FROM THE TOP
Phil Wrigley's decision to run an ad in Chicago newspapers last week in support of Leo Durocher excited tremendous comment, including end-of-the-world front-page headlines. In the ad (he wrote it in longhand and his wife typed it, supposedly because she is the only one who can decipher his handwriting), Wrigley pointed out that the Cubs had been perennial failures before Leo took over, whereas under Durocher they have been one of the best teams in the league. He ended by saying, "Leo is the manager and the 'Dump Durocher Clique' might as well give up. He is running the team, and if some of the players do not like it...we will see what we can do to find them happier homes."
Player response was mixed (Fergie Jenkins said it was all "a bunch of junk" while Ernie Banks called it appropriate), and afterward, Wrigley was asked precisely why he had published the ad.
"Because I've found that you can't run things with a lame duck in charge."
September 12, 1971
Did that mean Leo would be the manager again next season?
"Not necessarily. I have the whole winter to think about that, and if a change is to be made it will be made when I have time to think about it."
Did he expect the Chicago press, which had been filled with stories of dissension and anti-Durocher feeling on the ball club, to drop the matter now?
Wrigley laughed. "Not at all. You know the press isn't like that."
In that case, what effect did he want the ad to have?
"I just wanted to let the team know who they should he taking orders from."
And what has been the reaction?
"Everybody says I should have done it long ago."
A refreshing man, P. K. Wrigley.
In case you were wondering, Canonero II is still stabled at Belmont Park in New York, where he finished an exhausted, injured fourth in the Belmont Stakes in his last race. His right hock (all right, the backward "knee" on his right rear leg) is still badly swollen, but not nearly as much as it was. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner comes out of his stall occasionally to graze and walk around the stable area, but he will not be racing or even working out for a long time yet.
The other famous equine casualty of 1971, Hoist The Flag, is also at Belmont. His shattered leg has mended gratifyingly and is no longer in a cast. But the leg is still encased in a massive bandage and whether the supercolt will be able eventually to enter the stud is still a matter for conjecture.
When a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy returns for his third year at Annapolis he commits himself to serving in the Navy for seven more years—two at the academy and five on active duty as a naval officer. Ade Dillon of Appleton, Wis., Navy's No. 1 quarterback, decided last week that the commitment was too much for him and resigned from the academy. "It's like a seven-year, no-cut contract," he said. "It's very difficult for a guy my age to say this is what I'm going to do for the next seven years."
Dillon's disenchantment with the Navy stemmed from more than just this bleak regard of the future. His brother-in-law was killed in the fire aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise off Vietnam in January 1969, and he was denied leave, he says, at a time when his father was facing surgery for lung cancer. Academy rules and the rather quiet atmosphere of Annapolis were factors, too, particularly for a carefree type like Dillon, who liked to wear a Mickey Mouse T shirt under his uniform blouse. "He's a very loose, relaxed, casual type," said Navy Football Coach Rick Forzano. "When he started the Notre Dame game, I think I was more nervous than he was. This all really conies as a shock to me."
"I'm 20 years old," said Dillon, "and I've got to be in by 12:30 on Saturday night. I was doing that in the eighth grade. You don't feel like you know what's going on in the world. And everyone thinks of you as totally perfect and pure. They're so shocked when something happens like last spring." Last spring nine midshipmen were dismissed from the academy on the eve of graduation for using marijuana.
The old order sure does change.
A grand old American custom is the annual tour of college football training sites by sportswriters covering a particular group of college teams. During a recent tour of Big Eight Conference camps, the assembled writers were more than a little miffed one day when a bus taking them from the airport to their motel in Lincoln, Neb. broke down, obliging the typewriter carriers to walk almost a mile to the motel in 90° heat. Hell has no fury like a reporter denied his amenities, so the following morning, when the troupe was scheduled to leave for its next port of call, Mayor Sam Schwartzkopf of Lincoln sent two station wagons, complete with police escort, to convey the journalists to the airport. Unhappily, after the two station wagons were filled to the brim there were still 15 writers standing on the sidewalk. Police Chief Joe Carroll, who was on hand, solved that problem with dispatch. He called for a police van, loaded the 15 writers aboard and whisked them out to the airport.
It made everybody happy, including some onlookers who were seen nodding approvingly as they watched the press being herded into the paddy wagon.
Vermonters were aware this spring that last winter had been a terribly hard one for deer. Bark had been stripped from countless trees by the starving animals, whose normal sources of food had been obliterated by the very heavy snows. Game-management officials made a detailed study of known deer areas and in a report issued this summer revealed the extent of the disaster. An estimated 40,000 deer had died, more than double the 18,789 killed legally during the hunting season.
