THAT SLIPPERY SUBJECT
The other afternoon in Mexico City, baseball's Rules Committee wound up and unloaded on good old 8.02(a), the most circumnavigated rule in the game. Rule 8.02(a) pertains to the spitball, the pitch which umpires seldom see but pitchers throw all the time. Come April, umpires are supposed to first warn any pitcher who brings his hands in contact with his mouth and, should the pitcher do it a second time, disqualify him from the remainder of the game.
Perhaps you may remember the spring of 1963, when baseball tried to invoke another change in the rules of pitching. Back then the balk rule was reintroduced and enforcing it turned many games into a shambles. In the first 20 games of that season National League umpires called 20 balks against pitchers; American League umpires called none. Thus a rule was valid in one league and ignored in the other.
The one thing we like about the new spitball rule, however, is that if it is strictly enforced the hitter will get an advantage at a time when almost everything seems to be in favor of the pitcher. Instead of watching two hours and 45 minutes of pitch-and-catch between pitcher and catcher, men may actually hit balls with bats once again and go running around the bases as outfielders chase fly balls and line drives. Imagine, though, the role of the plate umpire who works the first 1968 meeting between Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants, two of the top pitchers often accused of throwing the spitter. They may be warned, but will they ever really be disqualified?
Everybody knows that sport made its contribution to the Manhattan Project when the squash courts of the University of Chicago were used as the development site of the atom bomb. But recently, at the 25th anniversary celebration of the project, a sports footnote was added.
At a "retrospective session" Dr. Walter Zinn, once a top aide to Enrico Fermi, recalled that the squash courts were unheated. The scientists managed, in part, by keeping in motion, but the guards at the doors suffered from the cold until the university unearthed—who knows where—a relic of the school's big-time football days, a large supply of raccoon coats.
"We had," said Dr. Zinn, "the best-dressed collegiate-type guards anywhere."
BREAD AND BUTTER
A tea shop on Coventry Street in London has decided to take out a gambling-casino license and set up baccarat, poker and blackjack tables for its clientele. Mr. Harold Young, a director of the establishment, which is one of the celebrated J. Lyons & Co. Ltd. shops, says, "Gambling is firmly entrenched as a national pastime, but it is not yet considered generally respectable. Perhaps we can help."
The baseball trading season is moving along at an excellent rate these days, providing pennant dreams for some cities, ticket sales for others and whisking Bob Miller, a pitcher with a lifetime record of 39-54, closer and closer to the doors of the Hall of Fame.
Bob Miller was traded to the Minnesota Twins last week, along with Ron Perranoski and John Roseboro of the Los Angeles Dodgers, for Zoilo Versalles and Jim Grant. Back in 1961 Miller was taken in the National League expansion draft by the New York Mets for $125,000 and promptly ran up a record of 1-12. Later picked up by Los Angeles in a trade, he turned into a good relief pitcher for the Dodgers, but his move to Minnesota last week may eventually make him eligible for baseball's American League expansion draft of 1968 at a cost of $175,000. Since relief pitchers often stay around until they are 40 or more, Miller, now only 28, could be traded again and even end up in the National League's expansion draft of 1970 at a cost that could easily reach $200,000 by then. All told, that would make Bob Miller worth $500,000. The New York Jets paid only $400,000 for Joe Namath.
For several days before the Ector Eagles met the Dumas Demons in an Odessa, Texas high school football game, the sign outside the Temple Baptist Church read: "We are against Demons, too."
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Bulgaria has found an effective method of dealing with unruly fans and players at soccer games. Before the start of the traditional grudge match between Levski and CSKA, a table was carried to the edge of the field and a judge in his robes and a number of clerks took their seats at it. An official informed those present that any spectator or participant who caused a disturbance would be tried at once. Then he read off a list of offenders at previous games this season who had been found guilty and sentenced to 15 days at hard labor.
The match was played peaceably, and when players accidentally fouled they apologized profusely to their opponents.
This year the Big Ten will try using three referees in each of 25 nonconference basketball games. Villanova will do the same in five of its home games, as little Adelphi Suffolk will do in 10. The idea is not a new one, but at last it seems to be getting some of the attention it deserves.
It works like this: while two referees are in their normal positions at the busy end of the court, a third is stationed beneath the basket at the opposite end, where he is in position to make any calls resulting from fast breaks or full-court passes. Under the two-man system, such calls are forced upon an official trapped far, far away. There is another advantage to the three-man system. Since the referees rotate positions following each free throw, one is always in position to catch his breath.
