MONA LISA'S MUSTACHE
Last week, shortly after he retained his title, Cassius Clay stepped into an elevator of a Houston hotel and was greeted by a gray-haired, distinguished-looking couple.
"What did you think of the referee?" the man asked.
"He was all right," Clay said, "but he held that Terrell up for 15 rounds."
February 20, 1967
"Mr. Clay, I'd like you to meet my husband, Harry," said Alma Kessler. "He was the referee tonight, and I want you to know he is a metallurgical engineer with 32 patents to his name. He's worth $9 million and he doesn't have to referee for you bums."
Indeed, Kessler should have had the good sense not to try or, barring that, he should have tried harder. Much of the time Kessler resembled a man attempting to cut in on a dance, but the couple disregarded his little taps on the shoulder, and Kessler seemed disinclined to get into an argument with two bums.
Some aspects of the Clay-Terrell fight have been dealt with immoderately in the daily press; others have been almost wholly ignored. Clay's bad-mouthing in the eighth round was distasteful, but no more repugnant than Terrell's dirty fighting and his grotesque claim that Clay thumbed him and rubbed his left eye against a ring rope; certainly Clay's misconduct didn't warrant the irrational denunciations in the press, which can only serve to further inflame the yahoos.
And Kessler and the Texas boxing commission are as blameworthy as the fighters, whose animosity toward each other was well publicized and both of whom have records—Clay for hysteria, Terrell for holding and roughing. Obviously the match called for a strong, active, alert ref. Instead, the commission chose Kessler, who is 65, of modest stature and whose reputation has at time exceeded his works: it was Kessler, you may recall, who bemusedly held Archie Moore back after he had knocked Marciano down in the second round, although the mandatory eight-count had been waived; and Kessler's scoring of the first Moore-Maxim and Patterson-Jackson fights can only be termed weird.
According to Article 24, Section 11 of the boxing rules of Texas, "abusive or profane language" is a foul, just like butting or hitting below the belt. When Clay began his obnoxious tirade Kessler should have threatened to take away points and, if Clay persisted, done so or disqualified him; and he should have treated Terrell's repeated fouls with equal severity. There is no need for anarchy in the ring; commissions and referees should recognize their responsibilities and earn their pay, even if, like Kessler, they can afford to donate it to charity. The same holds for the fighters, particularly Clay, who defaced a resplendent performance; it was as though it were Leonardo himself who painted the mustache on the Mona Lisa.
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Last week's Wichita State-Drake game was terminated with 11 seconds left, after Drake fans, incensed by the officials' calls, showered the floor with coins. Not only did Wichita win 71-60, but its provident guard, Warren Armstrong, got 13¢ richer. He stuffed a nickel and eight pennies in his sneaker.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
Without further ado, here's the latest from 116-pound Juan (Chi Chi) Rodriguez, the longest hitter in golf—pound for pound:
"I was playing with this fellow in Puerto Rico recently," Chi Chi says. "He hit 285 yards off the first tee. Then he topped the second shot with a four-wood. He hit a five-iron eight feet from the pin and putted into a sand trap. He blasted out one foot from the pin, putted eight feet past the hole and sank it coming back. I was thinking he was crazy.
"On the second hole he hit his drive 290 yards down the middle. Then he topped a four-iron a few feet, and put a seven-iron two feet from the cup, putted eight feet past it again and sank it coming back. I know he is crazy.
"On the third hole he booms another drive. Now I have to ask him what is going on. He told me he was practicing for the club's mixed Scotch foursome tournament. All those bad shots were shots his wife would be taking."
It was 24° in Reno last Thursday, but spring was in the air: Harrah's Club announced the opening line on the baseball season.
American League: Baltimore 8 to 5; Minnesota 5 to 2; Detroit 5 to 1; Cleveland 6 to 1; Chicago 10 to 1; California 15 to 1; New York 20 to 1 and, as an entry, Boston, Washington and Kansas City 75 to 1.
National League: San Francisco and Pittsburgh 5 to 2; Philadelphia 5 to 1; Los Angeles 6 to 1; Cincinnati 8 to 1; Atlanta 10 to 1; St. Louis 12 to 1; Houston 50 to 1 and, as an entry, New York and Chicago 100 to 1.
HOW NOT TO USE YOUR HEAD
How did Bart Starr become the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers? Here's the way Bart is telling it on the banquet circuit:
"When Vince Lombardi came to the Packers he built a large brick wall at the end of the field and he had the players run toward it. The ones who smacked into it and fell backwards he made defensive linemen. The ones who smacked into it and fell on their bellies became offensive linemen. The ones who ran through it he made fullbacks. And the ones who ran up to the brick wall and then walked around it became quarterbacks."
COMPROMISE ON ICE
The National Hockey League, which needs players for its expansion and, doubtless, would like to use U.S. colleges as farm teams, has suggested that the collegians change two rules. The NHL wants 1) the colleges to permit body checking all over the ice, as in the NHL, instead of only in the defensive zone, and 2) to adopt what may be called the one-line pass. There are three lines on the ice—two blue ones, which demark the defensive zones, and a red one at center ice, which divides the neutral zone. Collegians can pass the puck over any two of these lines, the pros over only one line.
