TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE
Pro football fans around San Francisco are beginning to steam a little because the Oakland Raiders apparently will not allow their big game next Dec. 20 in Oakland with the San Francisco 49ers to be telecast. Despite the NFL policy of blacking out local telecasts, the New York Jets will televise their game next fall with the New York Giants, and the Los Angeles Rams will do the same with their game against the San Diego Chargers. Both are local rivalries like the Raiders and 49ers, and the games, like the one in Oakland, are sellouts.
The decision to televise is up to the home club, but the Raiders say a local telecast would be unfair to those who have gone to the trouble and expense of buying season tickets. That is the standard NFL position, but the 49ers argue that the game should be shown on TV because their season-ticket holders are being shut out. They can't see the game in Oakland and they can't see it on television, even though it is technically an away game which should be televised back to San Francisco.
The issue even got to the California legislature, where two assemblymen, in a joint resolution, urged the Raider management to change its mind and lift the local blackout.
Two of the girls on the women's pro golf tour, Jane Blalock and Jan Ferraris, blissfully ignore one of the bugaboos of the competitive athlete when they ride from tourney to tourney in Jan's Jaguar. Its license plate reads: CHOKE.
The West Coast is having a little trouble winning championships in professional sports. The Dodgers' last World Series victory was five years ago and the rest—Padres, Chargers, Angels, Rams, Kings, Giants, Warriors, Raiders, Athletics, SuperSonics, ad infinitum—have been consistent also-rans. But don't let that blind you to the perennial truth that in collegiate circles the Golden West is the absolute king of the hill. During the 1969-70 academic year, Pacific Eight Conference colleges won national collegiate championships in basketball (UCLA), baseball (USC), track and field (California), crew (Washington), tennis (UCLA), volleyball (UCLA) and water polo (UCLA), and in football USC knocked off Michigan in the Rose Bowl (all right, all right, Texas was voted No. 1). Pacific Eight athletes also won individual national titles in cross country (Gerry Lindgren of Washington State), gymnastics (Yoshi Hayasaki of Washington), and tennis (Jeff Borowiak of UCLA), won nine of 18 individual events in the NCAA swim championships and seven of 21 individual events in NCAA track.
Now if there were only some way of instilling that winning spirit in the also-ran pros.
A WORLD THAT WAS
Harold S. (Mike) Vanderbilt, who died last Saturday, two days before his 86th birthday, was unique in sport. A fabulously wealthy man, he had an acute, perceptive mind and the reflexes and drive of the superb athlete. In the 1920s he developed the now universal game of contract bridge from the static old form called auction bridge and displayed remarkable prowess at the game he had invented. He later achieved even greater international fame as the skipper who successfully defended yachting's America's Cup against three successive challenges—in 1930, 1934 and 1937—in the days of the majestic J boats.
In the 1950s, when the cup races were revived almost two decades after Vanderbilt's last successful defense, new rules were proposed calling for 12-meter yachts, a more economical design about half the size of the old boats. Vanderbilt was stung by this retreat from tradition and volunteered to pay the cost of building a multimillion-dollar J boat himself, if a challenger could be found. He asked SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to help. Eventually, Stavros Niarchos agreed to race on behalf of Greece, but certain strictures in the rules made it impossible for Niarchos to build an acceptable craft, and the gigantic J boats passed into history. Vanderbilt had suffered one of his rare failures—but it had been a splendid gesture.
On any count, he was a towering figure. As an admirer said in Newport, shortly after Vanderbilt's death, "Apart from being a fine old gentleman, he was a damned accomplished one."
Al McGuire, the sometimes truculent, always aggressive basketball coach at Marquette University in Milwaukee, has gone to the mat with members of the teaching staff a few times on behalf of those of his players who might have been a little shaky in the classroom. Now McGuire treasures this tongue-in-cheek counterattack from Hugo Hellman, a speech professor at Marquette:
Remembering our discussions of your basketball players who are having trouble in English, I have decided to ask you in turn for help. We feel that Paul Spindles, one of our most promising scholars, has a chance for a Rhodes scholarship, which would be a great thing for him and for our college. Paul has the academic record for this award but, ideally, he should have a good record in athletics, too. However, Paul is weak. He tries hard but he has trouble with his eyes.
We propose that you give special consideration to Paul as a varsity player, playing him at center if possible. In this way we can show a better all-round college record to the committee deciding on Rhodes scholarships.
We fully realize that Paul will be a problem on the court but, as you have often said, cooperation between our department and yours is highly desirable, and we do expect Paul will try hard. His work in the English club and on the debating team will force him to miss many practices, but we intend to see that he shows up for all games.
