ALI WINS BY A DECISION
The Damocletian sword that has hung over the head of Muhammad Ali for four years has been lifted, thanks to a Supreme Court decision that unanimously reversed his draft evasion conviction.
The court found that the former heavyweight champion's "beliefs are founded on tenets of the Muslim religion as he understands them."
Those who have known Ali in his quieter moments—that is to say, when he has not been ballyhooing a fight with boasts and doggerel—have long been convinced of his sincerity in the matter of his religion. It is gratifying to learn that the nation's highest court has reached the same conclusion.
July 4, 1971
ONE FOR THE UMP
It was a friendly golf game, so it made no difference, really, but what if it had happened in a tournament?
Mary Ann Edge is the women's city golf champion of Jackson, Miss, and, on her way to her latest city title—her fifth in a row—shot a 68 and a 69. But during a casual 18 holes recently she hit a better shot than in either of those rounds. She was in the rough and hit a strong recovery, only to have it strike a tree and come straight back at her.
Mary Ann has the reflexes of a champion. She took a baseball-type swing at the ball, caught it just right and belted it all the way to the green.
Quick. Somebody send for an umpire.
NOTHING SENTIMENTAL ABOUT HIM
It is now 10 years since Roger Maris hit home run No. 61*, thereby breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60, so to speak. The fact of the accomplishment offended some Ruth lovers, and others were annoyed by Roger's less than graceful response to acclaim.
At 36, Maris has not changed, except for a bit of a paunch. With his wife Pat and their six children, Maris visited Payson Field in St. Petersburg last week and stood around watching newly signed draftees of the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets work out before a game. He made it clear that he was there more to visit his old buddy, Whitey Herzog, director of player personnel for the Mets, than to renew his acquaintance with baseball. In recent months, he said, he has turned down "at least 50" media offers to reminisce about the 61.
A prospering beer distributor in Gainesville, he suggested, "If you come to see me in Gainesville we'll talk about beer or our kids or anything else you want to talk about but don't ask me about the 61 homers.
"Most people in baseball live in the past," he said. "You get around baseball men and all they want to talk about is the way they did this or that. I can't stand to listen to it."
There may be more baseball in his future, though. Of his four boys, three are in Little League.
THE FUTURE IS HERE
After only six years of existence, age-group track and field, which is a kind of Little League of running and jumping, has produced a flock of grade-school athletes who are better than those some high schools produce. Their accomplishments have been so stunning that already the Ryuns and Liquoris can hear the patter of little feet racing up to take their places.
At the first annual national age-group championships, held simultaneously at Falls Church, Va. and Bakersfield, Calif., 7-year-old Mike Assumma of Rialto, Calif. proved he would have no trouble with the Army's desired six-minute mile for basic trainees. He covered the distance in 5:42.1. Gene Mirkin, an 8-year-old from Washington, D.C., did 5:40.8. Mike Assumma's older brother, Chuck, set a record for 10-year-olds of 5:07.3. Kevin Knox (SI, May 3) of Wasco, Calif., who two years ago established a record for 9-year-olds, this time took more than 13 seconds off the previous record for 11-year-olds by running the mile in 5:00.3.
At the same age, Paavo Nurmi of Finland ran 1,500 meters (.93 mile) in 5:03.
TWO OF A KIND
The two great casualties of horse racing's year, Hoist the Flag and Canonero II, still are stabled at Belmont but they'll be moving soon. In prospect for them are rest and rehabilitation—Hoist the Flag at Boxwood, the Virginia farm of his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Clark Jr., and Canonero wherever his new owner, Robert J. Kleberg Jr. of the King Ranch, wants to move him.
At Boxwood, where he spent his youth, the cast will be removed from Hoist the Flag's leg. On full recovery he will stand at stud, the location still to be decided.
As for Canonero, the $1,200 nobody who was sold last week for $1 million and other considerations, the swelling in his hock is subsiding, but his new trainer, W. J. (Buddy) Hirsch, says there is no chance that he can race again this year. For King Ranch, his chief value will be at stud.
The traffic problem on golf courses, as on all other highways, has become acute. To solve it, Warren Godman, president of the Baltimore Golf Association, proposes that golfers be required to have a license to play. They should be tested, says Godman, on links courtesy and sportsmanship after studying a manual on good manners. Those who fail their tests would be barred. The idea is to deny admission to those who tear up the fairways or needlessly hold up play.
The question arises: What charge can be placed against someone who fails his test but plays anyway?
Driving without a license.
VICTORY AT SEA
When a Reno foursome—Frank and Jackie Titus and Russell and Bette McDonald—arrived at Cozumel Island to do some fishing they discovered that they had run into an international blue-marlin tournament and that all the fishing boats were chartered.
But since they had no interest in marlin and just wanted to catch dolphin and barracuda and such, they happily settled for a Mexican sailing sloop equipped with only a small auxiliary engine. It worked fine and they caught plenty of dolphin and barracuda. At sunset, just as they were about to return to port, Frank Titus yelled that he had hooked a big one. He had, a blue marlin.