Some college coaches, particularly those who use mostly Canadians—who have played pro rules since they were kids—would like to see all-ice body checking, as it would enliven the college game. But in respect to the one-line pass: tight-checking NHL games are often boring; whenever a team gets ahead by-two goals midway through a game, it plays tight-checking, defensive hockey, and it's very difficult to make a good one-line pass with a defender draped all over you. The two-line pass opens up the game and leads to greater scoring. The floater play, where one player hangs around at center ice waiting for a long two-line pass that could give him a breakaway goal, is one of the most exciting plays in hockey.
We ask two questions: why don't the colleges allow body checking all over the ice and why doesn't the NHL adopt the two-line pass? That way both games would be better.
A few days after Bobby Dodd announced he was retiring as the Georgia Tech football coach, he was driving through the Tech campus when he noticed a red blinker flashing behind him. Dodd pulled to the curb.
"Let me see your license," the cop said.
Dodd handed it to him.
"This your car, Mr. Dodd?"
Dodd said it was.
"You know why I stopped you, Mr. Dodd?"
Dodd said he didn't.
"You were doing 50 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone, Mr. Dodd," the cop said, writing out a ticket.
"That moment," Dodd said later, "was when I fully realized I wasn't the football coach at Georgia Tech anymore."
Leon Leonwood Bean died last week at 94. Although few of his customers had ever been to his store—L. L. Bean's, Inc., Freeport, Me.—they had got to know Mr. Bean through his no-nonsense write-ups for bear-paw snowshoes, Whistler decoys, guide's skillets and black fly dope in his mail-order catalogs.
The son of a Maine horse trader, Mr. Bean got in the outfitting business because of sore feet. The woodsmen's boots in vogue years ago were uncomfortable and they leaked. Working with a local cobbler, Mr. Bean developed the Maine Hunting Shoe, a rubber-bottomed, leather-topped boot that was lightweight and waterproof. Mr. Bean made it famous by explaining: "The average hunting shoe weighs about 4 ounces more than ours. As big-game hunters walk about seven miles (or 18,840 steps) a day, they lift 2,310 pounds more than necessary." It was this kind of pitch that helped Mr. Bean build up a $4 million-a-year business.
Indeed, the L. L. Bean catalog is irresistible:
•Bean's Chamois Cloth Shirt—"This is the shirt Mr. Bean uses on his fishing and hunting trips. The scarlet is a good fishing shirt, as red repels black flies. Also safe for dragging in deer without coat."
•Bean's Heavy Duty Belt—"for hard service. A fancy dress belt looks out of place on heavy hunting pants."
Mr. Bean was an active outdoorsman and his customers knew that his merchandise had been, as he wrote, "personally tested by me." Mr. Bean always got his buck in the Haynesville Woods of Aroostook County in northern Maine. He was keen on fly-fishing for Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick and, like most Mainers, he loved to fly-fish for landlocked salmon and togue at ice-out. His last such expedition was to East Grand Lake when he was 90. Mr. Bean filled out his limit.
On the theory that a deer hunter on his way to a stand at 4 a.m. suddenly remembers he needs a license, or that a trout fisherman might want a few Mickey Finn bucktails on Sunday, Mr. Bean kept the store open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. He was buried on Feb. 9 and L. L. Bean's closed for nine hours. At 5:01 p.m. it was open for business, and the new spring catalogs, for which he had corrected the galleys, were addressed and mailed out on schedule. As always, trout fishermen will be able to consult Mr. Bean before opening day.
When a lion tamer sticks his head in a lion's mouth the risk is self-evident. Or is it? Consider the case of Jim Richards, a whale trainer at San Diego's Sea World, who, twelve times a week, sticks his head inside the mouth of Shamu, a killer whale. Shamu came down with a strep throat recently. A few days later, so did Richards.
An Englishman by name of Norman E. Lewis has come up with what he regards as an equitable solution to Cassius Clay's draft problems. Lewis has volunteered to serve in Clay's place.
In a letter to the Louisville draft board, Lewis said he had two reasons for stepping forward: "The first is that I consider it a great shame that thousands of sportsmen in countries all over the world may be deprived of the chance of seeing in person the man who in my opinion is the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. The second reason is that it grieves me when I see interviews on TV with young American soldiers serving in Vietnam. In my opinion, these boys are the salt of the earth...."
Lewis said he was 54, 6 feet 2, weighed 210, was in great shape, had served for six years in World War II and "celebrated my 52nd birthday by making my first parachute jump."
Alas, selective service laws do not permit one person to substitute for another, but it seems to us that Lewis might well make a worthy opponent.
THEY SAID IT
•Bobby Bell, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker and Minnesota resident, asked his opinion on holding the Super Bowl at a neutral site: "I don't like it. Now I have to pay taxes in three states."
•Robert Croft, Navy diver, after free-diving 212'7" for a world record: "I need a drink."