HANDS ACROSS BERING STRAIT
Expansion franchises in the National Hockey League have been awarded to Vancouver and Buffalo, but the question of where to find players of adequate stature to put on major league ice has yet to be solved.
George (Punch) Imlach, former manager and coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose move to Vancouver is anticipated, had an idea, though. In his Toronto Telegram column Punch disclosed that he had offered the Russian national hockey team $300,000 to "rent" its 20 best players to Vancouver from Sept. 15, 1970 to May 15, 1971. The players would split $200,000; the Soviet sports federation would get $100,000.
Imlach met in a Montreal hotel room with Andrei Staravoitov, chief of the Ministry of Physical Culture's hockey committee and, through an interpreter, put his dollars on the table.
"It was suggested," he explained in his Punchy way, "that the Russians would be as a whole much better than the garbage that would be available to Vancouver in the draft. Also the Russians would be a great drawing card."
The Russians have, of course, dominated international hockey in recent years and have expressed an inclination to meet a few NHL teams in exhibitions if the Soviet eligibility for "amateur" and international competition would not be endangered, a question that must be considered in the Vancouver situation, also.
Another question arises. The Vancouver team was to call itself the "Canucks." Will it now be the Vancouver Russkies?
HOUSING THE HOMELESS
When Pete Rozelle, pro football commissioner, ruled that all teams must have stadiums with a minimum of 50,000 seats by next season, it created a problem for the Boston Patriots, who have been playing in Boston College's 25,000-seat Alumni Stadium. The Patriots would dearly like to rent Harvard University's football field, built in 1907 and the oldest concrete-reinforced stadium in the U.S. Filling in the open end of the horseshoe-shaped structure would bring it up to the Rozelle seating standard.
But Harvard's president, Nathan Pusey, looks down his nose at proposals to let a professional team make regular-season use of Harvard's hallowed turf, though the university has lent it to the Pats for preseason charity games.
Now two Massachusetts legislators have filed a bill empowering the state to take Harvard Stadium by right of eminent domain as a home for the Patriots and, incidentally, the Harvard team. Purpose: to keep the Patriots in Boston rather than forcing them to move to one of such outposts as Seattle, Memphis or Tampa.
To Harold Kaese, Boston Globe columnist, the proposal is "legislative larceny" and, indeed, the less politicians get their fingers into sport the better we like it. A more sporting way to settle the matter, we suggest, would be to have Harvard play the Patriots on a winner-takes-stadium basis.
A private in the Green Berets, a YMCA history student, an interior decorator's apprentice and a construction worker would seem to have very little in common. Actually, they are all members of the Chicago Clippers of the International Boxing League, organized by Sports Announcer Jack Drees and associates to develop amateur boxing talent for the Olympics and eventual professional careers. The league, which has Amateur Athletic Union approval, consists of eight teams, divided into two divisions. It plans a midseason all-star card and a postseason championship "fight-off." After two years of amateur operation, according to Drees, the league will turn professional. Team members would then be paid salaries.
The history major is Fred Houpe, a heavyweight, who feels that he can "make it big in boxing." Tom Moran, a light heavyweight, joined the Berets last summer and is about to report for active duty. His CYO and Golden Gloves record is 16 wins in 19 fights. Floyd Grenshaw, a middleweight, is a former high school wrestler who hopes boxing will permit him to open his own interior decorating shop. And Eddie Murray, construction worker and lightweight, "just likes to fight."
The league alignment:
Western Division: Chicago, St. Louis, Denver and Milwaukee.
Eastern Division: New York, Miami, Detroit and Louisville.
HAT FOR ALL SEASONS
The good luck charm is sacred to many superstitious sports figures, but when Auburn's football team beat Alabama 49 to 26 for the first time in six years Auburn Coach Ralph (Shug) Jordan threw superstition to the winds. What he threw, in fact, was his very personal good luck talisman, an Irish tweed hat.
It was caught by Kathy Owsley, freshman coed, and she has since returned the hat to Jordan so he can wear it New Year's Eve, when Auburn meets Houston in the Bluebonnet Bowl at the Astrodome. But that was not the only hat Jordan received. Auburn's athletic office was swamped with hats of all sizes, and the coach's secretary, Mrs. Emily Foster, was deluged with offers of hats by telephone, telegraph and mail.
Most of them wanted to know what Jordan's head size might be. Mrs. Foster had a ready answer for all comers.
"Same as before the game," she told them, "7‚⅛."
OLD LAW, NEW TURN
For many years the National Collegiate Athletic Association has had on its books a rule that states: "A student-athlete may participate as an individual or as a member of a team against professional athletes, but he may not participate on a team known to him, or which reasonably should have been known to him, to be a professional team."
