A SILENCE AT BALTIMORE
If only in a small way, a professional team at last has told television to get out of the way of the game.
The Baltimore Bullets of the National Basketball Association went on national television last January 10 in a game against New York. So that its own announcers would not be inconvenienced by the public address system, ABC-TV told the Bullets not to let Roger Griswold, public address announcer, say a word during play, not even to give the names of those scoring baskets. He could, if he wished, talk during commercials, the Bullets were told. The Bullets complied. Then in a recent game against Philadelphia, their second on the network, Griswold called the plays as usual.
"Not having the public address system working made for a lousy game," General Manager Paul Hoffman explained. "It took too much color away, and the fans started hollering and complaining."
Hoffman said he had the backing of the Bullets' owners and will never silence the public address system again without a direct order from the NBA commissioner.
OLD FOLKS' HOME
The New York World's Fair, which was a colossal flop financially in 1964, is refurbishing itself here and there in the hope that the 1965 season will be better. The innovation we like best is something called, in the gaudy language of the circus spieler, the Pavilion of Dynamic Maturity. It features a patio, says the press release, "where an older person can relax and catch his breath."
REMEMBER THE KID?
On the porch of a house on a Cuban farm that he calls Finca Margarita, Kid Gavilan sits and rocks. He is all but blind from cataracts. His liver bothers him. When he was the world welterweight boxing champion and bought Finca Margarita it was a showplace. Now the house is eaten by termites. The grounds are unkempt. All the dollars and pesos are gone. There are two children.
"He cannot do any work," says Mrs. Gavilan. "Not even in the garden. He needs doctors' care. We will have to give up the farm and move to the city."
Before this year Gavilan, a convert of Jehovah's Witnesses, had been in and out of jail half a dozen times. Zealots had looked on his lay preaching as subversive.
One recent day José Llanusa, director of Cuban sports, came to see him. "He spoke to me very nice," Gavilan told Al Burt, Miami Herald Latin America editor. "He say he didn't know I was living in Cuba these past years." Thanks to Llanusa, the Cuban government has now awarded the forgotten Kid, whose grace and guile in the ring thrilled millions and made him a fortune, a pension of $200 a month.
THE SCOUT, S.J.
A big chap who looks like a former fullback, the Rev. William P. Hetherington, S.J., chairman of Xavier University's Department of Classic Languages, once said, "Give me a boy who's good at parsing Latin and knows something about Greek roots, and I'll go after him as though he were a 270-pound tackle." That, in fact, is what he does. He has applied to the recruiting of scholars some of the techniques of football and basketball coaches. At least once each year Father Hetherington goes on what he calls a "recruiting swing" to look over high school seniors and assay the strength and agility of the muscles in their brains.
The results of his academic recruiting have been impressive. During the past two years every graduate of the Xavier honors course has gone on to postgraduate work with a scholarship—at Columbia, Harvard, Wisconsin, Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Boston College. The course is heavily weighted with what Father Hetherington calls "the educative things"—Latin (26 hours), Greek (18 hours), math, science, economics and philosophy. With respect to the emphasis on Latin and Greek, he observes: "A dead language is not one which no longer is spoken but one in which nothing was ever said."
He likes to get an occasional athlete into the group, which numbers 20. His Bill Eastlake, football guard, is one of 22 football scholars around the country to win $1,000 NCAA scholarships this year. Eastlake will continue his economic studies at Stanford.
Not too oddly, it would appear that a certain amount of hanky-panky occurs in academic recruiting, comparable to what goes on in athletic recruiting.
"I know one case of a school offering a youngster a scholarship after his third year of high school," says the competitive Father Hetherington. "That, to my mind, is dirty pool."
After a superb season in Puerto Rico's winter league, Denny McLain, a young pitcher, has reported to the Detroit Tigers' training camp in Lakeland, Florida, all the more welcome because he had topped off his season in the Caribbean by winning the game that gave his Mayaguez team a shot at the championship. After the game, screaming hero-worshipers mobbed him, hoisted him to their shoulders and carried him off the field in triumph. And one of them picked his pocket of $30.
EAST MEETS BRUMMIES
One of those polls has proclaimed that the British city where people watch television least is Birmingham, whose residents are much too busy with ballroom dancing, ice skating and amateur dramatics to waste much time in front of the "goggle box." They are down-to-earth, sensible folks. It is a shock, therefore, to most of their countrymen, who call them Brummies, that there recently has occurred in Birmingham, of all places, a sudden rise in demand for instruction in yoga. Hundreds of Brummies are studying it in evening classes provided by a city government that thoughtlessly figured the subject would never go over at all. The city council, quite startled, has instituted an official inquiry. The worry is that Yoga may get completely out of control.
As a result of the inquiry, physical training experts are examining the 84 postures of hatha-yoga, most of them never seen before in Birmingham. The philosophical content of the courses is being analyzed, too, and one expert has condemned yoga as un-British because it is not conducive to teamwork. More like muscle-building and, begad, decidedly narcissistic.
The passion of the Brummies continues, though, and there are testimonials that cannot be taken lightly. Witnesses say that they feel less nervous after yoga exercises, that it has dispersed rheumatic pains, and that it has helped a golfer's concentration on the first tee. At least two housewives believe that yoga keeps their feet warm.
Admirers of Birmingham are reassured, however, that the pupils have not yet discarded the long list of pleasures full-time yogis abstain from. Brummies still break for a cup of tea, a smoke and a chin-wag about the relative merits of the local soccer clubs.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND AGAIN
The job of Intourist is to promote the Soviet Union as a tourist resort, a playground of culture, adventure and fun. Its latest effort is to lure capitalist hunters to Siberia for an eight-day, $1,500 safari by guaranteeing the trophy—a specimen of the Siberian brown bear. Hunters sign up in advance, then wait for a bear to be found by Intourist field-men in Irkutsk and officially reserved for "export purposes." Once the bear is found, notification is teleprinted to the Intourist bureau in Paris, which then calls the marksman at the head of the list. Next day he sets out from France on his 8,400-mile round trip.
