Detroit ballplayers are used to the presence of concert pianist Eugene Istomin at Tiger Stadium and at spring training in Lakeland, Fla. He's a crazy, mad Detroit fan even though he was brought up in New York—and skipped practice sessions when his team came to town. Even the umpires became aware of Istomin's obsession; the late Billy Evans called him "Fingers. "Last spring when Istomin had an engagement in Tampa, it was pure torture for him to be that close to—yet that far from—the Tigers' camp. "So I went to Lakeland," he says, "and had my Steinway shipped there so I could practice in the hotel when I wasn't watching the team practice on the field." Now, apparently, Istomin has begun to proselyte in the music world. The other day he posed Cellist Pablo Casals for a picture—in a Detroit baseball cap.
Mike Pearson was a pretty fair semipro ballplayer who nevertheless managed to make more of a name for himself as Lester Pearson, Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada and 1957 Nobel Peace Prizewinner. Still, Pearson often said that when he left the highest office in the land the job he would most like to hold would be manager of a major league team. Last week, in addition to being given a special mission by the World Bank, he fulfilled at least part of that ambition when the owners of the new Montreal franchise appointed him honorary chairman. Beaming ruddily, wearing a bright bow tie and red carnation, Pearson accepted the post "as an ordinary Canadian who loves baseball." He said that he had laid down only one condition—"that I be allowed to go to spring training." Looking forward to the warm Florida sunshine, he volunteered to help out in any way, such as carrying bats or suggesting strategy. "Now that I'm no longer in politics," he explained, "I know all the answers to everything."
To baseball fans, hot dogs are nearly as sacred as the game itself, and a move to allow the addition of chicken to the standard mix (whatever that may be) has irked Betty Furness, the President's special assistant for consumer affairs, no end. What will we call them at the ball park? Betty wonders: "Franklychicks? Chicken-franks? Chickenfurters?" And how about the sales pitch? "Get 'em while they're hot chicks."
Film critics seldom rave over Charlton Heston's acting, but his ability to live through a typical Heston role has made him a legend. There were no stand-ins for the famous chariot scene in Ben Hur, or when Heston played Michelangelo laboriously painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in The Agony and the Ecstasy. But his latest role, that of a professional quarterback in a movie titled Pro, may have posed the ultimate challenge. Heston is cast as Bill Kilmer, playmaker of the New Orleans Saints, and the old warrior plays through the game sequences. His conclusion: "Learning to play quarterback is tougher than learning to drive a chariot." George Plimpton would agree—and he did his stint with the Lions. But with the Saints—shut the gate, Peter!
August 25, 1968
Olympic gold medals in figure skating and skiing this year went to pretty Peggy Fleming and dashing Jean-Claude Killy; everyone knows that, except, it seems, the postage-stamp designers of the Mutawakelite Kingdom of Yemen, an exiled government in Saudi Arabia. In a stamp series with drawings of athletes, the Yemenites made these bizarre gold-medal goofs: the figure skater, in frilly red sleeves and short skirt, is captioned Wolfgang Schwartz (men's figure skating winner Wolfgang Schwarz, apparently); the skier, obviously male, is captioned Peggy Fleming; a drawing of the three-man bobsled team is titled Olga Pall (women's downhill winner); one tough-looking male hockey player is Marielle Goitschel (women's slalom winner) and another, stick down and skates (not skis) slashing the ice, is none other than Jean-Claude Killy.
Playwright Arthur Miller is not usually thought of as a sporting type, and so it was at least a small surprise when he stood up to read a short new playlet—The Reason Why—last week at a party-rally of artists and writers for Senator Eugene McCarthy at the Cheetah in New York, normally a teen-agers' nightclub. The playlet was about woodchuck hunting. Rather, that's what it was about on the surface. But the crowd quickly caught on that Mr. Miller was in fact expressing his opinions on gun control and on the war in Vietnam. He is in favor of the former and very much opposed to the latter.