Harland Svare, an ebullient young man who once was a linebacker for the New York Giants and who is now head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, reacted to defeat recently as most coaches seem to react. He got sore.
"I bow to no one in my respect for NFL officials," fumed Svare, "but they are homers. They call penalties on visitors much more often than they do on the home team."
This frank statement cost Svare $1,000 in a fine levied by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. "Mr. Rozelle had to fine me," acknowledged Svare later. "I would not respect him if he had not."
But that is begging the question. Are NFL officials homers?
Well, an analysis of penalties in all games played through October 31, the period Svare was complaining about, shows that home teams were penalized more often in eight parks, the visitors in six, but in several cases the difference was hardly conclusive. Svare picked Baltimore and Chicago as the two worst places to visit. Yet in Baltimore the Colts lost 222 yards to their visitors' 210, and in Chicago the Bears lost 81 yards, the visitors 99—not a jarring discrepancy. Intriguingly, the biggest home advantage was in Los Angeles, where visiting teams were penalized 189 yards to only 142 for Harland's Rams.
What Svare needs is a better team, not better officiating.
THE FAMILY CAR
"Women are lousy drivers. With a car full of kids, dogs, cats, they can't concentrate." So said Paula Murphy as she borrowed a car and promptly set the ladies' land speed record last year. This September Betty Skelton, 102 pounds, borrowed a dragster and boosted the record to 277.62 mph. Last week another housewife had a go at it. Craig Breed-love's wife, Lee, who has five children and two dogs, borrowed her husband's helmet and his $200,000, nine-ton Spirit of America Sonic I for a spin down the Bonneville salt flats. Her warmup run was a modest 99. After 30 miles of practice she had the car up to 332.26 for a two-way average of 308.56 and a new world record. For ladies, that is, since husband Craig and his rival, Art Arfons, were taking turns pushing the men's mark toward 600 mph. For ladies' day Craig took the husbandly precaution of setting the throttle for a maximum speed of 350 mph. That is quite fast enough for just going to market.
NO CITY SLICKER
Philadelphia offered The Hambletonian Society a quarter of a million dollars, and quite possibly the Liberty Bell as well, to move trotting's prize event from rural Du Quoin, Ill. to Philadelphia's slick, nighttime pari-mutuel plant (SI, Nov. 1). Last week the society directors decided in a 12-5 vote that it was in the "best interest of the sport" to keep The Hambletonian at the state fair in Du Quoin. We heartily concur.
SAUCE FOR THE GANDER
Some of us hold that football crowds are noisy enough without such artificial aids to bedlam as cannons and bull horns.
There is a lady in Dallas who supports this view. At a recent game a young man in front of her blasted away on his bull horn for the first five minutes of play. Tapping him on the shoulder, the lady asked, "How much did you pay for that?" "A dollar and a half," he replied. "I'll give you $3 for it," the lady said. The exchange made, she blasted the horn in his ear for the rest of the game, after which she asked him, ever so sweetly, "How did you like it?"
ADIOS TO A PRO
Two years ago, had you been in the office of Hank Bauer, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, you would have seen how people in baseball feel about Al Lopez, who last week retired as manager of the Chicago White Sox. At the time the Orioles were leading the American League, and a reporter gave Bauer a newspaper clipping that quoted Lopez as saying, "Bauer has done a heck of a job with his ball club. I'm really impressed by the way he has handled his pitching staff." Bauer is not a vain man, yet he read the clipping over and over and finally put it in his desk. "That's from the man," he said, "the master!"
Few men who ever managed against Lopez failed to hold him in awe. Sam Mele of the Minnesota Twins said this year, "He keeps you on your toes because you know that if you're not, he'll be three or four moves ahead of you, and you won't realize it until he has the game won and is in his clubhouse."
We saw Lopez late this season in Chicago after the Sox lost two games to Minnesota and were all but eliminated from the pennant race. "Will you be back next year?" he was asked. He was tired, and he had been bothered by his chronic intestinal trouble. All he said was, "Well, we'll meet down the road someplace."
Any time, Se√±or, any place.
SOMETHING IN THE AIR
Tokyo's housing shortage has been greatly alleviated in one important category—apartments for racehorses. Horses with proper references and sufficient yen can move into a block of 12 apartment buildings near Ohi Race Track and live in luxury for only 5,000 yen per month ($140) plus a percentage of their winnings. Each stone building houses 14 Thoroughbreds—some 40 million yen worth—on the ground level and eight families of jockeys, trainers and other horsy humans in two upper stories.
Although the horses rise promptly at 4:30 a.m. to do their morning roadwork around the buildings, they do not disturb the people living above. Horses, after all, do not use alarm clocks, and passing cars on the nearby superhighway to Tokyo International Airport make more noise. The equine tenants' straw bedding is noticeably aromatic when aired outside on sunny days, yet occupants of the upper apartments are delighted with the entire setup. They say it is a significant improvement over the previous arrangement, which had them sharing stable space with the horses.
DARLING, I AM GROWING OLDER
After the golf cart there had to be some equivalent innovation in other sports, and now, in bowling, there is. David Harkness of Glens Falls, N.Y. has brought forth a thing he calls a "bowler's cart." It makes bowling easier—in case you thought it was hard.
