WHITHER THE FIGHT?
Back in 1860, when England's Tom Sayers fought John Camel Heenan for the championship belt, prizefighting was illegal. Blindly faithful fans boarded a London train, not knowing where the fight was to be held until the train stopped beside a lonely field and the cry was "Everyone off!"
The way things were going last week, it looked as if Cassius Clay and Ernie Terrell might have to rent a train of their own and start cruising the countryside. They had the date, March 29, but until Toronto timidly volunteered they were running out of countries, states, cities, yea, even suburbs (their most painful defeat was at Verdun, Que., where the mayor told them to shoo).
While everyone was running around looking, Clay himself flourished an official-looking envelope on which was printed, "Passport to the Moon." Said Cassius: "Looks like we're going to have to go to the moon to fight, because no place on earth wants us. We'll just go up there and fight it out and the one that wins will get to take the spaceship and come back."
March 14, 1966
The payoff, presumably, would be in moonshine.
When tournament leader Doug Sanders was disqualified from the Pensacola Open for failing to sign his scorecard last Saturday the immediate reaction was that the rule is absurd, the punishment is preposterous and the law is an ass.
The disqualification was certainly regrettable. Sanders, the defending champion, was the favorite of the Pensacola galleries and his ousting over a seemingly unimportant rule substantially hurt the tournament. But what may be more meaningful in the long view is the behind-the-scenes implications of the PGA's handling of the incident. Long an indecisive body, the PGA—in the person of its tournament supervisor, Jack Tuthill—suddenly chose to shun the easy way out of an awkward situation. At the Tucson Open on February 17 Tuthill had posted a notice warning competitors that the Rules of Golf require them to sign their scorecards before turning them in to the official score-keeper. It said that in past years PGA officials had recalled players from putting greens, locker rooms and other such places for after-the-fact illegal signings. "The obligation under the rules rests with the competitor and henceforth the officials will not search out a competitor for noncompliance," said the bulletin—plain enough.
At Pensacola two weeks later, with tournament sponsors pleading for him to relent, Tuthill, a former FBI agent, found himself faced with enforcing the rule. It is significant that he did not hesitate or back down when Governor Hay-don Burns of Florida angrily called the decision a "disaster."
The rule is there for a purpose—to make sure a player accepts the responsibility for the score he turns in. Tuthill was both courageous and correct.
Britain's bookies and bettors are miffed because the Labor government plans to introduce a 2½% tax on betting. If the bettor wins, he is to pay the tax. If he loses, the bookie must pay it. In Britain tax-free gambling with bookmakers has been almost as much of a tradition as free speech. But even when the tax goes through and is added to the bookie's usual profit margin (8%), the British horseplayer is still going to be a lot better off than his American cousin, who, on the average, automatically gets clipped for l6½% every time he bets at the track.
THE DAISY AND WAR
The Daisy Air Rifle people at Rogers, Ark. were naturally curious when large orders for BB guns started coming in from military bases all over the country. It turned out the BB guns are being used to help train troops. At one base they are utilized in the last tough barrage of instruction of men headed for Vietnam.
This is at Fort Polk in Louisiana, where trainees are sent through lanes 35 meters wide and 175 meters long, with an instructor and grader accompanying. Terrain hazards—heavy brush, tangled logs, streams, fences, gullies and mud—are plentiful. As a trainee slogs ahead, BB gun in hand, metal silhouettes of prone guerrillas pop up. Some silhouettes are black, representing an enemy who must be instantly shot at and hit. Others are white, representing friends. Woe to the recruit who hits a white target. The test is difficult, and since there are soldiers in adjoining lanes the standard M-14 rifle with live ammunition is overly dangerous for this kind of training. (The Marines do it differently. They use BB guns to shoot at one another.)
"An awful lot of these kids are from big cities and never had a gun in their hands before," says one Army man. "They're gun-shy. We have to break them in easy."
That shadowy figure skulking about in swamps these misty March nights is not a fight manager trying to make a deal; it is Dr. George Bennett, chief aquatic biologist of the Illinois Natural History Survey. Dr. Bennett, a leading authority on black bass (SI, Aug. 19, 1963), has now become enamored of frogs and toads, and he is busy tape-recording their songs and calls on location. So far he has waded through snake-infested marshes to tape the shrill peep of the spring peeper, the rasp of the Western chorus frog (which has a song resembling the sound made by dragging a fingernail across the teeth of a pocket comb) and the lusty snore of the gopher frog. This last was a rare coup because the gopher frog spends almost all its life down a crayfish hole.
One of the noisiest frogs is the cricket frog. It has a very loud, grating call, astounding for a creature so tiny. Its scientific name, Acris crepitans blanchardi, is twice as long as it is. Besides being loud, it is also athletic. Considering its size, a cricket frog probably can out-leap any other frog.
The biggest ham that Dr. Bennett has found is Bufo fowleri, commonly known as Fowler's toad. Dr. Bennett was able to record its ear-piercing shriek by sticking the microphone right in front of one. Not in the least shy, it continued to scream away like a member of the Rolling Stones.
