THE SPORT OF POLITICS
This is an article from the March 1, 1965 issue
The desultory look-see of the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee into the sale of the New York Yankees to the Columbia Broadcasting System was based on pending legislation to put baseball under antitrust laws, with exemptions from the law's applications to such matters as player drafts and territorial rights. The sale had no relevance to the legislation, but the senators went through the motions anyway. It assured them space on the sports pages.
The intent of the subcommittee was made refreshingly clear by Senator Roman L. Hruska, Nebraska Republican.
"For the record," he said, "if some of my earlier questions made it appear that I am hostile to the acquisition of the Yankees by CBS, I want to say I am not opposed to it. My only objection is that Hruska isn't part of it, because it sounds like a pretty good deal."
Well, that's show biz. It is also politics. And if the trend continues it may one day be baseball.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Without assessing the guilt or innocence of the three Seattle University basketball players expelled from school—two for allegedly fixing a game and the third for not reporting his knowledge of the fix—it is possible to discuss the culpability of others. In similar previous cases, we have insisted that among the guilty must be included those university officials who condone admission to the school and then the continued enrollment of "students" who are not academically qualified. We do so again.
Immediately after the fix story broke, the Very Reverend A. A. Lemieux, S.J., president of Seattle, said: "I should like to advise the university family that in the present unfortunate crisis...neither the university itself nor its team is involved." Father Lemieux is wrong. It is not that simple to put all the blame on three boys. One of the three players was the cause of his high school's forfeiting all games in which he played, because college boosters had faked his eligibility to play. In three high school years this player had F's in all courses of study, except one D in physical education as a freshman and A's in physical education as a sophomore and junior. What was he doing at Seattle University in the first place?
Late one recent night in a New York bistro of no repute, Mark McCormack, agent and attorney for Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, posed a question. "What do you think of Cobie Le Grange?" he asked. There was silence.
"The young South African," he explained. "You mean you don't know him! He is going to be great. He was in the British Open. Finished 106th. But he would have won the French Open, except he blew a short putt on the last green and then lost the playoff. What are you laughing about? He won the Engadine Open the next week. And he was third in the Gevacolour Tournament at Stoke Poges, and I suppose you don't know that he won the West Australian Television Channel 7 Purse at Lake Karrinyup? I don't see why that's so funny. Why, he won the Dunlop Masters' at Royal Birkdale.
"And certainly you read about his winning the Wills Masters in Australia. He's the 23-year-old kid who blew the eight-stroke lead to Nicklaus on the last nine, but he held on to beat Jack. Stop laughing. He's going to be great, I tell you."
It was ludicrous. And then other similar conversations with Mark McCormack came to mind. There was the fall of 1960, when he kept saying that another South African, Gary Player, was good enough to win any U.S. tournament. Or the afternoon at the 1961 U.S. Open when he said he was going to persuade a college boy named Nicklaus that he could make a fast fortune if he would just turn pro. Or the Masters in 1962, when he raved about an unknown Australian named Bruce Devlin. Or early '63, when he kept saying, "I know he's a left-hander, but I'm telling you...," and Bob Charles came up from New Zealand to join the tour.
So we felt it only fair to pass on McCormack's latest name to you. Cobie Le Grange. Laugh if you wish.
While the frustrated surfcaster flails an empty sea, a school of hungry stripers may be cavorting near the beach 100 or so yards away. It is an old problem. Russell Fradkin and his partners have solved it. Each of them equipped with walkie-talkies, they spread out along the beach. When one hooks into a school, he summons the others.
The day's fishing over, Fradkin drives home to the crowded west side of Manhattan, where every evening the automobiles come in to spawn. On the way he alerts his wife by Sony. From their 13th floor apartment overlooking Riverside Drive Mrs. Fradkin reconnoiters for an empty parking space, then talks him in on the Citizens Band. Fradkin is one fisherman-motorist who is always in the right place at the right time.
SNAP COURSE IN SCRIMSHAW
In Canada's far north there are 850 boy scouts, of whom 80% are Eskimo, 10% are Indian and 10% are white. Their range extends as deep into the Arctic as Grise Fjord, which is 700 miles above the Arctic Circle.
An Eskimo scout does not have to learn to identify trees—there aren't any—nor is he likely to win a proficiency badge in swimming or cycling. What he must do is far more demanding. He must make and use well a bow and arrow, run a trapline, learn to drive a dog-sled and take part in a seal hunt. To qualify for a cub interpreter badge he must be able to carry on a conversation, give clear instructions and read from a newspaper or book—all in a second language. For an 11-year-old Eskimo kid, that is quite a stunt. Now, with a bow to Eskimo culture, the boy scouts of Canada have introduced a carver's badge. To get it, a scout has to design and carve a small sculpture in ivory taken from a seal or in bone from a whale. He does not have to catch the whale himself.
