OF RAIN AND SPEED
Once he gets used to roaring around at pretty close to 200 mph, there is nothing a race driver hates worse than standing still. Well, maybe one thing: standing around in the rain is worse. There was a great deal of that sort of thing leading up to the Schaefer 500 at Pocono, Pa., the $400,000 Indy-type race billed as "the Eastern jewel in auto racing's Triple Crown." The affair was canceled at the 11th hour and the principals assumed various attitudes of outrage.
The drivers were outraged because the track locked them out without notice after they had spent almost two wet weeks waiting to roll. The United States Auto Club was outraged because it figured the show must go on, and it threatened to make Pocono forfeit the $275,000 it had posted with the USAC. The track was outraged that everybody should adopt such an attitude.
The situation came about because of tropical storm Agnes. With flood relief work still slogging along, Pennsylvania Governor Milton J. Shapp asked the track to postpone the race so that all available manpower could be devoted to the cleanup. He implied he did not think much of 100,000 race fans enjoying themselves while many Pennsylvanians were homeless or destitute.
The USAC pondered giving the track another race date sometime this summer. Pocono was reluctant to reimburse the drivers for lost time or distribute the prize fund, although officials did indicate they might do something about the $1,000 entry fees. As for racing news, if that is any comfort, during the brief practice spells between rainstorms, Bobby Unser hit 188.442 mph to be wet Pocono's fastest racer—er, nonracer.
THE DELUGE AND AFTER
First reports out of the Northeast after the floods raised fears that fish populations had been devastated; deep fishing holes were filled in with silt, gravel banks necessary to spawning were washed away and mature fish were stranded and dying in pockets of water far from their native streams and ponds. One conservation official was quoted as saying, "We're faced with the worst natural catastrophe since the Ice Age."
A more measured response after the waters had subsided indicated that while the flooding would have a decidedly adverse effect on fishing, the situation was not catastrophic. The biggest loss is in the hatching of young fish, with this year's crop ravaged by the overwhelming flow of water. Nearly all fish that would have hatched in 1972 will be lost. But, otherwise, there is optimism. Fish displaced from one fishing area are finding homes in another. Fishing holes that silted in are yielding to new holes gouged out by the flood. The gravel needed for spawning is resettling in other locales.
In sum, fishing will be bad or, at best, uncertain for a season or two, but it will return to normal.
Facts, Figures & Film, a newsletter for TV executives, reports that servicemen watching Armed Forces Network television prefer boxing films to all other packaged sports programs, including football, big-league baseball and pro basketball. Name fighters of the past like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano are particular favorites, even though most had ended their careers before the bulk of the Armed Forces viewers were born. That says something for boxing's continuing appeal as a spectator sport.
HIGH COST OF WINNING
Jerry Stovall, former St. Louis Cardinal defensive back, told his medical history to a high school association convention in Miami: "I have had a broken nose, a fractured right cheekbone, five lost teeth and a broken right clavicle. I have had a ripped sternum, seven broken ribs and a calcium deposit in my right arm that keeps me from straightening it. I have had 11 broken fingers. I'm not too smart but I know I've broken one finger twice. I broke my right big toe three times." A bad knee finally forced him to retire.
Withal, Stovall misses football. "You can't explain that deep gut feeling an athlete has when he wins because he knows he paid the price," he said.
WHO'S ON FIRST?
ABC-TV was proud of its coverage of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, which included 5½ hours of air time and cameras covering 13 of the 18 holes. Never mind the fragmented effect (the picture jumped from hole to hole and player to player so often it was like watching home movies) or the continuing banality of the commentary (Henry Longhurst and Dave Marr excepted). The overall impact was fine, and ABC, with the British Open, the PGA, the U.S. Amateur and a couple of other tournaments ahead, has the golf-TV picture pretty well wrapped up for the rest of the year.
Except, that is, for one event that might be the hardest of all to televise and the most fun to watch. It is the astonishing tournament coming up in August called The $250,000 Liggett & Myers Open and U.S. Professional Match Play Championship. CBS-TV has this one, and the network is billing it as golf's first doubleheader, which it is, since two separate tournaments will be in progress simultaneously during the final two days.
It works like this: the L&M Open begins on Thursday, like a tournament should, and goes Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Four rounds, low score the winner. Except that after Friday's round, the eight leaders must drop out of the stroke play event and move into the Match Play, joining eight others who will have qualified automatically by winning major championships or by their standings at the top of the money list. The fellow who lagged along in ninth place in the L & M on Friday suddenly finds himself the leader on the scoreboard when play in that part of the extravaganza resumes on Saturday.
At stake in the Match Play is a dandy winner's purse of $40,000. The medal tournament champ will net a mere $20,000. The format may sound complicated, but the result is a huge plus for golf fans, since they will get to see, on television, the top pros in head-to-head match-play competition for the first time in years and years.
