ABOVE VS. BELOW
When spearfishing became popular 15 years ago, alarmed hook-and-line fishermen could be heard from here to the Grand Bank. Their fear was that skin divers—who could, for example, casually swim up to a big grouper and skewer it at point-blank range—would shortly deplete the inshore fish population. Indeed, as a result of the uproar, spearfishing was banned in parts of the Florida Keys.
The California Department of Fish and Game has now published the results of a four-year study that indicates skin divers have an almost insignificant effect upon marine life compared with the impact of rod-and-reel fishermen. Spear-fishermen catch .6 fish per hour. Surf casters, as members of that infinitely stoic society might well have surmised, are the only ones who do worse: they beach .5 fish an hour. Pier fishermen do exactly as well (or as badly) as skin divers. Anglers in skiffs catch one fish an hour and party-boat fishermen haul in 1.4 fish per hour. Moreover, only 2.8% of the total man-hours spent fishing in California waters are represented by the activities of spear fishermen, and they take only .7% of the fish caught.
However, that's in the cold, murky, kelpy depths off California. There still may be a good case for prohibiting spearfishing in the Keys: there are fewer pounds of fish per cubic foot of ocean off Florida, and in the clear, shallow, tropical water they are easier to catch. In fact, skin divers can spook or wipe out the population of a reef as fast as you can say save our national resources.
August 7, 1966
Last week we related how Vic Seixas, 42, played a 66-game set of tennis one day and, presumably all tuckered out, lost to Clark Graebner, 22, the next; how James Van Alen, inventor of the Van Alen Simplified Scoring System (VASSS), proclaimed this an inequity that never would have happened under VASSS; how he further asserted that Seixas undoubtedly would have preferred to play under VASSS; and how Seixas disagreed and stood up for the game's old, inequitable verities.
This week, somewhat nettled by Seixas' reply, Van Alen has been moved to compose a cautionary verse, which we herewith reprint:
"Though you're old, Father Victor,"
the young man said,
"For your age you just couldn't
But if you keep playing
those marathon sets,
It's a cinch you won't be here
You will end in a wheel chair
or, worse, in a hearse
In a box with a tightly nailed
So don't be an ass,
score your tennis with VASSS.
And you'll play till you're 80
CASEY AND TED
Casey Stengel and Ted Williams were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. last week. Stengel is beloved; Williams is admired.
Stengel, predictably, was charming: "Yes, yes, yes, young man, I can see that you want another autograph. Who is this one for? Your grandfather? I see, and I'll bet that your grandfather buys you gloves and bats and balls and probably buys the Japanese kind 'cause they're cheaper and just as good as the American kind.... You say you go down to Shea Stadium and you meet all those Mets, and your teacher says she doesn't believe that you really meet 'em? What's her name? Miss Citzer? Yes, yes, yes." And Stengel wrote: "Dear Miss Citzer, please believe Danny. Casey Stengel."
Williams, unexpectedly, was beautiful. All anyone thought they'd get out of him in the way of an acceptance speech was a "thank you," maybe a "very much" if they got lucky. Instead he said, in part: "I guess every player thinks about going into the Hall of Fame. Now that the moment has come for me I find it difficult to say what is really in my heart, but I know that it is the greatest thrill of my life. I received 280-odd votes from the writers. I know I didn't have 280 close friends among the writers. I know that they voted for me because they felt in their minds, and some in their hearts, that I rated it, and I want to say to them thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart....
"Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game, and I've been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, to have struck out or to hit a tape-measure home run. And I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way can be added as a symbol of the great Negro players who are not here only because they were not given a chance...."
Of Williams' many fine moments in baseball, this was perhaps his finest.
There are something like 12,000 holes in one scored every year, and it seems that we are informed of every one of them—usually by collect telegram. Once in a while folks even feel compelled to tell us all about their exceptional eagles. We confess we usually make holes in one in our wastebasket with these missives, although sometimes it takes two throws. However, this week we are in receipt of a hole-in-one story that perfectly expresses our sentiments about the feat. Raymond Weicker of Bethlehem, Pa. hooked his shot off the first tee at the Saucon Valley Country Club, and the ball wound up in the 18th hole.
THE FORDS GO BY
When last we left stock car racing it was entangled in a dispute over which factory-backed cars could compete in what races. There was Ford with one hot engine and Chrysler with another, and a set of complicated racing rules that, they both moaned, wouldn't let them on the same track. General Motors, for its part, feigned disinterest and wished a pox on both their specially bored engine blocks.
Then, two weeks ago, Chrysler said it was pulling out of stock car racing and urged Ford to do likewise. Chrysler said that aside from saving $2½ million a year, its departure would give the little, independent driver a break.
Did Ford tag along? Not on your Fair-lane. Last week Ford announced that it was going to vastly expand its role in racing—in fact, spend more than $10 million annually on the game. And to Ralph Nader and company, who claim racing only encourages kids to mash the accelerator, Ford said that it has produced better and safer automobiles.
All this leaves the small driver back up the old financial creek. It also makes the future indefinite for such Chrysler-backed aces as Richard Petty, who has driven Plymouths to national titles.
