THE ICE MEN HAGGLETH
The Boston Bruin management was shaken when Clarence Campbell, National Hockey League president, suggested that the team "cannot afford" the luxury of its two top stars: Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. So were Orr and Esposito, who are negotiating new contracts.
"The Bruins can't trade Orr," Campbell explained, "but they could sell Esposito for, say, $350,000. I can think of at least three teams in the NHL that can afford him—Toronto, New York and Chicago. Chicago can get $9 for a top-priced ticket. Boston can't do that. The tax situation of the Bruins is frightening. They are one of the few teams in the league that don't own their own building."
The response of the Bruins was a quiet suggestion that Campbell should worry about league affairs and not meddle in club business. The response by Bruin fans goes unrecorded, but can be guessed.
July 18, 1971
Orr reportedly wants a five-year contract for $1 million. Esposito, a year-round resident of Boston and reluctant to leave, said he would like to have a five-year contract, too—for a slightly lower amount—but doubted that he could get it, despite the fact that he scored a record-breaking 76 goals and 152 points last season.
Buffalo's Punch Imlach sums up the insider's view of Campbell's suggestion. Esposito, he said, would be "hockey's biggest bargain at $350,000. If Buffalo didn't come up with the money, I'd buy him myself and lease him to the club. I spent $200,000 for five players in the recent draft, and they won't get 76 goals among the whole lot of them."
BALL FOUR RECONSIDERED
During spring training Charlie Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, was loudly propagandizing for a change in baseball rules. He wanted three balls, instead of four, to constitute a walk.
One baseball man said the only good in the proposal would be to make Jim Bouton's book, Ball Four, obsolete. But Finley insisted: "Let's get men on base. Let's get more runs. There is nothing duller than a 2-1 game."
Since the season started, though, Finley has not been saying anything about ball three. His ace, Pitcher Vida Blue, is stimulating the game everywhere. Vida causes some 2-1 scores, and even has six shutouts among his 17 wins. Just the other night he pitched 11 innings of shutout ball and struck out 17 before being lifted to save his arm. Rollie Fingers took over in the 12th. It was doubly dull for 19 innings, and then the A's won in the 20th, 1-0, at the especially dull hour of 1:15 a.m.
It was probably the game of the year. And not a peep of protest from Finley.
LET NOT THE RIGHT HAND....
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has charged the state's National Guard with illegally dumping refuse in a marsh. Part of the refuse: pamphlets published by the New York conservation department on how citizens can protect the environment.
IF BIGGER IS BETTER
Most proposals to get basketball out of its high-scoring, high-altitude posture involve raising the basket and widening the lane. Press Maravich, Louisiana State coach, has a different idea—enlarge the whole playing area.
Today's players, he says, are so big they no longer have room to move. They fight for room and the game, therefore, is regressing toward outright combat.
Instead of organizing a "charity walk," which is a British way of raising money, Richard Freeth, Vicar of Mayland, Essex, has announced that he will climb the 14,700-foot Matterhorn next month. Each sponsor will contribute two new pence for every 100 feet he ascends and descends, the money going to a children's caravan church.
The vicar—and police agree with him—feels that the charity walk is too dangerous because of cars running into walkers. Matterhorn climbing, though, presents no great danger these days. Denizens of the area contend that the greatest peril is slipping on the orange peels left behind by multitudes of other tourist climbers.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Remember the case of the naming of the Edsel? Poet Marianne Moore chronicled the experience a few years ago, all about how she was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company to come up with a name for its new car. The upshot was that after she practically exhausted her Roget's with suggestions, the company informed Miss Moore that it had decided to name the car Edsel after one of Henry Ford's sons. So much for poetry.
Comes now the new Richmond (Va.) professional hockey team of the American Hockey League. The owner of the club launched a pick-a-name contest recently. It drew 14,000 entries. The winner was Mrs. Hester Fore, whose suggestion, The Robins, won her a boat and motor. The prizes were presented to her by the team's owner, Claiborne Robins Jr.
INCOMPATIBILITY IN THE STANDS
The San Francisco 49ers are moving from Kezar Stadium to Candlestick Park next fall. More problems than mere moving are involved.
For one thing, everyone will want a seat on the 50-yard line. But football never has been played in Candlestick and no one is yet certain where the 50-yard line will be situated.
Pete Giannini, the 49er ticket manager, has other problems, too.
"One couple drives in from Modesto every Sunday," he says. "Each of them has a very good seat, but not together. When we got the word about moving to Candlestick I phoned them and told them I could arrange for them to sit together now. The wife told me she likes the shade, he likes the sun, and they've been very happy about the arrangement so far, so please don't change.
