It is good to hear that on November 18 the Kentucky State Racing Commission will begin hearings—originally scheduled for last July—on the disqualification of Dancer's Image in the Kentucky Derby. By then it will be six months since the Derby was run—plenty of time for the case to have been investigated and concluded.
The owners who are to receive the as-yet-undistributed purse are entitled to a decision, and so are racing fans, who expect the sport to police itself firmly. By November we will be halfway to a new Derby, and the track ought to be clear for it.
FLOATING STRIKE ZONE
October 13, 1968
In a World Series, with umpires from both leagues calling balls and strikes, it becomes obvious that the strike zone moves. With a National League arbiter behind the plate the zone sinks. The high pitch around the shoulders—such as Denny McLain likes to throw—is a ball and the low pitch around the lower edge of the knees is a strike. When an American League man takes over the zone jumps, and pitchers lose the low strike and pick up the high one.
The variance probably is caused by the differences in umpiring stance. National League umpires working home plate crouch behind the catcher at an angle and peer between his head and the batter's body. From this position it is hard to judge the trajectory of the high pitch. American Leaguers crouch directly behind the catcher and move horizontally and vertically with him. They see the high pitch clearly but often miss the low one because the catcher gets in the way.
Vertically, then, it balances out. But horizontally the American League style seems more effective. Says Houston Manager Harry Walker, "The National League umpires see the outside pitch before it gets to the plate—and they make their decision then. By the time the ball finally gets there it may be two feet outside. The umpire can't see that because he is on the inside. So he calls it a strike and the hitter is in trouble."
He would seem to be in even more trouble with Ed Runge of the American League. Runge, who was behind the plate in the 1967 All-Star Game when 29 batters were fanned, is said to enforce baseball's most expansive strike zone, in all directions. Nevertheless, batters say they like Runge. They know he is going to call nearly everything a strike, so they swing at nearly everything. George Kell, who maintained a .306 lifetime batting average for 15 American League seasons and now telecasts Detroit games, is among those who advocate the Runge approach. "Make the players swing," says Kell. "That will stop all this take, take, take business, speed up the game, get the bat back into the game and bring the people back to the ball park."
Whether it will get the bat back up against the ball is another question.
Announcing itself this week is a new corporation, Points, Inc., which proposes to represent and diversify black athletes' and entertainers' interests. The company-is backed by two predominantly Negro, New York-based concerns—the law firm of Jones, Jenkins and Warden and a consultant group, The Match Institution. It will welcome white clients, but will clearly specialize in black ones. Its board of directors includes former pro Fullback John Henry Johnson (who will be a full-time executive), the Packers' Willie Wood, the Phillies' Bill White, the Celtics' Sam Jones and Singer James Brown.
Points, Inc. intends to make money by arranging product endorsements and other promotional contracts for Negro athletes, who, much to their resentment, are seldom offered such opportunities. It will also advise its clients on investments and help them negotiate with professional teams—either for bonuses, in the case of graduating collegians, or for raises, in the case of established pros. It also sees itself, according to a spokesman, as an arbitrator of campus racial problems involving athletics, and as a supporter of Negroes protesting discriminatory policies on the part of coaches, management or other players. In short, it intends to get black performers into the action off the field as well as on—and also to put pressure behind those it thinks are being short-changed.
The Points, Inc. prospectus says, "Afro-Americans now constitute 17% of major-league baseball players, 28% of pro football players, 54% of pro basketball players, a significant number of college athletes and over 90% of rhythm and blues performers."
A 370-pound black bear that recently wandered into Cloudcroft, N. Mex. and was nabbed in the act of knocking over some garbage cans didn't want to go to Mexico. It had to be hustled into a cage in the back of a van, rushed 10 the border and then—to get it back out of the van—squirted with a hose for nearly an hour while its cage was pounded with a stick. You could almost hear it growling: "I am an American citizen!"
But finally, at the U.S. Border Patrol station opposite Ciudad Juàrez, the bear grudgingly suffered transferral into the waiting Mexican truck, and soon was hauled down to the Sierra Madre country west of Chihuahua city and released, an abruptly naturalized Mexican bear.
The Cloudcroft bear was one of six that New Mexico will deport this fall and winter to form a cadre which, it is hoped, will in time end the current bear shortage in what had been prime ursine country.
New Mexico sees it as a goodwill gesture toward old Mexico. None of the goodwill, so far, has been on the part of the bears. They haven't been consulted, and there is no American B'ar Association to defend their rights.
Spiro T. Agnew journeyed 4,000 miles last weekend to Anchorage, Alaska, where he spoke to fewer than 2,000 people in a high school gymnasium; and then he turned around and went back. He told his audience he couldn't stay over Sunday for an Eskimo tribal-council session because "the law requires me to be in Maryland tomorrow."
When Maryland newsmen in the caravan failed to recall such a requirement, an Agnew aide suggested it "might be the law of the Colts." The Baltimore Colts, of whom Governor Agnew is an avid fan, played the Chicago Bears in Baltimore Sunday.
