A BOY WITH A BAT AND A BALL
Little League, an activity that seems designed primarily to give adults something to do with their evenings, got in the soup last week in Hempstead, N.Y. Mrs. Joan Leite kept her 9-year-old son Chris out of a Little League game one evening because he had not been doing as well as she thought he should be doing in school. However, she gave him permission to attend practice the next night, which he did, accompanied by his grandmother. At practice the boy's manager, 42-year-old Louis Castellano Jr., told the grandmother that it was not right to use Little League as a method of disciplining the child, and when the grandmother got home she informed the boy's mother of what had happened.
Mrs. Leite promptly blew the whistle on Mr. Castellano. She wrote to league officials and to other parents, saying that the manager had shouted down her mother in public and, further, that he was playing his 7-year-old son on the team even though Little League rules say that a boy must be at least 8. Castellano was thereupon relieved of his managerial duties. But he then brought suit in Supreme Court in Nassau County, asking that he be reinstated in his unpaid job as manager. Local papers, including the neighboring New York City dailies, had a field day with the story, running pictures of Chris and his mother and the manager, printing interviews, reporting on a double and a home run that the youngster hit in a subsequent game.
And all because a 9-year-old boy apparently didn't do his homework.
Maybe it's time for boys' baseball to be given back to the boys. Let them play in the afternoon, for instance, when parents are too busy to come around, either to watch or manage. Let the adults supply the fields and the necessary bats and balls and gloves (uniforms are not necessary). Then let the kids go out and play ball, by themselves, for the fun of it, the way they used to before all the corner lots were taken over by housing developments and all the kids' games became superorganized.
ASHE OF HEAD
The Head Ski Company is branching out. The company made the fiber-glass pole used by Olympic Champion Bob Seagren in Mexico City, and now it has signed Arthur Ashe, the best tennis player in the U.S., to work on "product development and product promotion." Unlike Jean-Claude Killy, whose name now appears on Head fiber-glass skis, Ashe will not have his name on a Head racket, at least not for the time being, since under current tennis rules he is not yet a professional. But Ashe has been playing with and making comments for Head on a prototype of a metal racket, which the company says will be available to the public in a few months.
SPLIT OR TIGHT?
That this is an age of specialization is often brought home to us, but seldom so forcefully as it is in an announcement we have received from the 1969 Raymond Berry Football Camp. As you can tell from the name, it is not a run-of-the-mill camp where all sports are dabbled in. But neither is it an ordinary football camp. For one thing, the Raymond Berry Football Camp runs for only two days, June 27 and 28. And you remember, of course, that Berry was, until his retirement after the 1966 season, one of the finest pass receivers in the history of professional football. Thus you should not be surprised to learn from Camp Director Sam Ketchman that, "As far as I know, this is the only specialized offensive end camp in the country."
Golf courses seem to be crowded and slow everywhere, and especially in Los Angeles. In the U.S. there is one golf course for every 20,786 people. In Los Angeles—despite its reputation as the sports center of the country—there is only one golf course for every 157,704 people. It gets terribly jammed on the city's municipal courses, and even if you can afford the $22,000 to join the Los Angeles Country Club or the $13,000 for Bel-Air you are still apt to find yourself on weekends waiting monotonously on each tee, sharing the fairways with at least two other foursomes and eventually holing out on the 18th green a weary five hours after you started.
But Ray Goates, golf manager of the L.A. City Recreation and Parks Department, is doing something about the delays. "Television is the thing that really slowed up golf," Goates argues. "When people saw players like Ben Hogan and Cary Middlecoff waiting and waiting before taking their shots, they thought that was the way they should play the game. It's nothing unusual to see a 20 handicapper studying a putt as though the U.S. Open title depended on it."
To speed things up, Goates devised what he calls Go-Go Golf, a three-day speed demonstration on the city's municipal courses (five 18-holers, four nine-holers). Players are required to complete their rounds within four hours for 18-hole courses and within two hours for nine-hole rounds. Signs at the tees say things like DON'T BE A TV GOLFER and THIS HOLE PLAYS EIGHT MINUTES STRAIGHT AHEAD and WALK WHILE YOU TALK. The results have been revealing. This year, for instance, 4,045 golfers entered the Go-Go, and every one of those who played 18 holes finished in less than four hours; and the average for an 18-hole round was three hours and 27 minutes (one foursome went around Rancho Park Golf Course, site of the L.A. Open, in one hour and 44 minutes). Moreover, 57% of the golfers shot better than their handicaps, and this despite a windstorm on the third day that had gusts up to 55 mph.
The whole idea, Goates keeps repeating, is to get a golfer around the course in less than four hours. "If we can reduce everybody's playing time by an hour," he explains, "we can play an additional 300,000 rounds of golf a year. That's like adding three new 18-hole courses to our municipal system."
