THE MAINE BOUT
Except that Boston District Attorney Garrett H. Byrne was making it much too uncomfortable and uncertain for the promoters, the reasons for the shift of the Clay-Liston heavyweight championship bout from Boston to improbable Lewiston, Me. are hard to come by. Though his reputation is of the highest, one cannot accept Byrne's professed reason as the only one—that he had belatedly discovered irregularities in the promotional setup. Such irregularities are the norm in big fights and have been winked at as much in Boston as anywhere. Other reasons, all speculative, have been suggested:
•Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, disturbed that no clear proof exists that Sonny Liston has been relieved of his old mobster control, protested to the then governor, Endicott Peabody, after Peabody approved the fight. Peabody, though a Democrat and a friend of the Kennedys, did not withdraw his approval but was defeated for reelection last fall. District Attorney Byrne is a Democrat and Senator Kennedy is a most influential Democrat. The Kennedys backed Byrne when he ran for office 13 years ago.
•Many Bostonians were fearful that, since Champion Cassius (Muhammad Ali) Clay is a Black Muslim, followers of the assassinated Malcolm X, a defected Muslim, might revenge themselves on Clay during the fight—with bombs or bullets. Jerry Nason, Boston Globe sports editor, took out extra insurance on the lives of five Globe men who would be at ringside.
•Byrne had access to reports of chicanery in Miami Beach before the first fight, which ended with Liston surrendering his priceless championship sitting on his stool. (Except for Clay's earlier decision to quit because of something in his eyes, which was overruled by his corner, it had been a fascinating bout up to then.) At hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly it was disclosed that Ash Resnick, a notorious gambler barred from many Florida racetracks, was in Liston's dressing room before the bout and watched it from a vantage point near Liston's corner. There were also reports of special interest in the match in Youngstown, Ohio, a gambling center and second home for many a hoodlum.
Now that Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot 1-inch New York City basketball player, has announced that he will go to UCLA in the fall, it might be nice if segments of the sporting press and of the nation's coaches apologized to Alcindor's high school coach, Jack Donahue. For two years columnists and coaches refused to believe Donahue when he said he would not attempt to influence Alcindor's decision on where he would play college basketball, and would not make a package deal of himself and Alcindor for some properly appreciative school. When Donahue was appointed coach at Holy Cross last month the cynics were sure they were right, that Alcindor was just going through the motions of visiting other campuses and would follow his coach.
Well, congratulations to UCLA and to Holy Cross. One has acquired the best player prospect in basketball history; the other, an honest man.
RALLY IN TENNIS
In a move that has brought it, at long last, into the 20th century, the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association has appointed Robert S. Malaga, Cleveland lawyer, as its Assistant to the President. It was Malaga who brought the Davis Cup matches to Cleveland, where they achieved new financial success. This year Malaga and his volunteer organization are on their way to making the Wight-man Cup—women's tennis, no less—a success.
Even outside tennis Malaga has proved himself an expert promoter. Last fall, when it seemed that the Indians were set to move to Seattle, he and his tennis group were asked to lead a drive to keep the team in Cleveland. They did and they sold $900,000 worth of season tickets, and the Indians are still there by Lake Erie.
USLTA President Martin L. Tressel has given Malaga a free hand in his job, which is salaried but supposed to be part-time. Actually, and characteristically, he is working overtime. In his first week at it he arranged for sponsorship of a Junior Davis Cup training camp, helped mediate an international Davis Cup site problem, then hustled off to Chicago to meet with officials of the National Clay Court Tournament.
The only reason for the decline of tournament tennis has been a listless disposition on the part of its inbred rulers to continue operations in the Newport tradition. But the rise of the bath and tennis club in recent years has made it clear that topflight tennis is ready for a boost. After all, there are seven million golfers in this country, but there are eight and a half million tennis players. It would appear that in young Bob Malaga the game finally has found someone with the big, booming serve to give it what it needs.
Canadian bears have been having no easy time of it. First, there was this business of painting their bottoms red if they were the type that invaded the tents of campers looking for food. They were then transported to distant places. If they managed to make their way back to where the tourists congregate, the red bottoms were a giveaway and they were picked up again and hauled off to an even more distant area. It was like wearing convict stripes.
Now the grizzly bears in the Rogers Pass country of British Columbia may be letting themselves in for a big surprise. Tourists traveling the Trans-Canada Highway have been giving them a wider berth than usual, and with good reason.
To forestall dangerous snow slides, highway engineers devised a plan. They would control the slides by triggering them with dynamite when the roads were clear. So they hooked up a number of charges, backed off a safe distance and pressed down on the plunger. Nothing happened.
Hungry grizzlies, it seems, were digging up the dynamite sticks and devouring them like lollipops.
