There is a strong possibility that Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay now will be eligible for the draft. So said a spokesman for the Kentucky Selective Service Commission after Defense Department and Selective Service officials decided to review records of high school graduates classified I-Y (available for emergency duty).
The review will begin with men nearest age 26 and work down toward age 19. It will be concerned first with high school graduates who are I-Y only because of failure to pass the mental test. Clay, who is 23 and who twice failed the mental portion of the induction tests, could be one of the first drafted under the new ruling.
This news coincides with definite confirmation that British promoters are talking to the Louisville sponsoring group, Clay's promoters, about a Clay-Brian London title fight in London. At the same time, the irrepressible Archie Moore announces he has a youngster coming up who will take the heavyweight championship away from Clay—in about five years.
Why five years? Well, because Archie figures it will take his challenger (Billy Ray McDaniel of Bakersfield, Calif.) that long to get good enough to beat Clay. He is only 16. Of course, if Clay is drafted Archie may decide that his man is ready to win it right now.
New York Thoroughbred racing has enjoyed an uninterrupted rise in attendance and betting since the end of World War II. Until 1965, that is. This past year attendance dropped 138,071 from the 1964 figure and the pari-mutuel handle fell $12,101,753—and this in the face of increases all over the rest of the country.
The state's tax revenue did not diminish. Gracious, no. In July the legislature awarded itself breakage on 10¢ instead of 5¢ on each dollar paid back to bettors—that is, if the payoff on a winning $2 bet should mathematically be $4.79 the bettor now receives $4.60 instead of $4.70. The extra 19¢ goes to the state, over and beyond the tax bite already taken out of the bet.
Some racing statisticians feel that the increase in the state's cut is the reason why attendance and betting have declined. But most horseplayers are not too aware of the loss they suffer in those mounting pennies. (And they mount. The breakage for a $1.79-to-$1 payoff on a $10 bet is almost a dollar.) A likelier reason for the decline is that in the New York metropolitan area the racing season is intolerably long and dreary—210 days of racing, all at slick, super-duper-market Aqueduct. A season of 210 days is too much, and one track is not enough (even though 24 days at Saratoga, 180 miles north of New York City, are sandwiched into midsummer). Like horses, horseplayers get track sore.
Anyway, we applaud this small rebellion, whether it be directed against rapacious politicians or heedless track management.
Ron Widby obviously rivals Clark Kent as a quick-change artist. On a recent Friday night Widby scored 14 points to lead the University of Tennessee's basketball team to a win over Louisiana Tech in the Gulf South Classic at Shreveport, La. He then flew by private plane to Houston, where on Saturday he averaged 43 yards for six punts in Tennessee's 27-6 win over Tulsa in the Bluebonnet Bowl. That night, after a return trip to Shreveport, he scored 18 points as Tennessee beat Centenary for the basketball championship and was named the tourney's Most Valuable Player.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Bob Devaney, Nebraska's football coach, figured it would be a white Christmas in Lincoln, so he carted his Orange Bowl-bound team to sunny Phoenix, Ariz. for two-a-day drills. But the Cornhuskers were greeted by what Phoenicians called the worst weather in 30 years. Rain washed out three drills in the first four days. They suited up once despite the deluge, and Tackle Walt Barnes sank to his ankles in slush. Little Fullback Frank Solich almost drowned in an end-zone puddle. That workout was canceled, too.
Meanwhile, back in the cornfields, there was a bit of snow one night, then nothing but bright, clear days—perfect for the football team that wasn't there.
Whenever a pro football team signs a top draft choice, speculation on the size of the player's bonus and salary runs high and wide. Last year Joe Namath was supposed to have received $400,000 from the New York Jets, and now Donny Anderson, Texas Tech's All-America halfback, who has been drafted by Houston in the AFL and Green Bay in the NFL, is expected to sign with one or the other for a sum between $450,000 and $600,000, according to one rumor, or between $600,000 and $800,000 according to another.
One pro contract about which there can be no speculation and from which some understanding can be derived on how the huge pro contracts actually work is that of George Youngblood, a defensive halfback from California State at Los Angeles, who signed with the Rams a couple of weeks ago. Because Youngblood is not yet 21, the two-year agreement had to receive court approval, and its contents thus became public knowledge. Youngblood's $75,000 contract breaks down like this. He receives a $20,000 bonus on signing. He will receive $20,000 a year in salary in 1966 and $20,000 again in 1967. And he will be paid an additional $15,000 in bonuses, at the rate of $5,000 a year, beginning in 1975. That's 1975. If the contract Donny Anderson signs is at all similar he'll be dragging down checks in the year 2000.
PASS THE PUCK, PLEASE
After two boiled eggs, a bowl of mushroom soup, two tomatoes and a large cucumber each, the 27-man world champion Russian national ice-hockey team settled down to important things at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. Seventeen players ordered a whole chicken each, five favored filet mignon and five chose fish. In addition they downed coffee, tea, milk and several loaves of bread, and everyone finished with soft drinks and dessert.
