Random House, $3), published just last year, he wrote:
"Life is not comprised entirely of making a living or of arguing about the future or defaming the past. It is the break of waves in the sun, the contemplation of the eternal flow of the stream, the stretch of forest and mountain in their manifestation of the Maker—it is all these that soothe our troubles, shame our wickedness, and inspire us to esteem our fellow men—especially other fishermen."
BY ANY OTHER NAME
Houston's National League baseball team will travel next season, but without a gun. Because of legal action taken by the Colt Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co., the club has decided to change its name from the Colt .45s to something less litigious.
The Colt people granted permission three years ago for use of the name and product as the symbol of Houston's expansion-born team, deriving much valuable publicity therefrom. But they bridled when the ball club sublet the nickname and insigne to novelty companies without cutting the firearms company in on the profits. Major league baseball people are notoriously touchy about sharing profits with anyone, and Judge Roy Hofheinz, Houston president, reacted predictably. He announced that the club would change its name.
Changing a baseball team's nickname never has been easy. The Boston Braves tried without success to become the Bees. The Philadelphia Phillies never could persuade their followers to call them Blue Jays. The Washington Nationals are irrevocably Senators. Even the Daughters of the American Revolution had little luck in demanding that the Cincinnati Reds become the Redlegs. "Let the Russians change their name," a Cincinnati sports columnist snorted. "We were the Reds before they were."
Hofheinz seems to be leaning toward the Houston Stars because this is the space age, you see, and there is a play on words involved. On the other hand, a fan has suggested that the team be called the Houston Clowns because they will play under the domed stadium's big top. Hofheinz did not much care for that proposal.
When Bob Gibson, World Series pitching hero of the St. Louis Cardinals, was a hard-throwing pitcher for Creighton University of Omaha, Jesse Bradshaw was a hard-hitting outfielder for Midland College of nearby Fremont, Neb., a Lutheran institution. Bradshaw was studying for the ministry. He came to bat one day against a Gibson whose control was not what it was in the World Series. In the time-tested manner of so many sluggers, Bradshaw was chewing tobacco. One of Gibson's high hard ones began to sail directly at Bradshaw's head. Bradshaw ducked away, and in the excitement swallowed his chaw. He departed from the plate ill, not bothering to complete his time at bat and ever since, through his ordination and on to today, the Rev. Jesse Bradshaw has limited himself to licorice.
COMEUPPANCE FOR JOEY
In all things fistic, Middleweight Champion Joey Giardello considers himself a smart guy. But last week, after his title fight with Hurricane Carter was canceled, Giardello was less certain about it. In the 11 months since he won the title from Dick Tiger, Giardello has turned down an uncommon number of big-money offers. Most of them he dismissed airily as "phony." (He knew all about bogus $100,000 guarantees since that is how he got the fight with Tiger.)
Joey passed up one offer from José Torres. It was backed by a 575,000 certified cashier's check, but Joey said the guarantee was too small. Instead he accepted a promise of 5102,500 from Las Vegas' Silver State Sports Club and from Telescript, a closed-circuit TV company, to fight Carter. The guarantee was fat and the money was insured—or so he thought. Silver State deposited a check for $55,000, and Telescript put up a $60,000 letter of credit with the Nevada boxing commission. But the check bounced and Telescript had second thoughts. A week before the fight the closed-circuit company threw in the towel and told Giardello that as far as it was concerned the fight was off. And so was the $60,000 letter of credit.
"This is the worst experience I've had In 17 years of boxing," said Giardello, who probably will defend his title early this winter but for considerably less than $100,000.
SIT-UPPERS, TAKE NOTICE
Seeking immortality, a Marine drill instructor at Quantico, Va. set what was claimed as a record 8,500 sit-ups last year. This year no one remembers his name. It is just as well, because the record is now 14,000 sit-ups, which makes 8,500 look puny.
It was set at the Tampa, Fla. YMCA by a 28-year-old FBI agent, John Green-shields, who required six hours and 10 minutes and the sustenance of four cookies and some lemon drops to do it. He could have gone on for another 1,000, Greenshields said, but he had worn out five different counters and the Y chief asked him please to knock it off.
Greenshields said he did 8,000 sit-ups while in training at the FBI school in Quantico about a year ago. Hitting 14,000 was easier because he had trained more rigorously for the test. Since June he has been doing 1,000 sit-ups before breakfast every day, tapering off with another 500 before going to bed. On weekends he racked up between 4,000 and 5,000.
His wife, Patricia, thinks for some reason that Greenshields is a little goofy about sit-ups, but consider what will happen to the next criminal who tries punching him in the belly. The crook will break his hand.
A QUESTION OF COLOR
Throughout the history of the Thoroughbred horse it was considered genetically impossible to produce one that was all white. But within the space of two years two all-white Thoroughbreds have been foaled—the first in France a year ago last summer, the second in Kentucky a year ago. The French colt was named Mont Blanc, and the Kentuckian, a filly, was named White Beauty. In each case there was suspicion that a scandal involving a brewery horse might be in the family background, but after investigation Mont Blanc was allowed registry in the official French stud book and The Jockey Club admitted White Beauty to Thoroughbred society.
White Beauty's sire was Ky. Colonel, who is a chestnut. Her dam, Filly o'Mine, is a dark bay. Herman Good-paster, her owner, is training White Beauty for a debut at Keeneland in April.
Goodpaster has a colt in his stable, also sired by Ky. Colonel. His name is Why Wander and he is red, white and blue.
REJUVENATION IN FIJI
In the half century since a New Zealander started a Rugby ball rolling under Fiji's coconut trees during World War I, the game has become the national sport of 260,000 native Fijians. Until this fall the Fijians played Rugby only among themselves and against Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Western Samoa. Then last month Rugby-mad Wales invited them to fly half around the world to play five Welsh teams. To everyone's astonishment, Fiji won two, lost two and tied one. The last game in Cardiff Arms Park attracted 50,000 spectators. It was a thriller. With one man out of action and no substitutions allowed, Fiji lost 28-22 in a match that connoisseurs said would go down in the books as one of the great games.
So popular were the Fijians in Wales that the French Rugby Federation eagerly invited them to play five matches in France. The French played much more conservatively than the Welsh, and the free-passing Fijians did not fare so well. They won only one of the five matches, lost their last game 21-3, but the score was misleading, since three "tries" (touchdowns) were made in the last 10 minutes. By that time the Fijians were showing the effects of playing 10 games in a month but they mustered enough strength to perform a Fiji war dance that the French loved.
The Fiji invasion of Europe may have had a considerable effect on the game. "Give the ball plenty of air," say Welsh fans, meaning that they want to see a wide-open game. Probably no rugger team gives the ball a better airing than the Fijians. Even in the shadow of their goal posts they toss the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters in basketball.
"The Fijians may not have won all the time," a Welsh expert observed, "but they have certainly rejuvenated the sport."
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Hardin, 400-meter hurdler from LSU, explaining why he turned down an invitation to join a track tour of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa at the conclusion of the Olympics: "I just can't miss the LSU-Ole Miss football game."
•A. B. (Happy) Chandler, baseball commissioner from 1945 to 1951: "Most of the owners in baseball today couldn't care less about the future of the game. They have no interest in, nor any consideration for, the American people, who pay the bills."
•Frank Broyles, head coach of the unbeaten, untied Arkansas Razorbacks, on the mysteries of football polls: "For Arkansas ever to be voted No. 1 we'd have to win all our games and everybody else in the country would have to lose two."
•Chuck Mills, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy coach, after his team lost to Bucknell 37-0: "Fortunately, we were up for the game, or else we would have been killed."