BOOM IN THE SUBURBS
For the past six months it has been illegal to buy a rifle, shotgun or pistol in Philadelphia without a police permit. The would-be hunter must supply photographs of himself, fill out a form, be fingerprinted and wait at least 20 days for police to find out if he is a criminal, an alcoholic or a nut. Has this reduced crime? At this stage, no police official will say so. For one thing, any would-be buyer can go to a nearby suburb and buy his gun there. It is illegal to bring the weapon back into Philadelphia without a permit, but hundreds must be doing just that because gun sales in the city are off as much as 90% in some stores and there is no evidence that Philadelphians have given up hunting or target shooting to that extent.
"Actually," said Chief Inspector Harry Fox, "we already have had more homicides than in all of 1964 and from the top of my head I'd guess that about 40% involved guns. But the number of homicides has kept climbing every year and we have no way of knowing whether this year's rate is any lower than it would have been without our effort to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible persons."
As of mid-October, 1,472 permits had been issued (gun sales previously averaged 2,600 a month) and 43 applicants were turned down. A J.C. Penney store in the suburbs reported it is selling twice as many weapons as it did before the Philadelphia law went into effect.
November 1, 1965
It would not take a Philadelphia lawyer to prove that this law has been about as effective as the 18th Amendment.
RED TAPE ON THE GREEN
There is a possibility that Jack Nicklaus can never become a Class A member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America—and thus never be able to play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team or be eligible for the Vardon Trophy. The trophy is awarded to the PGA member with the lowest scoring average for 80 rounds or more of "official" PGA tournament play in each calendar year.
Nicklaus has been competing on the PGA tournament circuit as an "approved tournament player" for the past four years while fulfilling his five-year probationary period for Class A membership. But this year he will be unable to compete in the minimum of 25 PGA events required in each of the probationary years because, when he mapped out his tournament schedule for 1965, he included the scheduled Miami Beach Open as the 25th and last of his required tournaments. But the Miami Beach event was canceled (the sponsors were unable to come up with the $55,000 purse) and Jack found that his crowded itinerary for the rest of the year would permit him to make no substitutions.
Last week he asked the 14-man executive committee of the PGA to make an exception in his case. If it should rule against him, it probably means that he will never become a Class A member of the PGA, because, like Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, he plans to play in considerably fewer U.S. tournaments in the future. Nicklaus has made a real effort in the past four years to meet the PGA requirement and become a Class A member.
Something must be wrong in a system that would keep the country's best golfer from full membership in his own PGA.
A FEW BLOWS FOR HISTORY
The legend that David slew Goliath will never die, though there is Biblical authority that it was an unknown named Elhanan who did the giant in. Tales of the skills and might of oldtime prizefighters are equally persistent, but a young iconoclast named Jim Jacobs, who is, incidentally, world handball champion, knocked some of them out of the ring last week. A chronic collector of old fight movies, Jacobs has put together for national distribution a picture called Knockout, in which scenes from such famed fights as Jack Johnson vs. Stanley Ketchel (1909), Johnson vs. Jess Willard (1915) and Benny Leonard vs. Lew Tendler (1922) are shown. Some have never before been screened in a theater.
Fascinating and often exciting, the movie will embarrass those proud gaffers who long have bemoaned the modern generation's lack of the oldtimers' boxing skills. It reveals Jack Johnson, vaunted as history's "greatest heavyweight," to have been a clumsy swinger who hit Ketchel from such a tanglefooted stance that he fell over him. Johnson and Willard, it appears, were able to go 26 rounds in Havana, with the temperature at more than 100°, mostly because they stood around with hands down, facing each other from a very safe distance.
As for Benny Leonard, rated in sporting history as one of the great scientific boxers, he did a great deal of fancy dancing out of range but when he closed with his opponent it was to deliver the roundhouse swing of a club fighter.
If those were the glory days of prizefighting, one must wonder why.
At Chattanooga's municipal golf course a demoralizing addition has been made to The Rules of Golf. The city commission, swamped with complaints from home owners along the first fairway that wild-flying golf balls were bombarding their houses, did what city commissions do. They passed a law, or an ordinance or something. At any rate, as golfers approach the first tee they are confronted with a big sign. NO SLICING ALLOWED, it says.
SEBAGO STARTS BACK
When we reported (SCORECARD, July 15, 1963) the decline of salmon fishing in Maine's Sebago Lake, where the world-record landlocked salmon was taken in 1907, and attributed the decline to indiscriminate spraying with DDT, the state legislature (which had rejected several pesticide regulation proposals) was shaken and hotel and camp owners around the big lake were jarred. Angry speeches were made and abusive letters were written, most especially to us. Now, says Ronald T. Speers, Maine fish and game commissioner, "On the whole, the SI piece was a good thing for Sebago."
