Buffalo's proposed domed stadium (SCORECARD, June 30, 1969) was deflated last week when the Erie County legislature refused, by a vote of 10 to 9, to approve a lease that had been worked out by County Executive John Tutuska and representatives of Dome Stadium, Inc., the group that was supposed to manage the stadium when it was built. The county had already spent almost $2 million on stadium planning, and bids had been received on the various aspects of the construction job. After the legislature rejected the lease, Edward H. Cottrell, a principal partner in Dome Stadium, Inc., said he would institute a suit against Erie County for breach of an earlier agreement arranged in June 1969. "We contend that the management contract is now in effect," Cottrell declared. "We are in the process of acquiring a baseball franchise, and we still hope for a go-ahead on the dome. But in the absence of such a step we have no alternative but to institute lawsuits for breach of contract and other damages."
Poor Buffalo. Except for Dallas, it is the largest city in the country without a major league baseball team, and it has come very close to going ahead with its dome, which might turn what is a rather drab town into a center of excitement and tourist interest. But maybe they are lucky now that (an old refrain) times are hard and money is tight.
AGE CANNOT WITHER HIM
August 2, 1970
A small discussion has arisen in Chicago over Leo Durocher's age. Leo says he was 64 last Monday (July 27), but the baseball record books make him a year older than that, or 65. Rumors persist that Leo will be dropped by the Cubs at the end of the season. If he does get the ax and decides that he is indeed 65, he could begin drawing $1,945 a month from baseball's munificent pension fund. If he decides to wait until next July, when he says he will be 65, he would be giving up nine months of pension payments, or $17,505 (he could, of course, opt to take a 64-year-old's pension, which in his case would be $1,813 a month, but that would total out to almost $1,600 a year less than the full 65-year-old pension).
Either way, Chicago critics say it seems like a lot of money to give up for the sake of vanity, if vanity it is. It may be simply honesty or even modesty. After all, if the record books are right and Leo was 65 this week he joins an astonishingly select group. In all the long history of baseball only five men (Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, Wilbert Robinson, Charlie Dressen and Burt Shot-ton) have managed a major league team past age 65. Let us therefore no longer look upon Leo as a querulous young troublemaker. He is a Grand Old Man.
People are going to court over tickets to Kansas City Chiefs games, which is apparently a byproduct of being Super Bowl champion. Truog & Nichols, Inc., an air-conditioning firm, has asked for an injunction against its former president, Sidney L. Bair Jr., charging that Bair improperly kept the rights to 15 season tickets when he left Truog-Nichols. The company argues that the football tickets had gone to Bair originally so that they could be used to create goodwill and retain customers for the company. After Bair left the firm in January 1969, tickets for the following season were mailed to him in care of the company, and, says Truog-Nichols, Bair at that time made no claim on them. But after the Super Bowl game, the company claims, Bair induced the Chiefs to send him the tickets for 1970 at his new place of business. Since Bair's name had preceded the company's name in the Chiefs' records, this was done. But Truog-Nichols complains that this prevents the company from obtaining season tickets of its own for 1970 and, presumably, future seasons. This, says Truog-Nichols, will cause the company to "suffer irreparable damage." Bair claims the tickets were always his and not Truog-Nichols'. "I simply had them transferred to my new business last spring or fall," he says. "We'll just have to wait and see what the court decides." What makes the issue even more burning is that the Chiefs' new 75,000-seat stadium will be ready in 1972, and one extra season ticket will be allotted for every two now held.
A safety survey conducted by a British car manufacturer holds that girdles are a menace to motorists. Lady motorists. "Girdles quickly become uncomfortable," says the report, "and result in squirming by the wearer behind the wheel." Garters are dangerous, too, because their pull tends to lift a woman's foot from the pedals. "To overcome this...she often pushes against the pull of her garters and consequently winds up going faster than she intends." Pantyhose, on the other hand, or foot, are fine; they have resulted in women becoming safer drivers. There was no mention of skirts—micro, mini, midi or maxi.
One of the saddest things in sport is what has happened to baseball in Japan. When a Japanese boy makes an error in a sandlot game, the others yell "Yaocho!"—which means, bluntly, "Fix!" The boy teased yells back that it's a lie and the game goes on. But in major league baseball in Japan several players have admitted that it is not a lie, that they have indeed fixed baseball games. Five players have been banned for life, and more than 20 in all, from 11 of Japan's 12 professional teams, have been linked to underworld elements. Arrests also have been made in bicycle and motorcycle racing, big betting pastimes in Japan, where gambling is the raison d'√™tre for interest in most sports.
The scandal began last fall (SI, Oct. 27) when Pitcher Masayuki Nagayasu was banned for life. He more or less disappeared, but this year he resurfaced, implicated several of his teammates and claimed that the owner of his team had paid him off to silence him but had reneged on other promised payments.
