AFTER THE BELL
Last week at Madison Square Garden Dick Tiger retained his light-heavyweight title by defeating Jose Torres in a fight that was as good as it was close. It should have been a proud moment in boxing, which needs all of those it can get. But it was loused up. A bottle was thrown from the balcony and shattered in the ring. More bottles, beer cans, parts of seats followed. At least 11 spectators were treated for lacerations.
Two of New York's three newspapers called it a riot, which sells papers. If only one bottle, instead of two dozen, had been thrown it would have been an intolerable violation of public safety, but that doesn't make it a riot. However, more preposterous things were written. The New York Post said in an editorial that the "riot" was "incited by the bestial and bloody spectacle that boxing is. Fight crowds are notoriously ugly in temper because fights are ugly.... The way to prevent riots is to ban boxing...."
As a matter of fact, the fight was nearly bloodless, fight crowds are traditionally among the most mannerly in sport—you can more readily find ugliness at high school basketball games—and by the Post's beautiful logic, you have to conclude that, say, the way to prevent crime in the subways is to shut them down.
The assumption is that some Puerto Ricans threw the bottles because they didn't like the decision. This would make more sense if the bottles had come right after the decision was announced, which they didn't. In fact, a photographer stationed in the balcony says the first bottles were thrown at Torres. If so, there goes the modish theory of the man from the Times that what happened was an act of social protest by the have-nots against the haves. There is more reason to believe the bottles were thrown for no reason, but out of wantonness, something which nowadays is not endemic to New York or to boxing shows. In this case, the way you stop it is by impressing upon these people that you don't throw bottles and get away with it—which is well beyond the incompetent Garden specials. Of course, nobody was arrested.
As Harry Markson, the Garden's director of boxing, said, rather ruefully, "Obviously times have changed, and so have people, their temperament and attitudes. The methods used successfully in the past are no longer effective. Perhaps it's time to explore new techniques and safeguards." As we have previously stated (SI, Feb. 6), if the Garden specials can't handle a few drunks and bad actors—and this was the third such incident in the past two years—city cops who can should be brought in. Present regulations ostensibly prohibit their use; if this is the case, the laws should be reexamined. Boxing has too many virtues to have its fate decided by boozed-up characters, editorial writers and overweight specials.
There is no official world record for the women's mile run, because until recent years nice women didn't run the mile. Men thought it didn't suit them. We don't have to tell you that these days women are paying less and less attention to what men think is good for them. For example, just last week Miss Anne Smith, a 25-year-old London schoolteacher, ran the mile in 4:39.2, for an unofficial world's record. She was greeted at the finish by Margaret Barker, one of her eighth-grade pupils. "Miss Smith," Margaret said, "why did you give me only 'good' in conduct this week?" Well, in a sense, it served Miss Smith right.
BUT NOT BEDFELLOWS
The closest thing yet to open tennis will take place in Cincinnati July 3-9, when the city's first professional tournament is held at the same time as, and on adjoining courts with, the venerable Tri-State, the oldest continuous tournament on the circuit. Now in its 68th year, the Tri-State has been won by Francis X. Shields, Bobby Riggs and Tony Trabert, but, because its dates usually conflict with Wimbledon, the old Tri-State ain't what it used to be. Before the jet age, it could still get name players, but now just about all the names take off for London. Indeed, if it weren't for the pros, the Tri-State might have gone out of business this year.
The tournament sponsors point out that the new format should not be considered an "initial salvo" for open tennis. On the other hand, they also point out that the combined tournaments "can be easily made into an open tennis tournament should open tennis become a reality." In the meantime, the amateurs and professionals will be housed separately. And equally, we trust.
We know you know all about sending flowers by wire, but would you believe sending a bear by cable?
Last week the sheriff's office in a suburb of Albuquerque got reports that "a guy in a brown jacket" was trying to break into parked cars. Before the deputies got around to checking it out, Roger Thompson, a junior high school science teacher, had mounted a horse and lassoed the malefactor, who turned out to be this young bear.
The bear spent 36 hours in the Albuquerque zoo before state game officials dreamed up a good release site in the nearby Sandia Mountains. To save everyone a long, rugged truck trip, Robert J. Nordhaus of the Sandia Peak ski area offered the use of his 2.7-mile aerial tramway. The bear's cage was slung under a tramcar full of newsmen and carried halfway up the mountainside to a wild canyon. The cage was then lowered some 30 feet to the ground, opened, and the bear lit out. "I've never seen a bear go so fast," says our Albuquerque correspondent, who was along for the ride. "I don't know what he was thinking, but it might have been, 'Albuquerque's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.' "
Music, Carlyle said, is the speech of angels. If such be the case, the angels spoke volumes in Middletown, Ohio earlier this month, when Ed Kovach sat down at the piano. What they said is something else. Kovach's selection was Left Hand and Basketball, "an original modern contemporary musical work," by William E. Svarda, musical director of Middletown's Fenwick High School. Mind you, Left Hand and Basketball isn't any ordinary original modern contemporary musical work. It opens with Kovach, who is 6'5" and played center on the Fenwick High basketball team, walking onstage dribbling a basketball with his right hand. Then he goes over to the piano, bows, takes his seat and starts to play with his left hand, never once interrupting the dribble. The idea is that the bouncing basketball sets the beat, while Kovach rather frantically plays both the bass notes and the melody. "He's got a tremendous reach," says Svarda.