"It got the camp owners and others around the lake to cooperate wholeheartedly in stopping spraying with DDT," Speers said. The proof of this statement is in the fishing. Spraying around Sebago was stopped entirely in the summer of 1964, and this spring the legislature passed a moderate pesticide control bill. Last week Richard Anderson, fish and game biologist, issued figures showing that Sebago salmon, which had been falling off in size and weight since 1958, have taken a sudden turn for the better.
Last year 40% of the salmon netted al a fish hatchery were less than 14 inches long. In a sampling this year all were above 14 inches. Average weight for 4-year-old salmon checked last year was 15 ounces. This year it was 29 ounces. The DDT content in the stomachs of Sebago salmon is about 55% of what it has been, and the drop is expected to continue. Smelt, a favorite food of salmon, are on the increase, where previously they had been "literally sprayed with DDT" during their spawning runs. In 1963 only 38% of salmon netted had smelt in their stomachs. Last year the figure increased to 70% and is expected to be between 80% and 90% this year.
When the Roman Catholic challenger, Floyd Patterson, expressed his contempt for Black Muslims in these pages recently (SI, Oct. 11), the Black Muslim champion, Muhammad Ali, whose ring name is Cassius Clay, refused to reply. "I ain't no fool," he said. "I ain't going to talk against the Pope." Besides, he added, some of his best friends are Catholics.
Now he has reconsidered and has answered Patterson, characteristically, in verse that has verve:
I am going to put Floyd flat on his back
So that he will start thinking black.
Because when he was champ he didn't do as he should;
He tried to force himself into an all-white neighborhood.
And when he and his family finally were disgraced,
He had to find himself another place.
Now he wants to make Sweden his home;
Anything to keep from accepting his own.
From reading Sports Illustrated you really do not understand,
You have been talking like an ignorant man.
You were really deaf, dumb and blind,
Wanting my title because I love my own kind.
Now for all the wrong you have said and done,
This fight could be all over in Round One.
And when the fight is over, you will hear the referee shout,
"That's all, folks, this rabbit is out!"
For Patterson it will be an embarrassing fight.
Then he will have to return to his beard that night.
The night of November 22 in Las Vegas should be an interesting one. Especially Round One.
SURVIVAL OF THE BIGGEST
"The animals went in two by two," runs the old song about Noah and his ark and it could apply just as well to the National Hockey League. At a June meeting in New York to consider expansion to the West, the NHL decided that two cities—Los Angeles and St. Louis—had qualities (big arenas, rich backers and a likely TV market) that made them worthy of admission to major league hockey. Last week at another meeting the NHL decided that two more cities, or areas, were "acceptable"—Vancouver and San Francisco-Oakland. That left two berths to be filled in the new six-team division, and for these, said the official NHL release, "four cities remain in serious contention: Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh."
But as Noah himself was to find out, choosing suitable species was one thing; getting the animals aboard was another. In virtually every "acceptable" NHL city, there are two or more groups competing for the franchise. A syndicate including Bing Crosby is vying with another group for the San Francisco action. Jack Kent Cooke, new owner of the Los Angeles basketball Lakers and part owner of Washington's football Redskins, wants the southern California hockey franchise—as do two other syndicates. There are competing groups in St. Louis and in Vancouver.
Because of all this, the NHL told the competing groups to work things out among themselves, after which "a combined application will receive prompt favorable action."
That leaves officials of the two top minor leagues, the American and Western, moping in the hotel corridor like sinners destined for drowning. For whatever cities get to ride the flood of major league expansion, it will surely be at the expense of the minors. Baltimore and Pittsburgh, likeliest new members of the NHL, are now mainstays of the AHL. Portland, Seattle and Victoria of the WHL probably would fold if the NHL took away their playmates, San Francisco, Vancouver and L.A.
The most sporting school administration anywhere must be at Baltimore's Cardinal Gibbons High School, which took up football two years ago and has yet to win. Gibbons was shut out seven times last year and its two-year record is 0-15. All told, it has been outscored 517 to 28.
Will Coach Jerry Cohee, then, be fired? No. Brother William Abel, S.M., school principal, declared October 22 "Mr. Cohee Day" to pay tribute "to the long and hard work that Mr. Cohee has done with the varsity football team in the past two years and his dedicated work as a layman in the school."
On "Mr. Cohee Day" Mervo High School defeated Gibbons 14-0.
Our hats are off to Brother William. Better luck next year, Mr. Cohee.
THEY SAID IT
•Chuck Studley, University of Cincinnati football coach, on Tulsa's bulky line: "They play a five-man line—six wouldn't fit across the field."
•Jim Brown, of the Cleveland Browns, a 230-pounder, after being tackled by Obert Logan, 175-pound Dallas Cowboy back, and dragging him for several yards: "Man, you just like chewing gum on my shoe."
•Jack Hart, Illinois assistant football coach, quoting Clemson's Coach Frank Howard: "I got the best offense I've ever had in my life. I just don't have the kids to run it."