SO LONG, BIG SERVE
Last summer Tournament Director Bill Talbert introduced the nine-point sudden-death system at Forest Hills, the Jimmy Van Alen scoring method that puts an abrupt end to potential marathon sets of tennis. Now Talbert, running the U.S. Open show again this year as chairman and director, wants to go one step farther. To create longer rallies, "so rare in modern tennis," Talbert hopes to install a rule forcing the server to let his opponent's return bounce before coming to the net. In other words, no more "boom, boom, boom. Big serve, volley, end of point. Ho hum."
Tennis should be the most thrilling of all sports, Talbert believes, but under its present structure the service has become too potent a weapon. "Server bangs one in and rushes to the net. If opponent returns it, the server is right there, poised for the killing volley. This means opponent must go for a winner on his return, an all-or-nothing shot that the net-rusher cannot handle. In either case the action is restricted to two or three strokes, and meanwhile the audience is dying of boredom."
Experiments show his plan will work, says Talbert. "There will be some strident cries of opposition, but I feel it is my obligation to instill more excitement in the game. After all, tennis needs crowds if it is to become a big-time spectator sport. The only time a crowd is brought to life is when there is a rally. If this is what the crowds want, why not give it to them?"
March 8, 1971
Question: Who is the only goalie ever to score a goal in professional hockey? Answer: This is a brand-new entry in the trivia category, suitable for winning bar bets with hockey buffs. It turns out to be rookie Michel Plasse of the Central Hockey League's Kansas City Blues, whose goal came in the last 44 seconds of a recent encounter with the Oklahoma City Blazers. The Blazers, behind 2-1, chose to leave their goal untended and come out in a six-man attack. Zap! In came an Oklahoma shot. Goalie Plasse blocked it, then flipped the puck high toward the Oklahoma net. "It was not the time to play with the puck," he says. "I was just trying to ice it." He iced it right into the enemy goal, 3-1. End of game. Set 'em up, bartender.
GORILLA MY DREAMS
Sport fans will find some statistical comfort in the latest news from Germany: the big apes in the Frankfurt Zoo have stopped tearing out their hair by the handfuls. And what does that have to do with sport statistics? We are getting to that part: zoo keepers determined that the reason the apes tore out their hair was that they were bored. Television sets were installed in the cages and, sure enough, the apes calmed down. The most popular programs were love scenes, weight lifting and auto racing. And that's two out of three. At least.
HOODOO? WELL, HE DO
The practice is frowned upon officially by the Kenya Football Association, but there is no formal law against it, so that's why Shariff Abubakar has just bought a Peugeot 403 and made a down payment on a house. Abubakar fixes soccer games, he explained last week, and since there are 200 clubs in Kenya, the practice pays off handsomely.
Well, fix might not be just the right word. Abubakar is a witch doctor, one of several in the country who specialize in soccer hexing for hire, and everybody knows it. In fact, just about everybody does it. According to Job Omino, the association secretary, 95% of the teams hire witch doctors, and one leading team's account books show that it spent ¬£1,276 ($3,062.40) witch-doctoring games last season.
The doctors use all sorts of stuff. Often herbal mixtures, tree sap and a touch of pig fat are smeared on the players and spells are put on the game ball. One key game in Tanzania was delayed for an hour while a new ball was sought out after one side claimed that the first ball was bewitched. Further, Abubakar revealed, he incants a few key prayers where they count and he sometimes sacrifices a live goat or a chicken.
Swell. So much for Shariff Abubakar, and may he have a hex of a good time next year. As for American football, we might as well double-check to be sure. Uh, did that ball feel a little slippery to you, Craig?
THE ABOMINABLE SNOWJOB
He is a big critter, oh, maybe 700 to 1,000 pounds and 8'6" tall. He has a 50-inch stride and leaves footprints measuring 16 to 17 inches across. He is the elusive, shadowy, apelike Sasquatch, the monster who roams the mountains of northeast Washington. Recently old Sasquatch has been clomping down from the high Cascades again, leaving dozens of those huge tracks around, and a lot of people are after him.
"He's no bear," says the No. 1 tracker, a professional hunter named Ivan Marx, who has hired five helpers and has a big private grant (some say $200,000) from the International Wildlife Conservation Society to find and identify the thing. The society has been assembling Sasquatch statistics for 11 years, but now Marx claims to have filmed proof of a 10-foot Sasquatch scuttling through the woods. He says the newest tracks around Colville come from a small Sasquatch, maybe a 500-pounder, and that there are five of them around. The giant footprints also have been discovered at the Arden community dump and show that at least one Sasquatch has a limp, poor rascal. His left pawprint, complete with toes, shows a malformation of the boxlike foot.
All this ruckus over the snow monster has assertedly brought hundreds of curious tourists to the Colville area (would you believe dozens?) and a bit of business. But not all are sure they want him caught, even though Marx promises to let him go again after identification. Now bumper stickers are available proclaiming SAVE OUR SASQUATCH, and old Bigfoot has been made official mascot of Spokane Community College athletic teams. His likeness will go on team uniforms, which is pretty tricky, since nobody knows what his likeness looks like, and he will be immortalized in school cheers. Two, four, six, eight! Who do we appreciate? Sasquatch!
