Kansas City beat San Diego last Sunday in a game that may well have decided the Western Division title in the AFL. They were two well-matched clubs, and the betting line probably would have shown Kansas City as a slight favorite—if you could have gotten a bet down. You couldn't. The bookmakers of America have banded together to protect themselves. As a result, there no longer are any lines for games involving Kansas City or, for that matter, Houston.
The bookies got alarmed following the Buffalo-Houston game on Sept. 25, which opened with Buffalo a 6-point favorite. Big money originating in the Midwest was bet on Buffalo minus the points. The spread shifted to 8, and the same bettors put more money on Houston plus the points. Buffalo won 27-20. It is estimated that the bettors made at least $250,000 winning both ways. Then there was the Kansas City-Oakland game on Oct. 16. In this one the same bettors put their money on Oakland, a 13- or 14-point underdog. Oakland won 34-13. The Boston-Oakland game on Oct. 30 was the second "both ways" killing of the season. Boston opened as a 2-point favorite, and the big money invested heavily on it. The spread went to 3½ or 4. The same bettors then took Oakland with the points. Boston won 24-21.
"It was the first time Boston had been involved," says one prominent bookie. "Until this game, we've been concerned only with Kansas City, Denver, Oakland—and, of course, Houston. It makes you wonder how long we can handle anything big in this league."
The Midwest boys have won all 12 bets they've placed, but they're running out of places—more and more games are being taken off the board or "circled," which means a $50 limit.
Admittedly, the bookies could be all wrong. The AFL says it is "continuously investigating [but sees] no reason to be alarmed at this point." Despite the league's sangfroid, the talk increases as each week passes. It makes one fear that the supergame may be overshadowed by the superbet.
When Cassius Clay fights Cleveland Williams in Houston on Nov. 14, it will be his first bout in six years without the Louisville Sponsoring Group. The contract between Clay and the Group—he called them "my 11 white millionaire managers"—ran out last month and by mutual consent was not renewed. The Group's passing from the sporting scene was little noted, but that was the way the Louisville gentlemen wanted it. They had got more attention than they cared for, especially after Clay's fealty to the Black Muslims became known and his draft status and gratuitous comments on Vietnam made the front page.
The Louisville Group was handsome and very well tailored and provided a welcome contrast at ringside, and for this alone will be missed. Clay will miss its indulgences. No longer will he be able to sport a chauffeur, a valet, a bodyguard, an assistant to the assistant trainer, three cooks and one brother—all of whom were on the Group's tab. Clay's new manager, Herbert Muhammad, the son of the Black Muslim leader, will take at least the same 40% cut as the Group, but he is more concerned about profit and has less patience with Clay's ideas of the good life.
The Group's function was more than decorative, however. Its members forced the reluctant—and often disagreeable-champion to put 10% of his purses in a trust fund, and to the best of their ability they defended and protected Clay from an outraged public, as well as from himself. That they did so was exemplary, but not entirely out of a sense of duty: almost to a man, the Group liked Clay; some even had great affection for him. They did not understand him, but through Clay's flashes of warmth they were able to perceive his appreciation and liking for them. Too, they were privy to Clay's casual acts of thoughtfulness: rewarding, out of his own pocket, a particularly hard-working sparring partner, sending airline tickets and cash to an old neighbor, giving money to down-and-outers.
Despite Herbert's parsimony, Clay is still doing thoughtful, expensive things for others. At a cost to himself of some $11,000, he is having the Williams fight televised into Tuskegee Institute, Florida A&M, Grambling College, Fisk University and the Great Lakes Naval Training Center hospital. The Negro colleges will charge $1 admission to raise funds for their building programs.
During the most troubled moments of the enigmatic relationship between Clay and the Group, its members would confide their frustration and displeasure, and then invariably add: "Clay is a difficult young man, but a good person."
POW! BAM! SOCK! TCH! TCH!
As readers of the comics are well aware, Joe Palooka, the other heavyweight champion of the world, is finally defending his title after 10 years of antiquing in Norwalk, Conn. with his wife (SI, April 19, 1965). The challenger: King Abbso of Jyrobia, who seems to be a composite of the Shah of Iran and Pete Rademacher. The King already has beaten Joe in handball 21-14, 21-19, 21-12, 21-17, in tennis 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 and in golf—Joe shot a 79 to Abbso's 71. Tch! Tch!
