YOU HAVE EARS BUT HEAR NOT
Because athletes have been warned so often against using drugs, it is sometimes hard to believe the problem is still serious. But at least one NFL owner says it is, and because of that he is enthusiastic about the upcoming White House seminar on drugs in athletics. Player representatives from teams in football and other professional sports will be on hand, which is good, the owner says, because athletes who participate in the seminar should be able to get the drug message over to their teammates. "When the doctors talk to the players about the dangers of drugs," the owner says sadly, "it's like talking to the school for the deaf."
Despite the obdurate position of owners like Gussie Busch of the St. Louis Cardinals, the players seem to be taking the brunt of adverse public reaction to the recent baseball strike, catcalls from the stands mocking players indiscriminately. A less emotional but possibly more valid criticism comes from J. Norman Lewis, an attorney who in the 1950s was as much anathema to the owners as Marvin Miller is now. Lewis was the players' lawyer and representative and worked closely with stars like Ralph Kiner and Allie Reynolds in hammering out the pension contract of 1954. Now he feels strongly that current major-leaguers are greedy and selfish in refusing to share today's bonanza with older, retired players. Major-leaguers who finished their careers before the pension plan was established have never participated in it, and those who played only during its earlier years receive comparatively little. Rip Sewell, the old eephusball pitcher whose 13 seasons in the majors ended in 1949, gets $216 a month, Lewis says, whereas a current player with a similar career would get $1,542.80. "What kind of sympathy can I have for these kids?" he asks. "The funny thing is, their whole pitch [in the strike] involved a cost-of-living increase."
When the original plan was set up it included all post-World War II players. "I promoted the idea in 1954," Lewis says, "that all increases from then on take into account all these players, active, inactive or retired." Instead, he says, in the five-year contracts negotiated in 1962 and 1967 older players were removed from the new pension rolls in five-year increments. A resentful Allie Reynolds, thus lopped, went so far as to sue the players' association, unsuccessfully, for their action.
April 30, 1972
THE JUDD-GO CAPER
Two naked coeds may be the most stimulating thing ever to happen to Vanderbilt University's McGugin Center, focus of athletic activity on campus. The sauna at McGugin Center had been exclusively male until the two girls appeared one day to undress and bask in the moist 180° heat. "It didn't take long for a crowd to gather," said Equipment Manager Bill Kelly. "People who came to play handball decided to take a sauna before going to the courts instead of after." Les Lyle, an ex-Vanderbilt football player, was in the dressing room when the young women came out of the shower. "For the first time in my life I was speechless," Lyle remarked. "Finally I said, 'How are you doing?' They said they were doing fine, and I couldn't think of anything else to ask them." Then the girls dressed and left.
The two girls, splendidly named Wiget Judd and Mae King Go, said they were not crusaders. "We didn't do it to cause any trouble," said Wiget. "We knew there would be a few raised eyebrows, but since the university had to be prodded to allow women to use the sports center in the first place, we saw no reason not to take advantage of that decision to open the sauna to everyone." Mae, who is Mississippi Chinese, added that there was no scandal since no crowd had gathered—unless six men can be considered a crowd.
Athletic Director Bill Pace said, "We had decided earlier that McGugin Center facilities were open for the use of all students when there was no conflict with varsity programs. We hadn't thought about the sauna." Technical difficulties would have to be worked out, he added, since the sauna is near the men's shower "and we have no intention of mixing that area." But, henceforth, women students would be able to use it under a reserved-time system.
Really, golf is such an easy game. Take Dave Ragaini. He used to be No. 1 man on Yale's golf team, but then Yale is hardly Wake Forest, is it? Last year he became the third amateur in half a century to win the Westchester County Open, but who ever heard of the Westchester County Open? Ragaini is not even a scratch golfer—he labors under a two handicap—and to cap it all, he makes his living singing in radio and TV commercials (one of his golden oldies is M-m-m, M-m-m Good.... That's What Campbell's Soup Is). In other words, when Nicklaus is out on the practice tee, sharpening his swing, Ragaini is in the studio, clearing his throat and running up and down the scale a few times.
O.K. A couple of Sundays ago Ragaini bet his friend Ed Hogan $50 he could beat him over 18 holes, driving from his knees. He would kneel down on each tee, he said, and swing from there. You're on, said Hogan, and off they went. After nine holes Ragaini was 3-up, but you know how it is with knees. Joe Namath and all that. Ragaini lost the 10th, lost the 11th, lost the 12th. Things looked bad as they went to the 207-yard par-3 13th all even. The confident Hogan drove first and put his shot 10 feet from the pin. Ragaini, desperate now, took a three-wood, knelt, swung—and put the ball in the cup for a hole in one. It was the first hole in one he had ever made.
From then on it was easy. Ragaini won all five of the remaining holes from the demoralized Hogan, shot an 80 to his opponent's 89, pocketed the $50 and ambled off, probably rubbing his knees and almost certainly humming M-m-m, M-m-m Good.