NEVER SAY NEIGH
Congratulations are in order for Gold-dust Shoemaker and Red Feather T, the sire and dam of a brand-new foal. Gold-dust Shoemaker is 31, and Red Feather T is no spring chicken of a mare at 24. Figuring equine aging at the accepted rate of three horse years to one human, that makes them 93 and 72 years old, respectively. Anyone for alfalfa?
HEARTS AND SHOWERS
Although there are a few more weeks to go in the basketball season, we now have undoubtedly the saddest story of 1971—and no more candidates, please. Enter the Yates Lions, a Houston high school team, wearing nifty new uniforms. Then game officials notice that the 13 uniform numbers listed in the scorebook are the old ones and do not match the new ones. They call 13 technical fouls. Up steps Milby High School's best foul shooter, and converts 10 of his 13 throws. Then, still as a result of those technicals, there is no starting tip-off. Instead, Milby gets the ball out of bounds, the game starts and Milby immediately scores. It is now 12-0, and Yates hasn't even touched the ball. And when it is all over the Lions have lost the game 71-69, plus the district co-championship.
Not sad enough? There is more. Those officials later admitted they were wrong. The rules say they should have called only five technicals, covering the starting lineup, adding new technicals only if substitutes also wearing wrong numbers came in to play. Not that a little thing like that is going to make the Lions feel any better.
THE DANGEROUS GAME
It figures that Californian Robert Loibl would favor DDT—he owns a pest-control company—but his new experiment is something else again. Loibl, 60, and his wife, Louise, of North Hollywood, have begun eating DDT, 10 milligrams a day in capsule form, which they estimate is roughly 300 times more DDT than the average person might pick up in his daily diet. The Loibls are nearing the quarter mark in a 90-day program of ingesting the stuff and profess to feel line. In fact "our appetite has increased; we feel so great," says Loibl.
The point exterminator Loibl is bent on making is that DDT is not deadly, as so many Americans seem to believe, but, rather, a benefactor of mankind, "an old friend" and a harmless one. Obviously the Loibls expect to come out of the test feeling chipper and all the better for it.
Perhaps they will. Perhaps even birds and other animals would survive similar tests. But the more pertinent point is not mere survival but the insidious, destructive, staying power of DDT, which in the case of human and animal life adversely affects eggs, offspring and future generations. If the Loibls were younger, say, and about to raise a family, their experiment might well touch their children and grandchildren on down the line with steady degenerative effect.
WILL THE REAL JERRY...
Guess who is coming to play baseball, the Detroit Tigers told the world. None other than Wide Receiver Jerry Levias of the Houston Oilers, who told them he was tired of football. In fact "I don't ever want to go back," he said. "I'm tired of getting belted around...the quarterbacks haven't thrown to me because of jealousy."
So Detroit gave Jerry a uniform, and the newsmen took a lot of pictures. "We do need legs in this organization," said General Manager Jim Campbell. Said Head Scout Ed Katalinas of Levias, "He's got two big items on his side, unadulterated speed and great body control. He has what we call an infielder's body. However, he has to condition his arm. We have to find out if he has major league potential. After three weeks or so he'll know and we'll know."
Well, they know now. United Press International, checking out the story, called the Oilers in Houston, they called Levias' home and the real Jerry came to the phone. "This is the greatest hoax I ever heard of," he said.
Back at camp in Lakeland the other Levias turned out to be 23-year-old William Douglas Street Jr. of Detroit, a full-time sports buff and part-time impostor who said he just wanted the chance to show them what he could do. "I was going to tell them the truth," he said. "I began to feel a little guilty when they started taking all those pictures."
So Street didn't make the team; the Tigers bought him a first-class air ticket back to Detroit (the coach section was full) and closed the episode. And anyway, they noted with a certain touch of" moral righteousness, the kid had his chance. He had difficulty hitting and fielding, there was no zip in his arm and he didn't really run too fast. Couldn't have made the team even if he'd called himself Ty Cobb.
THEY SAID IT
•Rod Gilbert, New York Rangers, on why he punched Philadelphia Flyer Bill Lesuk in a tense game: "He hit me on the head with his stick. And he didn't apologize."
•Henry Aaron, responding to Jack Nicklaus' question. "What kind of golfer are you?" "Terrible. It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."
•George Chemeres, Seattle boxing promoter, asked to explain what he meant by his term, "Half-a-David": "You know, a Half-a-David is one of those legal papers you prove things with."
•Walter J. Hickel, ex-Interior Secretary, defending the U.S. system: "I'm a perfect example of why the system works. I made it work for 22 months. If someone runs the four-minute mile and then he is shot, it doesn't mean the four-minute mile cannot be run."
•Mrs. John Sheblessy, referring to Cincinnati Bengal Tackle Mike Reid's recital before her music club: "He not only can play the piano. He can pick it up."