PENNANT RACE ISSUE
The night the Tigers clinched their first pennant in 23 years. Club Owner John Fetzer put his arms around Manager Mayo Smith and said, "Mayo, it was great. It was more than winning the pennant. This may save Detroit."
Fetzer was not the first to see Detroit's pennant fever as a unifying force. This summer radios blared play-by-play accounts on streets where there was gunfire the July before. The Tigers, unlike many sports teams, always draw a broad social spectrum, and this year thousands of bumper stickers saying "Sock It to 'Em Tigers" appeared—on inner-city used cars and suburban station wagons alike. Black Leftfielder Willie Horton, who grew up in Detroit and visited ghetto schools all last winter saying, "Work hard, stay out of trouble, take care of your bodies," was cheered most boisterously by the fans in the lower left-field seats ($1.50), who were mostly white. White Rightfielder Al Kaline was the favorite of those in the right-field bleachers (75¢), who were mostly black.
The night of the day the Tigers won the World Series 150,000 people jammed the downtown area, traffic was stopped, confetti was nearly knee deep in places, streamers hung from the overpasses for 13 solid miles, and stores were broken into. "It was worse than the riot for us," said a sporting goods dealer. There was a rape in the heart of the celebration area. An interracial group of 99 was assembled in jail, on charges of looting, robbery, assault, auto theft and shooting guns, mostly into the air. Two young men died when they fell off cars and skulled themselves on the pavement. There were fights and brawls and cheering, and whites and blacks rode on top of the same cars together. Merchants complained, just as they had during the riot, that the police stood around and did nothing. "Our biggest problem," said Police Superintendent John F. Nichols, "was telling the looters from the honest revelers."
October 28, 1968
The Standard Club, a group of Jewish businessmen, awarded a car near the end of the season. They gave it to Gates Brown, the great black pinch hitter, who said, "God bless you." It was that kind of baseball year, except when people got overexcited, in Detroit.
COUP DE GR√ÇCE
Not only has unbeaten Penn State's defensive unit—in a year when the big offense has dominated college football—held opposing teams to 1.5 yards per rushing play. Not only has it scored or set up 50 points in four games. Not only has it absorbed the loss of two starters and carried on with all juniors and sophomores. Not only has it warranted comparison when aroused with Attila and his Huns when they were aroused. It also has a tackle named Steve Smear.
Last week in New York the National Tennis League and World Championship Tennis, Inc. joined arms for the first time in their year-long existences to level a blast at the United States Lawn Tennis Association. The two competing pro groups threatened to pull their players out of all open tournaments in the U.S. next year unless the USLTA agrees not to pay prize money to that dubious character known as the "registered player"—a player who can accept prize money but retain his amateur standing.
The NTL-WCT statement was the first salvo in a war that has been brewing since last spring, when open tennis, after decades of pro-am bickering, finally became a reality. The object of the war is to determine who will wind up with control of major tennis—the pros or the entrenched amateur bodies.
The pros' argument is simple: they have nearly all the world class players under contract, and they hope to sign enough of the remaining good amateurs, such as Arthur Ashe, Clark Graebner and Tom Okker, to create a viable pro circuit of their own, as pro golf has done. To them, open tennis is an intermediate means to this end.
The amateur bodies' argument is equally simple: they have the sanctioning rights for the world's prestige tournaments, notably Forest Hills and Wimbledon; and through the leverage of the registered player and a plethora of open tournaments (as many as 20 worldwide next year) they hope to keep the good players and the prestige titles under their roof. The USLTA has been running tennis in this country—poorly, for the most part—for 87 years, and it is not about to give in easily. So far, the USLTA does not have a registered player category, but it is expected to create one at its annual meeting next February.
That will be the second salvo, and if you think the Paris peace talks have been dragging...
The other night, in the lobby of the Park Lanes bowling alley in Charlotte, N.C., Miss Anne Plemmons, 23, was practicing her approach, just going through the motions without releasing the ball—when all of a sudden, by mistake, she let it go. The ball began rolling toward a plate-glass door. She gave chase. It smashed through the door. She kept after it. It rolled across a porch overlooking a parking lot. She followed. Then it disappeared. She heard a loud double thump.
And when she reached the edge of the porch she saw a new Lincoln Continental 10 feet below, with two bowling-ball-shaped dents in its hood. And off in the distance the redoubtable ball was still rolling. (It was recovered, undamaged, in a nearby field.)
The car's owner advised Miss Plemmons that his insurance, while reasonably comprehensive, did not cover damage from a falling bowling ball. The lanes' owner said the policy on his door left $75 to be paid by the kegler.
Miss Plemmons says she has not given up bowling, but it seems likely her game will suffer. For a while she may find it difficult to let go of the ball.
HOME AT LAST
In their 43-year history, the Harlem Globetrotters have played before Popes, Presidents and potentates, and in just about every famous hall in the world except La Scala. Still, last week they were able to find one renowned basketball area where they had never shown off their comic style. In a special exhibition at Intermediate School 201 on Manhattan's 127th Street, the Globetrotters (versus a pickup team of neighborhood kids) played for the first time in Harlem.
