NEW DAY DAWNING
Peace broke out in tennis last week. The ILTF, the international ruling body, and WCT, Lamar Hunt's troupe of professionals, worked out a deal that will let contract pros play in ILTF events and will limit Hunt's pro tour to the first four months of the year. The agreement still has to be ratified by the ILTF at its annual meeting in July, but it is certain that when Forest Hills begins on Aug. 30 all the top names in tennis will be there.
Wimbledon, which takes place before the ILTF meeting, will have to wait until next year for a full complement of stars but, even so, a few of Hunt's pros will be on hand this time. Defending champion John Newcombe, whose contract with WCT expires in May, expects to play, and so do Roy Emerson, Nikki Pilic, Cliff Drysdale, Fred Stolle and possibly Ken Rosewall.
All we can say is hurrah—and it's about time.
May 7, 1972
Echoes of the baseball strike continue to reverberate. As Dick Moss, one of the attorneys for the players' association, said at a University of Wisconsin sports symposium, "Things will never be the same again in baseball." Nor, apparently, in any other sport.
In Washington, Ed Garvey, head of the pro football players' group, said. "It was like watching a trial run. This could be us two years from now. We were within 12 hours of canceling the first preseason game in 1970. It wasn't something either side wanted, and good sense on both sides finally prevented it. What I want to do is begin talks now so that we don't have to go to a deadline again. But I'm not optimistic.
"The baseball owners were after one thing—Marvin Miller—and the negotiations got down to personal insults, which is something football has avoided. We've criticized the power the commissioner has, the office, the position as it now exists, but we have not attacked Pete Rozelle personally. The owners, however, try to make it appear that we are after him. That's not true, but the owners like to make the public think the players are the villains.
"If the baseball owners broke the players and won out, it would certainly have hurt us. Then the NFL owners could say, 'Baseball called their bluff. We can do the same.' They should know now that we mean it when we say we are willing to strike. Baseball didn't believe the players were serious, either."
More food for thought for NFL owners concerns its current crop of college draftees, whose hopes of big salaries and bonuses were earlier dashed by repeated comments from professional experts that this was the weakest batch of collegians to come along in years. Last year 11 players turned away from the NFL and went instead to Canadian football. This year the number is almost that big already, with Alabama's Johnny Musso and Stanford's Don Bunce the most prominent defectors. Money makes the mare go, claims the old saying. Lack of money makes the players go.
It has been an accepted tenet among those who have watched him play and listened to him talk that Rudolph Wanderone, the New York Fats of pool, on whom the film character Minnesota Fats was based, can beat any other pool player in the world in a showdown match for big money. The venerable Willie Mosconi disagrees, and adds that he'll put $100,000 where his mouth is.
Mosconi says he has hired the ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia for four nights beginning May 22, and he has issued a proclamation to Fats to show up or shut up. He will play one-pocket pool, which Fats prefers, but he also wants straight pool, nine ball, rotation, three-cushion billiards and several other games.
"Just let me get him to the table," Mosconi says. "I'll play him every game in the book. I'll play him for any amount. That fat character claims he can beat anybody when the cash is on the line. Well, he can't beat me. I'm going to put him on the spot. I'm going to show the public once and for all that he is a third-rate player who can't shoot pool.
"I also predict he won't show up. He is finished as a pool showboat, and he knows it. The table will be there, I'll be there and the cash will be there. If he doesn't show, that will let the public know just how good he is."
OH SAY CAN YOU SEE
For years, maybe centuries, trainers with edgy racehorses used things like blinkers and shadow rolls to limit what the animal could see and thus reduce the incidence of behavioral eccentricity. The assumption has always been that a jumpy racer had an unstable personality. Now Billy Haughton, the eminent harness-horse trainer, is trying a new approach based on the idea that bad eyes, rather than bad nerves, cause some horses to spook.
"I had often thought about putting glasses on a horse," says Haughton, "but, well, you know, you just don't go around talking about things like that." He wondered in particular about a charge of his named Lord Hanover, who did strange things. "One day he jumped over something I later found was a tire track. The slight movement of a whip startled him. Birds drove him nuts. He looked around at everything. It was like he was watching a tennis game. I happened to mention to one of Lord Hanover's owners that I thought the horse's eyes might be a little funny, and he said he had some friends with Balester Optical in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. that I could talk to. At least they wouldn't laugh if I gave them a call."
Haughton described in detail how the horse was behaving, and the Balester people took an educated guess on what sort of prescription was needed. The final result was a pair of equine spectacles that look a bit like blinkers with small bay windows. Lord Hanover, still a youngster, might have preferred something a bit more mod, say granny glasses with octagonal frames, but never mind. These seem to work.
