CHARTING A NEW COURSE?
This is an article from the July 31, 1967 issue
It was rumored last week in Denver that the touring pro golfers—who have been threatening for months to pull out of the Professional Golfers' Association unless they are given complete control of the $4.5 million tour—had lawyers drawing up a charter for a new players' organization, which would be based in Houston and headed by onetime Masters champion Jackie Burke.
Meanwhile the sponsors of the professional tournaments, who put up 85% of the purse money, are standing uneasily between the PGA and the players, apparently afraid to offend either. At a sponsors' meeting held last week, the general chairman of the Buick Open, Jerry Rideout, proposed some controversial rules to protect the backers of lucrative tournaments from heavy losses when star golfers fail to show up. But Rideout prefaced his proposals by saying they were "merely intended as thought starters. Perhaps the players could consider these points now and write some of them into the rules—to become effective, say, in five years. By then Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and the other big names from the present tour aren't going to be playing more than a handful of tournaments a year anyway, so it won't hurt them. But there would be some control over the young golfers who are coming up. The young ones might be willing to agree now because they don't know what the future holds."
Among other things, Rideout suggested that 1) entries for a tournament close four weeks before an event (they now close four days before); 2) the sponsors be guaranteed that in all tournaments with a value exceeding $75,000 in purses, a minimum of 15 of the top 25 money winners of the previous year will participate (otherwise a sponsor could reduce the purse by 50%); and 3) a tournament champion must defend his title or pay the sponsor $5,000.
These are realistic proposals, of a type we have endorsed in the past. Professional golf is show biz and a $200,000 tournament without a star is like a four-day stage show with just a chorus line. If the players are drawing up that new charter, they would do well to give considerable thought to Jerry Rideout's suggestions.
ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY
Clete Boyer did not want that home run he hit last week in Wrigley Field. Going into the game against the Cubs, he had 999 hits and had arranged with the umpires to retrieve the ball for him if he got No. 1,000. In the seventh inning Boyer hit the homer onto the catwalk in the left-field bleachers. The field announcer asked whoever retrieved the ball to return it to Boyer. The person would be given an autographed ball instead. After the game four people showed up at the front office, each claiming to have Boyer's ball.
The national chairman of CORE, Wilfred T. Ussery, announced recently that his organization was requesting Negro fighters to boycott the World Boxing Association tournament which will determine the new heavyweight champion. "No Negro heavyweight should fight in a sport controlled by whites and which so flagrantly disregards the rights of black people," Ussery said. CORE specifically took issue with the California boxing board's refusal to grant Muhammad Ali a license to fight in a charity match in Oakland, the proceeds of which were "to help the starving people of the South." The commission rejected Ali's request on the grounds that he had been convicted of a felony.
But CORE cannot hope for much support from the five Negro boxers in the tournament. Here are their reactions to the boycott proposal:
Thad Spencer: "Any Negro involved in the tournament who listens to Ussery has to be out of his mind. Eve put 10 years of my life into boxing and now that I can nearly see the title, I'd be crazy to step away."
Jimmy Ellis: "Boxing is my means of making a living. I don't want to get mixed up in those racial things."
Leotis Martin: "Nothing CORE says will change my mind. I'll fight for any promoter—white, black or anybody. But I don't hear any colored promoters knockin' on my door."
Ernie Terrell: "I won't pull out of the tournament. But if CORE wants to organize its own tournament and make me an offer, I would consider it."
Floyd Patterson: "To me, there is no justification in CORE'S proposal. Muhammad Ali is in a tough spot and for this I am really sorry, but he chose the course himself."
It might have been the greatest explosion shot in the history of golf. Last week in the Scottish Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, Jim Hay, a 30-year-old salesman from Glasgow, hooked his tee shot into a bunker on the 14th fairway. On examining his lie he noticed, half buried 18 inches behind his ball, a rusty metal object. On closer inspection it proved to be a bomb. "I realized it was some kind of explosive device and I was going to ask the championship committee whether I could have a free lift and drop," Hay said later. Instead, he elected to play—he was 4 up with five holes to go and hardly figured on blowing up. The ball flew out of the bunker, and the bomb was undisturbed. Hay won his match.
When he reported his discovery, the Royal Highland Fusiliers were called in from a nearby army camp. They gingerly removed the bomb, found it had a 12-second fuse and was still very much alive, and detonated it on wasteland nearby.
A member of the championship committee said it was just as well Hay had not requested a ruling. Under the Rules of Golf he was not entitled to a free drop. However, had he wished, he could have removed the bomb, since it was a man-made object that was not intended to be part of the hazard.
