SURFEIT OF RICHES
A devoted follower of sport, still feeling the afterglow of the pennant races, the playoffs and the World Series, up to his giddy eyes in college football on Saturdays and pro football on Sundays, overwhelmed by the beginning of the hockey and pro basketball seasons, and all too aware that college basketball is right there in the wings, waiting to go on, has suggested in the interest of a sane and rational approach to things that there be a one-month moratorium in sport. Just one month—during which there would be no baseball, no football, no basketball, no hockey, no sport pages, nothing.
Members of the staff of this magazine like the idea. They say a month's vacation would give them a chance to get caught up on their golf, touch football, Softball, jogging, bowling, billiards, driveway basketball, hunting, sailing, canoeing, swimming, surfing, fishing or just sitting around looking at nothing in particular for a while.
Then bring on your Rosebowlsuper-bowlholidaytournamentlosangelesopen-millrosegamesNITdivisionalplay-offstanleycupNCAAspringtrainingmas-terstournament. We'll be ready.
November 3, 1969
We'll be ready anyway.
A few days after Billy Martin was fired as manager of the Minnesota Twins, the Theo. Hamm Brewing Company announced that it would no longer sponsor radio and TV broadcasts of Twin games. There was an immediate and widespread assumption that the startling announcement (Hamm's had sponsored Twin games since 1961, the year the ball club began in Minnesota) was a reaction to the Martin firing. Irate fans had been urging the brewery to drop the Twins, and after the word came out the company switchboard lit up with congratulatory calls.
But Hamm's insisted that its decision was a long-range one and had no relation whatever to Martin's ouster. The brewery said that it also sponsored the Minnesota North Stars (hockey), the Detroit Lions (football) and Oakland Athletics (baseball), and that it was trying to achieve a greater flexibility in its advertising budget—it wanted to use a wider range of advertising media, like radio and TV spot commercials, billboards, magazines. In short, it no longer wanted to tie up more than half a million dollars a year in one market with one audience.
That seemed reasonable enough, but there appeared to be another reason for the cancellation—and this one was not stressed, even though it could be of great importance to baseball. Hamm's implied that surveys showed the sport was not reaching enough of the young beer-drinking adults whom brewers consider a prime market. Yet the recent upsurge of interest in baseball—look at the Red Sox and the Mets, for example—is to a certain extent a youth movement. The surveys may be wrong, but the onus of proof is on baseball.
Somewhat unnoticed in the pro football news last week was Quarterback Terry Hanratty's debut with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hanratty will certainly have better days, but he will never have a more memorable one.
He came into the game in the last period. His first pass was incomplete His second pass was intercepted. His third was intercepted—and run back for a touchdown. His fourth was incomplete. The next time he tried to pass he was thrown for a 10-yard loss. On the next play he was trapped again but scrambled loose and ran for a 31-yard gain. Then he was dumped again, this time for a six-yard loss.
He finally got his fifth pass into the air and completed it for a 32-yard gain and a first down. His sixth pass was intercepted. His seventh was complete for 15 yards and a touchdown. His eighth was another completion, good for 41 yards and a first down. Then, with 27 seconds left, he threw his last three passes, the first for 18 yards and a first down, the second for 11 and another first down and the third, on the last play of the game, for 15 yards and a touchdown. In 14 plays he threw 11 passes, completed six for 132 yards, including four first downs and two touchdowns, was intercepted three times, once for a touchdown, was dumped for losses twice and scrambled once for 31 yards.
Welcome to the NFL, Terry.
SON OF KINSEY REPORT
It has long been said that being an outstanding athlete, like being a famous actor or entertainer, is like living in a goldfish bowl. There is little privacy. Now there threatens to be none. John Justin Smith, associate sports editor of the Chicago Daily News, recently wrote a memo that said, in part: "It is a fond hope that we can put together a series of articles on Sex and the Pro Athlete. The sex life of guys in sport is an interesting and valid story—if it has bearing on their performances. And it must. We will not, of course, hurt any man's (or woman's) reputation where he or she has not publicly hurt that reputation. We will not tell stories for the purpose of being lascivious.
"But we sure are entitled to tell about sexual activities, as far as these activities affect their lives as athletes. For example, does travel put a strain on family ties? Wives are left home alone. The guys go from city to city, deprived of the comfort of board and bed. What does this do to them? To their families?
"Every sport has its female hangers-on, the girls who cluster in ball parks or in and around stadia and hotels. Do the guys avoid these girls? Or use them?
"Are athletes lousy lovers or great ones? It would seem that physical fitness would result in physical sexuality. Does it? Or is all of this lost because most athletes are young and lack the experience to be great lovers?
"Do athletes refrain from sexual activity before engaging in a game? Do team members tend to put the brakes on sexy fellow team members? Or do they work it the other way, encouraging sexual activity?
"These are, I know, all general questions. But I think some specific examples of what has happened could make valid articles."
