There was unanimous testimony during the hearings of the House Interstate Commerce Committee that prizefighting must have a federal commissioner to save it from itself. An instant applicant for the job was Rocky Marciano.
If there is anything boxing does not need it is a czar drawn from its own ranks. Such an appointment would make the office suspect from inception. No one who has a single friend in the sport should be assigned the post. With all due respect for Rocky, his selection would be a reminder that in his boxing days he was managed by Al Weill, a man whose deals could bear little scrutiny even today. Rocky might even owe a favor here and there.
This presumption could apply, with substantial justice, to almost anyone identified with boxing. If the proposed bill should become law the job would indeed need an expert—not on prize-lighting, but rather in the arts of intrigue, plotting, machination and conspiracy, and one with a deep aversion to them all. In other words, a law man with administrative talents.
July 18, 1965
Around the first of each month there comes from the U.S. Interior Department a magazine called Water Resources Review, and usually it is pretty dull reading. The government maintains 8,000-odd streamflow gauges in creeks and rivers throughout the U.S. The Review reports the streamflow in terms of cubic feet per second and compares it with past records. Do not think that because there are streamflow gauges on the Rouge, or the Box Elder, or the Brandywine or other beautiful rivers the Review is going to give you any outdoor poetry or hints on where to fish. No. After assembling and digesting information from all these murmuring streams, the Review comes out with something like its report on Iowa in the June issue: "Soil moisture was generally adequate."
But the Review has now become as absorbing as an old-fashioned thriller in installments; it can keep you awake nights. The report on New Jersey in July begins: "Drought conditions continued for the 50th month..." After five years of declining rainfall (from an average 47 inches to about 32) New York and neighbors are faced with a critical drought. Fishing in some famous areas has been all but nonexistent; The New York Times pictured a child walking in the bed of the Delaware River. Even the scenic turnouts on highways overlooking the Hudson have been closed because of fire hazards; 150 brush fires started in one county on one weekend. A 42-inch rattlesnake was killed in a suburban backyard, and the curator of reptiles at the New York Zoological Park explained, "The snakes are coming down out of the wooded hill country looking for moisture." The flow of the Susquehanna at Harrisburg was the second lowest for June since the streamflow gauge began whirling on that river in 1890. In Connecticut, unless July turns out to be rainy, streamflow will "be near the lowest for any month since records began..."
What can be done? Restrictions have cut daily consumption in New York from 1.25 billion gallons to about 1.075 billion. There are some 238 billion gallons in the reservoirs (down from 386 billion last year). Last week, at a conference in Newark, it was disclosed that such great fishing and boating sites of northern New Jersey as Greenwood Lake and Wawayanda Lake may be tapped if necessary. One of the scientists in the Geological Survey, asked for advice, said practically: "Pray for rain."
Olympic Games sites start out as a dream and not infrequently wind up a nightmare. When the French persuaded the International Olympic Committee to hold the 1968 Winter Games at Grenoble, they dreamed that the entire south of France would be transformed into a playground of pleasurable indolence and profitable industry. To equip the pleasure dome, France staked $125 million and the national pride.
But so far the bureaucrats in charge have come up with nothing more concrete than chaos. Grenoble is so situated that if, as at Squaw Valley, many spectators must stop at hotels 50 to 100 miles away, they will find themselves in Switzerland or Italy. They might buy only lunch in France.
An urgent plea has gone out. To save Grenoble there must be found a Grand Patron, an Olympian overseer, a Roland to battle red tape, to create highways, hotels, ice rinks, ski jumps and, of course, snow. But where in France to find a man of such imposing stature, who can command even the snow to fall? There is only one—and he is busy.
Esther, a confused duck, is spending his summer vacation on a farm near Waterville, Me. Born in a hatchery and purchased by three Colby College coeds from a pet shop, Esther's confusion began early. The girls misnamed him. Esther, it developed, is a drake. It turned out that this did not matter too much, since Esther is quite unaware that he is even a duck. He thinks he is a Colby student.
The girls had every intention of releasing him in Colby's Johnson Pond, campus home of some 20 other ducks, but decided to wait for warm weather. While they waited, Esther took up residence with them in Louise Coburn Dormitory, waddled all over campus behind them and became in time the most popular duck in his class.
With vacation drawing near, the girls decided to introduce Esther to the water. Esther balked at the water's edge. The girls borrowed a canoe and took him out to the middle of the pond, where they dumped him. Esther swam—directly to the bank and the dormitories. The girls kept putting him back and hiding behind willow trees that border the pond, but Esther invariably found them.
The three finally got away and returned to their rooms. After dinner they received a telephone call. Esther had decided to quit the girls, had applied for admission to the men's Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and was even then watching television in the frat house. The men did not fully appreciate Esther, who is no more housebroken than any other duck.
There was but one thing to do, and a disgruntled Esther was deported to the farm. He may now decide to be a cow.