SPORT FOR SPORT'S SAKE
Under the circumstances we think Coach Boyden Atwood is doing a splendid job. He cannot remember whether his Bethel High School basketball team won its last game in December 1959 or January 1960. Somewhere around then, he says, and he figures the losing streak at about 90, more or less.
Bethel High is in mountainous Watauga County, near Boone, N.C. Its gym, built in 1939, looks like a barn, and its only heat comes from two potbellied stoves. A few planks provide seats for 150 spectators. There are but 23 boys in the school, and 15 of them are on the basketball squad. Organized practice is difficult to arrange because the boys live in homes scattered through the mountains. But Atwood and his players are undaunted.
"The important thing," says Atwood, "is that these kids have a wonderful time. You see, this is virtually the only form of organized recreation they have. Basketball is the only sport in which we compete with other schools.
"These kids are just like my own children. We go hunting together a lot. A little school like this can't pay you anything for coaching [he teaches biology]. You just do it because you've got athletics in your blood."
And sportsmanship in your heart.
SPORTSMAN OF THE WEEK
It is hoped that this week Richie Wurster, a 22-year-old general reporter and sports columnist for the weekly Ballston Spa (N.Y.) Journal (circulation 1,636), will stop writing about the R and H Little League baseball team, of which he is the manager; the Ballston Spa Merchants baseball team, on which he is the weak-hitting second baseman; and the Saratoga Black Knights football team, on which he is a reserve linebacker, and write instead about speed skating, a sport in which he has finally become accepted as one of the best competitors in the country.
Last week Wurster was given a five-mile civic motorcade from Ballston Spa to Saratoga Springs to celebrate his 30th-place finish in the world speed-skating championships at Oslo, Norway. Since parades are seldom formed for people who finish 30th, there must have been reasons for this one. Only eight years ago Wurster finished so far back in the first heat of a meet that he was mistakenly declared the winner of the second heat. But he kept on skating, even though some observers were saying, "Why doesn't that big clown give up? He shambles and chugs and falls down."
Wurster used to hitchhike great distances to compete. Three years ago he thumbed 1,000 miles to St. Paul for the National Outdoor Championships, where he finished far back. This year, after many brutal hours of practice, he went back to St. Paul and won the Nationals, then won the North American Outdoor Olympic Championship at Oconomowoc, Wis. Only three weeks ago he capped it all by leading the U.S. team to victory over Canada at Edmonton.
That was the reason for the parade, at the end of which he was given a stopwatch, which should come in handy. Wurster serves as his own coach.
MONEY TALKS AGAIN
No one knows exactly why Hungary's Laszlo Papp, the European middleweight champion, winner of three consecutive Olympic gold medals and loser of only seven out of 300 amateur fights, was given permission to turn professional in the first place. Some have suggested that it was believed he did not have much boxing left in him and was therefore expected to do badly in professional ranks. The image of a beaten Papp would serve as a reminder to the young that venturing into a capitalistic version of the sport was an ideological error. But Papp, fighting in Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Spain, and never at home, amassed a small fortune. He lives in a beautiful bungalow on the side of Liberty Hill (yes, Liberty Hill) in the posh residential section of Budapest. Gyula Torok, who won the flyweight gold medal for Hungary in Rome, has been trying to turn professional ever since. Permission denied. Polish boxers have also made the try without success.
Two months ago Testnevelesi Tanacs, Hungary's governing sports body, demanded that Papp announce his retirement and join the ailing Hungarian national team as adviser. Instead, he went to Vienna and began negotiations for more professional fights. Thereupon the demand became something like a strict order.
Ah, but no one had reckoned with the National Bank of Hungary, which stepped into the fray and pointed out the undisputed value of the foreign currency that Papp has earned and would continue to earn as a pro. Ideology or no, Papp will continue to fight professionally at least until the end of this year.
The North Carolina quail-hunting season closed a couple of weeks ago, but this did not mean a vacation for S. A. White's four pointers and a setter. The day after the season's end they were hard at work again. White, a Mebane furniture man, uses one or another of them to pull his golf cart, to which he has rigged a special harness. He regards it as good exercise for the dogs and good command training, too.
"I have one signal, 'Whoa,' " he explained. "If I hit a shot off into the woods I just tell the dog 'Whoa,' and he stays there until I find the ball." He has no intention of enlarging his kennel to include, perhaps, a Labrador retriever (for water holes), a bloodhound (for woods and rough) or a St. Bernard (19th hole).
THEY SAID IT
•Don Demeter, Detroit outfielder, receiving an award as Oklahoma's outstanding baseball player of 1964: "I would have to thank Mickey Mantle, who moved out of state, Allie Reynolds, who retired, and Warren Spahn, I guess, for just getting old."
•Paul Drayton, Olympic sprint star who got leave from the Army to compete at Tokyo, on why he runs the short indoor races though they are not his specialty: "It keeps me off KP."
•Tex Winter, Kansas State basketball coach, addressing his squad after use of virtually all of them had failed to halt a losing streak: "Everybody show up for practice tomorrow afternoon—and bring a friend."