"He's a playboy," scoffed Japanese insiders. "Very unreliable. Always has been." But after league officials took the owner's word that everything had been straightened out, members of the Japanese legislature launched their own probe. Four more players from the team were banned, and the owner admitted he had paid the black-sheep pitcher $18,000—not to silence him, he insisted, but merely to help him "start a new life."
This casual and equivocating attitude on the part of owners and officials creates an atmosphere conducive to lax behavior, and this is aggravated by the low pay most Japanese baseball players receive. Stars command big salaries, but a run-of-the-mill player earns less than $2,000 a year. He has little opportunity for investment or outside income. Where an American major-leaguer might read The Wall Street Journal, his Japanese counterpart stays with a racing form. And he and his teammates flock to the racetracks—horse, bicycle, motorcycle—where contact with gamblers, fixers and the like is all too easy.
Some observers say full disclosure of the extent of the scandal is yet to come. "What we know now," says one, "is just the tail of the elephant."
It is midsummer in Boston, and the scene is typical: here come a couple of kids in Bermuda shorts and sandals, carrying ice skates and a hockey stick. There are five major ice rinks operating all summer in the Greater Boston area—the Weymouth Skating Club, Lynn Arena, Cohasset Winter Garden, the Boston Skating Club and Hockey Town USA in Melrose—and each accommodates between 800 and 2,000 skaters a week (not all for hockey; figure skaters and plain old-fashioned waltz-me-around-again-Willies are also out in force). Hockey schools abound, and there are plenty of games to watch. The Winter Garden in Cohasset has two squirt teams, 10 pee-wees, 10 bantams, eight juniors and six seniors playing on a regular basis. Thirty junior and 30 senior teams play at Lynn Arena. Ice time is booked solidly. The Boston Skating Club opens at 6:30 a.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. The Weymouth Skating Club says, "We run 24 hours during weekends. People come in or phone, looking for ice time. When we tell them what's available they won't believe us." At some of the clubs the only open time is from 2 to 5 in the mornings, Monday through Friday.
Jim Ryun, who still holds the world records for the mile and the 1,500 meters, the classic distances in track and field, is a family man now, living with his wife and baby daughter in Topeka, Kans., where he is the fastest photographer on the Capital-Journal. Rumors say Ryun is planning a comeback, but right now the only running he does is jogging, usually in the evenings, when he trots a leisurely four or five miles around the streets near his home. He jogs as much to keep his weght down as for anything else. After he quit competition in 1969 he ballooned from 160 pounds to 195. Now he is back down to 180 and holding. Asked if he could go out anytime he felt like it and run a mile in, say, 4:30, which isn't even good high school time anymore, Ryun said, "No, I doubt that." How about five minutes? "I think so," he said.
This is a census year, but Don Galbreath, a game biologist for Washington state, is doing an unusual count of his own. He is taking a census of the pheasants by putting his ear to the air. Galbreath counts pheasants by listening for the characteristic squawk of the cock pheasant. Only the male crows; the ladies are mute. Each cock pheasant, says Galbreath, has an average of four lady friends. He crows once every three minutes, and his call carries only half a mile. So Galbreath's routine is to stop every mile, listen for two minutes for a call and then multiply by five. This is logical because the territories of the cock-birds do not overlap. Each male defends his territory against what you might call fowl play.
CAN YOU TOP THIS?
A week or two ago SCORECARD ran an item about a Clevelander named Eddie Charlillo who had achieved the enviable double of bowling a 300 game and making a hole in one in golf. Clark Morrison III, publisher of The Palladium-Times of Oswego, N.Y., promptly recalled that about 15 years ago he had written about an oldtimer named John Vowinkel of Oswego, whose athletic efforts went a significant step beyond Charlillo's. Vowinkel, too, bowled 300 and made a hole in one, but that made it a three-way parlay, because back around 1915, when Vowinkel was a pitcher for Buffalo in the International League, he also pitched a no-hit, no-run game.
ALL IN A NIGHT'S WORK
A somewhat different but no less admirable feat was achieved this summer by Bob Mix, golf pro at the Albany (N.Y.) Country Club. One evening one of those odd golf-club conversations ended up with someone betting Mix that he could not possibly go out on the course in pitch darkness and shoot par golf. Specifically, the bet said he would not par two holes out of three. Mix finished his drink, got his clubs, went out into the dark night, played three holes, parred all of them, pocketed his bet and came back into the clubhouse for a nightcap.
THEY SAID IT
•Whitey Gerken, race driver credited with saving the life of Driver Jack Bowsher by stopping his own car during a race at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds to pull the unconscious Bowsher from his overturned racer: "Aw, why not? I wasn't running well, anyway."
•Bun Fortier, former Bemidji High School basketball coach, testifying during a suit against the Minnesota State High School League, when asked the reason for Bemidji's 14 championships during his tenure: "Good coaching. I have to speak the truth."
•Andy Armour, 11-year-old baseball fan, to a friend to whom he had just loaned a copy of Jim Bouton's Ball Four: "If you run across any words you don't understand, whatever you do don't ask your mother to explain them."