Chi Cheng, a tall, pretty Chinese girl from Taiwan, won a bronze medal in the 80-meter hurdles at the Mexico City Olympics. But, Miss Chi said the other day, she much prefers the new 100-meter hurdle distance established after the Olympics by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. She did 13.5 in the 100 hurdles recently, the second fastest time yet recorded in the event. "The 100 is much better suited for me," she explained. "The hurdles are spaced farther apart, and with my long legs I can take longer strides."
Miss Chi, who has lived in the U.S. for six years, had another comment. "They should have college track for women," she argued. "It is the basis of competition for the men, and that's what the women need—more competition."
Like all track athletes, she had a barb for the officials. "I ran in a meet at UCLA, and the meet director would not let us use spikes because some of the girls did not have them. This seemed dangerous to me, trying to run the hurdles without spikes, and also very silly. So I said to him, 'If one of the girls had forgotten her shorts, would you make all of us run without shorts?' " She giggled. "He didn't think it was so funny."
When Ronald Reagan was running for governor of California he alienated a solid bloc of conservationist (not to be confused with conservative) voters when he supposedly said of the California redwoods: "If you've seen one tree, you've seen them all."
But Reagan denied ever saying that, and now he suddenly has become the darling of the conservationists because he has thrown a roadblock against Corps of Engineers plans for building a dam on the Middle Fork of the Eel River. The dam would flood Round Valley in Northern California, and would oust about 350 Indians from their homes.
Because ultimate federal authorization of the project depends on state approval, Reagan's sanction was vital to the project. Instead, the governor said, "There are very serious questions in my own mind about protecting Round Valley. It is a place of great natural beauty. Another concern I have is for the community of Covelo and for the future of the Indians who have inhabited the valley for centuries. With these factors in mind, as well as our commitments to deliver water to the South under terms of the State Water Project, I have determined that all alternatives must be completely analyzed."
Which means that he still might okay the dam but, to the conservationists' delight, at least he hasn't yet.
Stories about odd holes in one are always popping up, but this is the first we have ever heard about odd eagles. Van Duling and Jack Keeling were playing at the Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, Neb. On a 550-yard par-5, Duling and Keeling were lying two, within five feet of each other. Duling hit a five-iron 160 yards into the cup for an eagle, the first eagle he had ever made in 25 years of golfing. After a few wows and congratulations, Keeling addressed his ball with an eight-iron and hit his shot into the cup for an eagle, too.
Duling said, "What really hurts is to wait 25 years for an eagle and then not be able to collect double on the 25¢ per hole bet that we had."
MIND OVER MATTER
The old saw about the college football player who handled addition and subtraction without too much trouble but found multiplication hell has long been discredited, and if you need evidence check with the University of South Carolina. Each spring the university has a competition, patterned after television's College Bowl, to determine the brainiest four-student group on campus. Dormitories, societies, fraternities, sororities and others form teams and go at each other. This spring the winners were four men from the football dormitory: Fred Zeigler, split end; Dave DeCamilla, offensive tackle; George McCarthy, defensive tackle; and Tom Scott, a former athlete now a graduate student.
More remarkably, the winners—or, at least, three of them—were also involved with spring practice under Football Coach Paul Dietzel. Yet Dietzel, proud as he was of his charges, did not seem surprised by their intellectual triumph. He said, "They can think quickly, which is why they won the contest, and why they can make split-second decisions when they are lined up two feet in front of somebody and a play begins."
All the talk about Franklin Mieuli of the San Francisco Warriors drafting Denise Long, the Iowa schoolgirl basketball sensation, is not just publicity—at least not in the usual sense of getting a lot of ink and air time, with nothing happening. Mieuli really would like to sign Denise. The San Francisco Bay Area has been an unrewarding place for professional sport the past few years. The Giants are down in attendance, the Athletics are a box-office disappointment, the 49ers don't fill their stadium, the Warriors and the Oaks can't draw flies and the Seals are the only hockey team in the world with box-office problems.
But the Roller Derby (filled with girls) is a hit and, of course, San Francisco is the home of the topless. Girls, in a word, seem to be the key to the city's heart. Mieuli does not intend to start a topless team, but apparently he does feel that a girls' league, playing preliminary games, could hypo the Warriors' sick attendance. It may be worth a try.
THEY SAID IT
•Warren Armstrong, ABA Rookie of the Year, who averaged 33.2 points and 12 rebounds for victorious Oakland in the finals with Indiana: "You bet I'm happy I picked the ABA. The NBA thinks it has a monopoly on all the good players. The opportunity here was wide open. The Knicks drafted me, and they needed me. But now I'm on a championship team, and they're losers again."
•Scotty Bowman, coach of the St. Louis Blues, on being told by a Montreal official that the Blues needn't be ashamed because they lost four straight Stanley Cup games to the Canadiens: "What burned me was that we hadn't even played the fourth game yet."