Of course, the cynics believe Chrysler is only going underground, where, they contend, it will join G.M. Then, if the independent Plymouths do not do well, Chrysler can say "Who me?" And if they win Chrysler can take a great big, unaffiliated bow.
The next exciting chapter will come at the end of the month when stock car racing's governing bodies fix the rules for 1967. It shouldn't be too tough a job. Let's see now: we'll have a class for green Fords, a class for blue Fords, a class for red Fords....
When Robert W. Junell, a Washington state highway inspector, was severely nipped on the right ear by a crow while working on the Seattle Freeway, he was obliged to fill out an accident form. Junell was doing fine until he got to the last question: "How may this accident have been prevented?" His considered reply: "Avoid low-flying birds."
Glenn Gossett, the SMU track coach, calls him "the world's down-jump champion."
"And that," says Mike Madigan, "is a title I'll never defend."
Madigan, 20, is also the Southwest Conference broad-jump champion, and that is a title he would like to defend. Whether he can will be determined during the coming months of rehabilitation.
The other day, leaving a rest room on the sixth floor of a Dallas hotel, Madigan stepped through what he believed to be a door. It was a ventilation shaft, and Madigan dropped 80 feet.
"Boy, that was stupid," he says from his hospital bed "I just lie here all the time, thinking about it. I just can't believe I did it. Boy, it was stupid."
Madigan was pulled out of the shaft with injuries to both legs, two broken ribs and multiple cuts and abrasions. Still, he was fortunate—he landed feet first, so there were no head injuries.
Madigan's plunge got heavy play in the local papers, but the sports editor of The SMU Campus wrote nary a word about it. His name? Mike Madigan.
"It must have been a great story," sighs Madigan. "I just wish I had been awake to cover it."
NO SNOW JOB
It may be 85°, but they're skiing at Ski Villa in Carbon Canyon, 45 freeway minutes east of Los Angeles. Not water skiing—snow skiing, sort of. It's not the real white thing, or even the manufactured kind that requires near-freezing weather. A $750,000 plastic ski run has been built on a seven-acre slope that was graded to the desired contour, covered with two inches of mastic cement and topped with 1.3 million interlocking 6-inch square tiles of plastic bristles with a 1-inch nap. Skiers claim the surface is comparable to midmorning spring snow on Mammoth Mountain, seven hours north of L.A.
Facilities at Ski Villa include three rope tows of 900, 500 and 300 feet, a run of more than a quarter of a mile, a ski school, equipment shop, restaurant, lounge, ski patrol and, nota bene, a first-aid station.
"Falling on plastic bristles doesn't have the soft touch of snow," an executive of Randazzo Plastic, which provided the tiles, deftly puts it. In fact, Ski Villa recommends that skiers wear "full clothes coverage." There's not much point in wearing bathing suits, anyway. It's so hot in the daytime that the floodlit slope operates mainly at night.
Gerry Driscoll of Driscoll Custom Boats in San Diego, who is supervising the remodeling of Columbia for the 1967 America's Cup campaign, recently received the following letter from Alberto J. Quayat of Rye, N.Y.:
"I read...that you are replanking the afterbody of Columbia. This boat has a sentimental value to many of us. Would it be possible to pick up some scrap pieces from the pile, ‚Öû inch and over in thickness, any length, and mail them to me by parcel post?"
To facilitate the reply, Quayat enclosed a checklist, and asked Driscoll to indicate the appropriate items.
"Dear Mr. Quayat:
1. You must be a nut.
2. We haven't got the time.
3. The wood removed is mixed with other scrap and cannot be tracked down.
4. So sorry, old boy.
5. We have some pieces, random size.
6. We can ship them to you by parcel post.
7. Please send check for....
8. We hope you realize that the time this will take is not quite covered by your check, but we are willing to do it because Columbia means so much to you guys out there.
9. Please do not bother us again with things of this nature."
Driscoll sent Quayat a sizable piece of the stern section and advises that filling this order has exhausted the stock of the Columbia Souvenir Shoppe. He did not return Quayat's questionnaire, however. He's keeping it as a souvenir.
THEORY OF RELATIVITY
For the past two seasons the New York Jets have wondered how much Tackle Sherman Plunkett really weighed. He was carried on the program as 300, but that was because the Jets' scale only registered to 300. This year the Jets have a new scale that goes up to 350, and when Plunkett first stood on it he weighed 325. Last week he was down to his old program weight, but Coach Weeb Ewbank was after him to make 295.
To Plunkett this is unreasonable. "I think everything's sort of relative," he says. "You take a guy who's supposed to weigh 185. If he weighs 190, nobody says he's fat."
THEY SAID IT
•Ron Mix, San Diego Charger tackle, who claims he recites the Offensive Lineman's Prayer before each game: "May this unknown fellow across from me be skinny, slow, weak, stupid and love football but hate body contact."
•Sam Snead: "If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork like they do a golf club, they'd starve to death."
•David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club, opposing proposed dams in the Grand Canyon, which, their adherents claim, would create artificial lakes so sightseers could more closely approach the canyon's walls: "Should we flood the Sistine Chapel so tourists can float nearer the ceiling?"