With the plan only a month old, Paris reports the offering has met with enthusiasm. Hard-currency applications have been pouring in. But only one bear has been killed, a 660-pound brute which was awakened rudely from winter hibernation, peered from the mouth of his cave and was summarily shot by a fearless French hunter. Since then indolent Siberian bears have lost interest in their value as an economic commodity. Intourist supply center in Irkutsk regrets to report that, due to local "earth tremors" and other disturbances, bear production is at a standstill. In spite of the great demand the bottom has dropped clean out of the bear market.
SPORTSWOMAN'S BUSY DAY
Retiring as joint-master of the Garth and South Berks hunt, Miss Effie Barker recalled a ¬£5 bet she had made 29 years ago, when she took over from the previous master, her father. She bet that within 12 hours she could be in at the death of a fox, shoot a partridge, catch a trout, play a set of tennis and a game of squash, dress and be at the theater in London, 40 miles away. She won.
At 53, Miss Barker thinks she could do it again.
LITTLE BEAR GROWS UP
In Arizona, where space may blunt a man's perspective and the folk are so arbitrary that a leading restaurant's menu includes lamb chops on the "vegetarian dinner," the hunting laws list small game as rabbit, squirrel, quail and bear.
The bear, once a predator to be hunted at any time, was added to the small-game list a few years ago in order to afford him protection. He now can be hunted only in season. He was not classified as big game because stockmen thought that would afford just too much protection to a marauder menacing their cattle.
Now a bill is before the legislature to take Bruin out of small game and into big-game status, with a proviso that he be protected by modern game-management techniques.
Pride is a factor in the move. Arizonans have been taking altogether too much kidding about their inability to tell a bear from a rabbit.
THE PRUDENT ATHLETE
As baseball players assemble at spring training camps this week, a lot of them are talking about a new organization called Sports Representatives Association, headquartered in Los Angeles. SRA plans to help the players earn money during the off season and to prepare them for the day when their playing careers are over. Organized last November, it has signed 99 players to five-year contracts—among them Roger Maris, Jim Fregosi, Leon Wagner, Orlando Cepeda and Ed Bressoud.
No ordinary talent representative, SRA will have its members given aptitude tests to determine in what field other than baseball they might excel. They will be required to take suitable extension classes or correspondence courses. Elocution lessons will prepare them for television and radio appearances, including commercials. Each player is guaranteed that SRA will get him jobs paying him a specified amount ($5,000 annually in the case of a player earning from $27,000 to $45,000 from baseball). Of this $5,000 SRA takes 15% as its agency fee and puts another 10% in a trust fund for the player. Trust fund money will be invested for him.
After the baseball season opens, SRA expects to move heavily into other professional sports—among them football, basketball and golf. The founder of SRA is Tom Bunetta, formerly a television producer and entertainer, who became acquainted with many sports figures while using them on commercials. After picking up a suit for a player who had missed it at the cleaner's and paying a traffic fine for another, Bunetta decided that athletes need tender, loving care.
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
In the dark heart of Africa remains an aboriginal tribe which, like the shifting sand dunes, has withstood the impress of civilization. The pint-size, apricot-colored Kalahari Bushmen are Africa's most primitive inhabitants. They have no material possessions of consequence—no homes, no clothes, no tools, nothing worthy of defense. Called the Harmless People, they worship the moon, have a passion for honey and are extremely sensitive about their slight stature (under 5 feet). Coming upon one of these tiny desert creatures, one must never show surprise but instead greet him with the respectful phrase, "Good day! I saw you looming up afar."
For 300 years the Bushmen have roamed the desert north of the Orange River in southwestern Africa, protected from religion, education and culture by their wandering nature. Now the first Bushman has compromised with the 20th century—Tamai, a migratory farmhand who learned to drive a 1938 Ford truck in the cornfields at the edge of the desert. He found roads leading out and away from the fields inviting—but they are public and available to licensed drivers only. So Tamai, who has no age or last name, had himself driven to town one day recently. There he perched himself in the driver's seat on a pile of cushions, started and stopped, reversed, interpreted a few road signs and finally was issued the first Bushman driver's license.
HOW MIGHTY ARE THE HIGH?
Unlike medical centers devoted solidly to the sick, the Lovelace Foundation in Albuquerque also is interested in healthy types such as test pilots and astronauts to find out how they will perform at high altitudes and under extreme temperatures.
Now the Lovelace scientists are discussing the possibility of transferring some of this aerospace expertise to the problems of athletes. As the 1968 Olympic Games will be held in Mexico City, 7,800 feet above sea level, they are wondering whether it would not be good for the U.S. team to train in almost mile-high Albuquerque.
To evaluate such matters, Lovelace's Dr. Roy Goddard, who is chairman of the National AAU Sports Medicine Committee, is proposing an international symposium on the effects of altitude on athletes. Dr. Goddard also has asked the AAU for a national indoor track meet to be held in Albuquerque. This would give the athletes experience in competition at a high altitude and Lovelace a supply of guinea pigs.
It is all in the talk stage at present, but it sounds sensible.
THEY SAID IT
•Arnold Levy, sole winner of a $108,242.40 twin double recently at Hialeah and winner in January 1964 of a $75,002.20 twin double at Tropical Park: "The twin double is the worst thing that ever happened to horse racing; it's too easy to fix."
•Shelby Metcalf, Texas A&M basketball coach, on his advice to one of his players who made four Fs and a D: "Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on one subject."