THE COMMISSIONER'S JOB
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's findings in the Denny McLain gambling affair may not be delayed much longer, but no one should complain that they have been slow in coming. As the story in our Feb. 23 issue then revealed to him, the commissioner has a painful path of investigation to tread.
The commissioner must establish to his own satisfaction (and the task should not prove too difficult) whether or not the bookmaking operation with which McLain was involved ever handled bets on major league baseball or only on other sports. Legally, the point is irrelevant—but it is far from irrelevant to the commissioner.
Some persons, for varying reasons of their own, predict hopefully that Mr. Kuhn will come out with a massive denial of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's story. Such a development is to be discounted. Our revelation that McLain was involved in a bookmaking business has been confirmed by the commissioner himself. Of course, it would be natural for baseball's Establishment to resent the McLain disclosures—life would have been so much more comfortable if they had never been made.
March 16, 1970
Commissioner Kuhn is more realistic. Unlike his predecessor, Kuhn knows his job. His job is to put baseball's house in order.
TOE OF GOLD
Zenon Andrusyshyn, a ninth-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys, is a Canadian who went to UCLA on a track scholarship (he is, or was, an outstanding javelin thrower) and turned to football after coaches there saw him kicking soccer-style. He subsequently broke most UCLA kicking records and had two 52-yard field goals, something to open any pro team's eyes. Now he has put his contract negotiations with the Cowboys in the hands of Boston attorney Bob Woolf, who represents Ken Harrelson, Derek Sanderson and other professional athletes. Woolf says he had never heard of Zenon before the kicker phoned him last week, and he admitted, in all candor, that he did not understand what a ninth-round draft choice expected to get in the way of a contract. Turns out, according to the publicity-wise Andrusyshyn, who is growing a beard for a role in a movie, that he is not looking for a Joe Namath-big money contract. All he wants is a written guarantee that in professional football he will be allowed to kick with his golden shoe. "They wouldn't let me use it in college," he complains, "but if Namath can wear white shoes, what's wrong with me kicking with my golden shoe?"
Woolf pondered, "I wonder if perhaps Zenon's future might be in acting. However, he is quite a kicker, and I find him a refreshing young man. Since he came all this way to Boston, the least we can do is try to get him the best possible deal."
We take you now to the ski-lift line at chilly Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. Enter bright young man who peers intently at the skier in front of him, leans over and whispers, "Excuse me, sir, but it looks like you have a little frostbite starting there on your cheek." The victim cuts out of line and heads hurriedly for the lodge. Young man picks out a few more for the same message, same result. Finally he is complimented on his concern for his fellow skiers and asked about his uncanny ability to spot frostbite in its formative stage. "Frostbite?" the lad says, lifting an urbane eyebrow. "What I am really doing is thinning out this long lift line."
Lots of schools have losing streaks, but little McNicholas High of the powerful Greater Cincinnati League has something special. Last fall its football team played 10 games, lost all 10 and was shut out in all 10. This winter its basketball team played 18 regular season games and, while it never came close to being shut out (that would have been a bit too much), it did lose all 18 and by an average of almost 19 points a game.
McNicholas, which is dropping out of the Greater Cincinnati League next year, finally ended its losing run by winning the first game it played in a postseason tournament. The next time out it reverted to form, lost again and was eliminated, which brings us to the big question of the week: How does a team with an 0-18 record get into a post-season tournament in the first place?
STOOP TO CONQUER
An Englishman named Paul Trevillion, a 33-year-old golfer with a 24 handicap, claims that with his new method of putting—crouching over with his hands apart on the shaft, the right hand only a few inches above the club head and the forefinger pointing down the back of the shaft—he can outputt any other golfer in the world. "Since I began using this grip three years ago," he says, "I haven't missed a putt of four feet or less. It makes putting so easy it's ridiculous."
Maybe so, but Dr. William Elkin, Britain's Ryder Cup team doctor, cautions that Trevillion's method could be dangerous for older, out-of-shape golfers, since it increases the risk of cramps, back strain and other muscular injuries. "I wouldn't recommend it even if it does improve one's putting," commented Dr. Elkin. "It's more important to be fit. If golfers kept themselves fit, they'd be better players in every way. There is no magic answer to this game."
Trevillion, needless to say, does not agree that his method might be harmful. "A golfer bends down at least 18 times to tee off, and that must put a strain on his back," he says and adds that a Scottish clubmaker is going to manufacture a special "pencil putter" for the new method. "If it is successful I could make $120,000 in the first year. But I won't keep a penny of it. It will all go back into golf, to golfers under 25. I'll either put on a tournament for young golfers with decent prize money, or I'll use it to sponsor some young golfer on the professional tour in the U.S. or on the world tour."