It resembles a shuffleboard stick, except that the stick rests on four small wheels. Just as the shuffleboard stick has a curve built into its head, so has the bowler's cart. The ball is nestled into the curve and propelled down the alley with a shove of the handle.
"I believe bowling will now become a more orderly sport," Harkness is quoted as saying. "It will no longer be necessary for a bowler to run with the ball or use a backswing."
It should be a smash in St. Petersburg.
THINKING MAN'S PITCHER
The public usually learns how players on the winning and losing teams in the World Series divvy up their share of the receipts, but not much attention is paid to the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place clubs in each league. However, they, too, cut in on World Series gold, and emotions run high—and sometimes wide—when shares are voted. For instance, Bill Henry, a relief pitcher who switched from the Reds to the Giants during the season, was voted a full share by the Giants, whereas Jim Duffalo, a relief pitcher who switched from the Giants to the Reds, was given only three-fifths of a share by the Reds.
Other disbursements were similarly haphazard, except, of course, for the Baltimore Orioles, who distributed their money according to an equitable and scientific formula devised by their deep-thinking pitcher, Dick Hall, a professional accountant in the off season. The Orioles voted the usual number of full shares, but instead of then going arbitrarily to three-quarter, half and one-quarter shares as the other teams usually do, they doled out 17 subshares ranging in size from 76% down to 19%—the percentages based on the number of days a man was actually with the team after the May 15 cutoff date.
"I just happened to get thinking of how much of a fetish there is for round numbers these days," explained Hall, a Swarthmore graduate, "and how illogical that is when it's so easy to compute actual figures." Hall declined to reveal whether his plan met with unanimous approval. "It was received well by those who understood it," he said.
Of course, if a kid comes up to the Orioles on the last day of the season some year and hits a home run to give Baltimore the pennant and gets $11.25 for it, there may be revisions.
FIGHT FIERCELY, ETC.
Eight of the 22 first-string players on Harvard's varsity football team wear contact lenses.
PLENTY OF SWIFT
Commercial airline pilots have increasingly of late taken to "setting records." Frankly, this is not a sport we applaud, but we must admit that some travelers relish it. Indeed there were gasps and murmurs of joy and excitement a week or so ago when Captain W. J. (Smokey) Callahan of American Airlines announced to his captive audience on Flight 314, after the doors were securely fastened: "Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. In fact, it's a very special good morning. The sky is clear, the wind should reach up to 80 knots and, folks, we're going to try to set the speed record from Chicago to New York." (Applause and an enthusiastic buzz. The few mutterers were dismissed as party-poopers.)
Captain Callahan, who looks the way a flier is supposed to look (clear-eyed, graying at the temples, a touch of jauntiness in an otherwise reliable, handsome face), does a very good imitation of pilot imitating Shelley Berman imitating pilot, and he is in the forefront of the new breed of athletic airmen. "The record we [note use of first-person plural] have to break is one hour 10 minutes and 23 seconds. I know, because I [note return to first person singular] happen to hold it." Airborne, Captain Callahan continued to keep the passengers informed on weather, winds, altitude, best altitude, Mach, speed of sound and the true potential of the Boeing 727. He heightened the drama as the plane came screeching east. "Well, win, lose or draw," he said, over Allentown, Pa., "you'll know you've been in a close one." He skimmed over New Jersey, flicked past the Hudson River and the Empire State Building and, seconds later, touched down at LaGuardia Airport. "A new record!" he yelled into the P.A. The passengers cheered lustily. The take-off-touchdown time: One hour nine minutes 10 seconds.
Captain Callahan came to the door of the cockpit to accept congratulations. "Sorry it had to be a meal flight," he told the stewardesses. Several of the passengers told him how proud they were of him, and one, who otherwise seemed quite intelligent, grabbed the captain's hand, shook it mightily and cried: "This is the biggest thrill I've had in years!"
Because certain travelers obviously like this sort of competition, whereas others prefer ground-based athletic participation, we suggest that airlines announce in advance if a flight is to be a time trial. We also suggest that they notify their ground crews. After landing, passengers on the record-breaking flight waited 22 minutes and 14 seconds for their luggage.
The Maryland Racing Commission is spending $50,000 on a documentary motion picture to stimulate interest in horse-racing. After acknowledging that the film was being made despite continuing increases in attendance and pari-mutuel betting, R. Bruce Livie, chairman of the commission, got down to what was really worrying him: "We hope this film will draw people from the younger generation. Our surveys show that the average age of track patrons in Maryland is in the upper 50s."
THEY SAID IT
•Frank Howard, Clemson coach, after his football team's consecutive victories by scores of 3-2 and 3-0: "I put Drysdale in today against TCU. I used Sandy last week against Duke."
•Al Geiberger, pro golfer, on his habit of eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches while he plays: "If you forget and leave it in your golf bag you can still eat it the next day. You can't do that with an egg sandwich."
•Art Mahan, Villanova athletic director, on recommendation by Xavier Athletic Director Jim McCafferty that Villanova's basketball team stay at a club in Cincinnati where there are seven-foot-long beds: "All we need this year is cribs."