The President of the United States is reported to have said to the Crown Prince of Laos: "College football is a great spectacle, but I am not sure that it gives an accurate picture of America. To see some of our best-educated boys spending an afternoon knocking each other down, while thousands cheer them on, hardly gives a picture of a peace-loving nation."
This is such a silly observation that we prefer to believe it was never made.
ON THE TRACK
November 20, 1967
There is more than a suggestion that unethical and perhaps criminal methods were used in Secaucus, N.J. to defeat a proposal to build a $20 million trotting track in the town, which is just 10 minutes from New York City.
Last month the New Jersey Racing Commission granted a permit to operate a Secaucus track to a group headed by Hyman Glickstein, who owns a major interest in Roosevelt Raceway. The new track, which would have been the most expensive in the country, had, however, to be approved by the residents of Hudson County and the townspeople of Secaucus. On Election Day the county voted 4 to 1 in favor of the track, but the town rejected it by a narrow margin—2,926 to 2,495. The Secaucus vote came as a surprise since last year, in a preliminary referendum, the town had been 2 to 1 in favor of night racing. The defeat was a victory for the churches, which campaigned against it, and also, in a way, for Yonkers Raceway, which would have lost a lot of its clientele to the new track.
One factor in the election was the appearance in all-white Secaucus, the weekend before the election, of a group of mysteriously hired Negroes passing out circulars that bore the slogan "Help the Race Track Lead the Way to Brotherhood and Integration in Secaucus."
Police said the men, six of whom had arrest records, were from Brooklyn and admitted they did not know where Secaucus was when they were hired by a man who has disappeared. They were given the handbills, which carried the name of a fictitious organization—the Hudson County Committee for Employment Opportunities—and their taxi fare to Secaucus.
County law-enforcement officials stepped into the case immediately, and a criminal investigation is under way. At the end of last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered the case. Secaucus Mayor Paul Amico says, "It was obviously intended as a backlash operation."
One thing is abundantly plain. Somebody did not want a racetrack operating within 10 minutes of New York City.
GETTING A BELT
A six-round preliminary between two neighborhood bartenders got more attention the other night in Philadelphia than a featured bout which matched former Middleweight Champion Joey Giardello and Jack Rodgers. For three years the customers at Breen's and The 500 East Club in the Frankford section of the city have been arguing about the boxing prowess of their respective bartenders, Jackie Lennon and Rick Conti. The two men, former lightweights, met once in the ring, in 1964, and Conti was awarded a split decision.
To settle the issue the bartenders came out of retirement, and this time Lennon won—bloodily. "I ran faithfully every morning," the 139-pound Lennon said afterward. "I boxed faithfully the last couple of weeks, and I went to work every night, too."
"Just like three years ago," said Lennon's father, who comes from Ireland. "That Conti bragged so much that Jackie closed his mouth for him."
Not for long, though. Conti was back at The 500 East Club declaring, "I hurt my ribs in the gym and couldn't fight. I couldn't even jab. He was boxing like an amateur. It's hard to fight a guy like that. He didn't hurt me; he cut my eye on a head butt. He couldn't even crack an egg. If he doesn't want to fight anymore, that's his business. Me, I want to keep on. If he wants to say that we're friends now, that's him talking. I'm not his friend. The guy is a nonunion bartender."
Until quite recently it was common to see a hunter in Provence in the south of France carrying a bird in a cage on his back as he picked his way through the hills. He would place the cage under a promising-looking tree, sit down, cock his gun and wait. His bird would sing and attract the wild birds. But that is old hat, or rather old beret, now.
These days Provencal peasants carry portable record players and LPs. An audio engineer in Toulon, Maurice Vidal, produces the records, and has sold 25,000 of them, mainly through gun shops. Not long ago one hunter placed an order for a special record—three minutes of thrush, two minutes of finch, followed by a minute and a half of green linnet, then a few lark notes and finally three more minutes of thrush—all of which are game birds in France. He was told the record would cost him at least $20, instead of the usual $3 for the standard warble. But the hunter was not put off; he said he didn't give a hoot about the price.
Vidal has been called a "bird assassin" and has received threatening letters from bird lovers. But he insists, "I love animals and I hate hunting. All my recordings are made of live birds flying around freely. And I only record birds which may be legally hunted. I wouldn't dream of recording the singing of a goldfinch or a nightingale."
On occasion, Vidal has been plagued by poachers. "A hunter buys every one of my records," Vidal explains, "and then he tapes them for his friends. Sooner or later these tape worms are apprehended by game wardens. Hunting with a tape [as opposed to a record player] is illegal here."
