THUNDER DOWN UNDER
The bright and long career of 27-year-old Dawn Fraser, Australia's durable swimming champion, has come to a bitter end. Through three Olympic Games, Miss Fraser boldly and gaily dominated a sport that commonly verges on asceticism. But in the process of winning four Olympic gold medals and setting world records in four different events, Miss Fraser managed to remain a lively individual. She loafed when she felt loafing was what she needed and she drank a beer when she was thirsty. She occasionally kicked over the traces and she sometimes told off officials. She provoked laughter in a sport that in recent years has forgotten how to laugh.
Suddenly, last week, the Australian Swimming Union, notoriously prim, banished Miss Fraser from amateur competition for 10 years. The ASU refused to give its reasons for banishment, but the fact is that she had written a book about her career and scandalous goings-on at various Olympic Games. Its title, Below the Surface: The Confessions of an Olympic Champion, is justified by the contents. Although the Australian officials have not made a point of it, it is known that at Tokyo Miss Fraser refused to wear the regulation swimsuit on the ground that it did not fit. It is also known that, at the end of the Games, she snitched a flag from a plaza near the Imperial Palace, offending the polite Japanese more than they admitted publicly.
The Union would perhaps be justified in not wanting Miss Fraser to swim on the Australian national team, but to deprive her of the right to compete as an amateur ever again, anywhere, is unjust. Without submitting a jot of evidence to prove that Miss Fraser is a professional, the Australian Union has decreed that she is no longer an amateur.
HOW NOW, DRY FLY?
The fly-fishing gentry of Britain have been stricken in recent weeks by the discovery that poultrymen no longer are cooperating in the production of mature roosters, from whose necks come the hackles essential for the making of dry flies. It seems that the cocks are being slaughtered for market before they are old enough to grow hackles stiff enough to float the fly and, almost as important, of the proper dun color to attract trout. Gloomily, Peter Deane of Eastbourne, Sussex, a professional trout and salmon fly dresser, has reported to the magazine Creel that "unless something is done at once, dry-fly fishing will come to a halt."
The ugly situation is not confined to Britain. Harry Darbee of Roscoe, N.Y., himself a flytier of renown, confirms that the U.S. chicken farmer "butchers his chickens as soon as economically feasible, and usually long before their neck hackles are good enough for tying flies.
"Flytiers used to buy quality necks from the Far East," says Darbee, "but that trade source is shut off now. The only way is for the flytier to raise his own chickens but it will cost easily $10 to feed a rooster for two seasons—and then you may not get the right color hackles. A top-quality rooster neck, in blue, rust and honey dun colors, is worth $25.
"Of course," he added, "we are far more particular than the trout are. You can catch trout on dyed hackles, but that wouldn't be half as much fun."
Which is the heart of the matter.
THERE'S GOLD IN THAT VALLEY
When one considers that last year's Professional Golfers' Association Championship grossed $521,300, Ed Carter, promoter for this year's event, seems vastly optimistic in his estimate that it will gross $1 million. It is not just an estimate, either. More like a flat statement.
"We're going to do $400,000 in admissions, $300,000 in program advertising, $182,000 in television rights and $118,000 in concessions," Carter said. "Add it up and it totals a million dollars." It does, to the ultimate zero.
The championship will be played August 12-15 at Laurel Valley Country Club in Ligonier, Pa., which caters mostly to top businessmen from the Pittsburgh area. It is a snug layout, but Carter is developing extra facilities to handle the expected crush of gallery, players and press. Among the new facilities are two plush pavilions, and it is on these that Carter's confidence in a $400,000 gate is based. One pavilion he describes as "our superprivilege area." Tickets to it go for $600 each, and Carter already has sold 200 of them without special effort. That comes to $120,000. Admission to the other costs $30, and 8,000 tickets have been sold for it. It multiplies out to $240,000. Thus, Carter already has sold $360,000 of that $400,000.
Laurel Valley is a base for Arnold Palmer, golf's greatest money maker, who is the touring pro there. Laurel Valley is used to thinking big.
WHISPERING WHITE HOPE
The night that Oscar Bonavena, the Argentine heavyweight, was so soundly trounced by Zora Folley was a night of disaster for I.T.&T., which is not to be confused with International Telephone and Telegraph. In this improbable instance, I.T.&T. stands for International Talent and Training Co., a quasi-serious effort on the part of some chaps around Broadway and boxing to find, finance and develop in the arts and sports gentlemen and ladies of talent. Bonavena was the group's first venture, and it dreamed of being behind him right up to the heavyweight championship. After all, his trainer was Charlie Goldman, who had trained Rocky Marciano.
I.T.&T. was the brainchild of Eddie Jaffe, one of the more imaginative Broadway press agents.
"Our thought," says Jaffe, "was to fill the void left when the Mafia was driven out of boxing. With Frankie Carbo in prison there was nobody a fight manager could go to for financing and advice."
To avoid complications with boxing commissions, I.T.&T. did not function as a manager but rather as a financier and consultant. Its précis defined its purpose as being to help the artist "achieve his greatest potential"; "enable him to avoid emotional conflicts"; "insure his present activities will result in his future well-being."
"Everybody," says Jaffe, "needs people like us. Even psychiatrists."