SOME NAMES ARE TOO BIG
"Lots of Big Men Have Big Names," said the billboard across from the Indiana State Capitol. "Eisenhower, Shakespeare, Washington, Michelangelo, Rickenbacker, Hippocrates, Shostakovich, Ruckelshaus, Hemingway, Mollenkopf, Parseghian, Aristotle." William Ruckelshaus is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, against Hoosier incumbent Birch Bayh. Both Purdue Coach Jack Mollenkopf and Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian, instead of being flattered by the rather fast company, protested the use of their names. The Ruckelshaus people said they had not intended to imply the coaches' endorsement, but now Mollenkopf's name is covered over with gold and Parseghian's with green.
FEELING THE DRAFT
One of the most surprising selections in last week's baseball expansion draft was the Kansas City Royals' choice of Baltimore's Roger Nelson. Nelson, though still pretty much a nonentity to the average fan, is regarded by baseball men as one of the most gifted young (24) pitchers around. In September he struck out 13 Red Sox in six innings and then beat Detroit's Denny McLain 2-1.
As much as the Orioles prized Nelson, there simply was not room for him on their list of 15 protected players. Still, they felt they had a way to cover him in the first round, after which they could "freeze" three more men. The Orioles, certain the new clubs would take any decent catcher made available in the first round, dangled Larry Haney as bait, hoping he would be taken so they could then protect Nelson. The very first player chosen was Nelson.
"When we made the announcement," said Lou Gorman, farm director of the Royals, "I looked at the Baltimore table. I looked at [Manager Earl] Weaver and saw his face drop to his knees. Harry Dalton [Oriole director of player personnel] had a look of disbelief." And why had the Royals taken Nelson rather than Haney? "I used to work for the Orioles and I knew all about Nelson," Gorman explained.
RED POWER VS. RED TAPE
"The Great Spirit provided game for food for the Indians. The oppressors have no right to require Indians to have permits." So spoke John (Rolling Thunder) Pope, legal adviser for the Western Shoshone Nation, after a fellow tribesman had been fined for killing a deer off reservation grounds one day before the Nevada deer season opened.
The offending Shoshone, Stanley Smart, told the Winnemucca, Nev. justice of the peace he needed the meat to feed his five children. Smart's attorney argued that Indians were protected by treaty and hereditary rights, and said there might be an appeal. Rolling Thunder Pope was more to the point: "I predict the doom of the white man. The last time I did this, a great storm came up and caused great death and destruction. Only a few good whites will survive this time." And even as he spoke, according to observers, the approach of winter in the Winnemucca area was heralded by black clouds rolling across the mountains and strong winds whipping the desert sands.
And that wasn't all. The next week on the Ruby Valley Indian Reservation near Elko, a group of Caucasian deer hunters had set up camp and were relaxing with some firewater when suddenly the hills were alive with whooping Shoshones, complete with war paint, feathers and rifles.
The rifles turned out to be unloaded, but the raiding party gave the hunters 15 minutes to get off the reservation, and the hunters, although some of them were loaded, complied.
The Shoshones had complained to the authorities about trespassers, explained a spokesman, and had been given the runaround. So the Shoshones taught them a thing or two about running around.
Town Marshal Bob Lacquye of Naches, Wash. was trailing a suspected Army deserter from Fort Dix, N.J. one afternoon recently when the soldier slipped away into some bushes near the Naches High School football field, where Coach Jake Borck's Rangers were practicing.
The team spotted the fugitive and could see that he was increasing his lead over the marshal. Coach Borck decided it was about wind-sprint time anyway, so suddenly, in a burst of citizenship and scrimmage-weariness, the whole squad took off, as the coach remarked later, "like hounds after the fox."
The suspect heard a rumbling of cleats, looked up and saw 35 helmeted deputies bearing down on him. He put on a kick but was caught from behind, after a lively broken-field quarter mile across the school grounds, by a lineman. After gaining some 3,000 miles running, he found himself at the bottom of a pile.
THEY SAID IT
•Norm Van Brocklin, coach of the Atlanta Falcons, following their 24-21 upset of the New York Giants: "Atlanta has a lot of good young players. All they need is coaching."
•Bob Dinaberg, coach of California Western University, after his team's 31-0 loss to Cal Poly, during which Cal Western lost the ball on fumbles six times and once failed to score from the one-yard line in four downs: "We were no more ready to play Cal Poly than the United States was ready to defend Pearl Harbor. To top it off, when I got back to the coaches' office, I discovered someone—probably a Good Samaritan—had stolen our movie projector. I didn't want to watch that massacre anyway."
•Chuck Hixson, SMU quarterback and NCAA major college leader in total offense and passing, explaining why, although he is a slow runner, he has rushed for five touchdowns: "The defense doesn't know whether I'm sprinting out or walking over to talk to Coach [Hayden] Fry."