BATTLE OF THE MOUNT
It is beginning to look as though the ABA is here to stay, whether it merges with the NBA or not. The carefully staged and impressively publicized signing of Rick Mount (the Purdue star came to terms with the Indiana Pacers on a TV show) was followed a day or so later by the Pittsburgh Pipers' signing of Davidson's Mike Maloy, and Commissioner Jack Dolph promised that the ABA would be signing more stars. While this seemed to indicate that the off-again, on-again merger talks had gone down the drain, Dolph disagreed. "With every star we sign," he said, "the merger will be that much closer." NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy, professing a lack of concern when asked about the Mount signing, said, "I have no feeling one way or the other. The merger committees are still meeting."
And the ABA is still in its full-court press. Richard Tinkham, executive vice-president of the Indiana club, who met with the NBA's merger committee in New York the day after his team signed Mount, added, "I think everyone in the NBA knows that we are going to fight while we negotiate. The signing of Mount could bust everything absolutely, or it could bring about a merger soon."
Chuck Devoe, the Pacers' president, said, "The American Football League got the Bonehead of the Year award because it paid a huge indemnity to merge with the NFL. We're hoping the ABA doesn't get the bonehead award this year and we're doing all we can to see that it doesn't happen."
Responsible conservation is logical and vital, but some self-styled conservationists can be ridiculous. Earth Day, as Environmental Action: April 22 is coming to be called, is described as a "nationwide day of environmental action." Much of the projected activity is laudable: University of Illinois students, for instance, will borrow sanitation equipment to clean up The Bone Yard, as a tributary of the Sangamon River oozing through Champaign-Urbana is called locally; a Rhode Island group plans to bar automobiles from certain streets in Providence in order to set up a model mass-transit system using minibuses, and in San Francisco a computerized traffic survey to be taken on the Bay Bridge will also attack the nagging problem of "one-passenger" automobiles; other groups are planning or pursuing legal action against polluters. But some Earth Day plans sound like juvenile nonsense, great expenditures of energy that are self-satisfying but accomplish little that is practical: mock trials, mock funerals, picket lines, demonstrations, road blockades, even a month-long "survival" walk ending on E-day. Such endeavors may have some small educational impact, but what they are against and for are too broad and general. It is easy to be pro motherhood and anti man-eating shark, as politicians know. It would be less glamorous but far more useful to make local environmental surveys, with the pluses (if any) and the minuses (there'll be plenty) widely and clearly publicized.
THE PHOENIX ARISING
Nino Benvenuti of Italy, the middleweight boxing champion of the world, got belted around in a nontitle bout in Australia last weekend and lost on a technical knockout to unknown Tom (The Bomb) Bethea of New York (Nino thought he had broken some ribs, but X rays indicated that it might be only a bad bruise). That was humiliating for Benvenuti, particularly since he is scheduled to box this coming Monday night in Los Angeles, assuming the ribs let him. Nino is supposed to spar four three-minute rounds in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel before a $50-a-plate crowd at a formal dinner of the World Sporting Club. His opponent? Forty-eight-year-old Sugar Ray Robinson, who was licensed last month by the California State Athletic Commission after a thorough physical examination. Robinson, who has been working out in a gym for the past month, weighs 162 pounds, only two pounds over the middleweight limit. Neither Benvenuti nor Robinson will be paid for the exhibition, which is a benefit for the Sugar Ray Youth Foundation, a program sponsored by the fighter "to reach the unreached child."
Word has gotten around about Robinson's gym work and physical condition and, much to his surprise, he has been getting offers to fight—from England and Italy, among other places. "I'm flattered," Sugar says, though amused might be the more accurate word. Still, if Nino's ribs are vulnerable and Ray is in shape and those offers are real, just think what could happen Monday night.
LACE YOUR GLOVES
Two current movements—the New Feminism and Pseudonostalgic Recall of the 1930s—may be stimulated by the following advice gleaned from The Van Court Scientific Boxing Course, published by Carroll Van Court in 1937:
"Although I do not approve of women prize fighters, there is no reason why girls and women cannot take up a little boxing for exercise, fun and self-defense. If they go into it moderately, and wear some kind of breast protector to prevent serious injury, they can get a great deal of useful knowledge and exercise from boxing....
"Boxing is too strenuous for a woman to indulge in extensively, but if every woman knew the Art of Self-Defense, some of these big, bad, bold wife-beaters would soon learn...when the little woman socks them with a straight left to the chin and knocks them into the wastebasket, to lie there until they sober up and act like a man instead of a beast.
"So there you are, girls. Learn a good snappy straight left to the nose and a hard right to the stomach, and a couple of good ducks and the Pullback, and you'll have all the men in the house treating you with the respect due to the members of the fair sex!"