Thank you for your cooperation, and best regards,
NOW BE GOOD BOYS
Tongue-in-cheek letters seem to be the thing. Art Parrack, the imaginative general manager of the Jacksonville Suns of the Southern League, recently posted this notice on the locker-room bulletin board: "To all players. It has been brought to my attention by several anonymous telephone callers that scrambling for flying objects...in the grandstands and bleachers creates a potential risk of injury to patrons therein. In order to alleviate this problem, please be advised that effective this date you are not to hit any baseballs into the seating area. All baseballs are to be hit, sharply, into fair territory between the foul lines, preferably out of reach of the defense. It should be noted that the seating area does not extend beyond the outfield fence, and it is permissible to propel batted balls over the barrier. As a matter of fact, the management encourages this practice."
ODD TRADE MART
Don't blame the summer heat if you read someday soon that Wilt Chamberlain, the basketball player, has been traded for Bobby Hull, the hockey player. Jack Kent Cooke, whose Los Angeles Lakers have not won the NBA championship with Chamberlain the last two years, desperately needs a gate attraction—someone like Hull—for his Los Angeles Kings hockey team. In turn, Bill Wirtz, who owns the Chicago Black Hawks and wants to trade Hull and his $100,000 salary, would love to see the Chicago Bulls acquire an instant ticket-seller like Chamberlain, since landlord Wirtz gets a percentage of the gate if the Bulls draw crowds beyond a certain figure.
If the rumor were to become fact, the Black Hawks would trade Hull to the Kings for a couple of minor hockey names, and the Lakers would trade Chamberlain to the Bulls for cash or a player or a future draft choice or two. In essence, though, the deal would be Chamberlain for Hull. Where's Frank Lane?
East African conservationists report again that illegal slaughter of spotted cats continues at an alarming rate—and will as long as poaching remains profitable. Two years ago fashionable New York and Paris furrier Jacques Kaplan placed newspaper ads asking women to cool it with the cats for at least 20 years lest the animals become extinct. He has continued to honor his own pledge not to sell feline furs, but even so his new winter collection, revealed this spring, seems to say, "If you can't join 'em, lick 'em." As reported (SI, July 14, 1969), the mortal enemy of the wild cat is a rich woman. Kaplan now offers this predator all the spotted furs her heart and purse desire. What he does is photograph the natural cat skins, screen the patterns and impose them on white mink. The price tag for a Somali leopard coat ordinarily reads $25,000 (six or seven pelts are required), but Kaplan's spotted mink is yours for $2,000. Now, what could be more humanitarian than that?
WHO'S GOT THE POWER?
Everybody knows the National League hits a lot harder than the American, right? Look at the list of leading home-run hitters. Frank Howard and Harmon Killebrew, No. 1 men in the American League as the pennant races turned into July, would barely make the top five in the National.
However, there is one nagging statistic that confuses the issue. While Howard and Killebrew were languishing far behind Perez, Bench & Co., the weak American Leaguers had hit a total of 839 homers to the National Leaguers' 802, which means the latter could have had another Perez in action and still been behind. Moreover, the American League has hit more homers than the National in nine of the last 10 years.
It's not necessarily significant, but it should make Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and those other sainted American League sluggers of the past rest a bit easier.
LOST AND FOUND RIDER
The adage says you can't change horses in midstream, but recently at Charles Town, W. Va., Jockey James Thornton changed horses in midrace. He started out on Native Bird, but his mount collided with Kandi Arm and both jockeys were thrown. On his way down, Thornton grabbed desperately at Kandi Arm, swung under the other horse's stomach, came up on the far side, held on and finished the seven-furlong race. Out of the money, unfortunately, thus precluding some mighty interesting discussions around the cashiers' windows.
ABC's return to pro football this fall (with Monday night games) is welcome for three things: 1) Happy Howard Cosell will be the fun-loving color man, 2) O. J. Simpson, who did such an impressive job on the Coaches All-America game telecast a couple of weeks ago, will be the resident football expert when his schedule permits and 3) instead of that marching-band-at-halftime nonsense, ABC will run film-clip highlights of all the pro football games played the day before.
It may not be a breathtaking package, but it sure beats Where's Huddles?
THEY SAID IT
•Jan Johnson, 19, of Kansas, who won the NCAA pole vault at 17'7", on his chances of clearing 18 feet: "I'm sure I'll do it when I get a little older. Heck, I don't even shave yet. I can't grow the stuff."
•Tommy Helms, who is hitting about 50 points less than the Cincinnati Reds' team average (see page 12) and is the low-hitting regular on the team: "You've heard of the Big Red Machine? I'm just a hubcap."
•Gene Mauch, Montreal Expos manager, on hearing of a battle between teenage groups in Brooklyn in which one side had faulty ammunition that fell out of the gun barrels: "They must have been an expansion gang."