Through the first three weeks of the season, the National Hockey League's new teams took a terrific pasting from the old—a trend that can be expected to continue. At the end of last week's action the old clubs had won 19, lost five and tied two against the new. Worse, the East had outscored the West 103 goals to 56.
Last summer the NHL, urged on by some of the new clubs—Pittsburgh and Oakland, in particular—voted to increase from 24 to 36 the number of games between East and West teams. The feeling was that, even though the new clubs would be fortunate to win even one out of five from the old, their fans would still pay to see established stars like Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Jean Beliveau.
But now it appears that increasing the interlocking schedule was a mistake. As two of the brightest young minds in hockey—Scotty Bowman of St. Louis and Wren Blair of Minnesota—have argued, the new teams should concentrate upon building rivalries among themselves and selling the new division to new fans.
November 11, 1968
Instead of attempting to conceal the vast difference between the old teams and the new, the NHL is—for the sake of a quick buck—currently making a spectacle of it. Next June the owners can do something about it.
JOHNNY'S NOT HIMSELF
Johnny Unitas' fabled right arm is going from bad to worse. One day last week he tried to throw in practice and came away saying, "What you saw me do out there today was all I can give it." What the Colts' sidelined leader had done was throw three dozen passes, none of them longer than 25 yards and none of them with any velocity.
At this point no one seems to know what to do about the chronic elbow ailment. Asked if an operation would help, Unitas said, "I really don't know. I'll do whatever the club wants me to do. I don't know what is next." The club doctors, as is their policy, are mum, but a decision seems to be due soon. The man who may have been the best pro quarterback of all time is taking up a spot on the Colts' roster, and can't perform.
THE OLYMPIC DODGE
Last week five young men in a Nice restaurant decided to settle the question of who should pay the tab by racing around the block. They asked the restaurant owner to act as a starter, "like in Mexico." The amused restaurateur went along with the gag, and he has not seen any of the young men since.
Elmer L. Onstott, 69, of Ferguson, Mo., and Mr. and Mrs. Everett Skinner, 65 and 57, of Englewood, N.J., have finished hiking the more than 2,000 miles from Georgia's Springer Mountain to Maine's Mount Katahdin, the length of the Appalachian Trail.
The Skinners (he is a retired textile executive) started April 1 and reached the peak of Katahdin just under seven months later, on October 26. Onstott, a retired metal finisher, set out two weeks after they did and finished one day sooner. He lived on raisins, peanuts and ground sunflower and pumpkin seeds primarily, and on cheese, crackers and cookies when he could get them. He lost 32 pounds. The Skinners, believed to be the only married couple to make the trek (and Mrs. Skinner the second woman), lost 28 pounds each, on a more varied diet—bananas, oranges, icecream and fresh meat. The Skinners generally slept under shelters of sorts (one night an isolated ladies' room) but often pitched a tent. Onstott spent many nights in the open.
The Skinners went ahead and climbed Katahdin in terrible weather (28°, some snow and sleet and gusts up to 40 knots) because they wanted to be sure to get back home in time to vote. They had left the trail briefly in New York to stop by Englewood and register. "One thing you find out," Skinner said. "You can't leave this civilized world. You still have responsibilities."
Onstott indicated a greater sense of detachment. When he made one of his several telephone calls to his wife along the way, she told him the United Automobile Workers, of which he had been a member for 43 years, had arranged for him to be in Washington during early October to meet President Johnson. He declined, saying he didn't want to leave the trail until he completed it. "I met only one sourpuss," he says of the hike. "I love my freedom, and I did this partly to get away from civilization."
MARCELLO, DON'T RUN
There is dissatisfaction in Italy because that nation's Olympic warriors won only three gold medals, and the Corriere della Sera, of Milan, blames it all on Mamma Mia. According to the Corriere, Italian mothers are a sissifying influence, walking their children to and from school and not letting them engage in sports for fear they'll sweat.
"Our children," said the editorial, "are the most elegant and the most spoiled in all of Europe," and the reason for Italy's Olympic weakness resides in the words of a typical Italian mother: "Why should I send my child to practice in the swimming pool? He'll come out with wet hair and catch cold."
Two of Italy's sports stars agree with the paper's position, adding that Pappa and the schools seem to be in league with Mamma. Klaus Dibiasi, who won a gold medal in 10-meter platform diving and a silver in springboard, says, "If a youngster does show a natural aptitude for a competitive sport, say swimming, the mother and father will follow him around to even the smallest competition to make sure he changes his bathing trunks, in case the damp clothing may give the boy a bad liver or something." Furthermore, 'The educational authorities go along with the parents, who often prefer their son to spend his time dancing and going out with girls rather than in a toughening-up exercise."
And Middleweight Champ Nino Benvenuti points out that "in Italy no mother or father would ever hit their child because he doesn't want to do a sport. They would instead hit the child because he ruined a shoe or tore his shirt during some sport activity."