Ever since the Seattle Area Industrial Council approved the construction of a $100 million oil refinery on waterfront property in Port Susan Bay, conservationists have been disputing the decision. The other day the Industrial Council struck back. It issued the statement: "We are alarmed at this dangerous trend toward too much greenbelt and wilderness planning." Hmmm.
Maurice Moorman, a Texas A&M guard and an All-America a year ago, was named a second-team All-America last week by United Press International, although he was dropped from the Aggie squad for scholastic reasons halfway through the season. A&M, which, with Moorman, had lost four of its six games, went on to win four straight and the Southwest Conference title. Apparently the team didn't miss Moorman. Only UPI did.
At the 12th annual International Game Fish Conference in San Juan, P.R., Esteban Bird of the Club Nàutico de San Juan told a harrowing tale of fisherman's luck—the bad kind.
He took a long weekend over last Fourth of July and in two days of fishing in Virgin Islands waters hooked and played eight blue marlin. He lost every one of them. The mate, it turned out, had gone experimental and invented a new way of tying the hook to the bait.
After abandoning the mate's invention and returning to old-fashioned ways, Bird related, he hooked, played and lost a blue that he was sure went over 1,200 pounds. "I should be able to judge the size of blue marlins after having caught 94 of them in my angling career," he said. "I have seen the mounting of the Cabo Blanco 1,500-pound black marlin, and I have measured and weighed the first Puerto Rican world-record blue marlin of close to 800 pounds and also weighed the St. Thomas present record of over 800 pounds....
"My average during 20 years of angling had been one fish per five hooked. That day in the Virgins the batting average sure went to hell."
When the socialist African nation of Tanzania nationalized its big-game industry last year, it figured on collecting bounteous dividends. The country's minister for agriculture, forests and wildlife declared, "The wildlife of Tanzania is one of its greatest assets, and the profits derived from it should accrue to the nation." The government had believed private white hunters were doing a lucrative trade taking safaris into the 16,000-square-mile Selous Game Reserve, an area that may well hold more record trophies than any in Africa.
But what accrued to the nation in the first year of government-controlled safaris was a loss of almost a quarter of a million dollars, which is a significant percent of Tanzania's Gross National Product.
Unsocialistic as it may be, Tanzania is giving up its profit hunt in the game reserve and hoping those romantic white hunters will return, if only to help counteract the attractions of neighboring Kenya, which is taking handsome advantage of its big-game hunting potential.
A LITTLE EMPHASIS
Next week faculty representatives of Big Ten schools will meet in Chicago, and keenly in the academic mind will be the knowledge that against nonconference schools this season the Big Ten had a little record, 12 wins and 17 losses. There is no feeling among the faculties that the Big Ten's move away from a football-factory approach to the game has been wrong, and no change in the present attitude can be expected. However, two matters are likely to come up for consideration that would not normally have been discussed at this regular winter meeting:
1) Whether or not the present limit of football recruits, which is 30 per year, should be raised. Big Ten coaches say they are suffering because they make offers to 30 boys but never get 30 acceptances, and they cannot fill the holes at the last minute with top-quality prospects. The suggested change is small. Let a team ask as many as 35 players one year and then should 34, for example, happen to accept, it could send out tenders to only 26 the next year.
2) A slight relaxation in recruiting procedures, which are very strict compared to many other conferences. As of now a Big Ten coach can make only one trip to a prospect's home, cannot meet him at a restaurant and buy him and his family a meal and cannot even talk to him at an event in which the prospect is competing. The change being considered would permit the coach to make two off-campus contacts with his prospects instead of one.
Approval of any such suggestions is far from assured. The faculty representatives move carefully and slowly—about as slowly as some Big Ten football teams did this year, come to think of it.
THEY SAID IT
•Walter O'Malley, on the big-game trophies—polar bear, nyala, sable antelope, etc.—that he keeps in Dodger Stadium: "It's nice to have your own stadium. You wouldn't dare try to bring stuff like this into your home. Your wife would throw you out."
•Bucky Waters, West Virginia basketball coach, on his new forward, Carey Bailey, who cut his forehead on the rim during a leap: "We're concerned about his three-second violations: he goes up, and he doesn't always come down in three seconds."
•Harold W. Handley, ex-Indiana governor, after the Hoosiers upset Purdue and won their way to the Rose Bowl: "I was so happy Saturday night, I was even dancing to Everett Dirksen records."
•Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinal pitcher and World Series hero, discussing his personal appearance tour of the country: "I get a lot of dopey questions, and women ask some of the silliest. One lady asked me, 'Are you going to play next year?' "
•Antonia, Dutch model, who shares a flat in Paris with a pet panther: "He is not dangerous at all; his family has been in captivity for eight generations."