MAKING A FAST BUCK
Notre Dame has pulled a fast one on its rivals, shuffling the price structure of football tickets so that visiting teams will contribute almost $110,000 of their share of the gate this season to the Notre Dame building fund. The custom is for teams to split ticket money 50-50, and Notre Dame's contracts with its Big Ten rivals call for such an arrangement. But the Irish have devised an ingenious system that makes 50-50 less than half. They may sell as many as 22,000 season tickets at $40 each—with $30 of this amount marked for admission to the six home games, but the other $10 listed as a contribution to the Notre Dame building fund. This means that the visiting team will share only in the $5 admission price per game instead of the actual $6.66 price of the ticket. On a 50-50 split the visitors get $2.50 instead of $3.33. This 83¢ goes to Notre Dame's building fund. It will cost Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech and Pitt—visitors to Notre Dame Stadium this year—more than $18,000 each.
Since all football-game contracts grant the home team the right to set its own ticket prices, there is nothing the visiting teams can do about it. The practice is not unusual—ticket speculators and agencies on Broadway are familiar with it. But where Notre Dame calls it "building," they call it "ice."
A FISH TALE
September 1, 1968
Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as saying once that "deep-sea fishing will never be a sport until you put the hook in your mouth and get into the water with the fish." Don Gray, a junior at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, has never gone quite that far. But he came fairly close recently in the Gulf of Mexico.
An angler aboard the charter boat on which Gray has been working as first mate to earn school money hooked a blue marlin south of Pensacola. After seven jumps in three minutes, the marlin broke the line. Ordinarily, that would have been the end of it. But the intrepid first mate sighted the broken line floating behind the boat. Before the fish realized it was free, Gray dived overboard and retrieved the broken end. The captain backed the boat to where Don was swimming, and he climbed aboard. They tried to thread the line back through the guides on another rod, but whenever they pulled in the slack line the marlin would take off again, burning their hands. Eventually they succeeded in tying the lines together. The angler then resumed the fight, with more conventional tactics, and in two hours the 119½-pound marlin was boated.
It wasn't The Old Man and the Sea, but it probably equaled anything Hemingway ever did from a boat.
EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE
Call it The Case of the Two Slippery Elm Tablets. They were found in the dust at Wrigley Field two Sundays ago, lying near the third-base line along with a tube of Vaseline. It was the ninth inning. In the seventh Chicago Pitcher Phil Regan had been accused by the umpire of throwing a greaseball. In the bottom of the eighth Regan had collided with Cincinnati Catcher Pat Corrales as he slid into home. Had the evidence fallen from the villain's pocket (one reporter remembered that at the 1966 World Series, Regan had a carton of Thayer's slippery elm lozenges in his locker)? Or, as Regan suggested, had the Vaseline and elms been planted?
Two days later National League President Warren Giles, apparently unaware of the seemingly incriminating evidence, absolved Regan of wrongdoing and overruled his umpire, Chris Pelekoudas, who had called Regan's pitches illegal. The umpire admitted he had found no evidence on the ball, and although he had detected a kind of sticky substance on Regan's cap, he could not be sure that it was a lubricant. But he said he could tell by the flight of the ball that some of Regan's pitches were illegal.
Several umpires feel this is as good evidence as any to convict a pitcher, that on most illegal pitches the ball does not rotate when it reaches the plate. It breaks but lacks any of the spin that a curve-ball or a slider has. "It can break inside, outside or dip," Umpire Ed Runge explains, "but the lack of a spin gives it away."
Hank Soar described it as "like a ball dropping off a table." Many balls into the dirt are spitballs.
"Any umpire that has been in the game a number of years and can't tell what the spitter or the Vaseline ball looks like, should look for another job," Umpire Al Salerno says. "Both just dive. They don't do anything but go down. There is just no two ways about it."
When it comes to looking exotic, some of Oregon State's football players are neck and neck with the Martians. To build up the Beavers' necks, Assistant Trainer Eddie Ferrell bored a hole through the top of a helmet, stuck a six-inch length of pipe through the hole and attached a conical stack of weights, which looks like one end of a barbell. Voil√†: a pointy-headed gridder.
Players with histories of neck injuries have been wearing these helmets for two hours a day during the summer, hoping to head off trouble. Starting with 10-pound weights, they have increased the load gradually, sometimes to as much as 25 pounds.
OSU Coach Dee Andros feels he needs bull-necked players because he likes to see a man tackle with his face in a runner's number, instead of hitting him with a shoulder to the midsection. One Oregon State player who has had neck trouble in the past says that in the two months he has been wearing the helmet his neck has gained an inch in circumference. Whether it has lost anything in length, he doesn't know.