All CBS has to do is show both competitions simultaneously and make everything crystal clear to its viewers. It's a gamble, but then CBS gambled on Archie Bunker and won. Maybe they ought to let Archie describe the action as it unfolds in all those funny directions.
Perhaps the planets have been in the wrong houses for women in sports. Two of them struck out recently—Bernice Gera, ex-baseball umpire, and Lee Arthur, ex-sportscaster. An alumna—in fact, the only alumna—of the Florida Baseball Umpires School, Mrs. Gera struggled five years before the New York State Court of Appeals finally ruled her eligible to umpire in professional baseball. Then she quit immediately after working her first pro game in Geneva, N.Y., having made her point and one mistake (she had to reverse her decision on a call at second base). She also had one argument and threw one manager out of the game.
Miss Arthur managed to hold on to her job with CBS-TV for a couple of months before being fired for mixing up leagues in giving baseball scores. Her style combined equal parts charm and chaos, with much confusion over whether the Boston team was the Red Sox or the Cubs. "I didn't know which doubleheader I was on," confessed the young lady. "Howard Cosell used to tell me, 'Lee, you're the Barbara Walters of sportscasting.' Well, it was a long shot. Jimmy the Greek gave me 50 to 1 after he'd seen me. He said I had energy."
What next? First of all, Mrs. Gera is taking Miss Arthur to a ball game to explain the finer points. Then Lee is going to write a book about how a woman can earn a living in sport, and Bernice, also heavy with book, hopes to go on tour with Joe DiMaggio.
Recruiting—by professional leagues, not colleges—has come under attack from Chancellor Maurice B. Mitchell of the University of Denver. Mitchell called the pros slave traders and sardonically suggested that colleges open vocational schools for athletes. He said professional teams must be playing for incredibly high stakes in view of the money they were willing to spend to pluck talented athletes from college campuses. The loser, he said, is the school.
"The university is training the athlete at a dead loss," he argued, "giving him free tuition and free everything, even giving him a few bucks on the side for pin money, and for what? So he can be all trained for some greedy, grasping professional who hires him and doesn't even thank you for doing the dirty work."
If Chancellor Mitchell feels his university is training athletes at a "dead loss," the solution seems obvious: stop the "free tuition and free everything." Meanwhile, one he will be training no longer is Tom Peluso, Denver's All-America sophomore hockey player. Peluso signed a contract last week to play for the Chicago Black Hawks.
Another recruiting battle this spring revolved around the head of 18-year-old Jamie Quirk of Whittier, Calif. The 6'4", 190-pound quarterback made most high school All-America teams last fall and was named California's high school football player of the year. He was courted by schools in the Pacific Eight, the Big Eight, the Big Ten and the Southwest Conference, but Notre Dame had the inside track. However, the real recruiting fight was not between Notre Dame and other colleges, nor was it solely concerned with Quirk as a quarterback. The youngster is also a superior baseball player, and in June the Kansas City Royals drafted him. "He has all the tools you'd look for in a major league shortstop," said Lou Gorman, the Kansas City farm director. "Baseball cannot afford to keep losing this kind of boy to football. If he goes to Notre Dame, he'll end up in pro football. Baseball has to uphold its prestige by signing this sort of boy."
So it was Notre Dame vs. Kansas City, college football vs. Organized Baseball. Notre Dame supposedly told Quirk he might well be starting quarterback as a sophomore and that the Heisman Trophy was a possibility. Kansas City countered by stressing the financial advantages of a baseball bonus and contract and the security of baseball's lavish pension plan. The Royals also said they would pay for Quirk's college education during the off-season.
Quirk, who has said, "I've gained more prestige from football than baseball," originally intended to delay his decision until after he had played in a high school football all-star game in California later this month. But last weekend he made up his mind. It was Kansas City over Notre Dame. Baseball won one at last.
THEY SAID IT
•Tom Burleson, U.S. Olympic basketball player listed as 7'4", asked why he measured only 7'2¾" barefoot: "I am 7'4" with my shoes on, and I always play with my shoes on."
•Bill Muncey, hydroplane pilot: "Really, we're all little kids, still looking for our parents' approval. I am 43, and the first thing I do after winning a hydroplane race is call my parents to tell them."
•Haywood Sullivan, Boston Red Sox personnel director, on managerial and coaching differences in the majors and the minors: "On the big-league club we have a manager and four coaches. On the lowest farms we have just one manager. Where we have the most need for teachers, we have the fewest, and where we need the fewest teachers, we have the most. This will have to change."
•Charlie Fox, San Francisco Giant manager, on why he salaamed to Giant Pitcher Ron Bryant after the latter had shut out the Chicago Cubs: "He complained that I didn't shake his hand after he won a game. So I told him if it would help, I'd get down on my knees and bow three times."