Kovach performed the piece twice. The first night he blew the palming of the ball, which is supposed to be the surprise ending, but few noticed it because the audience didn't know what was coming. The second night Kovach did a perfect palm. "The composition was well received," says Svarda. "It sounded even better when it was replayed on the radio. I was a little afraid the bounce wouldn't be heard."
THE HIGH COST OF HAPPINESS
Owning a Thoroughbred racehorse is keen. NFL franchises are rather amusing, too. But for a real neat plaything you can't beat a race car. It isn't the dough. It's just that with a horse or a team you can't stand around in ratty old coveralls with grease on your nose, drinking beer from paper cups, swearing with the boys and even magnafluxing a camshaft or two. And who can kick the tires on something like Damascus or Fran Tarkenton?
Consider Indy. Gasoline Alley is full of rich guys having the tax-write-off time of their lives. One of them, in a rare burst of candor after his car qualified well up the line last week, told how it works. Remember you read it here.
"It takes a conservative $140,400 to put a car in the race," said Owner X. "It goes like this. You buy a chassis for $20,000 minimum. That's one. But you need a backup chassis in case your driver breaks the first. Further, it takes $6,000 in special parts and $2,000 in labor to ready each one.
"Engines cost $22,500 each for Fords and about $18,000 for Offenhausers. You need a minimum of two. Most owners have several. Costs you roughly $4,000 each time you overhaul one and replace all moving parts. You do this several times before race day. You pay two full-time mechanics $1,200 each for May. You room and board them and you got another $5,000 tied up in miscellaneous stuff."
Such basics as tires, sparkplugs, brakes, fuel cells, shock absorbers and batteries come free from suppliers. But, said Owner X, you also have to hire a driver. Costs a $6,000 retainer, more for the best. And you've got to shell out $2,000 to enter the race.
"Suppose you win," said X. "First place last year got $156,297. You have to split it. Winning mechanic always gets 10%. Winning driver at least 40%, the top ones half. That leaves the owner with half, which doesn't cover his costs. What you get is a nice silver trophy, a nice worn-out racer and a nice tax loss, which you can spread around your other corporations."
NO FISH STORY
The fishing records on the Thurso River in Scotland go back 100 years and are undoubtedly the most detailed of any in Great Britain. Every beat fished is listed day by day, and the information includes the weather, water level and temperature, length, weight and number of salmon caught and the names of the fortunate fishermen. Notably excepted are the names of the successful flies. As Robin Sinclair, the laird of Thurso Castle, explains: "It's the angler who gets caught by the fly, not the fish."
This is by way of introducing the week's cautionary tale. Three years ago an ad appearing in the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal and 23 other papers extolled "a remarkable European talking fish lure," which "at this very moment is being used by over 380,000 amateur and professional fishermen in 25 different countries." The lure, the ad went on to relate, has a "built-in fish attracting transmitter that broadcasts a steady stream of irresistible underwater messages that talk, coax and command a fish into snapping at your hook. Yes, actually excite and stimulate five different fish senses all at the same time and force each and every 'hungry-crazed' fish from up to 2,000 feet away to come darting straight for your line."
Predictably, fishermen fell for the lure—which came in three sizes—hook, line and sinker. Alas, for their $1.98, $2.49 or $2.98 they got either nothing at all or a worthless gadget that might have been talking Greek, for all the fish that got the underwater message.
Two weeks ago a federal grand jury indicted the lure's promoter, Monroe Caine of Scarsdale, N.Y., on 60 counts of mail fraud. But the anglers who took his bait aren't the only ones he bamboozled. Caine was previously indicted in Detroit on mail-fraud charges in connection with peddling a "turbojet" thingamajig guaranteed to save motorists 50 gallons of gas a month.
VROOM NOW, PAY LATER
How are you going to beat an institution with a name like American Fletcher National Bank? This summer the bank, which is known throughout Indiana as Mother Fletcher National, will permit some 50,000 of its customers to use their bank credit cards to buy tickets to automobile races. If this catches on, where's it all going to end? At the $100 window, when some horseplayer steps up, says, "No. 2 five times," and plunks down the old credit card?
THEY SAID IT
•Bernard Segger, who participated in the second successful ascent of Mount McKinley during winter weather conditions: "The view from the top is not worth the climb."
•Major Pete Dawkins, 1958 Heisman Trophy winner, now teaching social science at West Point: "Sports are square. They're hard work. Most kids like to be aloof, hippy, cynical. One of the marvelous inconsistencies in the youth of the 20th century is that college kids just like to play games."