Jan. 16, 1967
Jan. 16, 1967

Table of Contents
Jan. 16, 1967

A Bit of Spain
Tall, Stoned
Cus And Bus
Rodeo Dean
Sporting Man
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over



This is an article from the Jan. 16, 1967 issue Original Layout

Although Governor Rockefeller opposed it on "philosophical grounds," last November New Yorkers voted for a statewide lottery, whose proceeds would go to public schools, and state officials are now devising the form the lottery will take.

It will almost certainly be based on horse races, as in New Hampshire, since Congress, at New Hampshire's behest, passed a law exempting state-run lotteries from the 10% gambling tax, provided winners are determined by horse races; and the lottery tickets may well be sold by vending machines.

If this plan is adopted by the New York legislature, the vending machines would most likely be situated in banks, subway stations, department stores and transportation terminals. They would not, an Albany source said, be put in "uncontrolled" places on the street or in bars, "where every drunk can operate the machine."

We leave the morality of lotteries to those better versed in philosophy, but we cannot allow bars to be so offhandedly calumniated. It has been our experience that saloons are civilized and civilizing places frequented, for the most part, by men and women who would be quite able to operate a lottery-ticket machine with discernment and style, if they so fancied. Moreover, in this regard, as well as others, we would gladly stack habitués of bars against those of subway stations, transportation terminals, department stores and even banks.


What is especially tragic about Donald Campbell's death last week on Coniston Water in England's Lake District is that it was, as he foresaw, of greater news value than the attainment of his goal—a run in excess of 300 mph—would have been. Two days before his old boat, Bluebird, became airborne, flipped and sank in 140 feet of water, Campbell, who was 45, had told reporters: "You boys will see me carried away in a box one of these days. That's what you're all really here for."

Afterward David Wynne-Morgan, who was once Campbell's manager, summed it up. "He was born too late, really," he said. "People didn't seem to care anymore about his achievements. He was a sort of Boy's Own Paper hero and should have lived in the '20s and '30s." Campbell ruefully agreed. At Coniston, during the nine-week wait for the proper weather, he would buy a round at the Sun Hotel bar and say, "We've never really grown up, any of us, you know. God help us the day we do." Moreover, his explanations that he was striving to break records "for Great Britain, old boy," or to give "the old flag a flutter," seemed poignantly dated.

Bluebird, in which Campbell previously had set the record of 276.33 mph, was built in 1954. Although, according to her designer, Ken Norris, she was "due for the museum, really," Campbell had fitted her with a jet engine, which, he was fond of relating, was capable of lifting her straight into the air if she were stood on end. Why Bluebird left the surface of Coniston Water, when Campbell was doing an estimated 310 to 320 mph, has not been determined; one possibility is that she crossed her own wake, which caused her to hop or tramp until her nose was lifted beyond a safe pitch angle. Campbell had always had some tramping with Bluebird, but he evidently didn't feel it worth correcting.

For Campbell there was no choice but to have a go at it. "There are things in life you must do," he once said. "It's darned difficult to get inside yourself and find out why. All you know is that there is a fire burning inside."

So very early Wednesday week, Campbell stuck his mascot—a teddy bear named Mr. Whoppit, dressed in blue coveralls like Campbell's own—into Bluebird's cockpit, strapped himself in and handed a pipe and tobacco pouch to an aide. "Hang on to these," Campbell said. "They're sticking into me." After hitting 297 mph on the first of the two requisite runs over the measured kilometer, Campbell turned and radioed, "The water is dark green, and I can't see anything." Seconds later, gathering speed, he said, his voice pitched higher, "She's tramping! She's tramping! I'm on my back! She's going!"

If NBC doesn't beat CBS in the ratings for their simultaneous telecast of the Super Bowl, it won't be because they didn't try to get out the viewers. Last Saturday NBC was touting its Super-coverage on a show called Atom Ant, which goes on the air at 9:30 a.m., and appeals to pro football fans aged 3 to 8.


As you no doubt recall, a few years back elephant jokes (e.g., "Why don't elephants like Martinis?" "Did you ever try to get an olive out of your nose?") were all the rage. Now the Mecoms—John Sr. and John Jr., of Houston and thereabouts—have learned, to their sorrow, that the genre has not entirely been laid to rest.

One day last month a press release, issued on behalf of the South African Tourist Corporation, stated that John Sr. had ordered 20 elephants from South Africa's Kruger National Park for delivery to his private Texas game reserve in late January. At about the same time John Jr. got a call from the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. informing him that 18 elephants were on the way. Eighteen elephants? Twenty elephants? What's two elephants, more or less, to a press agent? However, neither John Jr. nor Sr. knew anything about one elephant.

The Mecoms keep zebras, oryxes, llamas, impalas, gazelles and giraffes at their Laredo ranch, but, said John Jr., "We have only one elephant, and it's of the Indian variety. These people are talking about African elephants. They're twice the size of Indian elephants, and I don't plan to turn 18 African elephants loose with that Indian elephant. My dad and I think this is some big joke by our friend Ray Ryan of the Mount Kenya Safari Club. I understand Lykes is perturbed that I haven't been answering their calls, but I hate to return them because I'd have to ask what's going to happen to all those elephants, and I don't want to know."


