Florida is a peninsula of prosperity, shaped something like a money bag. Even its sea may be assessed as golden. Between Miami Beach's Millionaires' Row and NASA's billion-dollar beach lies Fort Pierce, where last year a little band of divers, calling themselves the Real "8" Company, took a vacuum cleaner to the ocean floor and sucked up a drowned treasure worth $1.6 million. "Yo ho ho," cried Governor Haydon Burns, as he divided the loot into four piles and took one, the state's legal 25% cut of any treasure trove.
Until then the 25% law had been administered carelessly, since tourists usually gathered little more than seashells and sunburn. The state had charged a $500 fee to salvage groups to stake a claim in the ocean, then left them alone. But recently Real "8" reported that there are nine more ships down there, the entire Spanish Silver Fleet that was transporting $14 million in pirated treasure back to Spain in 1715 when it foundered in a hurricane only 300 yards offshore. Governor Burns decided to protect Florida's interests more assiduously and devised the State Board of Antiquities, with himself as head, to supervise salvage operations. The board also controls such cultural heritage as fossils, coral and old maps.
In three days last week Real "8" panned 1½ tons of silver from another vessel of the fleet. By coincidence, 20 miles down the beach was another group, completely dissociated from the treasure hunters: Dr. Jacques Piccard, Edwin Link of simulated-trainer fame and John Perry, who were filming a movie on the tiny deck of Perry's invention, the one-man "cubmarine." As the cameras cranked out Descent to Greatness, Perry and Piccard expressed hope that the film might promote interest in their new scheme to design a silent drifting submarine to listen to migrating fish. Some $40 million will be sunk into the project, which seeks not the treasure of lost galleons but the ways of gilled creatures. The belief is that such knowledge will provide mankind with a new, reliable source of protein. In the light of the world's population explosion, ocean protein may yet be worth more than all the silver in the Spanish Main.
July 11, 1965
THE CROWDED DOME
The Mets have proved it in New York, and the Astros are establishing in Houston that a winning ball club is not necessary to attract fans. Nicely in ninth place, just above the Mets, the Astros passed the one-million mark for this season's attendance on June 25.
That million represents 60% of Houston's metropolitan population. By contrast, the other National League cities are also-rans. Cincinnati ranks second, on the strength of attracting 24% of its metropolitan population. Chicago is at the bottom of the list with 4%.
The Astros seem certain to draw better than two million for the season, something that only four other teams—the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Braves, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees—have done. But none of those other teams finished worse than third. Third looks like outer space to the Astros.
THE YO-YO'S UPS AND DOWNS
During its 40 years, the Donald F. Duncan Yo-Yo Company of Evanston, Ill. had survived the hula hoop, hi-li paddles, Chinese checkers and bubble gum. Despite them all, it sold as many as 25 million Yo-Yos a year. Recently, creditors of the company filed a petition for involuntary bankruptcy. The firm had ended its 1965 fiscal year with $50 in the bank and $1 million in debt. Blame it on the skateboard, said Edward Garbow, Duncan's comptroller.
A federal court appointed Attorney Harry A. Ash as receiver, with instructions to reorganize Duncan and preserve its name as "the outstanding maker of Yo-Yos." What Ash had going for him mostly was the company's reputation for integrity. It had stood firm in the conviction that the best Yo-Yo was made of wood—good, hard maple, processed and polished in its plant at Luck, Wis. No cheap plastic jobs for Duncan. No metal jobs with holes that make whistles.
But now Receiver Ash is thinking of making Yo-Yos that look like baseballs and golf balls. And he is wondering if the company can get into the skateboard business before that fad fades.
The steepest ski slope in the U.S. is at Taos Ski Valley, and it is quite discouraging to beginners. For these, a new, almost horizontal slope is being prepared. It will be 750 feet long and have a drop of only 75 feet. It will be called Fanny Hill.
EX-LITTLE LEAGUE CATCHER
There are those who worry about what happens to today's boy when he finds that he lacks the talent to play even substitute right field in Little League or Pony League baseball. Does he wind up on the child psychiatrist's couch? Not if he is Greg Hoops, 15, who once tried baseball and flopped. Greg turned to fishing.
Five mornings a week, Greg bikes to Rapid Creek, each morning to a different section of a two-mile stretch that winds through Rapid City, S. Dak. Equipped with a spin-casting outfit, a small plastic container filled with a few bobbers, some hooks, a few flies and a can of night crawlers, he rigs up carefully and gets down to business. He may fish off a bridge or wade barefoot in the middle of the stream, or he may hang from an overhead tree limb. Whatever he does, Greg comes back with fish.
His largest trout this summer has been a brown that weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces—and summer is barely begun. He has taken more than 300 trout up to now, including four that weighed more than five pounds each.
One of the great dust-off pitchers is Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. With Drysdale pitching, many a batter has dropped to his knees at the plate and given thanks for the helmet protecting his head.