TIME TO PAY THE PIPER
The recent announcement of the World Series players' shares showed that the winning St. Louis Cardinals received $8,314 a man, or $436 less than the Philadelphia 76ers got for winning the National Basketball Association championship. And the losing Boston Red Sox came away with $5,115 each, or $2,135 less than the San Francisco Warriors got for losing the NBA title. To take it one step farther, the Cardinals got $814 less for winning a seven-game World Series than the Kansas City Chiefs received for losing the Super Bowl. Finally, the Red Sox got only $1,002 more for losing this year than the New York Giants did when they lost the Series in 1923. There is a message in there someplace for baseball men.
TAKING TO THE AIR
The University of Texas has turned out some talented pro football players, Bobby Layne and Tommy Nobis, to name just two. But the university is extending its program. It is training its football players to be sportscasters, that being a profitable occupation these days for retired athletes.
Quarterback Bill Bradley and his receiver, End Ragan Gennusa, are among those learning announcing techniques by doing the play-by-play for Texas freshmen games. Despite his East Texas twang, Bradley shows the kind of promise that may raise him right up into the Frank Gifford class. Reporting one play recently, he exclaimed, "He made a terrific catch...except he dropped the ball."
To put the golf pros in the proper spirit, the tournament committee at the Hawaiian Open decided to use ripe pineapples as tee markers instead of the traditional wood or plastic ones. "It's great," Doug Sanders remarked as the tournament began. "If you finish out of the money, you can always eat the markers." But Sanders had his pineapple and ate it, too. He finished in a tie for third, winning $5,150, and on Saturday he got hungry after five holes and had the 6th tee for lunch.
College football coaches have come up with a new way to play Meet the Press. Looking ahead to their next game, they simply speak their thoughts into a tape recorder and then invite sportswriters to phone any time for the lowdown, just as one would phone the weather number. This practice not only saves the coach precious time but has other obvious advantages. In the days preceding the Notre Dame-Michigan State game, for example, Ara Parseghian's recorded message said not a word on that nasty subject, the 1966 tie, and, of course, there was no way reporters could trap the tape with a leading question.
Now the University of Pittsburgh has informed its friends in the press that Coach Dave Hart cuts a fresh two-minute tape each day. Those interested in hearing Hart can dial 683-9262. The daily message is called HART-Y-TALK. Since his team has a 1-7 record—and, with Army and Penn State looming ahead, is a solid bet to go the rest of the way without another win—the messages can hardly be hartening.
THE AMERICA'S DEMITASSE
If you haven't seen the latest issue of One-Design & Offshore Yachtsman, you may have missed a proposal for the America's Cup made by Britain's foremost sailing writer, Jack Knights. We pass it along because it seems to have mini-merit.
"There is a good case," Mr. Knights writes, "for fighting the next Cup challenge at the model level. The challenging designer and Olin Stephens would carry their own hulls into the tank at Hobo-ken (a neutral tank would be fairer but we must follow the spirit of the existing conditions), various up and down runs would be made, followed by some of the new rough water and turning tests. Water flow past fin and hull would be observed by the immaculately uniformed New York Yacht Club Cup Committee from underwater windows. The party would then adjourn to the wind tunnel for further assessment of drag and lift past sails and rig. As a sop to tradition, statistics (height, weight, biceps, chest measurement, maximum number of situps, etc.) of each of the crewmen who would have sailed in the real yacht had it been built would be fed into a simple computer and a crew factor added to the data already collated.
"Finally the sums would be done and the winner chosen.... Think of what would be saved if the America's Cup was held this way.... All this wealth could then be diverted to truly sporting aspects of yachting."
In Australia, Melbourne Cup Day, the first Tuesday in November, is the Antipodes' equivalent of our Fourth of July. No one works, and normally the courts close. But this year Judge Roland Leckie, who was in the process of charging the jury in one of Australia's biggest criminal trials, decided to continue on race day. Five minutes before post time he announced there would be a break. Dressed in his purple-and-crimson robes and wearing his white wig, he retired to his chambers to listen to the cup broadcast; the jury started a pool on the race in the jury room; and the barristers and the accused—four men charged with attempting a $1 million forgery—tuned in on transistor radios.
A horse named Red Handed won—but nobody moved for a mistrial.
THEY SAID IT
•Edwin Cady, Indiana University English professor, after the Hoosiers were outpassed, outgained and outfirst-downed by Wisconsin, but still managed to win: "We have had enough moral victories over the years; it is high time we had an immoral one."
•Keith Allen, coach of Philadelphia's new NHL team: "I wouldn't play in the goal if they boarded it up."
•Alex Hannum, of Wilt Chamberlain, who did not attempt a single field goal in a recent game against the San Francisco Warriors: "Wilt is a very gentle man. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. He is actually afraid he is going to break someone's arm someday when he goes up for a shot. I'm constantly after him to be more aggressive."
•Joe Namath, asked if the Jets had practiced against the Kansas City Chief tactic of putting 6'9" Ernie Ladd and 6'7" Buck Buchanan on the same side of the pass-rush line: "Who are you going to practice throwing against? The New York Knicks?"