The best sportscaster in the country is a crusty middle-aged man who, on occasional Saturday nights, does the color for the college basketball games on WPIX in New York. His name is Red Auerbach, the same one who is the former coach and the present general manager of the Boston Celtics.

But if you want to catch Auerbach, hurry: he's too good and too honest to last on TV. For one thing, he gives everybody the business: players, refs, coaches. During the Columbia-Dartmouth game last week, he was muttering, "That Stableford, he doesn't even look at the basket. He's no threat out there." And "I honestly believe it was the official's fault." And "That's a classic example of what to do wrong against the full-court press." Auerbach also tells you why kids raised in New York can't shoot layups (because they started out in playgrounds, where the baskets are on poles, and if you drove in you stood a good chance of getting banged up), how to shoot, how refs get themselves off the hook and the secret of coaching. At the close of the game, when Columbia cleared its bench, Auerbach said: "Notice how some of these second-stringers are out of condition?" Aghast, Marty Glickman, the play-by-play announcer, ventured that the subs were probably a little nervous. "The secret of coaching," Auerbach persisted, "is keep your bench in as good condition as your starters, even though they don't play." Glickman suggested that it was exam time. "They are a little fatter than the first-stringers," said Auerbach with finality.

But the best part of listening to Auerbach do a game is that every once in a while, following an exceptionally pretty play, you will hear a soft "ooh." It's Auerbach, still a fan after 27 years of making his living from the game, expressing his admiration.

Red, you're beautiful.


The announcement last week that Ben Kerner was selling his basketball team, the St. Louis Hawks, denotes, if you'll excuse the expression, the end of an era. Kerner, 50, is the only owner in the NBA—and possibly in major league sports—who actually owns every piece of stock in his team; moreover, he is the only owner who, in fact, runs the whole show, which, for Benny, has meant scheming 14 hours a day, seven days a week. As he said the other day, "I own it. I work it. I suffer it. The guy that buys it will be part of a corporate structure. He'll never enjoy it as much as I did. You don't get the thrill of accomplishment unless you start from nothing."

Kerner started from minus nothing. In 1955, when he brought the Hawks to St. Louis, he was $165,000 in the hole. Last year the Hawks made a profit of $243,975. The success of the Hawks is a result not only of Kerner's ability to put together a winner, but of his ability to make people buy tickets to see it play. "You got to have your extras," he has said. And of all Kerner's extra added attractions the greatest has been Kerner himself. "You sell yourself as a character," he once said, "you get space." Kerner calls himself Benny the Boob, has fought with referees, fired coaches and torn up programs in little pieces. "If I didn't tear up programs they'd think I was losing interest," he has said. "They bring me programs to tear up. Everybody's looking at me. They go home happy."

As he said last week, "I created an image." But more than the Benny the Boob bit, Kerner, in great part, helped create the big-league image that the NBA has today. Benny often carried on like some kind of a nut, but he made the Hawks a class operation. "Basketball's been good to me," he said last week. "I tried to be good to it."


One of the more valid ways to judge the character of a baseball manager is to watch him while he makes his first visit to the pitcher's mound when things begin to go wrong. Some walk out turning their heads from side to side and mumbling like method actors; others go out slowly and then kick up the mound as if to ask, "How on earth can you do a thing like this to me?" Johnny Keane, who died last week at 55, had a special way of making his first visits. He would put his hands in his back pockets and come out of the dugout at a full trot, say exactly what he had to say and then trot off, as if embarrassed to interrupt the flow of a game.

Keane was a good manager as well as a principled and sentimental man. When he let a tired Bob Gibson pitch through the seventh game of the 1964 World Series he was asked why he had left his man in so long. "Because," said John, "I had a commitment to his heart." Keane's frustrations with the 1966 Yankees were summed up with, "We're just going to have to tough this thing out," and when he was fired last May because the Yankee management panicked, Mickey Mantle said, "I'm sick because I let a man like Johnny Keane down."

Only a few hours after winning the 1964 Series someone asked Keane if it marked the most thrilling moment in his life. "Oh, it's a great thrill," he said. "After 34 years in the game it gives you a feeling of tremendous satisfaction. But when my daughter Pat turned 18, my wife, Lela, and I bought her a car for Christmas that we could not afford. We had it brought to our house in Houston late, when she was asleep, and Lela and I stayed up all night stringing colored ribbons from her doorknob upstairs down through the house and out into the garage to the keys in the ignition. We wrote signs on the ribbons that said THIS WAY and KEEP GOING, and when she finally got to the car it was seeing the look in her eyes that was the proudest moment in my life."



•Dick Walsh, Los Angeles Dodger vice-president, accepting a five-year contract at $50,000 a year to be commissioner of the new North American Soccer League: "I don't even know how many men there are on a soccer team."

•Tug McGraw, 22-year-old Met lefthander, asked where the next Sandy Koufax was coming from: "I'm a candidate for the job—all I have to do is win a few hundred games."