Maybe they are saving the bambinos for the movies.
STICKING TO HIS LAST
Many a major-leaguer lately has wandered far from his primary field—Maury Wills is on the banjo, Mickey Lolich is singing and Denny McLain is on the harpsichord, or whatever that instrument is that he plays—but not Don Drysdale.
Drysdale, too, picked up some Las Vegas money recently, but he did it by pitching. A new Vegas casino, Circus Circus, has two white fur-covered beds, on which recline two topless 6-foot girls who fall off and do the frug if someone hits a small circular target from 30 feet away. You get three baseballs for a quarter. Drysdale was flown in to throw out the first three. He missed.
IN THE SERVICE
Former Navy football great Roger Staubach, if you have been wondering, is still a Navy football great. So far this year he has completed 136 of 222 passes for 2,200 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading the Goshawks to a 7-1 season.
The Goshawks represent the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., which is the only military installation aside from the Marine base at Quantico, Va. that still plays a regular football schedule against small colleges. All the Goshawks put in full working days besides practicing 7½ hours a week. Staubach is a supply officer, assigned to Pensacola last year after a tour in Vietnam. Unless the war is intensified and his tour is extended, he will finally be available this June to the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him after his Heisman Trophy year in 1963. At 26, Staubach says he is in good condition, but he regrets missing four years of reading pro defenses. In his senior year in high school, he recalled the other day. he received scholarship offers from 30 colleges, but not, at first, from the one of his choice—Notre Dame. Joe Kuharich, then the Irish coach, said his quarterback quota was full. Late in the summer Kuharich did offer him a scholarship, but by then Staubach had committed himself to the Navy. "If only Notre Dame had offered it to me sooner...," he muses.
Anybody who doesn't want to be arrested at a football game or other mass gathering had better watch what he carries with him. A girl was booked after a student demonstration in London recently for "Being in possession of an offensive weapon, viz.: a tambourine."
WHO HITS WHOM
When National Hockey League President Clarence Campbell fined Los Angeles Kings General Manager Larry Regan $1,000 for slugging Referee Bruce Hood after a recent game in the Los Angeles Forum, insiders felt Regan got off easy. In 1961, they recalled, Montreal Coach Hector (Toe) Blake was fined $2,000 for taking a swing at a referee after a Stanley Cup playoff game.
It may be that Campbell was taking into account the punch's immediate cost to Regan—a broken hand. But the matter raises a question of principle: if hitting a referee costs a general manager $1,000 less than a coach, is an owner entitled to hit one for free?
TRIUMPH AND GALLSTONES
The crowds lined Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru Highway and Haile Selassie Avenue, shouting their welcome, as Kenya's triumphant 61-man Olympic team was borne through Nairobi in three national youth service trucks wrapped in bunting. Medal winners, the medals dangling from their necks and their heads sporting enormous sombreros, were hoisted on shoulders. Beaming President Jomo Kenyatta, in a pinstriped suit, greeted the Olympians at the state house with "Karibuni," meaning "Come on in." and the team cried "Harambee"—the national rallying cry which means "Let's all pull together." The only unexultant person in town, it seemed, was the mighty Kipchoge Keino. As the team received a standing ovation from members of the National Assembly, Keino, winner of a gold in the 1,500 meters and a silver in the 5,000, was outside in the garden suffering stomach pains. He was already planning a trip to Germany for surgery, having been told he probably has gallstones. Keino was taken to a hospital and emerged a few hours later feeling good enough to take part quietly in the several days of festivities. About all he said was, "I am glad I am one of those who have brought back medals to this great country of ours."
BRING YOUR OWN
Seldom do college basketball coaches directly impugn the objectivity of referees—but whenever two coaches meet to arrange a nonleague game, each always demands that he provide one of the officials. Coaches feel there are subtle differences between refereeing styles in various conferences, for one thing. And after all, an official may well have a subconscious loyalty to the school from his home region—and he knows that the coach from his part of the country will probably file a fitness report on him.
"We're living with a myth that all refs are the same," says Marquette's Al McGuire, who has been trying for four years to kill that notion and at the same time to dilute college basketball's most important psychological factor, the homecourt advantage. McGuire's idea is to have the visiting team provide both officials; and Coach Maurice John of Drake has agreed to give the experiment a trial. This year when Marquette visits Drake both referees will come from McGuire's source, the Big Ten. Next season for the teams' game at Milwaukee, the officials will come from Drake's Missouri Valley Conference. It is unlikely to keep the referees from swaying in the winds of partisan roars, but it's worth a try. The question is, will "home cooking" travel.
THEY SAID IT
•Paul (Tank) Younger, Los Angeles Rams scout, on L.A.'s Henry Dyer: "Henry is the best fullback Grambling College has had since me."
•Hank Bauer, new manager of the Oakland Athletics and an ex-Marine: "One place I won't allow my players to drink is at the hotel where they are staying. That's where I do my drinking."