So far I.T.&T. has been successful to the extent that, on the day of the fight, it found a chap willing to pay $125 for a share in the enterprise. As for Bonavena, he broke his hand in the second round and is currently laid up for repairs.
"When he's ready," says Jaffe, "we'll ship him off to Europe. He may wind up as the Italian champion."
It would appear that the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, less than enthusiastic about "open" tennis, in which amateur and professional play against each other as they do in golf, can be persuaded. Only last week at the Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club the old pro champion, Pancho Gonzalez, and Whitney Reed, once our No. 1 amateur, played a match before an appreciative crowd. Open tennis is not impossible. You just have to know how to work it.
The Berkeley club pro, Dennis Van der Meer, wanted to wind up his six-week instruction series for tennis teachers with such a match. He applied for permission of the USLTA through Don Hobart of Montclair, N.J., chairman of the association's Amateur Rules Committee. Hobart said it would be all right if only USLTA members saw the match.
This proved to be no problem whatsoever for Van der Meer. Pretty girls were stationed at tables at the gate and memberships were issued for $3 to adults, $1 to students. The USLTA thus gained 240 new members.
The 36-year-old Gonzalez, just back from an Australian tour, defeated Reed 6-2, 6-3.
No one was hurt.
Most football fans under the age of 50 never have seen a dropkick, a pretty play that went out when the ball was slimmed to make passing easier. For a little while last week it looked as if the dropkick might come back.
Last fall Colin Ridgway, an Australian who high-jumps for Lamar Tech and played football under Aussie rules (running and kicking but no throwing), put on a kicking demonstration for the Houston Oilers.
"I haven't seen punting like that in all my years in football," said Bones Taylor, Oiler coach. "Standing on the 40-yard line, and aiming at the goal 60 yards away, he angled nine of 10 punts out of bounds inside the 10-yard line. When he punted for distance he consistently kicked 60 yards in the air."
That was on wet grounds, which prevented effective drop-kicking, but later, on a dry day, Ridgway showed Taylor what he could do to score three points.
"He stood at the 40-yard line and aimed at the college goal posts 50 yards away," Taylor said. "He drop-kicked five from that distance without a miss."
The Oilers were looking forward to trying out Ridgway in exhibition games when the Dallas Cowboys heard of him. They invited him to Dallas for a demonstration, popped their eyeballs, and signed him.
Will the Cowboys permit Ridgway to drop-kick? Naturally not. They will teach him to place-kick.
It has been a long time since the world land speed record was held by a vehicle that reasonably resembled an automobile, and that would include the 1935 Bluebird with its futuristic stabilizer. But at least Bluebird functioned like an automobile, with four wheels and one engine, and in it Sir Malcolm Campbell did 301 mph at Bonneville, Utah. Since then the record has been set not so much by automobiles as by aerodynamic missiles. Captain George E. T. Eyston needed a seven-ton eight-wheeler with two Rolls-Royce engines to average 357 mph in 1938. Mickey Thompson tried four supercharged Pontiac engines in 1960 and did 406 mph one way.
Then the trend turned clear away from engines turning wheels. Ignoring the rules, Craig Breedlove bypassed the inhibiting drag and friction of the differential with a pure-thrust aerojet engine. He built an aluminum sheath around it, balanced it on three wheels to get rolling and set a tricycle record of 407 mph in 1963. Surplus fighter engines delivering some 17,000 pounds of thrust arrived at Bonneville with housings that had sprouted embryo wings, fins, rudders and flaps. They were less automobiles than low-flying aircraft. Started by an auxiliary motor, they were aimed down the track and pushed off to fly through the mile trap. They were braked by a parachute and a prayer.
With such power potential even a garbage truck could fly, so thrifty Art Arfons eliminated expensive streamlining, wrapped his J-79 jet in scrap metal, painted it green, and with this cheapest and certainly ugliest of land speed vehicles became the fastest man on earth, at 536 mph.
Perplexed officials finally relaxed the rules and recognized pure-thrust vehicles. These have set all but one of the past seven records. As of now the world land speed record can be held by anything on the ground that has four wheels under it and a human on board, making 1965 open season at Bonneville.
Breedlove will go back to the flats with a fourth wheel. Mickey Thompson is working on a solid-fuel rocket. "Dizzy" Addicot, British test pilot, has a Rolls-Royce Avon jet engine still in its fighter fuselage. By simply trimming the wings he will have a readymade speed contender that has already been tested through the sound barrier.
But, oddly, the strangest car at Bonneville will be powered by automobile engines, as in the good old days. It has four standard wheels turned on their axles by four Chrysler stock car engines. With only one engine running, it has gone 350 mph. With four engines, who knows? A reverse trend—back to Detroit—may set in.
THEY SAID IT
•Rip Collins, on his former teammate, the late Pepper Martin, with the St. Louis Cardinals Gashouse Gang: "After he was switched from the outfield to third base, he hated for fellows to bunt to him. He was the only ballplayer I ever knew who threw at the runner instead of the base."
•The London Economist, on pro football's influence on the college game: "Amateur standing in American football is like virginity—highly prized but difficult to ascertain."
•Casey Stengel, on his rookie outfielder Danny Napoleon: "He'll be O.K. if he keeps his hand out of his shirt."