Although an amateur, the King has had a fight with Billy Kaprone, Joe's last opponent, and knocked him out—and Kaprone went 15 with Palooka! What's more—more than Joe's title is at stake. As Abbso has explained: "Jyrobia has remained neutral in the struggle between your country and Communism! However...if you accept my challenge...and win...I shall have gained a new respect for Americans! And Jyrobia and the United States will be friends!" Says President Johnson: "Tell Joe Palooka to fight him...and to win!"
Says Tony DiPreta, who draws the strip: "I feel like I'm really drawing Joe Palooka, not a guy wandering around not knowing what his place in the comics is. I'm doing Nov. 25 now, and they're in the fifth round. Joe's taking a beating and he hasn't been hurting the King at all. Abbso has a wicked left hook. From watching Joe's movies, the King has learned that when Joe gets set to throw his left hook, he drops his right—the opposite of what Schmeling saw with Louis. Joe doesn't know how come he's being clobbered. Joe's down! He's up at eight!..."
Some years ago the McNaught Syndicate, which edits and distributes the strip, forbade Joe to box because the sport was in such disrepute. DiPreta was asked if the Abbso fight was a sign of a new beatitude in boxing. "No," he said, "we got a new editor. The old one was a woman."
A recent scandal in New Hampshire—in which 19 persons were suspended in connection with harness-race-fixing charges,—and investigations in Pennsylvania and New York have finally aroused trotting's bigwigs. A committee representing the U.S. Trotting Association and the Harness Tracks of America met in Harrisburg, Pa. last week and took a belated step toward setting up a tough, independent security organization.
During the decades that trotting has grown from a fairgrounds sport into a multimillion-dollar industry, rival factions hampered any move toward establishing a security force similar to the redoubtable Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. The low-budget USTA security force was so inadequate that the tracks policed themselves and some couldn't find an elephant in the snow.
If, as seems likely, a nationwide organization is to be formed, the likely choice to head it is Joe Lynch, a former FBI man who is general manager of The Meadows, Del Miller's track outside Pittsburgh. Lynch is a dandy, and if he gets the free hand that Spencer Drayton—the ex-FBI man who heads the TRPB—gets, the bettor, as well as the horseman, will be better served.
THE GIRLS FROM THE INSTITUTE
LPGA tournaments have been sponsored by savings and loan associations (the Clayton Federal Invitational), beer (the Lady Carling Open), liquor (the Haig & Haig Scotch Mixed Foursomes), frozen custard (the Carvel Ladies' Open) and a secretarial service (the Kelly Girl Open). It is, therefore, not fair to say that the world is ill-prepared for the first annual Success Open, which takes place in Waco, Texas, Nov. 18-20. Success stands for the Success Motivation Institute, Inc., also of Waco, which calls itself "the nation's largest producer of recorded courses in personal motivation and leadership development."
The heart of the SMI program is the Personal Success Planner, and the heart of the PSP is the Plan of Action, the chart "that Gives DIRECTION to your DREAMS, lays the TRACK TO RUN ON, and MOTIVATES YOU TO ACTION!"
Along with $10,000 in prize money, SMI is giving each entrant a PSP, which normally sells for $350, and SMI says it "would not be surprised to get reports from various sections of the country that [the ladies are] settled down by their phonographs...." Who's to say? But we, for one, can't imagine a more highly motivated group than professional lady golfers: if SMI succeeds (and we trust the Success Motivation Institute is not going to fail) in spurring the ladies on to even fiercer endeavors, what we need is asbestos golf courses.
Ladbrokes and Hill's of London are the two biggest racing bookmakers in the world. But which is bigger? And who cares? Ladbrokes and Hill's, evidently. Ladbrokes recently advertised that it has "undoubtedly the biggest turnover of any bookmaker," while Hill's claims to be "The World's Biggest Bookmakers."
When Ladbrokes boasted in print that it handled $1,444,800 one week, Hill's offered to bet $140,000 that no bookie could prove a bigger turnover than Hill's for the following week.
Replied Ladbrokes, declining the challenge: "If Hill's say their figures are higher than ours, why don't they come out and tell us what the figures are?" Retorted Hill's: "We do not feel it is in the interest of the bookmaking industry...to issue figures like this. But why don't Ladbrokes take us up if they are so sure they are bigger?" Ladbrokes countered by suggesting that an accountant examine the books of both firms. Rejoined Hill's: "Let them substantiate or climb down."
According to Joe Coral, yet another top London bookie, Hill's is the early favorite.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Camp, George Washington football coach, on why he doesn't use a lonely end: "We train by a parkway, which runs beside a river. If we had a lonely end, he either would be hit by a car or drown."
•Joe Don Looney, Washington Redskin back, asked if he ever met a man he didn't like: "Yeah, Will Rogers."