DADDY GO HOME
Since he broke an arm recently, Dickie Hall, a Lubbock (Texas) Little Leaguer, has been serving his team as a base coach. The other day his father, Jerry Hall, was drafted as a base umpire.
The elder Hall's first call was against his son's team and there were grumbles. When his second call also went against Dickie's team there was an uproar. As it died down, Dickie's voice came through, loud and clear.
"My daddy," he yelled, "is a blind bum!"
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
Ever since CBS bought the New York Yankees, rival ABC has been scouting the world of entertainment for a purchase of equal magnitude—equal, but not too similar. Inasmuch as CBS had been accused of inhibiting public access to the Yankees and of exerting partisan influence on the game, ABC announced that it would not be involved with any sport. Its realm would be pure entertainment.
Last November ABC went into partnership with Madison Square Garden Corp., forming MSG-ABC Productions. Together they paid several million dollars for their first nonsport extravaganza, Holiday on Ice, whose star performer will be Sjoukje Dijkstra, Holland's first Winter Olympics gold medalist and three-time world figure skating champion, who was made Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Juliana in honor of her triple crown last year—European, world and Olympic titles.
For those who want more than a Knight of Orange-Nassau doing double-axels on luminous ice, MSG-ABC now is negotiating for a variety show with a name so big it barely fits the Garden marquee: "Ringling Bros, and Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth." The circus is described in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as "a display of human endeavour...[of] man's agility, strength and ingenuity and his skillful management of animals." But lion tamers, aerial gymnasts, acrobats, wire walkers and trick horseback riders are not competitive performers. Thus the circus, like the ice show, qualifies as nonsport.
If MSG-ABC is still in an acquisitive mood, it might consider taking charge of one of TV's great pioneer nonsport attractions—professional wrestling.
CHEER UP, DEER SLAYERS
In past years if a motorist ran down a deer on a Michigan highway he had to 1) surrender the venison, 2) pay for the damage to his car and 3) more often than not answer a traffic summons for reckless driving. Now he will still be stuck with the last two consequences but will be allowed to keep the venison. Reason: in recent years the toll of deer killed on Michigan roads has mounted in step with the decline in poverty. Conservation officials cannot find enough charitable organizations willing to take the venison. Almost 6,000 deer were killed by automobiles in Michigan last year. Dressed out at 100 pounds each, that would mean nearly 300 tons of meat.
Conservation officials do not believe abandonment of the surrender rule will encourage hunters to use their cars instead of rifles. The average car-deer collision results in $200 damage to the car, not to mention what may happen to driver and passengers.
HOIST WITH HIS OWN PETARD
There are only 790 days left in which to build a yacht to defend the America's Cup, so the new syndicate from the New York Yacht Club can be excused for its haste in securing the exclusive services of Designer Olin Stephens and Skipper Bus Mosbacher. The three-man group consists of J. Burr Bartram, ex-commodore of the NYYC, Bill Strawbridge of Philadelphia and the anonymous member who belongs to all America's Cup syndicates. The group wants to avoid the last-minute rush (six months) that launched last year's Constellation and American Eagle. The 1962 candidate, Nefertiti, was, in fact, built in half that time, and the title of Instant Defender goes to Volunteer, built in a mere 66 days back in 1887.
Stephens, whose yachts apparently can be beaten only by better yachts from Stephens, never is convinced that he cannot outdesign himself. He saw his Vim, for 20 years the best 12-meter afloat, narrowly defeated in 1958 by his brand new 12, Columbia, which was considered the ultimate. But in 1964 he found sharper pencils, and Constellation became the ne plus ultra. For 1967 he has the extra advantages of time and the best team. And the challenger is being built on lines developed from his old Vim. If he fails he will have no one to blame but himself and his pencil sharpener.
THE SWINGING PITCHER
In his brief (four-season) major league career, Pitcher Bo Belinsky, currently of the Phillies, has managed to get around and to leave his mark wherever he has been. He has also acquired certain firm opinions about the cities in which he has played in every sense of the word:
"Philadelphia social life is for the birds.... As soon as the season is over it will take me just two minutes to leave Philly.
"From the night-life point of view, I was fortunate in coming to the National League. It has the same good social towns as the American League—New York and Los Angeles—plus San Francisco, a great bachelor town.
"The only other decent city for social life outside of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles is Chicago. I don't know how, but I ran into some belly dancers there two years ago, so whenever I get back into town I've got 12 to 15 of 'em hanging all over me.
"Pittsburgh and St. Louis aren't too bad, and I don't know too much about Houston. As for Milwaukee, they did the players a big favor when they announced their move to Atlanta. That's one city I'm really anticipating."
Atlanta, here he comes.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Louis: "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."
•Ruben Amaro, Philadelphia infielder, nursing a bruised elbow and jaw after trying to break up the Richie Allen-Frank Thomas fight: "My career as a peacemaker is over."