The fifth Asian Games, scheduled for December, on which Thailand is spending millions of baht for new facilities, are threatened by Southeast Asia's stormy rivalries. Cambodia, Thailand's neighbor, has decided to stage a second edition of the politically inspired Games of the New Emerging Forces at precisely the same time.
Undiscouraged, the Thais—never known for pessimism—are expanding National Stadium, building a new $1.5 million indoor stadium and laying out a Games village, with 714 bungalows, a shopping center and restaurants serving Thai, Chinese, American and European food. "Rumors that we might not run the Games because of the situation in this region are completely wrong," says spokesman Chalermchai Charuvastr. "When we come to sports we forget about personal and political differences."
This fall—or perhaps even sooner—it is entirely possible that the first Pacific silver salmon will rise to the fly of a startled Lake Michigan fisherman. It was in 1964 that Michigan's Department of Conservation decided that inland fishermen need not live by bass and muskie alone, and conceived the idea of salmon runs in the Great Lakes and also in rivers similar to Northwest coastal streams. Oregon sent one million salmon eggs east in November 1964 and another million last year. Washington shipped 1,200,000 eggs in 1965 and promised more.
There is no doubt that the salmon will survive. The only uncertainty is whether they can perpetuate themselves through natural spawn. Michigan has noted that self-perpetuating chinook salmon, transplanted from California, are doing fine in New Zealand.
The world land-speed duel between Craig Breedlove and Art Arfons is heating up. Disdaining to wait until the normal fall season on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Arfons is planning to make an assault with his jet-propelled Green Monster next month. Ordinarily, record runs are not possible in the spring—the flats require summer's heat to bake out the winter rains—but there has been less moisture than usual, and Arfons believes he can find six or seven miles of passable track.
His goal is the formidable one of surpassing Breedlove's 600.601-mph record, set last November in Spirit of America eight days after Arfons had done 576 mph. Arfons feels that he has eliminated a technical fault of the Monster's that caused a number of chilling high-speed tire blowouts. Asked where he thinks the race with Breedlove will end, Arfons said, "Depends on which one of us gets a yellow streak first, I guess."
NAME OF A NAME
There still seems to be a question of what home-town rooters are going to call the American League's Angels. When the club announced last season that it was moving from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to a brand-new park in Anaheim, 20 miles south in Orange County, the front office announced triumphantly—and a little foolishly, we think—that the Los Angeles Angels were now the California Angels. But people in Anaheim took to calling them the Anaheim Angels, and at least one billboard has been erected that says, in big letters, "Good luck, 'Anaheim' Angels."
We think if the club plays in Anaheim it should be called the Anaheim Angels. It's a good name. It's distinctive. It will be remembered. After all, wouldn't it have been silly all these years to call that football team the Wisconsin Packers?
After years of winking at the cozy and profitable relationship that the better Alpine racers have enjoyed with ski manufacturers, the Fédération Internationale de Ski has decided to crack down a bit. Standard procedure for a winner is to whip off his skis and pose for photographs, with the manufacturer's label in there big and clear. Starting with the championships next August in Portillo, Chile, the FIS has ruled, racers must wear unmarked skis. To enforce the edict, an FIS man will be stationed on the mountain with a camp stove, paintbrush and bucket of bubbling paraffin. Any racer who appears with his brand showing will have it painted out.
NARROWEST PARK IN THE WORLD
Question: What is 50 feet wide and 32 miles long? Answer: the narrowest park in the world, if the New York Hudson River Valley Commission and the Sierra Club have anything to do about it. The proposed park is the walkway that runs atop the Croton Aqueduct carrying upstate water down to New York City. The walkway has long been a favorite place for hikers, but in recent years the city government, which owns the route, has allowed fences, parking lots and other impediments to block the path.
To draw attention to the walkway's park potential, the Sierra Club, the most powerful national conservation organization, last week asked Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to lead a two-and-a-half-mile hike from Croton-on-Hudson to Ossining, the longest unimpeded stretch. Accompanied by 250 hikers, Justice Douglas, himself a member of the Sierra Club, took off at a brisk four-miles-per-hour clip. He paused only to look at the view, sign autographs and accept a box of bass bugs presented by the Sierra Club to mark his jaunt. Having done that, the Justice then went across the Hudson and strolled along and down several hills before flying back the riverbank. Said Douglas, "I like to help the cause. I'm afraid we're fighting a rearguard action. Out in my country [the Pacific Northwest] it's almost impossible to get 10 miles from roads. The wild and woolly West is all gone."
THEY SAID IT
•The Celtics' Bill Russell, sporting a lace-front shirt: "You have to be six ten and weigh 220 to get away with it."
•Mel McGaha, former Kansas City manager now with the Houston Astros' Triple A farm club at Oklahoma City, on his old boss Charlie Finley: "A tremendous salesman; he convinced me twice that I had a future in the Kansas City organization."