COME ON, VERDICT
The Kentucky Derby drugging case has finally gone to the jury. Having read or heard an estimated 1.5 million words of testimony, the five-man Kentucky State Racing Commission must now decide whether to back up the Churchill Downs stewards who found that Dancer's Image was drugged and that Owner Peter Fuller should be denied the winner's purse, or to accept the contention of Fuller's lawyers—that the tests which found Butazolidin in the horse's urine were badly made and inconclusive. If the commission now finds, as expected, enough evidence to support the stewards' original ruling, Fuller will doubtless take his case on to Kentucky's Franklin Circuit Court. There, it is to be hoped, Judge Henry Meigs will dig deeply enough to unearth explanations for the odd post-race behavior of some of the leading figures in the case, including Fuller's veterinarian, his two trainers, and even two of his lawyers.
So, apparently, we must leave to the slow and due processes of law the resolution of a scandal that should have been dealt with long ago by the Kentucky racing authorities themselves.
Next year Canada will issue a stamp honoring the ancient sport of curling. So it pays, after all, to let a few things slide.
December 16, 1968
AGAINST THE BIRDS
For $10,000 Joseph H. Fink will see to it next month that the tens of thousands of starlings that normally roost in downtown Washington, and particularly along Pennsylvania Ave., will not participate in the inauguration of Richard M. Nixon as the 37th President of United States.
Fink will supervise an eight-man crew in the spraying of 96 trees along the inaugural parade route with a compound that irritates birds' feet and offends their smell (but not the President's or ours). He developed the compound 22 years ago, and now, from his "National Bird Control Laboratory" in Skokie, Ill., he sells more than $700,000 worth of it every year. He has bird-proofed, among other things, Plymouth Rock, the statue of King George V in Brisbane, Australia, and every U.S. inaugural since 1953. He is too little appreciated.
UP IN THE AIR
When NBC-TV outraged the public by switching from the New York-Oakland game to Heidi, blowing a spectacular finish, did CBS-TV learn anything? Well, the Apollo 8 astronauts are scheduled to make a live telecast from 100,000 miles up, on their way to the moon, just before 3 p.m., Dec. 22. That would be well into the second quarter of the NFL Western Conference championship game to be carried by CBS. Who will be left hanging? Astronaut fans. The space pictures will be taped and shown at halftime. Even though that may enrage majorette fans.
PROCESSED DATA BOWL
Woroner Productions, Inc. of Miami, which gave us the alltime heavyweight championship tournament by computer (Rocky Marciano beat Jack Dempsey in the finals last year, SI, Sept. 16) and is giving us the alltime middleweight tournament this year (Marcel Cerdan, Stan Ketchel, Jake La Motta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Dick Tiger and Tony Zale are still in contention), will presume next year to discover the alltime greatest college football team.
The electronically computed dream games will be broadcast play-by-play over the radio, just as the mythical fights have been. The season will begin next Sept. 1, when Michigan State '52 and '66 will play each other to decide which will represent the Spartans for all time. In following weeks Notre Dame '46 and '66 (Johnny Lujack vs. Terry Hanratty) will meet, then Tennessee '38 and '51 (Bowden Wyatt vs. Hank Lauricella).
And then the greatest teams of Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Army, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, UCLA, USC ('67—the youngest entry), Minnesota ('34—the oldest), Ohio State, Georgia Tech, LSU and Alabama will enter the single-elimination fray, which will culminate in a superduper ever-after bowl Dec. 29.
The question of which years' teams should represent the colleges was left to either the school's athletic director or a committee appointed by him. The only place where that was a little sticky was West Point. "Do you want me to remain a lieutenant colonel all my life?" asked the officer whom computer-sports mogul Murry Woroner consulted. "Every general in the Army was on a diferent West Point team." A civilian committee selected the team of 1946 (Blanchard and Davis, 9-0-1).
PASS THE BOOK
The men of St. Francis College, Biddeford, Me., have discovered a new way to build a library: a relay race. Recently 52 St. Francis students ran the 104 miles between the college and Harvard's Widener Library. Dr. Richard Spath, St. Francis president, was the first runner. He went about 300 yards at 5 o'clock in the morning and passed on Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, which was handed to a representative of Harvard at the end of the run.
The idea was to call attention to the contrast between the St. Francis Library's needs and Widener's abundance—St. Francis has 30,000 volumes, Widener 3 million. And the publicity paid off. George Gloss, proprietor of the Brattle Book Shop in Boston, gave the students some three hundred books three days after the anchor man came puffing into Cambridge with the Aristotle.
"How can you turn down these kids?" the benevolent Mr. Gloss said. "They've got the right idea of a student demonstration." And indeed this bookathon opens up all sorts of possibilities, such as jogging for a new dorm, dashes for a greater voice in college affairs, national student book relays from coast to coast, or chasing the dean around a building instead of locking him in it.