Nora Luff of Lancashire, England has announced that from now on whenever her links-loving husband, Bill, decides to stay home from the golf course she will hang a 10-foot pole out the bedroom window and run up the Union Jack.
"It's not that I object to being a golf widow," she explained. "I'm sick of answering the door to his golfing friends when he's not in." Said Bill, "My wife has been threatening me with this for a long time. Until now she has never had a flag big enough or a pole long enough."
Who says there was no hitting in baseball this year? Joe Hoerner hit the Astrodome roof several times. The Cardinals' Hoerner, besides being a hero in the third game of last week's World Series and one of the few men to have three outstanding years in a row as a relief pitcher, is a very strong Iowa boy. He is capable of tossing up a baseball and hitting it great distances with a fun-go bat—and since he broke into the major leagues with the Astros, he felt called upon to send a batted ball where none had ever been.
In the early days of the Astrodome, Houston officials, sensitive to insinuations that the covered stadium meant the end of the tall can of corn, averred that the roof was beyond human reach. Hoerner insists that he was told to lay off taking shots at it, lest the organization be embarrassed. The Astros deny this. "In fact," says Vice-President Bill Giles, "we encourage players to try to hit the roof. We had a contest here one night between Mike Cuellar and Ted Abernathy. Neither of them reached it."
At any rate, when Hoerner moved to the Cardinals in 1966 he launched his own Houston space program. He says he hit the roof at least once each visit—and during the Cardinals" last Houston trip this year he reached it four times one day and five times the next. Most of his pregame shots have hit the sloping area between home plate and the pitcher's mound," about 175 feet up, but some of them have attained the dome's 208-foot zenith. Two of his fungoed missiles, moreover, have lodged in the gondola, the round photographer's perch suspended from the peak. People are wondering what would happen if one or both should tumble out some night, putting more than one ball in play.
Georgia wore it against Tennessee, Notre Dame wore it against Oklahoma and some 200 high school, 100 college, and several professional teams will wear it some time this football season—the new nylon-mesh game jersey. Champion Products, Inc., manufacturer of the item, says it will cut down on fatigue, injuries and death on the playing field by enabling players to keep their cool—or rather lose their heat—before the weather begins to keep it for them.
The perforations in the material enable body heat to escape, reducing the likelihood of heat prostration, which causes a large proportion of football deaths—and which has often been invited, rather than prevented, by well-meaning coaches who pushed salt tablets and cut down on water consumption. Teams have been using very open net jerseys in practice for this reason for several years, but this is the first mesh jersey that will hold a number and won't come apart easily.
The perforations and the fact that the material doesn't absorb water also reduce the jersey's weight. Right after SMU wore the shirt experimentally while beating Texas A&M on television last year, Coach Hayden Fry weighed all the sweaty nylon jerseys and found them only half as heavy as the same number of dry cotton ones.
No wonder that little SMU quarterback looked so slight.
THE EUROPE JELIC
When Petar Jelic appeared at the Philadelphia 76ers' training camp in Margate, N.J., Coach Jack Ramsay was dismayed. According to a scouting report that had reached Ramsay during the off season, Jelic, of the University of Zagreb in Yugoslavia, stood 6'8", was adept at blocking shots and had a jump shot like a guard's. He did have such a jump shot, it turned out, but that was because he was a guard—a 6'1" guard. The Yugoslavian scout apparently had confused two different players.
Jelic said, "I am not ill in the head. I know what is basket. Before I go I asked manager, 'Why you want Yugoslav player? You must know the basket in the United States is the best in the world. In United States they have many, many boys better than I and my friends.' He answered, 'If you want to try, I shall pay ticket for you." I answered, 'O.K.'"
After watching Jelic for two days in camp, Ramsay released him to Zagreb. Jelic was not disgruntled. "All the players is very good friends to me," he said. "I am feeling wonderful. In game everybody take me courage. 'Good shot,' 'Good play.' I am pride.
"This Philadelphia basket," he added before departing, "is very, very good. But without Chamberlain, maybe in professional will not be in first position. Wilt is Wilt, the only one in the world." Back in Zagreb, said Jelic, there is a 6'8" center named Kresimir Cosic, perhaps the super Slav of the scout's report. "He have another name," says Jelic—"the Europe Russell."
Dean Billick, sports publicity man for the University of Pittsburgh, recently accused Pitt sophomore Quarterback Dave Havern of being so slow that he, Billick, 26, a former high school trackman now out of shape, could beat him in a 440. They raced in their street clothes, and the publicity man won by 20 yards. And he didn't cover it up.
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Marsh, light heavyweight of Las Vegas, after being knocked out in Kansas City, Kans. by local fighter Ron Marsh, on why he has won only four of 15 fights this year: "Mostly I've been fighting in everybody's home town."
•Woody Hayes, Ohio State football coach, on why he likes punts that travel only 35 yards: "Any punt over 40 yards, look out. Those are the ones that fans cheer—and the kind your opponent runs back down your throat."
•Harry Caray, World Series telecast announcer, describing the sound of the crowd as Bob Gibson neared his record 17 strikeouts: "The groan is audible. It can also be heard."