"We may have to make some adjustments later on," says Haughton, "but I'll tell you this. Birds don't bother him anymore, and he pays attention to the racetrack in front of him. If they really work, you can bet I'll try them on other horses."
And then bettors may have to learn a new symbol in the form charts, say "gl," for glasses on or glasses off.
During a track meet between Eastern Washington State and Central Washington State, the gun refused to go off for the start of the 880-yard run. The starter pulled the trigger four times but nothing happened. Finally Eastern's Bob Maplestone, who comes from Great Britain, blurted, "For God's sake, just say bloody 'Go.' "
SPAHN AND COOPERSTOWN
Baseball fans, nodding their approval when such players as Early Wynn and Sandy Koufax and Yogi Berra were duly elected to the Hall of Fame, have wondered why the superb Warren Spahn has not yet made it to Cooperstown. Spahn, whose 363 victories are the most ever for a lefthander, won 20 games or more in a season 13 times, more often even than Walter Johnson. He last pitched in the major leagues in 1965, which means that he has been retired more than the five seasons a player must be before he becomes eligible for election. Where, then, is Warren's plaque?
Ah. The rule says a player must not only be out of the majors for five years, he must be out of all baseball. In 1966 Spahn served as pitching coach for the Mexico City Tigers and one day agreed to pitch to help draw a crowd. That brief outing was duly entered in his official playing record. In 1967, when he was managing Tulsa, he did the same thing. Again the appearance went into his record, and again the earliest date he would be eligible for election was set back, this time to 1973.
"I didn't know such things would affect my eligibility," Spahn says now, "but I'd do it again. I've gotten so much out of baseball. It's been my whole life. If I can put something back, I'm going to do it. I owe baseball everything."
Nonetheless, a slight resentment lingers. "On something like what I did," he says, "I think intent should be taken into consideration. I wasn't pitching to make a living or a comeback. I was just trying to do my employers a favor, do something good for the game.
"But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. It'll be a great honor if I'm voted in, but it's something a player should never expect will happen."
THE FIT AND THE UNFIT
Dr. Lawrence A. Golding of Kent State has confirmed what a lot of sports fans have long suspected: the average baseball player is only slightly above the average spectator when it comes to physical fitness. Golding has spent 14 years testing athletes from Olympic performers to the Cleveland Indians. He rates various sports as follows insofar as physical fitness is concerned: track, swimming, cross-country, skiing, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, football, tennis, baseball, golf and bowling.
Apparently there is a considerable drop once you get past tennis. For instance, says Dr. Golding, "Football players understand they have to be fit to play their game, but baseball players are simply not aware of the importance of it." He is amazed that ballplayers do not warm up more before a game. "Every batter swings a weighted bat in the on-deck circle, but how many do a knee bend or a toe touch to stretch their leg muscles? Yet they run to first base like sprinters. What dash man doesn't loosen up first?"
He does grant that baseball players rate exceptionally high in tests of physical reaction, so important in hitting and fielding. They can move over a 10-foot range in 1.02 seconds, while 1.76 is what Mr. Average does and 1.26 is considered superior.
BOB AND BEER
Since golf is rated below baseball, it is interesting to note Bob Murphy's riposte to the repeated criticism that golfers are not really athletes. "Of course, golfers are athletes," said the 5'9", 212-pound Murphy. "They need strength, stamina and steady nerves under tremendous individual pressure. There are no teammates to rely on, you know." To hints that he himself is an indication that a man does not have to be in splendid shape to be a top golfer, the portly Murphy replied, "Just because a guy is fat doesn't make him automatically lazy or slovenly. I know a lot of good fat athletes. If anybody doesn't think I'm an athlete, let him arrange a decathlon. Anything. You name it: shoot baskets, pitch baseball, shoot pool. I've done all of it. I happen to be fat, but I'll take them on."
Murphy said the most he ever weighed was 228. "I lost 20 pounds by giving up beer," he said, and then added, "Nothing tastes like a cold brew after a round of golf. If only they could get iced tea to taste like that."
THEY SAID IT
•Frank Anderson, retired Texas A&M track coach, after watching Kjell Isaksson make his world-record 18'1" pole vault at the Texas Relays: "It was considerably better than the 10'2" I made to win the Tennessee state meet in 1912."
•Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, on a spring practice scrimmage: "It brought back memories of my boyhood in Brooklyn. It looked like a game between 26th Street and Avenue R."
•Father Daniel Berrigan, recently on trial for conspiracy: "If the FBI went back far enough, I was always suspect. I never liked football."
•Dick Allen, on why he takes as little batting practice as possible with the Chicago White Sox: "Your body is just like a bar of soap. It gradually wears down from repeated use."