Although most of the dead deer showed varying degrees of malnutrition, the immediate instrument of death for most was the domestic dog, running loose in the fields and woods and chasing the deer down in the deep snow (when the ground is clear a deer can almost always avoid or outrun a dog). More than two-thirds of the dead animals were fawns, and of the adults killed almost 90% were does.
Game wardens in Vermont give one warning to dog owners whose pets have been discovered chasing deer. The second time the warden is under orders to shoot to kill.
It should be as obvious as Vida Blue that the American League West is a good deal stronger this year, and now come figures to support the obvious. When interdivisional play was completed for the season at the end of August, the West had won 215 games to the East's 214, with three games rained out. This may not seem much of an edge, but in 1969, the first year the major leagues split into divisions, the East led 245-187 and last season the West improved its position only slightly, to 243-189. But this year—oh, you, Blue.
On Sept. 1 in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh the Pirates started an all-black team in a game against the Phillies. Dock Ellis pitched, Manny Sanguillen caught, Al Oliver was at first, Rennie Stennett at second, Jackie Hernandez at short and Dave Cash at third; Willie Stargell, Gene Clines and Roberto Clemente were in the outfield.
Clines thought the Pirates had started nine blacks once before, but Stargell corrected him. "We had eight brothers on the field in 1967 in Philadelphia, when Harry Walker was managing," Stargell said. "The only white was Denny Ribant, a pitcher." Cash said the reason there were nine blacks in the starting lineups was because "some of the whites were hurt—guys like Bob Robertson and Richie Hebner. But it doesn't make any difference on this team."
Black solidarity was broken when Ellis could not go all the way and Luke Walker, a white relief pitcher, got credit for the win. Walker did not feel it was especially significant. "All I saw on the field were eight men and myself," he said. "I think all the guys on this team feel the same way." Manager Danny Murtaugh said it had not occurred to him that all the players were black when he made out the lineup. "I'm colorblind," Murtaugh said, "and my athletes know it."
A 49-year-old man named Shirley Dye was driving through an underpass in Champaign, Ill. the other day when he saw a golf ball rolling along the read. With admirable ambition and no small respect for his own coordination, Dye slowed his car, opened the door, leaned over and tried to scoop up the ball on the gallop, so to speak. However, he lost his balance and fell out.
The car, riderless, veered to the right, hit the wall of the underpass, ricocheted back across the median barrier and banged into the far side, where it stopped. Dye, unhurt except for his feelings, got a $15 ticket for careless driving, a dent in his bumper and one beat-up golf ball he should mount and put on display.
Easygoing Norm Van Brocklin, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, invited sportswriters covering the club to join himself and his assistant coaches at a night spot in Greenville, S.C., where the Falcons train at Furman University. Among the writers was Frank Hyland of The Atlanta Journal, a new man on the beat. As the evening wore on, one thing led to another and eventually Van Brocklin called Hyland a "whore writer," a term Norm uses for writers whose prose displeases him. Hyland said he wasn't either and Van Brocklin reached across the table and grabbed him by the necktie. An assistant coach separated them. Hyland said, "When I write, I'm a winner. You are a loser." Van Brocklin said, "I am not." Hyland said, "Check your record." There was nothing else to do but repair to a hallway where Van Brocklin swung and missed and Hyland swung and missed. The only damage done was to Hyland's coat, which was torn in three places.
The next morning Van Brocklin apologized to everybody.
"We just got started smart-alecking around," he said. "I initiated the physical part of it, I'm sorry to say. As far as I'm concerned, it's all over. I feel nothing but remorse."
Rankin Smith, owner of the Falcons, announced that he would take disciplinary measures against Van Brocklin. An amused observer speculated, "Rankin like as not won't send the Dutchman his Christmas ham this year."
THEY SAID IT
•Frank Lucchesi, Phillies manager, on the difference between the old Philadelphia ball park and the new one: "The old neighborhood was so tough they raffled off two cars with the cops still in them."
•Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings head coach, who won't allow his players to wear gloves or use hand warmers during games in very cold weather, when asked what he thought of the domed stadium proposed for Minneapolis: "It would spoil our image."
•David Browning, Texas Tech tackle, upholding football's values: "I'm an offensive lineman. I don't get a lot of publicity and don't ask for any. All I get out of it is an immense satisfaction. Football is rules and discipline, and I happen to think that's what life is all about."
•Cathy Dalton, 11-year-old tennis buff, after a volleying session with New York Mayor John V. Lindsay, during which she sent him running all over the court: "I could beat him."
•Jerry Hill, Baltimore Colt fullback, announcing his retirement after 10 years in the NFL: "From now on I'm going to be a real estate man and my name is Gerald A. Hill."
•Jerry Rhome, Los Angeles Rams quarterback, asked what he admired most about New England Patriots' impressive rookie quarterback Jim Plunkett: "His contract."