THE KIBITZING CAMERAS
It is a loosely enforced rule in some ball parks, but it is there in the book, and it says that only uniformed personnel and trainers may be in the dugouts during baseball games. It was an embarrassment, therefore, when General Manager George Selkirk of the Washington Senators discovered last weekend that the Senators' and the New York Yankees' dugouts had been infiltrated by two ABC-TV cameras and their operators. The cameras had been there, in fact, for both Friday night's and Saturday's games before anyone noticed. The Washington dugouts are big.
In the fine print of the ABC-TV contract it says that the TV men are entitled to position a ground-level camera between first base and home and another between third and home. A camera on the ground is scarcely maneuverable, so the TV men got permission to set up platforms in the dugouts. Selkirk refused to say who gave the permission, though it was not he. He apologized to Yankee Manager Johnny Keane and insisted on taking all the blame.
Purpose of the dugout rule is to prevent spies from wigwagging information to the opposition. As a side effect, it keeps out pests. Or it does, that is, if it is enforced.
PRO MEETS AMATEURS
The fragrance must have seemed strange to Hank Strain, coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead of the familiar locker-room odors of sweat and liniment, the air carried traces of Chanel No. 5 and Bellodgia. He was addressing 200 women at a sort of football seminar and he was the only man in the room.
Stram took no chances of overestimating the football knowledge of his students. "This," he said, pointing to a blackboard marked off like a gridiron, "is a football field." And he went on to explain that the lines were five yards apart, except for the one-yard hash marks.
"If the hash marks divide the field into one-yard units," a lady asked, "why does the referee step off a penalty?"
"It keeps him active," Stram said.
He went on to more complex matters.
"This," he said, "is a football."
And he launched into a discussion of kicking. A lady interrupted.
"Why can't you punt the ball through the goal posts and get three points?" she asked.
"Because it's against the rules," Stram told her.
"Can you be penalized for kicking the ball too far?"
He picked up a helmet.
"This," he said, "is a helmet."
"With all those bars in front," an advanced student asked, "how did Lennie Dawson get his nose broken last season?"
"The Houston linebacker," Stram explained, "was very accurate."
After he finished his talk Stram joined the ladies for soft drinks and pastel-colored cookies. The football season seemed very far away.
SPORTING LOOK FOR CANOEISTS
The Texas Water Safari is a grueling, nine-day, 536-mile canoe race from San Marcos to Freeport, so tough that this year only 10 of the 36 teams that started were able to finish. There were waterfalls that could be crossed only by letting the canoes down on ropes. There were portages through swamps and there were logjams. A water moccasin dropped from a tree into one team's canoe. And each weary night Al and Pat Widing, a couple of brawny carpenters from Holly, Mich., took off their green-and-pink women's nylon panties and rinsed them out so that they would be fresh for the next day's run.
The Widings won and, after finishing a quart of ice cream, they explained about those panties. "They let you slide on the seat of the canoe," Al said, "so you don't get blisters."
THE RUSSIAN EVOLUTION
Now that the Russians have won the Olympics and walked in space, they are turning their eyes in another direction. In an article entitled "Scientific Barbarians," Soviet Life, which is a first-rate propaganda magazine, reports that a group of history students moved back into the Stone Age for an extended experiment in primitive living. They isolated themselves in the eastern Sayan Mountains, which separate Siberia from Mongolia, and in three hours produced fire by rubbing sticks together. In nine days the students had made a knife, and in 11 days they were able to put together a hammer. They have not got around to the wheel as yet.
The whole thing seems to have a certain subtle significance. Years ago there was a popular American book that forecast socialism. Looking Backward, it was called. In the age of The Bomb, can the Russians be looking forward? Or backward, so to speak? As the boy scouts, who can rub sticks together with the best of them, say, "Be prepared."
THE COMPLAINING MASTERS
Some golf professionals are complaining about the distribution of the purse in the Masters. Those eliminated after 36 holes are sometimes better off than those who survive the cut and stay around for the entire tournament.
Thus, when Jackie Burke, the former Masters champion, failed to qualify for the final 36 holes he collected his $900, flew home to Houston and watched the rest of the tournament on TV. But his buddy, Jimmy Demaret, survived the cut, finished the 72 holes and won $1,050. Considering caddie fees, hotel and meals, Demaret with an extra $150 was not as well off as Burke. And there is Dick Mayer, who remembers that he finished 10th a few years ago at Augusta and won a mere $445 more than the 76th-place man.
THEY SAID IT
•Gene Stallings, Texas A&M's new football coach, in a talk to Aggie alumni: "I'll run the football program and you run your banks, feed stores and chicken lots, and we'll get along just fine."
•Franklin Mieuli, owner of the Warriors: "We tried for fellows 7 feet 1 inch in the draft because we'd like to get some use out of Wilt Chamberlain's old uniforms."
•Jimmy Piersall, Angels' outfielder, when he learned that Charles O. Finley, Kansas City owner, issued free tickets to Catholic high school students for an A's-Angels Friday night game: "He let in 7,500 people and won't sell a single hot dog."