Warrior Nate Thurmond and Jockey Willie Shoemaker (below), 6'11" and 4'11" respectively, made an eye-catching couple at the Academy of Professional Sports awards presentations recently. Thurmond is recovering from a knee injury, Shoemaker from a broken thighbone, and the caption accompanying the photograph read: "Sport Stars Exchange Sympathy." So what else could they exchange? Crutches?
A lot of bad basketball has been played lately, but some has been for a good cause. The Washington Senators played a charity game against the Redskins, for example, and spectators got to see Redskin Defensive End Carl Kammerer performing in shabby, low-cut, blue sneakers and failing to score; Guard Vince Promuto taking out Pitcher Dick Lines with a perfect block; and Frank Howard, a 6'7" outfielder who should have known better since he used to be an Ohio State basketball star, being caught twice for goaltending. But none of this bumbling was as ruinous as Ed Allison's recent performance in Nevada. Allison is Governor Paul Laxalt's press secretary. As such he is supposed to be improving the administration's public image, but he didn't do much for his own in a Carson City Basketball League game in which he committed three technical fouls in less than 10 seconds. Not only did Allison's performance set a league record, it got him thrown out, with no substitute available, and his four tired teammates lost the game by five points. It will take Allison a while to live that down, and it may take even longer to live down the fact that when the referee waved him off the court, the official pointed imperiously to the ladies' dressing room.
In the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational, Dean Oliver, seven times the roping champion of the cowboy circuit, was paired with Babe Hiskey and shot in the 70s both days. Oliver is 38 years old and has been playing for only two years. "He's the best three-handicap, two-year golfer I ever played with," Hiskey says. "Nobody should make it look that easy." Roping and tying steers is tough, but Oliver finds golf more difficult in one respect. "Golfers don't have as much margin for error as cowboys," he observes. That may be, but few golfers have ever been trampled by an irritated steer as the penalty for missing a putt.
There seems to have been considerable confusion in New York's New Theater the night boxer José Torres dropped by to see Scuba Duba. First of all, Torres reports, a member of the audience (white) took exception to the playwright's dramatic use of the word "spade" and rose from his orchestra seat to shout, "The word is Negro, it's Negro." Then at intermission two other men (white) created a stir in the lobby. The older and smaller of the two was complaining about the language in the play, repeating some of it to emphasize his point, and the younger and larger man asked him to stop cursing in front of his, the younger man's, wife. He followed up the request with a punch in the nose. Whereupon Torres broke it up, under the misapprehension that a friend was involved. Torres was attending Scuba Duba with the playwright, whose name he could not remember a few days later (it is Bruce Jay Friedman, José) but he did recall that the playwright said, with considerable satisfaction, "It was nice it all happened when I was there."
February 26, 1968
On April 6 Miss Joan Johnson and Heavyweight Buster Mathis (above) plan to be married in Grand Rapids, Mich. Boxer Mathis looks like a formidable matrimonial partner, but he doesn't sound like as much of a challenge as newlywed Frank Bertaina of the Washington Senators. Asked whether marriage will change his reputation as a swinger, Bertaina admitted, "It will take a little adjustment. When you're single and a ballplayer, too, you're almost obligated to be, well, a wild guy. It's your place in life. I will continue to be something between a nice guy and an s.o.b."
A great new TV series begins next month, the Tabby commercials, starring Betty Grable, Jane Russell, Casey Stengel, Jack Dempsey and a lot of cats. Neither Stengel nor Dempsey had done a cat commercial before, and an ad executive reports that during the filming "Casey had an easy roughness and the cats responded." On the other hand, in Dempsey's case, it was the cat that had the easy roughness and Dempsey who responded. The cat tugged at his hair until the champ said sternly, "Are you going to behave or am I going to have to belt you one?" When it was all over Casey complimented the animals—"A great bunch of cats, except none of 'em can go to their left"—and the adman complimented the sportsmen, calling them "professional, in a wonderful, awkward way." They've been saying that about Casey for years.