Now Don has gone into a business that is intimately related to his pitching. He has joined the Daytona Helmet Company of Reseda, Calif., which hitherto has produced helmets for automobile and motorcycle racers and now is branching into the baseball field.
In connection with his new job Drysdale has been passing out free samples to such as Willie Mays of the Giants, one of his favorite targets, and Richie Allen of the Phillies, a prime prospect. He gave one the other day to Gene Freese of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Freese examined it suspiciously. "Are you trying to tell me something?" he demanded.
TIGER IN YOUR BANK
Borrowing money from a Memphis bank—or any other, for that matter—involves an interest charge of about 6% if the loan is to pay for food, clothing, medicine or such frills. But if the loan is for a genuine necessity, such as season football tickets, three Memphis banks offer a much more attractive deal. Available to fans of Memphis State University are loans called Tiger Notes, which pave the way to the purchase of season tickets at no interest whatsoever.
GO-KARTS A GO-GO
Put away your droshky, Ivan, and get with it, urges Nedelya, weekly supplement to the Soviet newspaper Izvestia. What the U.S.S.R. needs more of is go-karts.
Enthusiastically endorsing the tiny open cars, which were introduced in Russia five years ago, Nedelya plumped for government permission to use them on the highways. Skill in designing, driving and repairing is required by go-karting, Nedelya observed, and therefore it "is especially valuable to adolescents."
The karts have, in fact, caught on big without any urging from Nedelya. Soviet championships have been held for the past two years.
In Hueytown, Ala. there is, as everywhere, a Little League baseball team, and before each game Coach John Coleman requires it to huddle for a brief silent prayer. Before a recent game there was the customary solemn silence, broken in time by the coach.
"Amen," he said. "Now let's go out there and get them."
"But Mr. Coleman," protested a 10-year-old, "I'm not through yet!"
JUDGMENT BY THE BOOK
Published by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Play Ball is a book of religious testimonials from 17 professional athletes and coaches—among them Buddy Dial, Jim Ray Smith, Ray Berry, Bill Glass and Paul Dietzel. It sells for $2.95. After the Bonham (Texas) High School football team finished its season with a fine 9-1-2 record, copies of the book were presented to the players by the Seventh and Main Baptist Church of Bonham. It turns out that, in the opinion of the Texas Interscholastic League, this made the kids professionals. Gifts valued at more than $15 are not permitted, and the players had already received letter jackets worth that much. Even though the boys returned the books once the matter was brought up, their team was put on probation for three years.
"By the Interscholastic League's interpretation," said the Rev. Clyde Herring, pastor of the Bonham church, "there is no doubt that we broke the rule. But if breaking the rule is good, then the rule is bad."
TARGET: O'MALLEY'S HEAD
More than 1,000 parcels of land were involved in the transfer of Chavez Ravine from the city of Los Angeles to Walter O'Malley's Dodgers. For three years John David Loyd, an old opponent of the move, has been searching the city records and now claims that due to an oversight in the title transfers he owns a 12-by-40-foot strip of property smack in the middle of Parking Lot 15. There will be some changes made, says Loyd. He has filed a court action to force the Dodgers to take down their $1 toll gates and allow free access to his lot.
"I'm going to build a two-story building," Loyd declared, "and will sell Dodger Dogs and O'Malleyburgers from the first floor, will have my offices on the second and a huge billboard on the roof."
An O'Malleyburger, he explained, is a hamburger with a caricature of O'Malley on the bun, "so you can bite his head off if you want to."
The tennis at Wimbledon ended, as usual, in total victory for the Australians, led by Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith. Well, not quite total. In an exhibition doubles match, veterans Bill Talbert and Gardnar Mulloy beat Emerson and his countryman Fred Stolle 6-4 and tied them in a second set 6-6. At that point the Australians, fatigued, called it a day.
HERE COMES THE A-BAT
The broken bat has become such a commonplace of baseball since the sluggers turned to light, whippy models that Hillerich & Bradsby Co., the Louisville batmakers, may be unwise in a search they have begun for an all-but-indestructible bat. They have started research into a process whereby bats will be impregnated with plastic, like some fishing rods, and bombarded with atomic particles. If organized baseball accepts the atomic bat, Hillerich & Bradsby will sell far fewer of their product to the leagues.
Irradiation binds the plastic to the wood, according to Thomas Harris, company engineer. The result is a bat that looks as if it were made of wood but has the durability of the plastic. Half a dozen such have been treated experimentally at facilities of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Marietta, Ga. But tests will not be completed for another five or six months.
What with the rabbit ball and the atomic bat, there may come a day when the harried pitcher will feel that he is throwing, not from a mound, but from the center of a hydrogen mushroom.
THEY SAID IT
•Gene Mauch, Phillies manager, defining a spitball: "It's a nasty little thing that Bob Shaw of the Giants throws very well."
•Representative Charles Weltner of Georgia, deploring the refusal of Milwaukee to let the Braves move to Atlanta this year: "When the last hope is dead and the coffin is closed on major league baseball in that city, they will bear full blame for the bier that made Milwaukee famous."