Originally it was intended to prevent college men from playing on the same team with professionals in baseball games. But that problem has been pretty much erased over the years, and the rule has not been very rigorously enforced because there have not been many abuses.
Now the NCAA has been doing some thinking about golf and tennis, especially the former, since the distinction between tennis pros and amateurs has been virtually wiped out.
What enforcement of the rule, which becomes newly effective Dec. 10, will do to pro-am golf is a caution. Harry M. Cross, NCAA president, holds that it is inconsistent with the basic amateur policy of the association for the golf coach of a member college to invite one of his outstanding players to compete with him in a pro-am tournament in which the coach may get paid but the athlete cannot.
"The college athlete." he said, "may compete with the professional golfer or tennis player in any competition provided no member of the team is paid or is competing for money or comparable merchandise."
It will be perfectly legal, then, for two college golfers or tennis players to compete together against two professionals, even if the pros are competing for money. But a college amateur and a pro cannot play on the same side if the pro is competing for money or merchandise, even if the college man isn't. As another example, it would be all right for a college team to play an exhibition against the Harlem Globetrotters but, if the Trotters borrowed a member of the college team for that game, the player would be banned from NCAA-sponsored events. Even worse, if one Trotter played on the college side, all college team members would be barred.
"The NCAA," says Art Bergstrom, its enforcement officer, "does not feel it proper for a professional athlete to make use of a college athlete's skill for the monetary gain of the professional."
WHAT WOODY WANTS WOODY GETS
Before setting out on his fifth visit in five years to U.S. fighting men in Vietnam, Ohio State's irascible Woody Hayes gave a Christmas present to the university—a check for $1,000.
It was not altogether an unmotivated gift. Woody, convinced that synthetic football fields "make great players greater." earmarked the check for a new AstroTurf or Tartan Turf football field. At his team's football appreciation dinner, two days after it was deflowered at Michigan, the coach pleaded for support for a new field.
"If we get it," he said, "then we'll be playing on equal status with any team we play late in the season." He suggested adding $1 to the price of football tickets.
Without waiting for a price boost, fans started the money rolling in, and Woody considered getting out of town earlier than his schedule called for. Other OSU departments were beginning to get their noses tint of joint because checks were arriving for the field and not for the usual university needs.
METAMORPHOSIS AT CANDLESTICK
The new president of the National league, Chub Feeney, will maintain his offices for a while at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. This will make it convenient for him to see every Giant game in the fashion he loves best—from the radio booth.
That might not be in conflict with his new job, but Feeney must now temper what he says after games. In the past, when the Giants lost a game or a close decision, he has exploded at umpires like a good general manager should. He has alluded to their myopia, ancestry and dubious IQs. But now the men in blue are his umpires. At Candlestick Park it will be the old desk and the old ball-game, but a brand new Feeney.
In view of the dim appreciation of boxing shown by some doctors, it is a pleasure to report that one of the leading heavyweights in Edmonton, Alberta is Dr. Adrian Hobart, surgeon, 188 pounds. Dr. Hobart, Medical World News reports, began boxing as a boy in England and has continued the sport since moving to Canada in 1965. Now 34, he won a Golden Gloves title last March. Those who wonder that a surgeon would risk injuring his hands in the ring get this reply: "Some of the best surgeons I've ever seen have hands like a bunch of bananas."
Few areas of sport are subject to more dissension than All-America selections and attempts to decide which football team is No. 1. So then the UPI All-America listed Tommy Wade, Alabama defensive back, as worthy of honorable mention. Because of a broken leg sustained in preseason practice, Wade missed the entire season. His only appearance on the field was to carry the sideline chain during practice.
Walking out to his first-base position one day last week, Lee Morrison, 83, succumbed to a heart attack. He had batted .574 for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Kids and Kubs last year and during the 1967 season hit 15 home runs. Prime qualification for making the team: be 75 years old or older.
Now, when a visiting hockey official calls a decision against Cornell's Big Red team, Cornell students register disapproval with a new cheer. It goes like this:
"Elevator, elevator. We got the shaft."
THEY SAID IT
•Cal Riemcke, Whitworth College (Wash.) basketball coach, getting read for his first season after a successful coaching career at College of Marin in California, on his new team: "I gave them a written test which indicated they were good with their hands, so I had them repaint the inside of Graves Gym."
•Mike Ditka, Dallas Cowboy tight end, asked about his mean reputation: "I'm not mean at all. I just try to protect myself, and you'll notice I don't ever pick on anybody who has a number above 30."
•Chip Kell, Tennessee's All-America guard, asked how his wife of one year felt about his being named runner-up to Quarterback Bobby Scott as "The Ugliest Man on Campus": "She probably felt like I should've won."