CHARACTER MOLDING II
Joe Hall, now and then assistant to Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky (SCORECARD, April 21), set a U.S., North American and world record for short tenure as basketball coach of a major school when he quit as head coach of St. Louis University one week after he signed his contract. It seemed at the time as though Hall's seven-day if-and-reverse record might stand for centuries, but never underestimate the agility of the American college coach. Don Haskins, who has had remarkable success with his basketball teams at the University of Texas at El Paso, decided last week to switch to the University of Detroit. That was fairly stunning news, but Haskins topped it. Knocking a sensational 120 hours off Joe Hall's still quivering mark, Haskins took only two days to give Detroit (which was still blotting the contract) the brushoff and scurry back to UTEP.
Now, what was that you were saying, Senator? The trouble with college kids is all this permissiveness, right? They think they can do whatever they want whenever they feel like doing it, isn't that so? And you said it, Senator—what they could use is a little old-fashioned discipline from the athletic department.
BULLS AND BEARS
April 27, 1969
Major league baseball attendance, which glowed so promisingly during the opening week of the season (abetted no end by the happy coincidence of lovely weather and spring vacations from school), soured when the weather turned April-y again and the kids trudged back to the classroom. In fact, 13 of the 20 older clubs showed a drop in attendance from a similar period last year (and last year was no bargain). Even including expansion club gates, the American League's total attendance was down, and if you exclude the expansion clubs the American League was off almost 13%, the National League almost 7%.
Boston and Oakland had the most precipitous declines in the American League, while Houston and St. Louis were the National's worst dropoffs. On the bright side, attendance in Washington (ah there, Ted Williams) was up 50%, in Detroit it was up 60% and in Atlanta it was up 70%.
And it is a long season.
Surprisingly, the Sierra Club's bitterly fought election for the balance of power on its board of directors has been won by the anti-Brower slate, which means that Executive Director David Brower's aggressive conduct of conservation campaigns (SI, April 14) has suffered a stunning rebuke. Brower, however, does not intend to quit as executive director, nor will he leave the Sierra Club to form a new organization. "Splinter groups are always sad," he said in response to the bales of mail urging some such step (the first postelection telegram to reach him began, "Have just burned my membership card").
"I do not propose to resign," Brower stated. "The new board can fire me if it wants to. If it does, I would still rather work within the club. Only if the Sierra Club retreats from the issues would we perhaps need a new organization. Even then, it should be complementary to the Sierra Club."
The new board meets May 3. If it decides to dismiss Brower, as seems likely, the loss to the club of Brower's vigorous leadership will be softened if Conservation Director Mike McCloskey, the obvious choice, is picked to succeed him. Though no Winston Churchill—or David Brower—as an inspirational leader, McCloskey is intelligent, hard-working and encyclopedic in his knowledge of conservation issues.
The Sierrans have also voted to raise their dues 33%, which means the anti-Brower board will have added money to go along with its newly acquired power. The new directors will have three years before they face reelection to show they can fight the conservation battle better than Brower did. But, as a member of the new board said, "If any anti-conservationist thinks he can take comfort in a weakened Sierra Club, he'd better find a new fortune cookie."
BRAVE, HONEST, RASH
Ron Jeter, who played at Louisiana State in 1966 and 1967 and is now on Coach Charlie McClendon's staff at LSU, was working as a bit player in a John Wayne Civil War shoot-'em-up, currently on location in Clinton, La. The time came for a battle scene and Jeter was given his choice of being either a Confederate or a Union general. He chose the latter. "I always like to be with a winner," he blandly explained to shocked members of the LSU squad.
It is probably a coincidence, but in the film Jeter is shot in the back.
UNIFORM OF THE DAY
Royal Ascot, England's preeminent race meeting, is called royal because it is, by tradition dating back to the days of Queen Anne, the race meeting that the royal family attends. Formal dress—gray top hat, morning coat, striped trousers—was de rigeur for eons, until last year when egalitarian lounge suits were permitted in the Royal Enclosure for the first time. P. G. Wodehouse might have called it a Herald of the Red Dawn, but it didn't take. Optional though dress was, practically everyone stayed with traditional garb, and there was considerable criticism from press and public about the deplorable lowering of standards.
Now the old rule has been reestablished, and when Royal Ascot gallops on the scene again this June, you'd best have Jeeves lay out your topper and striped pants. Miss Anne Ainscough, Ascot office secretary to the Duke of Norfolk, who more or less says what goes at Ascot, declared: "There was just no demand for the rule to be relaxed, so we have gone back again. It was the Duke who made the decision."
WHAT'S A MOTHER TO DO
On Friday, April 4, the University of Texas opened a three-game weekend series against Rice with a doubleheader at Austin. David Chalk, a freshman from Dallas, hit his first home run of the season in the first game and, the way they tell it in Texas, this so delighted his father, who was at the game, that he went out to a phone booth and made a long-distance call home to his wife. Mrs. Chalk was happy to hear the news and asked her husband to keep her posted.
