The defeat of the U.S. men's track team in Kiev was a shocker, since it was the first in the eight-year history of the games with the U.S.S.R. It produced an even more shocking reaction on the part of some U.S. participants. Instead of congratulating the winners they offered a shameless succession of excuses, including the preposterous one that the Russians deliberately fatigued the American athletes by arranging for delays at the airport and in getting hotel rooms. As any traveler knows, such delays are common enough in U.S. airports and hotel lobbies.
There were good reasons for the defeat, including the illness of some stars, but an even better reason was the fine performance of the Russian team. The dismal war between the NCAA and the AAU, a situation hardly attributable to Russian plotting, did not help either.
What made the U.S. reaction all the more embarrassing was that the Russian press reported the meet fairly, without crowing and without political overtones. As for us, we were just nyekulturni.
August 15, 1965
WHERE THE BLAME IS
The doom of boxing was proclaimed eloquently after Cassius Clay's instant KO of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Me., and it is now being proclaimed wishfully again after the Madison Square Garden riot that followed Flash Elorde's defeat of the favored Puerto Rican, Frankie Narvaez. BOXING FLOORED AGAIN, bannered the New York World-Telegram. The New York Times seized the occasion to flute once more that "prizefighting is a game that brutalizes spectators as well as the boxers themselves."
It is true that the aftermath of the fight was a spectacle in degradation, but the fight itself was pretty good and nothing that happened in it was brutalizing. Madison Square Garden had prudently assigned 70 "special" policemen to handle the crowd of 7,000. Numerically, the Garden had the right idea but most of the "specials"—elderly, corpulent, benign and feckless—had not the slightest intention of stepping into the line of fire as chairs, waste cans, fire extinguishers and even fire axes were flung in the general direction of the ring. Regular police arrived 20 minutes to a half hour late.
To blame this disgusting affair on prizefighting is a thoughtless injustice. The blame lies with the overly partisan hoodlums who could not accept an official decision.
Prizefighting brutalizes? Then one must hold that soccer brutalizes. Soccer riots in other countries make this one look like a lawn party.
At a clinic for high school football coaches in Albuquerque, N. Mex. Minnesota's Murray Warmath lectured on every kind of defense. Then he came to the hypothetical case of the absolutely unstoppable team.
"What if they have a halfback and a fullback who can run all over you?" he asked the students. "And then spread out there a ways is a wingback as fast as a deer and a quarterback who can throw all over the place. What are you going to do?"
He paused dramatically as the coaches studied the overpowering situation. Then he gave them the answer.
"You're going to go to the athletic director," he said, "and get them off your schedule."
BY ANY OTHER NAME-NO SALE
The outcry among British humane societies against the sale of "stuffed baby alligators direct from the Florida Everglades"—a current rage in London, where they sell for 21 shillings ($2.94)—has kept Florida wildlife officials busy explaining that the little reptiles are neither alligators nor from the Everglades. It is 20 years since the state outlawed the trapping of baby alligators, and the law has been enforced successfully. Previously some types of tourist had considered it high humor to ship live baby alligators to friends in the North. The alligators invariably refused to eat in the strange environment but, even so, would linger on for months. Emaciated baby alligators flushed down toilets were so common as to give rise to reports that New York sewers were becoming breeding places for the species.
After passage of the Florida law, dealers began importing the young of the South American cayman, which resembles the alligator but can be distinguished by a bony ridge in front of the eyes. Establishments selling them display a sign that reads "Baby Alligators" and below, in small print, "S.A. Cayman." Purchasers are permitted to think that the small print is the name of the man who painted the sign.
For some odd reason people will buy stuffed "Baby Alligators" much more readily than they will the stuffed young of other species of crocodilians. A stuffed baby crocodile is a drug on the market, and a correctly identified South American cayman commands no interest whatsoever. There is nothing like the appeal of a good brand name.
THE FORBIDDEN FLASK
At the request of Dr. C.C. Humphreys, teetotaler president of Memphis State University, the Memphis Park Commission considered briefly last week his proposal that spectators be barred from bringing liquor into the new Memphis Memorial Stadium. Such a proscription, he said mysteriously, "will add much to the pleasure of those who want to use this facility."
The park commission decided not to make a recommendation on the proposal. "There's just no durn way to enforce it," one commissioner explained. Police Chief J.C. Macdonald demurred. The ban would be by no means unenforceable, he insisted. "We'd just have to search 50,000 people," he said serenely, no doubt contemplating a world's frisking record.
In Jackson, Miss., Dick Hitt, manager of the Mississippi Memorial Stadium, where a liquor ban was imposed some time back, offered a very simple solution.
"We put the ban in," Hitt said, "and then forgot about it."
OLD GRAD GIVES A HAND
For the third successive summer Jack Kramer is proving that his feeling for tennis, despite all his professional interests, is the true amateur's love for the sport. He is doing more to develop good young players than anyone else in the game.