Without a fighting chair to help him play the fish and because the captain could not maneuver the sloop like a standard sport-fishing craft, Titus had a rough time with his prize. Twice he brought it to the boat and twice it went under the vessel and away.
But at dusk the fish was subdued permanently. The happy crew sailed into harbor with a Mexican sailor's blue denim shirt flying from the mast in lieu of a blue marlin pennant.
Blue marlin contestants flocked to the dock to find out what all the fuss was about. They found out. Titus had caught the only blue marlin of the day—a 145-pounder on 50-pound-test line.
DON'T STOP TO THINK, JACK
His deliberate style of play may shorten Jack Nicklaus' golf career, says Jimmy Demaret, three-time Masters winner.
"It took Nicklaus and Trevino over two hours and 15 minutes to play the last five holes of the Open," Demaret explained. "I thought Jack's slow play hurt him. His nerves, I mean.
"They say about other athletes that the legs go first. In golf it's the nerves that go first. And slow play is just daring your nerves. Especially standing over putts.
"Take Cary Middlecoff and Ralph Guldahl as two examples. Both were slow players. Cary won the Open twice and many other titles, but all of a sudden, in his 30s, his nerves were gone. Guldahl won two Opens in succession, three straight Western Opens, then, zing, his nerves were gone.
"I'm afraid Jack's nerves will be gone by the time he's 35. Just the way he talks, it seems to be eatin' at him.
"Trevino, I believe, will be around a lot longer, although they're both the same age, 31. You didn't even see Lee sink that last putt in the U.S. Open. They couldn't get the camera around in time."
Nicklaus has suggested that the busy Trevino, who plays almost every week, might burn himself out, but Demaret disagrees. "I believe Trevino will be around much longer because he doesn't take so much time. Playing so many tournaments is not nearly so dangerous as standing over those putts."
No longer will National Football League game officials be allowed to carry pistols with them from ball park to ball park to signal the ends of halves and games. The reason is that airline security men can't very well tell a ref's pistol from a hijacker's.
So now the home teams at NFL games will provide a pistol for the officials.
THIS TREE IS SAFE
As the sponsor of Minnesota Twin television and radio broadcasts, Midwest Federal Savings & Loan Association has put up an advertising sign in Metropolitan Stadium's right center field. If a batter should hit a money tree outlined on the sign, Midwest Federal says it will pay him $20,000.
Two years ago Oakland's Reggie Jackson hit a ball that struck just below where the tree now is. That ball traveled 517 feet. A clout carrying at least 538 feet would be required to hit the tree.
Dr. Carl Poppe, physics professor at the University of Minnesota, has been doing some figuring. He estimates that the odds of hitting the tree for $20,000 are 15 million to 1.
"Under controlled conditions," he says, "Reggie's chances would be 15,000 to 1. That is a little better than the odds of, say, Lee Trevino holing out from 200 yards." By controlled conditions he means a good fastball pitcher putting the ball right where a Reggie Jackson wants it.
Since the tree was put up, the man who came closest to hitting it was Baltimore's Boog Powell, but he was some 60 feet short.
Since 1948, when he began coaching the University of Minnesota baseball team, Dick Siebert has advised his players not to sign professional contracts before their eligibility expires unless the bonus being offered is generous. Under that policy he has lost several stars before graduation, but even so won three NCAA titles and eight Big Ten titles.
Siebert used to think that a $30,000 bonus was good enough, but now he feels it should be twice that.
The other day his son Paul, a high school senior and pitcher, signed a pro contract with Houston for about $40,000. The senior Siebert is miffed.
Well, when Dick Siebert signed on with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929 it was for $150 a month.
THEY SAID IT
•Dave McNally, Oriole pitcher and American Legion Baseball's Graduate of the Year, on how his mother encouraged him to play: "She always said, 'Have a good time; you'll be working the rest of your life.' "
•Jim (Mudcat) Grant, Pirate relief pitcher, on why he signs his autograph two different ways: "If there's a lot of people waitin', I make it Jim. If there's only a few, I sign it Mudcat."
•Stan Musial, on his statue in front of Busch Stadium: "It cost $34,000 but it just doesn't look like me. I keep saying that one of these nights I'm going to get a few of my buddies and grab that thing and throw it in the river."
•Montreal Outfielder Clyde Mashore, on how to stop Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh slugger: "Buy a seat in the upper deck and play one of your outfielders there."
•Announcer Chris Schenkel, describing a tough closing hole at the U.S. Open: "Joyce Kilmer must have had this in mind when she wrote Trees."
•Stanley Spellman of Wagoner, Okla., after spending nine days adrift in the Atlantic: "I'll tell anybody, seaweed soup stinks."
•Abe Lemons, Oklahoma City basketball coach, on how to solve recruiting problems: "Just give every coach the same amount of money and tell him he can keep what's left over."