About half an hour later, during the second game, Mr. Chalk phoned home again. "David just hit another home run," he said. Mrs. Chalk thought that was wonderful.
Twenty minutes later the phone rang again. "Say," said Mr. Chalk, "David just hit another home run."
Thirty minutes later he phoned a fourth time. "Hey," he shouted, "David hit another one!"
"These long-distance calls are getting expensive," said Mrs. Chalk. "I think I had better come down there." So she made the 200-mile trip to Austin to see the Saturday game, the final one of the series, and, naturally, that was the game in which David Chalk did not hit any home runs.
Lee Trevino, the casual, outspoken U.S. Open champion from El Paso, got himself in the soup the other day when he said he would not compete in the Masters Tournament again. "I'm not going to play there anymore," said Trevino. "It's just not my kind of course. I can't play it. I drill the ball at the hole, I hit it low. And there you've got to hit it high. I don't hit it high, and there just ain't no point in my ever going there again. There's no way I could ever win."
To the casual listener this might have sounded as though Trevino was down on himself, but to the golf adept it was sheer heresy. Unstinted praise is the only acceptable method of commenting on the Masters and the Augusta National course. To dismiss it the way Trevino did ranks with setting fire to the flag, throwing rocks at Buckingham Palace and painting the sacred black stone at Mecca a bright, quivering red.
A reporter said to Trevino, "If Cliff Roberts [the all-powerful tournament chairman of the Masters] hears this, he'll turn you into a pillar of salt."
"Roberts may be God in Georgia," replied Trevino, "but he's not God in El Paso."
Perhaps not, but a day or so later, after a phone call or two, Trevino was moved to do public penance. "I wasn't really criticizing the course," he explained. "I was criticizing my own inability to play it well with my type of game."
And now we must wait to see if Lee reverses his field all the way and shows up at Augusta's first tee next April, appropriately attired in the latest thing in sackcloth and ashes.
Although Bill Lear has temporarily shelved plans to run a steam car at this year's Indianapolis 500 (SCORECARD, March 10), plans for steam autos keep boiling ahead, not only on Lear's drawing boards but in England as well. Healey, the sports car manufacturer, expects to put out a steam-turbine auto with an oil-fired boiler. Top speed is expected to be 140 mph. Healey expects the first production model to be steaming along the freeways in 1971.
The only pitcher ever to retire both Babe Ruth and Orlando Cepeda with the same arm has now retired himself—probably. Without much fanfare, in Atlanta the day before the regular season started, Satchel Paige officially concluded 40-some-odd years of pitching by blanking the Braves' Richmond farm club in the ninth inning. He was expected to do so in the first, but didn't show up at the park until around the fifth, having had until then, as he later explained, "a little ailament going."
With his hesitation pitch (which lofts the ball, after some delay, several feet into the air and then mysteriously down into the strike zone, and has been outlawed), an eye-opening curve and a fastball whose virtues were accuracy and contrast, he struck out one Richmond man on three pitches, got another to fly out softly, gave up two singles and then induced Cepeda, who was pinch-hitting for both sides and whose father was a teammate of Satchel's in his prime, to hit an easy fly ball to center. It was Paige's third inning of the spring, all of them goose eggs, and presumably his last in a big-league uniform. The Braves signed him on last year, in a capacity variously designated as "coach" and "assistant trainer," so that he could fill out five years in the majors and qualify for a pension. The new Players' Association contract lowered the pension threshold to four years this spring, but by then Satchel was suited up, getting loose regularly and spell-binding his fellow Braves with prehistorical stories. The club announced that he would pitch a few times against Richmond and then hang up his glove, and that, apparently, is what he has done.
After the supposedly ultimate game, though, he was noncommittal. "I could still help any club," he noted in the dressing room, and when asked how his arm felt he inquired, "Do you want me to tell you the truth?" When he was assured that nothing less was expected of a pitcher who would admit to being 62 years old, or even older if it would make people feel better, he replied: "Just like it felt in 19 and 26."
"That guy is amazing," said Cepeda. "The control he has. He used to come to my house when I was 3 years old. He ought to be in the Hall of Fame."
Ted Williams said the same thing, it will be recalled, when he was inducted himself in 1966. They're right—assuming that Satchel will stay retired now for the required five years.
THEY SAID IT
•O. J. Simpson, USC's All-America back and pro football's No. 1 draft choice: "Money means everything to the ghetto kids, who don't have any. I want to do youth work. If I can show that I got something material from sports, they'll respect me, but if I was a track star and wound up in recreation work in the parks with nothing much, they wouldn't. When I was a kid, Willie Mays was my hero, not just because he was a good baseball player, but because he had a big house to show for it."