Thirty-six members of the Jack Kramer Club, ranging in age from 11 through 17, left southern California last week for a nationwide tour that will see them playing in tournaments at clubs throughout the country. Kramer began the project two years ago, limiting it to a California tour. Last year it was extended to six western states and Canada. Now it is national.
"It has always been our feeling," Kramer said, "that only the top players derive the big benefits of tournaments, since beginners usually are eliminated on the first day. This trip provides a match each day for every player. We believe this is beneficial to tennis. Other clubs have found this program stimulates junior interest." So much so, in fact, that clubs on the tour have flown to California to play return engagements.
Chaperons accompany the players, who stay in the homes of club members, just as touring amateurs used to do in the good old days of Tilden and Wills. If those days ever should return, and let us hope they will, Jack Kramer will have had a lot to do with it.
MUDDLE IN THE HUDDLE
Before the American League baseball season ends and the National Football League season begins the prospects are excellent for a fine little taffy pull in the offices of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. When the NFL drew up its 1965 schedule it put the Eastern Conference Giants on the road for their first four games because the Giants play home games in Yankee Stadium and Yankee Stadium is virtually always the site for part of baseball's World Series.
Well, it doesn't look as if the Yankees are going to win the American League pennant this year. At the end of last week the three top contenders for the American League championship were Minnesota, Baltimore and Cleveland. Each of these shares its field with an NFL team—the Twins with the Vikings. the Orioles with the Colts and the Indians with the world champion Browns.
The World Series is scheduled to begin in the home park of the American League champion on Oct. 5 and, in the event of a seven-game Series, it could run through Oct. 12. Precedent says that no baseball field can be used for football during Series time. (Last year the St. Louis football Cardinals had to move a scheduled home game to Baltimore because the baseball Cards were in the Series. Baseball people felt, and rightly so, that the field could not be restored to playing shape soon enough after a football game.)
On Oct. 9 this year Pittsburgh is supposed to play in Cleveland in the NFL. On Oct. 10 the Giants are scheduled at Minnesota's stadium, and the Detroit Lions are in Baltimore. Since Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Detroit and Baltimore are in the same conference, these games could be shifted. Minnesota and New York, however, are in different conferences, and you can bet that the Vikings will not hold still for a shift. It looks like an interesting problem for Pete Rozelle.
COMEBACK FOR CALUMET
During a wonderfully successful era that began, roughly, with Whirlaway's Kentucky Derby victory in 1941 and extended at least through Tim Tarn's Derby win in 1958, the devil-red colors of Calumet Farm dominated the turf world. But a sports organization cannot hope to remain at the top forever, as Notre Dame discovered in football and the New York Yankees are finding out in baseball. Calumet faltered. During four years its accounting books were done in devil-red ink.
That created a considerable tax problem. The income tax men hold that if a horse farm loses money over five consecutive years it is a hobby, not a business, and the losses are therefore not altogether deductible. Calumet faced the prospect of having to pay taxes on what had previously been deducted over a five-year period.
Mrs. Gene Markey, owner of Calumet, could not bear to sell any of her 846 magnificent Bluegrass acres in order to establish a 1964 profit. Instead, she cut expenses, sold some horses and stepped up breeding of her stallions to mares from other farms. The farm managed to finish in the black, although, said Mrs. Markey, "it took some finagling."
Now Calumet is really coming back. Whereas in 1963 it failed to win a single stakes race, and in 1964 won only two, so far this year it has captured five. In seven months it has won $230,000, closing in fast on the 1964 total of $299,975. Prospects are the best in years. Reverse, a 3-year-old colt by Turn-to out of Miss Grundy, has won four of its last five starts, including two stakes. No Fooling, a 2-year-old by Tom Fool—Real Delight, is promising, and so are two juvenile fillies, Another Love and Rose Court.
Calumet raced 44 horses last year. Now the farm runs 25. But, apparently, they are all runners.
One of the best college basketball prospects in Texas is Ronnie Peret, who stands 6 feet 9, weighs 230 pounds and is well coordinated enough to have played shortstop on his Plainview High School baseball team when he was not on the basketball court.
Naturally, the recruiting pressure has been exceptional. Many a college wanted Ronnie. But Texas A&M got him. The heaviest pressure came from his 87-year-old Grandmother Effie, who is an Aggie fan.
"She just kept saying, 'Ronnie, you'll do just fine at Texas A&M,' " Ronnie explained. "Then she'd tell me she would cut off the cakes and pies if I didn't go there. She really put on terrible pressure."
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Auer, halfback of the Buffalo Bills, on how he happened to name his pet alligator "Dammit": "I reached down to pick him up one day and he bit my finger; the name came to me just like that."
•Dan Peterson, plebe basketball coach at Annapolis, to interviewers while on a recruiting trip: "With waivers we can take boys up to 6 feet 8. But we're glad to hear about 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-10 kids. They have a funny habit of turning out to be only 6 feet 7 or 6 feet 8 when they get measured."