If you are from Harvard you do not like Yale, except that there are times when the Ivies must stand together. The NCAA indoor track championships (page 64) was such a time. With Yale barred from competing because of the NCAA's ruling on the Jack Langer case (SCORECARD, Feb. 9), the Crimson rallied round. When Harvardmen Ed Nosal (first in the weight throw), Keith Col-burn (first in the 1,000) and Noel Hare (third in the long jump) mounted the victory stand to receive their medals each wore a blue Yale shirt.
THE L. DAVIS CUP
Harvard and Boston have had quite a bit to do with determining who rules the tennis world. Seventy years ago a young Harvard man named Dwight Davis trotted down to his neighborhood jeweler—Shreve, Crump & Low—and bought a cup that went into international competition and soon adopted his name. The first match was played in Boston.
Now that the Davis Cup has lost much of its significance—since those untouchables, the contract pros, are barred—the Sportsmen's Tennis Club of Boston, Logan Davis, president, decided to stage a truer world title bout: Australian pros against the champion U.S. Davis Cup team. Harvard, which has refused to take in the football Patriots, welcomed the tennis pros to its facilities because the meeting was for charity.
A predominately black group without courts, the Sportsmen's Tennis Club is raising funds to construct public courts in the Boston ghetto. Although the International Lawn Tennis Federation opposed the match, USLTA President Alastair Martin gave his blessing. The show went on last week with Aussies Fred Stolle and John Newcombe beating Americans Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Clark Graebner and Cliff Richey 5-2 (five singles matches and two doubles matches were played). A new cup, called the World Cup (from the same jewelers), and an $11,000 first prize went to the Aussies, and about $20,000 was realized to help provide courts for poor black and white youngsters. Logan Davis, no relation to Dwight Davis, said, "We hope to make this an annual event."
There was Seattle, trying to stay in big league baseball, and Milwaukee, trying to get back in, and—well—then there is Buffalo. Big league in football for a decade, Buffalo is getting major league franchises next season in both hockey and basketball, but in baseball it is going the other way entirely. The International League Bisons used to play their games in 45,000-seat War Memorial Stadium, but they moved a couple of years ago because they were drawing minuscule crowds of only 1,000 or so and were having trouble with roving bands of hooligans both inside and outside the park. The club played its games in nearby Niagara Falls for a couple of years, but that was a 20-mile drive from downtown Buffalo, there was a toll to pay and, after a promising start, the crowds dwindled away.
This year the Bisons planned on playing in a remodeled stadium in neighboring Lackawanna, which is cheek-by-jowl to Buffalo, but the remodeling plans got entangled in politics and that seemed to end that. Next the team asked for permission to play in All-High Stadium, a scholastic arena, and said it would spruce up the somewhat rundown plant and install lights. After thinking it over, the school board said no to that idea. Now it appears that the Bisons are left with either a retreat to the empty seats of War Memorial Stadium or a move to another city, in which case Buffalo would be without a club in organized baseball for the first time since 1879.
DREAMS OF GORY
At one time or another all boys have heroic dreams about their athletic prowess, but few carry them to the extreme that David Dowd did. David is an 18-year-old Englishman who plays wing forward on a rugby team in Lancashire. In bed with a cold and a fever, Dowd began shouting in his sleep and then leaped out of bed with an imaginary ball tucked securely under one arm. Giving his mum, who had come into the room to see what he was shouting about, a straight-arm, Dowd bolted through the door and along the Hall toward his parents' bedroom. He charged across their room, crashed through a window and fell 20 feet into a hedge. Shaking loose from a tangle of curtains and privet branches, he got to his feet and—still wearing only his pajamas—zigzagged another 50 feet up the road before collapsing. When he awoke from his deep, if hardly serene, sleep he had an injured groin, a severely cut heel, multiple scratches on his legs and a lively curiosity as to what had happened and why. The London Daily Mail's correspondent explained, in splendid understatement. "Most people dream about their own lives," he wrote. "A high fever tends to make dreams more vivid."
This poem, by Manfred A. Carter, appeared in the Jan. 21 issue of The Christian Century:
They cheer me in each alien stadium
Like a horse that runs well,
But there is no affection in that mob yell.
The players show some teamwork,
And slap my hands for touchdowns,
But in the stadium I am one of the clowns.
I glory in the running, and the money,
But I am still a thing to sell
Like my forefathers
With the plantation bell.
When they ask me home to dinner
Like any other sinner,
They may break the spell....
THEY SAID IT
•Mme. Claude Moreaux, the first woman licensed to train thoroughbreds in France, on her profession: "I have always compared it to that of the nurse. For, in the end, what is a horse in training but a big infant, a little clumsy, that his to be waited on hand and foot all the time?"
•Elijah Pitts, on his trade from Green Bay to Chicago: "I was real sorry to leave Green Bay—for about 10 seconds."
•Chub Feeney, new National League president and former Giant official: "I've "got to remind myself that I'm the only guy in the ball park who is there to root for the umpire."