DUFFY IN THE SPRING
The NCAA's decision to let college football teams schedule an 11th game, if they wish (the Big Ten has told its members to go ahead—except that the added game must be with another team in the conference), has some coaches and athletic directors up a tree. They welcome the idea of an extra game, but it is not a simple thing to schedule. With so many colleges hurting financially, the 11th game has to be worthwhile monetarily—with a big crowd and a big gate. But assuming you find an attractive opponent, when do you play the game? Colleges that end the season against a traditional rival are reluctant to tack on an anticlimactic aftermath. Open dates during the season are rare, and finding two schools with the same open date is all but impossible. Playing at the start of the season is not necessarily the answer, either, since many teams play their openers before the students arrive for the fall semester. An even earlier start makes a game financially hazardous.
Duffy Daugherty thinks he may have the answer. "Why not play that 11th game in the spring?" the Michigan State coach asks. "If we were to play then, don't you think we'd fill the stadium? I believe a spring game could draw capacity crowds."
There are difficulties, including NCAA regulations that strictly govern what a college football team can and cannot do in the spring. Bob Devaney of Nebraska pointed out that spring is when a coach wants to experiment in order to plan for the fall. Tulane Athletic Director Rix Yard asked Daugherty, "Suppose you played in April and lost? How would that affect your advance sale of season tickets?"
Duffy was undaunted. "Things like rules and the needs of spring practice can be worked out," he said. "As for advance sales, losing in the spring wouldn't hurt any more than if you lost your last game of the previous season."
Duffy's argument has a flaw. In the spring you use next fall's sophomores instead of last fall's seniors. If you lose your spring game, you go into the fall with an 0-1 record. And how is that nagging defeat going to affect your position in the weekly wire-service polls, the Dow-Jones of football coaches?
ONE FOR THE SENTINEL
Arnold Palmer recently bought a golf club in Orlando, Fla. When he shot a 64 near there last week at the Rio Pinar Country Club, to pace the field in the first round of the Florida Citrus tournament, the Orlando Sentinel ran a deadpan headline across the top of the front page that said: LOCAL BOY'S 64 LEADS AT RIO PINAR.
The Sentinel had a good week. The juxtaposition of the tournament, Doug Sanders' presence in it and the total eclipse of the sun led a staff artist to turn out a cartoon showing two golfers talking under a darkened sun, with one saying: "It was like this the last time I played with the Vice-President—all of a sudden everything went black."
Five days before the fishing season began on Otay Lake, a reservoir in San Diego, a college student on his mid-semester break from San Diego State went fishing there anyway and pulled in a huge largemouth bass. After weighing and measuring it, and wrestling with his conscience for awhile, he returned to the lake and left the bass near a dam-keeper's house with a note stuck in its mouth that said: "This fish deserves more recognition than I could give it. It was caught on a black worm (plastic). I pray that it falls into the right hands so that this fish and Otay Lake can get the recognition they deserve. It weighs at least 16 pounds, making it a new state record. I'm sorry I caught it. Please don't think too unjustly of me."
He phoned the damkeeper—at midnight—and without identifying himself told where the bass was. The fish was, indeed, a whopper. It was 25 6/10 inches long and weighed 15 pounds 7¾ ounces, more than three ounces better than the previous California record for large-mouth bass. The damkeeper had the bass mounted for display.
The story received a great deal of publicity in local papers, and five days later the poacher, a 21-year-old biology major named John Halby, came forward and confessed. Several other people of the curious breed who like to claim public credit for crime had already pleaded guilty, but Halby's handwriting helped establish him as the real culprit. "I'm glad it's over," he said. "I haven't had a good night's sleep since it happened. I decided to turn myself in because other people were claiming the fish. I didn't want anybody else to have it. The fish is mine. I brought it out."
Authorities said they would not prosecute Halby, and Dr. Layne Longfellow, a local psychologist, approved, saying, "I would say the boy has a sense of destiny. He believes the fish is important to the state and to the people of California. He wants to share it with the world. That's why he didn't take it home and eat it."
THEY SAID IT
•Tug McGraw, New York Mets' pitcher and Marine Corps reservist, after Governor Claude Kirk of Florida, at an awards dinner, had denounced campus hecklers for their "disheveled filth and long hair" and praised the Mets ("look at their haircuts") as America the Beautiful: "You know, a lot of ballplayers would wear their hair long except it's not convenient; it gets in the way, with the cap and sweating so much. Just because we're the world champions and good baseball players doesn't mean we're better than people with long hair. I don't think people with long hair should be stereotyped as less American or less patriotic."
•Lord Rosebery, 88-year-old British horse owner, who broke four ribs in a fall at his home, when told at a dinner in his honor that the odds had been 100-8 against his being able to attend the affair: "I wish I had known."
•Bob Cousy, on why he returned to pro basketball to coach the Cincinnati Royals after his success as a college coach with Boston College: "I like the purity of the pros. They tell everybody that they want to win and make money, and that's what they do."