The Chinese table-tennis players currently paddling around the country are covered by a U.S. insurance policy. The National Committee for U.S.-China Relations asked the CNA Insurance Company for a blanket 24-hour accidental death and dismemberment policy. If "anything happens" (as insurance men like to say) the committee could collect up to $25,000—or 56,660 yuans—as beneficiary, but what happens then is not clear. A CNA man in New York said, "I could say the money would eventually go to a beneficiary in China but, frankly, I don't know if they have beneficiaries in China. I could say it would eventually go to a deceased team member's estate, but I don't even know if they have estates in China."
In any case, the National Committee would hold the money in trust for the Chinese Table Tennis Association, which might react with surprise, since right now the insured players apparently are unaware that the insurance policy exists. There is even the possibility that, coming from an isolated Communist country, they might ask, "What is an insurance policy?"
Minor league baseball (SI, April 24) is a constant scramble, with the shrewder operators always coming up with clever promotional ideas to attract spectators. One of the liveliest of these is Charlie Blaney, who runs the Albuquerque Dukes of the Pacific Coast League (the Pacific Coast has to cut considerably inland to reach New Mexico, but never mind about that). Blaney comes up with things like 10¢ beer nights, baseball bingo, fireworks, players sitting in the stands giving autographs, hot dog night (eat all the franks you can), women's lib night (men get in for half price) and lots and lots of giveaways.
This year Blaney, striving for the ultimate, came up with an idea so sensational it might revolutionize the minor league game. It is so big he is going to try it only once this season. On July 8 Albuquerque fans will be treated to No-Promotion Night. Nothing is going to happen. No gimmicks, no gags, no giveaways, no price reductions on tickets or concessions. Just straight baseball. Albuquerque vs. Tacoma, and that's it.
Baseball waits tensely for the result. Good lord! Suppose No-Promotion Night outdraws the other 73 home dates? Bill Veeck's artificial leg will be spinning in its socket.
MONEY MONEY EVERYWHERE
It is not just college basketball players who are under pressure to enter professional ranks while they are still undergraduates. It's happening in tennis, too. Rice's Harold Solomon is passing up the Southwest Conference tennis tournament to play in a pro event at Columbus, Ga. Rice Coach Sammy Giammalva refuses to criticize his player's decision even though Solomon, ranked No. 10 in the country, won the Southwest Conference singles and doubles titles last year as a freshman.
"Ninety-nine percent of his college matches are a waste of time," says Giammalva. "He's so much better than the others. At Columbus if he loses his first-round match he still gets $650. If he wins the tournament he gets $4,500. That could pay for his college education.
"There is so much money available today that I don't blame any boy for turning pro. Jimmy Connors quit UCLA this year, and in three months has earned $35,000. At that rate he'll have a $100,000 year. I don't think Solomon will win as regularly as Connors, but if endorsements are included he should make $25,000 by the time he returns to school in September."
A LOT OF POLE
A British magazine called Athletics Weekly tells of a radical new pole that Mike Bull, Britain's best vaulter, hopes to use when he is fully recovered from a muscle injury in his thigh. The Rola-Pole, an Italian invention, was designed with an eye to ending the travail of vaulters obliged to lug rigid 16-foot poles around in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis. "The pole is constructed of a finely woven mixture of nylon and glass fibre," says Athletics Weekly, "with a hole drilled down the center. It can be rolled up and carried around like a garden hose, yet when a specially developed core is added, it acts like a normal pole. The core is a special alloy and comes in sections two feet long. The sections are screwed together and inserted into the pole."
The magazine adds that a special problem with the Rola-Pole is the amount of pull required by the vaulter, since this varies with the temperature and the expansion and contraction of the core. When Dr. Naruo, the inventor and an ex-vaulter, tried to clear a modest 9'10" with the prototype, he found himself soaring against the ceiling of his laboratory, 15 feet above the ground. He suffered bruises and a concussion, the magazine noted.
It should also be noted that the article appeared in the April 1 issue and that Dr. Naruo's first name was given as Looflirpa.
THEY SAID IT
•Doug Osburn, Rice baseball coach, recalling the Cubs' no-hit Burt Hooton as a collegian: "I had one guy who hit under everything, missed each pitch by about a foot. He was the only one who liked to hit against Hooton. That drop was made to order for him. I believe he was five for seven against Hooton."
•Diane Crawford, wife of golf pro Richard Crawford, recalling the time an airline smashed Tom Weiskopf's clubs: "This little airline man was so apologetic. He begged Tom to forgive him. He said to make up for it he had arranged for Tom to pick out a new set of clubs at the local Sears store."
•Carlos Paz, minor league baseball player from Cuba, on Fidel Castro as a ballplayer: "He claims he was once a pitcher. Bah! He was nothing. He fix the sides so his team wins, and when he pitches other team cannot bunt. He is not good ballplayer. He not even good sport."
•Wilma Rudolph Elder, 1960 Olympic sprint champion, now the mother of four children: "I don't know how many more I'll have but I don't think I'll catch my father. I'm one of 22, you know."