And if the Daily News doesn't buy the idea, there's always Hugh Hefner.
THE LONGEST DRIVE
On the theory that auto rallies are fine as far as they go, London's Daily Mirror is putting one together that will go all the way: 16,000 miles. The field starts its engines April 19 at Wembley, takes a sharp left to Argentina and ends up May 27 in Mexico City, which ties the promotion up neatly with the World Cup soccer games. Winner of the rally gets $24,000 and the right to present the World Cup, now in possession of the English, to the host Mexicans. The losers will not have that privilege, but, says the Mirror, they will find the drive through Latin America an incomparable prize in itself, though it warns that part of the route attains extremely high altitudes (up to 16.000 feet) and competitors must seek medical advice as to whether they can stand it.
THE FEET OF ABRAMOWICZ
Everybody who follows football knows how rough it is on knees, heads, necks, shoulders, ribs or whatever else gets in the way of a blind-side block, but few stop to think about toes.
"I haven't had toenails on my big toes in two years," says Danny Abramowicz, wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. "They turn black in preseason practice and then I lose them, and then I have nothing until the season's over. They grow back just about the time we're ready to go to training camp the next year.
"I blame it on the shoe manufacturers," Abramowicz says. "There are special shoes for backs and linemen and kickers, but nothing for the pass receiver. Yet nobody cuts as often or as hard as a receiver. He can't get along with the average football shoe. I went through 17 pairs last season, and that's almost a pair a game. Dave Parks [New Orleans tight end] did the same thing.
"I pay about $25 a pair for shoes, but it's not the price that bothers me. I'd pay double or triple that if only the shoe would work. I wore a special lightweight pair of shoes in one game last season, and by the third quarter the things were worn out. I had to send to the locker room for a new pair. Parks put on a new pair of those lightweight things in the last quarter of the exhibition game we played this year against Denver. I bet him they wouldn't last through the next game. They didn't. He had to get rid of them at halftime.
"I just wish the shoe manufacturers would do something about it."
A SPLIT HAIR
Before the fourth game of the World Series, an anti-Met fan bet a friend of his that Tom Seaver would not finish the game. Seaver, you will recall, pitched 10 full innings but was lifted in the bottom of the 10th for a pinch hitter. The pinch hitter, J. C. Martin, laid down the bunt that the Orioles misplayed to let in the winning run.
O.K. The game was over. Fan No. 1 turned to his friend and said, "Pay me." Fan No. 2 said, "Pay you? What do you mean, pay you? Seaver went all the way. He pitched a complete game. You pay me." Fan No. 1 said, "I bet he wouldn't finish the game. Was he in there at the finish? Was he? No, sir. He was out of the lineup. So pay me."
Fan No. 1 may be a nitpicker of the worst kind, but it appears that he has a fairly strong argument. If you were the judge, who wins the bet?
The Milwaukee Bucks, who finished last in the Eastern Division of the NBA in 1968-69, opened the new season with three straight victories—a reversal of form that can be attributed in considerable part to the presence this year of Lew Alcindor. But then the Bucks turned around and lost two games in a row, and prompted some basketball experts to wonder about the effect that a series of defeats (the best pro teams lose a couple of dozen games a season) might have on the youngster. After all, they point out, Alcindor is almost totally unused to coming off the court a loser. In the past seven seasons, in high school and college, the teams he played on had an overall record of 184 wins and three defeats.
GONE TO POT
Conservationists have come out in favor of marijuana. After Governor Robert Docking of Kansas announced that he was going to ask the legislature to declare marijuana an "obnoxious weed" so that state funds could be used to spray it and wipe it out wherever it grows wild in the state, conservationists yelled blue murder. Marijuana, they said, "is an indigenous weed in Kansas and grows among giant ragweed, foxtail and other types of prime cover and seed for wildlife." They pointed out that game cover in Kansas is disappearing fast enough as it is. As corporate farming expands, much more land is put under cultivation. Brush patches common on old family farms are eliminated, and so are strips of brush that border fences. New techniques designed to utilize every square foot of ground allow cultivation right to fence lines, and the brush vanishes.
If efforts are made to eradicate the wild marijuana, goes the argument, then other wild plants will be eliminated, too, and 50,000 acres of cover desperately needed by birds and small game will be destroyed. The conservationists' case is a strong one, but so far they have not yet suggested to Governor Docking that he put it in his pipe and smoke it.
THEY SAID IT
•Alexei Kisilev, Soviet boxing coach, asked what he knew about Las Vegas before arriving there for a match against a team of American amateurs: "I know it is a city in Nevada, is a city in the mountains, is very joyful, and it will be necessary to have a lot of money."
•Wally Butts, former Georgia head coach, asked what he thought of Alabama's football team this year: "I don't know much about Alabama. I don't call Coach Bryant anymore."
•Tom Cahill, Army football coach, after his team lost its third straight game: "One thing I don't like about losing is the winkers. They don't know what to say to you, so they just wink when they see you."