An awestruck Canadian hockey official said the bill averaged $11 per player, yet less than four hours later the team manager placed an order for 27 double portions of veal cutlets.
The food apparently did not leave the Soviets much appetite for hockey. They lost their first game to the Canadian National team in three years 6-1.
A sharp blow against professionalism has been struck by the Arizona Intercollegiate Athletic Association. It ruled that any student of Flowing Wells High School who participates in donkey basketball games will be ineligible for inter-scholastic competition.
For two football seasons now they've been wheeling out a regal, roaring young mountain lion called Butch VI before each home game in Washington State's Rogers Field. And each time the effect has been tremendous. The cougar would growl, roar, pace his cage and otherwise conduct himself like Anthony Quinn preparing to lead his horde of Huns against the enemy. The crowd invariably would respond with the sort of delighted shout that must have greeted the appearance of the lions in Rome's Circus Maximus. Sweet young things would coo, "Gee, he's cute. He looks just like a great big kitten." Knowing dates would reply, "Some kitten. If he ever got out of that cage, he'd chew his way out of the stadium."
Then, a few weeks ago, just before the season-opening basketball game between Washington and Gonzaga, a group of Zag students sneaked on campus, sawed through the bars of Butch's cage and catnapped the cougar. How did they do it?
The shameful truth was soon revealed. "Wouldn't be any trouble," admitted Butch's keeper. "He's tamer than a tomcat. They could have loaded him in the front seat of a car. He'd sit right beside you and love every minute of it. He doesn't know he's a cougar. He just wants to play all the time."
The night of the game, at half time, the catnappers brought their victim to the basketball court to return him to his rightful owners. While photographers snapped away, a curious male student, perhaps trying to impress onlookers with his bravery, stuck his hand into Butch's fang-filled mouth. The king of American wild animals licked it.
A NEGRO IN THE SEC
Jackie Robinson smashed the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, and a lot of progress has been made since. But 1965 may have been the best year yet for Negroes in sports. Burl Toler became the first Negro official in the National Football League. Baseball took the cue and hired a Negro umpire, Emmett Ashford, who starts this spring. Iowa's new football coach, Ray Nagel, hired a Negro assistant, Frank Gilliam, believed to be the first of his race to coach in the Big Ten. Negroes played in the Blue-Gray game in Montgomery, Ala. for the first time.
One of the biggest victories for integration came December 19, when the University of Kentucky signed a Negro to a Southeastern Conference athletic grant-in-aid. He is Nat Northington, fourth-ranked scholastically in a class of 213 at Louisville's Jefferson High and a high-scoring tailback. The university had tried to recruit other Negroes recently but failed, possibly because of the SEC's all-white history. "This was a big decision for him to make," said a Kentucky coach of Northington. "He is the first boy with the courage to stand up and do this thing."
A sportswriter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner called UCLA Football Coach Tommy Prothro the other day and went through the following ordeal:
"Do you have his extension?" asked the UCLA operator.
"Well, I'll switch you to information."
A second operator said, "Prothro? How do you spell that?"
"Was that P-H?"
"Oh," she said. "Well, his extension is 4211. Here, I'll give you the operator again."
At that point the reporter hung up. "It couldn't have been important anyway," said the Herald in a sports-page editorial. "After all, if his own school never heard of him what could he tell us?"
How to phone the Rose Bowl, perhaps?
WHO SHOT EDDIE WAITKUS?
Before the current craze for trivia goes the way of the hula hoop, the beehive hairdo and the old-fashioned, unembellished twist, we feel we should present a selection of significantly trivial questions on sport. You do understand trivia, don't you? No? Well, to ask who was pitching to Roger Maris when he hit his 61st home run is good, but more genuine trivia is: Q. Who caught the ball that Maris hit for his 61st home run? (A. Sal Durante.) Advanced trivia is: Q. Who was Sal Durante's girl friend? (A. Rose Calabrese.)
Who is Arnold Cream?
According to the movie starring Pat O'Brien, where did Knute Rockne get his inspiration for the box formation?
Where did Bill Voiselle come from?
Who shot Eddie Waitkus?
Who ran for Eddie Gaedel?
What does the C.C. stand for in C.C. Johnson Spink's name?
Who played the title role in The Joe Louis Story?
Who beat Pete Rademacher in his second pro fight?
Name the five Yankees who were with Billy Martin at the Copacabana.
Who was the Owl without a Vowel?
THEY SAID IT
•Mrs. Zoilo Versalles, wife of the American League's Most Valuable Player, explaining why she does the disciplining of their four daughters as well as the snow shoveling at their Minneapolis home: "He's too softhearted to spank them and never around when it snows."
•Barrie Haynie, Centenary basketball player, on his jump shot: "I sight down my nose to shoot, and now my nose isn't straight since I broke it. That's why my shooting has been off."