SET OF FIVE
First cocktails, caviar, smoked sturgeon and salmon for the select 40 guests—the cream of North American gun collectors and shooters—on the seventh floor of Abercrombie & Fitch. Then dinner (quail and venison and pheasant pie) in the Hunt Room at "21". The occasion last week was special: Abercrombie was unveiling and offering for sale a set of five matched shotguns by Holland & Holland of London that is unique in the history of gun-making.
The guns are five different gauges, from 12 down to .410, and each has a different bird—the 16 for instance bears a pheasant, the 28 a mourning dove—inlaid in gold. Otherwise they match perfectly, from deep-scrolled engraving to scaled screwheads. The triggers, locks and ejectors are gilded, and the stocks are of the finest French walnut. The set took 5,500 man-hours to fashion, and the price, including the Brazilian rosewood cabinet by Asprey's of London, was $50,000.
"Actually I was never keen on selling them," said Malcolm Lyell of Holland & Holland, who flew over for the dinner and sale. "I just wanted to make them for the hang of it, because we were making history." When the guns were finished this year the King of Nepal expressed interest and so did Saud of Arabia, but Earle K. Angstadt Jr., president of Abercrombie, had already spoken for them.
After coffee and champagne the guests settled back, waiting for Angstadt to announce they were free to inspect the guns in their undraped cabinet at the end of the room. When he did, there was a gentlemanly rush forward. The guests had 45 minutes to decide whether to buy. Should more than one be willing to part with $50,000, Angstadt would select the lucky purchaser by a drawing. At 11:30 the room hushed, and Angstadt announced that the guns were sold. "I cannot divulge the name of the buyer," he said, "for they have been bought as a Christmas present."
There is a sports angle to the worst-tasting new discovery we have ever heard of. Not that a new way to treat gallstones—feeding the patients special cookies made with lecithin, a substance that dissolves the stones—is any more important to athletes than to anyone else. But when Dr. Robert M. Zollinger of Ohio State University discussed the new treatment before a recent medical gathering, he admitted that it had one drawback. The cookies taste, he said, "like a greasy tennis ball with hair on it."
The English football world is in something of a flap over the possibility of American intervention. The Atlanta Braves, Inc., referred to in the English press as a "dollar-loaded American organization," certainly didn't get loaded by its recent investment in soccer, the Atlanta Chiefs (SCORECARD, Sept. 23). But the Braves have been talking to shareholders of the Aston Villa team of England, for which former Chiefs Coach Phil Woosnam once starred as a player. And English Football League President Len Shipman fears "a black day for the game if the foreign syndicates get hold of it." Aston Villa once filled its 60,000-seat stadium, but currently draws only around 14,000. All it needs now is an infusion of good old American soccer expertise.
NO FANS, NO O.J.
"O.J. Simpson," says one of the agents who would very much like to negotiate his contract, "is worth 10,000 more fans for some pro teams." Last Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles had plenty of room to put those fans in—but they may well have lost O.J. The Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints, leaving the Buffalo Bills with the worst record in pro football and therefore with the inside track on drafting Simpson. And a boycott by Philadelphia fans (notwithstanding the official announcement of 57,128 tickets sold) left some 15,000 seats empty in 60,658-capacity Franklin Field.
The boycott was instigated by the Committee to Rejuvenate the Philadelphia Eagles, or CRPE (pronounced "crepe"?), recently organized by Main Line businessman Frank C. Sheppard. The idea was to let the Eagles know that Philadelphia will not support a horrible football team. "When they field a team like this," said Sheppard before the game with the Saints, "one touchdown in the last three weeks—and it came against the Browns' scrubs with three seconds left—well, that's not pro football."
Since the Eagles' computer gave O.J. a .5 rating in the spring—".1 better than a superstar," according to a scout—he can be expected to lend a team a certain amount of professionalism. But just because a man is good enough to gain 1,709 yards rushing in a year does not mean he is good enough to save a city the size of Philadelphia, or even Buffalo. And at any rate he may never be burdened with either challenge. O.J. is not likely to sign with anybody in the near future. He is going to preserve his amateurism long enough to run on the USC track team this spring. That would give the team that drafts him plenty of time to sell negotiation rights to some other team—perhaps in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Dallas, where O.J. has said he would prefer to play—for a princely package of players or cash. Such a deal would surely have tempted Eagles Owner Jerry Wolman, locked as he is in a struggle against bankruptcy. And some prosperous franchise might even have thrown in a few thousand fans. If there was ever a Pyrrhic victory, the Eagles won it Sunday.
THEY SAID IT
•Bob Conibear, first-year basketball coach at Bowling Green, who disliked the officiating in his team's 90-88 double-overtime loss to St. Joseph's, describing his sleep that night: "I dreamed I was on a safari in Africa and killed every zebra I saw."
•Murray Williams, Ole Miss tackle, after finishing his first football game on the artificial turf at the University of Tennessee: "I'd just as soon play in the street."
•George King, Purdue basketball coach, comparing his Rick Mount with UCLA's Lew Alcindor: "Rick is the best shooter I've ever seen or played against, but Alcindor and four grandmothers could beat you; Mount and four grandmothers couldn't."