Several years ago Harold (Jug) McSpaden decided to build what he hoped would be the most difficult golf course in the country among the cornfields and dairy farms of eastern Kansas. The course, named Dub's Dread, was finished two years ago, and McSpaden immediately began scheming to set up a match in which he and Byron Nelson, the golden boys of the pro tour in the '40s, would play those solid gold golfers of today, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
The terms of the match, as devised by McSpaden, called for himself and Nelson to get a yard a hole for each year's difference in the combined ages of the two teams. McSpaden has this theory that an older player is no less skillful than a younger one but merely lacks his strength. Since McSpaden is 60, Nelson 56, Palmer 37 and Nicklaus 28, the McSpaden-Nelson team should tee off 51 yards nearer the green on each hole. This novel method of handicapping was possible because of the immense tees of Dub's Dread. The course can be extended to 8,101 yards. In the match, which was finally held the other day, Palmer and Nicklaus played the course at a preposterous 7,793 yards and McSpaden and Nelson (receiving a 50-yard advantage to make the distance easier to calculate) at 6,893. The handicapping produced a remarkably even match. Nelson, Palmer and Nicklaus shooting one-under-par 71s while McSpaden, tiring a bit toward the end—the match took 5½ hours—had a 74. On a best-ball basis, Palmer and Nicklaus won 1 up.
"Our scores might not sound sensationally impressive," Nicklaus said, "but the course we played today should have been a 76 to 78 par. The most difficult course on the tour, Firestone Country Club in Akron, is like a pitch and putt course in comparison." When Nicklaus saw the 473-yard 10th he said, "This looks like a driver and a flip—a one-iron flip," and when he was told the distance on the 12th hole was 557 yards. Jack cracked, "Oh, a par 4." At the 268-yard par-3 16th—250 of these yards are over water—Palmer muttered, "You dumb knucklehead. How did you get yourself into something like this?" Both he and Nicklaus managed to par the hole and Arnold birdied the 574-yard 17th to win the match. He hit a 280-yard drive, followed by a 254-yard three-wood and a short wedge that put him within seven feet of the hole. He sank the putt.
Dub's Dread is right. Pro's dread, too.
A MATTER OF PRIDE
At the suggestion of a Negro undergraduate student—and with the strong backing of its new basketball coach, Jim Padgett—the University of California is sponsoring a 10-week, $40,000 summertime community athletic program in Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland. The instructors are black members of Cal's football, basketball and track teams, some of them bitter and caustic critics of the school just seven months ago (SI, Feb. 12). Among the athletes are basketball star Bob Presley, long jumper Stan Royster and football players Jerome Champion, Paul and Johnnie Williams, Irby Augustine and Clyde Flowers. Wearing blue jerseys with California printed in gold across their chests, they conduct clinics and physical education classes for children from 6 to 14 at various city playgrounds. They are paid $2.91 an hour and high school athletes who assist them get $2.50 an hour, but much more is involved than money.
Bob Johnson, the student who thought up the program and has been supervising it, says, "Our main accomplishment is that we have proved to young minority people that the University of California is an institution to be respected."
The outspoken Presley, proud of his hot-summer work, says, "I feel now that I am a Cal man, in the sense of belonging. The university has shown that it respects me as a human, and I respect the university. It's a trade, and a fair one, I think."
WATCH THOSE CARP
Twenty thousand Japanese carp have been flown into Mexico to keep the Olympic rowing course at Xochimilco clear of moss. It seems a fine symbol of international cooperation, and one hesitates to carp, so to speak, but certain ecological apprehensions do arise.
The course is a 2,200-meter canal built especially for the Olympics. Initially it was filled with pure blue water, but so much moss has grown in it that Olympic officials began to have visions of an inland Sargasso Sea. Certain Oriental carp thrive on moss, and three months ago 500 Chinese carp were installed in the canal. The moss kept growing. Then it was learned that Japan breeds in abundance two gluttonous species, the silver carp and the grass carp. At maturity, they are sometimes three feet long, and Japanese farmers get double duty from them. The carp not only keep ponds clear of moss, they can be sliced raw, dipped in soy sauce and eaten. At Mexico's request the Japanese government rounded up 20,000 baby silver and grass carp and jetted them to Mexico City.
All right. But at a time when Asian or African walking catfish stalk our land, and all sorts of purposely or accidentally imported flora and fauna have been over-flourishing, eating the wrong things and attracting worse things than they were brought in to eat, we can only hope the Mexicans have thought this thing through. Suppose, for example, those voracious carp get into the famed floating gardens of Xochimilco. There is no danger, claims an Olympic official. The rowing course doesn't connect with the gardens. But suppose the carp, with the run of the course, become more of an obstruction than the moss. Well, although Mexican navy guards watch over the carp at present, enforcing the "no fishing" signs, the official says, "maybe one day when these carp multiply after the Olympics, fishing will be allowed."
It sounds a little too easy. But if it doesn't work the Mexican government can always fly in 20,000 Japanese farmers and plenty of soy sauce.
THEY SAID IT
•Frank Ryan, Cleveland quarterback: "I owe my recovery from two ankle injuries last year to the suggestion of a lady fan. She prescribed a daily eight-ounce cocktail—one part sherry, one part honey and half vinegar. I got better just thinking about it."
•Detroit Catcher Bill Freehan, who has been hit 20 times by pitched balls this season: "They ought to stop it before somebody gets hurt."