"We have another loving couple who separate at the game. He says, 'I can't sit next to my wife. Let some other sucker answer her questions.' "
GOLF UNDER DIFFICULTIES
The first annual Pasture Pool Open, which promises to be one of golf's more outlandish events, will be contested next month over a new course designed by the residents of Arthur County, Neb., who number 600. Of these, 18 have paid $10 to join the club.
The par-13 course has only four holes, ranging from 170 to 250 yards. On two of the holes, baled hay, accumulated during the making of the fairways, offers formidable hazards.
"We must have the most way-out golf course anywhere," boasts Dr. Willy Hutcheson, veterinarian for the area. Doc Hutcheson is unaware that in Haiti there is a nine-hole course, the only one in the entire country, which has donkeys and goats tethered on the fairways to provide natural hazards. Even so, Arthur County is doing all right.
UP FROM THE BUSH LEAGUES
One of the last white preserves in independent Africa, the job of the professional or "white" hunter—a handsome, intrepid guy who probably knew Hemingway—is being phased out. Previously, on any big-game safari, African natives have been permitted only to carry the elephant guns, track the animals, lug camping equipment on their heads, skin trophies, cut the firewood, do the cooking and clean the tents.
That day is passing. The continent's first school for African professional hunters—"white" hunters who are black—has been opened by the government at Arusha, Tanzania. So far only five of 300 applicants have been accepted for courses in hunting in the bush with clients, tracking down wounded animals, tackling poachers, shooting a hippopotamus from a canoe, first aid, sharp-shooting, taxidermy, game geography, baiting for lion and leopard and the operation of radio telephones.
"The tests they have to pass," says Rowland Mwanjisi, managing director of Tanzania Wildlife Safaris, "are the same as those that have been used for white hunters, including, for instance, conversational knowledge of literature, music, sports, politics and religion."
MANNING THE LIFEBOATS
In the view of Sam Oakland, an assistant English professor at Portland State University in Portland, Ore., "the city is like a ship sinking. No one thinks about looking around for a lifeboat."
That is why he has been instrumental in getting the state to commit itself to spending an estimated $4.8 million in the next two years for the building of what he calls lifeboats: footpaths and bicycle trails.
"I want the bicycle to become a common mode of transportation," he says. "I want to put America back on its feet again, to make it skinny with a lean and hungry look."
Oakland was a leader of what became known as "the bicycle lobby" during the recent session of the legislature, which passed a bill that requires the highway commission to spend a minimum of 1% of its funds for the establishment of footpaths and bicycle trails. Cities and counties that share in the funds also will be required to contribute.
Oakland sees the city of the future as "one huge Utopian park."
"People could walk or bicycle without being accosted with smoke and smog," he says. "It would mean much less noise and a lot more greenery."
More green money, too, but it would be worth it.
THE VILLAIN IS A HERO
In his search for an honest man, Diogenes might just as well have added another quarry to his hunt—someone who would say a kind word for crab-grass, that noxious destroyer of lawns. Such a figure has now sprouted in the person of Jay Kirsh, Temple University groundkeeper who encourages the growth of crabgrass on Geasey Field, where Temple teams practice.
"We took a detested weed and put it to work for us," says Kirsh. "If we grew regular grass, either by seeding or sodding, the middle of the field would be eaten up in the fall when 200 athletes begin practicing on it daily.
"So what we do is nothing. We just water the field and let the crabgrass grow naturally."
If Geasey Field were sodded, Kirsh estimates, it would cost Temple about $2,000 for the 1,700 square feet of sod that would be required and about $300 for labor. And it would be an annual expense.
"If the athletes get too strenuous and wear out the field now," he says, "we may have to call on the people of Philadelphia to bring in their crabgrass clippings. You can't buy crabgrass seed."
The California Angels have invited Vice-President Spiro Agnew to throw out the first ball at a "special" night on Aug. 6. The thing that's special about it is that it will be Helmet Night in Anaheim Stadium.
Leisure-time spending in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the past 10 years to about $130 billion annually, says Dr. James Wylie, who teaches a family recreation course at Boston University. His figure includes everything from stamp collecting to ballroom dancing.
But outdoor activities are high on the list. Last year, he says, some 90 million Americans went on picnics and about 18 million went camping.
And then there is the magazine Amusement Business, which reports that we spent almost $700 million last year to attend ball games, expositions and fairs.
We must be fun-lovers all.
THEY SAID IT
•The Kansas City Royals' 5'4" Freddie Patek, on how it feels to be the shortest player in the major leagues: "A heckuva lot better than being the shortest player in the minor leagues."
•Danny Murtaugh, Pittsburgh Pirate manager, describing baby-faced Bruce Kison, a rookie pitcher: "I looked older than Kison the day I was born."