BILLIARDS—JOE BALSIS won the U.S. Open billiards championship and with it the $5,000 first prize in Lansing, Mich. Balsis came back from the losers bracket of the double elimination to beat Dan DiLiberto in the finals.
BOATING—MEL RIGGS set a new record in winning the Miami-Nassau ocean powerboat race. A copilot until this month, Riggs raced the 185-mile course in 3:12:47, almost six minutes faster than the record established in 1967 by Allan Brown. Only 16 out of the 43 starters finished the race. Peter Rittmaster was second and Dick Bertram third.
BOXING—JOE SHAW won a majority decision from fifth-rated welterweight Pete Toro in New York. Shaw, who hopes to land a title fight with Curtis Cokes, has been matched with Luis Rodriguez (November 16) as a reward for his victory.
FOOTBALL—NFL: It was a week of upsets and narrow escapes. New York (4-1) lost for the first time, 24-21, when a revived ATLANTA (1-4) intercepted a pass to stop a Giant drive on the Falcons' three-yard line with 1:15 left to play. Fran Tarkenton, the NFL's leading passer, threw for three touchdowns and, other than that last-minute interception, had another good game. WASHINGTON (3-2) held on to a precarious three-point lead to defeat Pittsburgh (0-5) 16-13. DALLAS (5-0) beat Philadelphia (0-5) 34-14 and took over undisputed possession of first place in the Capitol Division. The Cowboys' Don Meredith was harried all afternoon by a persistent Eagle defense and was thrown for losses six times, but still completed 21 of 38 passes for 306 yards. The Cowboys' defense was even tougher and caught the Eagles' Norm Snead six times and intercepted four passes. The Century Division standings resembled a minus pool. ST. LOUIS (2-3) defeated Cleveland (2-3) and NEW ORLEANS (2-3) beat Minnesota to tie for first in the division. St. Louis, helped by two first-half interference calls, scored after both, then played tough defense, holding the Browns to 22 yards on the ground and intercepting a possible touchdown pass to win 27-21. Two last quarter field goals gave the Saints a 20-17 victory over the Vikings. DETROIT (3-2) moved into a tie for first in the Central Division with the Vikings by beating Chicago (1-4) 28-10. Mel Farr, last year's NFL offensive Rookie of the Year, gained 211 yards and scored three touchdowns. Green Bay (2-3) lost Quarterback Bart Starr before the game started, as he pulled a muscle warming up. Even then the Packers might have won, since the defense played at its superb best and held Los Angeles to a total of 190 yards, but Bruce Gossett—with seconds left—kicked a 27-yard field goal to give LOS ANGELES (5-0) a 16-14 victory. BALTIMORE (5-0), on a collision course with the Rams, kept pace at the top of the Coastal Division by defeating San Francisco (2-3) 42-14. Earl Morrall, (page 20) the supersub, threw two touchdowns and with 10 minutes left sat down and gave Johnny Unitas his first chance to play this season. Unitas promptly passed for a touchdown.
October 20, 1968
AFL: New York, (3-2) after a strong start, began its annual collapse early and lost to DENVER (2-3) 21-13. The Broncos' Steve Tensi threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to Eric Crabtree while the Jets' Joe Namath tossed for five interceptions and no touchdowns. Boston (2-3), with a chance to tie the Jets for the lead in the Eastern Division, lost to HOUSTON (2-4) 16-0. Miami (1-3-1) and Buffalo (1-4-1) missed the chance to tighten up the standings, settling for a 14-14 tie. SAN DIEGO (4-1) broke Oakland's 14-game winning streak by defeating the Raiders (4-1) 23-14. An alert Charger defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes while Lance Alworth and John Hadl combined to complete nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. KANSAS CITY (5-1) wore down a stubborn Cincinnati (2-4) and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to win 13-3 and take over first place in the West.
GOLF—The U.S. came from seven strokes back at the start of the final round to win the Eisenhower Trophy at Black Rock, Australia. Dick Siderowf of Westport, Conn. and Marvin Giles of Lynchburg, Va. shot 73s to lead the successful U.S. comeback. Great Britain, the leader going into the final round, could have tied at the 72nd hole, but Ronnie Shade missed a six-foot putt, and the British team finished second.
Gary player eliminated Tony Jacklin on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, then went on to defeat Bob Charles by two strokes and win the World Match Play golf championship, at Virginia Water, England.
HARNESS RACING—RUM CUSTOMER ($2.60) beat Fulla Napoleon by 1¾ lengths to win the $150,000 Cane Futurity, the second leg of pacing's Triple Crown, at Yonkers Raceway. Rum Customer took the first, The Little Brown Jug, at Delaware, Ohio. The final event of the series will be the Messenger Stake at Roosevelt Raceway on October 26.
Snow speed ($3.00) won the Hickory Smoke Trot at Liberty Bell Park, Philadelphia, after Nevele Pride, favored to repeat as Harness Horse of the Year, broke stride.
MOTOR SPORTS—Driving a turbo-charged Offen-hauser, RONNIE BUCKNUM averaged 163.043 mph to win the inaugural race at Michigan International Speedway, Irish Hills, Mich. Bucknum earned $17,000 for his victory. Mario Andretti was ruled second after a protest and Bobby Unser was moved back to third (page 62).
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: BILLY MARTIN, the aggressive second baseman and ringleader of the New York Yankees' nightclub escapades of the 1950s, as manager of the Minnesota Twins to replace Cal Ermer. Martin, third-base coach for the Twins when they won the pennant in 1965, spent the last season managing the Denver Bears of the Pacific Coast League, a Minnesota farm team, to prepare himself for accession to a major league job.
NAMED: JOE SCHULTZ, a coach of the pennant-winning Cardinals and a journeyman catcher with the Pirates and the St. Louis Browns from 1939 to 1948. as manager of the new Seattle Pilots.
NAMED: CLYDE KING, former Dodger relief pitcher and currently manager of the Phoenix Giants of the PCL, a San Francisco farm team, to succeed Herman Franks as manager of the San Francisco Giants.
TRADED: VADA PINSON, one of the National League's better hitters with a .297 lifetime batting average for 11 years in the majors, to the pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals by the Cincinnati Reds. In return the Reds received promising but disappointing Outfielder-First Baseman Bob Tolan, a .230 hitter in 1968 and right-handed Relief Pitcher Wayne Granger, 4 and 2 with a 2.25 ERA. In another trade completed by the Cardinals, whose transactions add impressive strength for the 1969 season, Pitcher Dave Giusti (11 and 14 won-lost and 3.19 ERA in 1968) and Catcher Dave Adlesh were obtained from Houston for reserve Catcher John Edwards and minor-leaguer Tom Smith.
ANNOUNCED: NINO BENVENUTI will defend his middleweight title against Don Fullmer, the No. 1 contender, on November 23 in San Remo, Italy.
RETIRED—GYPSY JOE HARRIS, 22-year-old middleweight contender, by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission after learning that he was blind in his right eye. Harris, as unorthodox in his boxing style as he was in his training habits, reportedly claims he received the injury in an accident outside of the ring some time ago and had passed several prefight examinations since by memorizing the eye chart. The blindness was discovered by chance after a special weigh-in to make certain Harris would be able to make the stipulated 156-pound weight for his October 15 fight with Manny Gonzalez.