THE SOCCER EXCHANGE
During the first two weeks in July a rowdy chorus of Italian soccer fans milled outside Milan's posh Hotel Excelsior Gallia as, inside, the owners of the nation's soccer teams dealt for top players. In this annual July frenzy, one-third of the star performers are likely to change teams. Italian financiers, shipowners, auto manufacturers and oil executives, carried away by municipal pride, try fiercely to outbid each other. Sometimes the checks they pay with have as much bounce in them as a soccer ball, but by the end of the recent bartering session an estimated $8 million had been invested.
The biggest buyer was Milan's Internazionale team, staked by a Sardinian oilman, which spent $650,000 for one player and an estimated $1.7 million in all. It was reported, at one point, that Napoli, a team backed by Shipowner Achille Lauro, had bid $1.3 million for Gigi Meroni, a bearded beatnik left winger from Torino. Then Giovanni Agnelli, who owns Fiat and backs Torino's intercity rival Juventus, made a deal for Meroni. This so angered Torino's fans that they demonstrated in front of Agnelli's home. Disturbed at the prospect of offending half the Fiat drivers in Turin, Agnelli canceled the deal, making Meroni one Italian star who stayed put, to the relief of Torino rooters. Even more relieved at week's end was the management of the Excelsior Gallia, which was concerned at "people running in and out in their jerseys" and had asked the soccer league to hold its meetings elsewhere.
TRY THIS, GRANDPAPA
One of the problems put to the 99 schoolboys participating in the recent Math Olympics held in Cetinje, Yugoslavia read: "In a sports meeting lasting n days (n greater than 1) there are m medals to be won. On the first day one medal and [1/7] of the remaining (m—1) medals are won. On the second day two medals and [1/7] of the remainder are won. And so on. On the nth day (the last) exactly n medals are won. How many days did the meeting last, and what was the total number of medals?"
Solving such sporting questions (answer to the above: six days and 36 medals) were 15-and 16-year-olds from 13 nations, including England, Italy, Russia, France, Sweden and Hungary. The Russians won the most gold medals, and the East Germans, who had set up a special Olympic training camp to prepare for the competition, were second. The French, who performed surprisingly poorly, explained away their defeat by contending that the questions put to the Olympians were not sufficiently avant-garde. "They were the questions of Grandpapa," one French official said.
Four young men in Indianapolis have evolved a rent-an-island plan for people who want to get away from it all but don't have enough capital to get away from any of it. The project, tentatively approved by the city's park department, calls for the building of 15 islands, the largest of them two acres, in what is now a marshy reservoir area five miles west of town. The islands could be rented by the hour or by the day, would be landscaped and have small shelters. Some would be accessible by footbridges but others only by boat. Still to be decided is the rental charge—perhaps $5 a day and 5¢ a flower?
In Jakarta last month the final match of the world badminton championship, the Thomas Cup, was interrupted and then postponed when the spectators rioted. At the time Malaysia was leading archrival Indonesia 4-3 and needed to win only one game to take the fifth and final match. The partisan Indonesian crowd, sensing the home team was about to lose the cup, which it had held for nine years, began jeering and exploding flashbulbs in an effort to distract the Malaysians. They were succeeding when the final match was stopped by the International Badminton Federation secretary, Harold Scheele.
Since world-class badminton is usually played in silence, flash cameras are barred and in the most torrid heat air conditioners are shut off because the currents might subtly affect the flight of the shuttlecock, it was no wonder that Harold Scheele decided badminton Indonesian style "was simply not sport." He suggested to local officials that they calm the crowd or complete the competition behind closed doors. They refused to do either, saying they would be lynched by the mob. The next day Scheele and the Malaysians were flown out of the country under military escort.
Early this month in London the International Badminton Federation ruled that the match should be concluded on neutral ground in New Zealand. Some Indonesians argued that if their team did not show up in New Zealand, it would not actually be defeated on the courts and therefore would not have to hand over the cup. Last week Indonesia's General Suharto and his cabinet considered the issue, and admitted defeat, though not in a very winning way. Foreign Minister Adam Malik announced that the government believed a costly journey to New Zealand—for perhaps 15 minutes of badminton—was unnecessary, and suggested the Thomas Cup be returned to the IBF.
The trophy will be shipped to London, where the IBF will simply readdress it to Malaysia. The Indonesians declined to deliver the prize directly to the winners. "Indonesia is an utter failure at everything but badminton," declared Scheele, somewhat pompously. "This is the only activity at which the country can enjoy some measure of world prestige, and it is desperate to maintain that prestige."
THEY SAID IT
•Chicago Cub Coach Joe Becker, reminiscing about Erv Palica, the old Dodger pitcher: "He had so many pitches, the catcher had to take off his mitt to give the sign."
•Bud Grant, Minnesota Viking head coach, after allowing a rookie quarterback to switch to end: "They can play anything they want—except coach."
•Juan Marichal, discussing his high-kick delivery: "In golf they tell you not to take your eye off the ball as you swing and to follow through. It's the same with pitching. The leg goes up, the arm goes down, but the head doesn't move very much."