RECESSIONAL IN THE NBA
This is an article from the July 30, 1973 issue
In the past few months there have been numerous reports that Commissioner Walter Kennedy of the National Basketball Association had been fired by the league's owners. One report even quoted an 11-to-6 vote favoring dismissal. That total should have been evidence enough that the story was false, since the NBA Constitution requires a three-fourths majority—13 votes—to fire a commissioner.
Kennedy quieted the rumors last week by announcing that he would retire when his current contract expires in 1975, adding that his move is purely voluntary. As proof he points to the 10-year, $500,000 consulting job the owners have awarded him as a going-away present. "Hush money," cried Kennedy detractors.
Kennedy's critics, who have often rapped him justifiably in the past, were very likely wrong this time. Despite an inept coin toss here and dismaying lack of decisiveness there, Kennedy has done a reasonably good job of dealing with the NBA's fractious owners, most of whom want an assertive, independent commissioner about as much as they want to drop the reserve clause. His 10 years in office offer some good reasons why he was not canned. During his tenure NBA television revenues increased from $0 to $9 million per annum, and its nationally televised games from none to what will be 38 in the coming season. The league has almost doubled in size to 17 teams, with five of the NBA's healthiest franchises included among the new clubs. Most gratifyingly, attendance has risen from two to seven million.
In fact, if Kennedy could possibly negotiate an armistice with the ABA by the time he retires and clean up a batch of lawsuits facing the NBA, he could leave the league in remarkably better condition than he found it. A recent Harris poll indicated that while baseball's popularity has increased 3.3% in the past year and pro football's has declined 3%, pro basketball's has jumped nine and a half percentage points. Best of all, the pollsters say pro basketball is now the favorite spectator sport of American teen-agers.
STUDY IN FUTILITY
There is a certain irony to be detected in baseball attendance figures through July 10, as reported by The Sporting News. In 41 home games, the Kansas City Royals drew 699,007. The world champion Oakland Athletics, in 41, had an attendance of only 512,057. In 40 home games, the Milwaukee Brewers drew 609,862. But the Atlanta Braves showed a mere 372,725 for 34 home games.
As you may remember, the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta complaining about poor support and, on the same grounds, the Athletics moved from Kansas City to Oakland. In each case the club that moved into the city that was vacated is now outdrawing the original franchise holder.
For anyone who would like to pursue the case further, the same has happened with the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. Or still further? The Texas Rangers, who fled Washington because they were unloved, have an attendance crisis in their new home. Want to bet Washington's new team outdraws the Rangers next year?
GETAWAY DAY AT BULLHEAD
Striped bass fingerlings implanted in the Colorado River less than 10 years ago have achieved extraordinary growth in the Bullhead City, Ariz. area south of Davis Dam.
The first 10-pounder caught was considered to be sensational, but increases have ranged up to five pounds a season, and this year sponsors of the Bullhead City Merchants' Striped Bass Derby were expecting a 50-pounder. Ron Weaver, a Bullhead City businessman, thinks he had one—for a while.
With his 11-year-old son along for their first striper quest together, Weaver baited up with a frozen anchovy and soon latched onto a fish that took 45 exciting minutes to bring aboard the boat. A borrowed scale registered it at 51 pounds and, even allowing for some scale error, the fish easily beat the existing state record of 47 pounds.
As Weaver was turning the key to start his boat and get the fish as quickly as possible to an official weighing station to be certified for the $1,000 top prize, his son asked, "Can I hold him, Dad?" Then there was a splash as son and fish went overboard.
Weaver rescued his son—there are priorities in these matters—but the striper disappeared.
The craggy, rock-shaped bottle has a boxing glove as a stopper and on its front there is a cameo reproduction of none other than Rocky Marciano. Inside is a fifth of Kentucky whiskey, a product of the James B. Beam Distilling Co. It is Jim Beam's 351st trophy bottle in 20 years and, like many another in the series, it is expected to become a collector's item—and quite a valuable one. One such bottle, a facsimile of the First National Bank of Chicago in commemoration of its 100th anniversary, has attained a value of $2,800 since it was introduced in 1964. The trophy bottles initially sell for from $10 to $25.
The idea for Rocky's bottle came from Louis Marciano, the boxer's brother, and proceeds will go to the Rocky Marciano Foundation in San Jose, Calif.
So now the late great and undefeated Rocky has what he never had in his ring career: a glass jaw.
Fred Spiller, truck driver, father of five, peaceful Wichita (Kans.) citizen, is now out $25 and has a police record. Or he will have if he loses his appeal. The crime? He picked up a baseball hit 390 feet over the fence and into the gutter of a neighboring street.
Detective Floyd Powell, assigned to the intracity game between the South Riverside Baptist Church and the Service Auto Glass teams, came down from the bleachers and ordered Spiller to return the ball. Spiller refused, contending that a ball hit into the stands or over the fence belongs to the spectator. "Come with me," ordered Powell.
Judge Cliff W. Ratner agreed with the detective that in non-league games the ball belongs to the team even though, as expert witnesses testified, it is the custom in major league games to let the finder be the keeper. The municipal court judge ruled against Spiller despite what the judge called his lawyer's "poignant and beautiful" arguments, finding him guilty of petty larceny. Spiller feels there is a principle involved and plans to appeal to the district court, where he will be entitled to a jury trial. And if he loses there, he will go even higher. Apparently there has been no court ruling on a similar case in baseball history. Go get 'em, Fred.
In late summer each year flocks of migrating robins gather in Canada's maritime provinces on their way to the U.S. They are a hungry lot because extensive Canadian crop spraying has largely eliminated the bud worms and other insects that are the natural food of the robin. What they have turned to as a substitute is the blueberry. As a result, the Canadian government is contemplating a massive slaughter of tens of thousands of the birds this August and September.
Last year, according to The Fund for Animals, Inc. of Washington, D.C., one Canadian farmer boasted that he had shot some 7,000 robins on his 200-acre farm. One of America's most popular songbirds and the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin, the robin can be prevented, by nonlethal means, from devastating blueberry crops. In the northeastern U.S. this is done by placing netting over the berries.
Though conceding that the robin is not yet an endangered species, The Fund for Animals fears that it will become one if its mass destruction should develop into an annual event. According to the Fund, robins are even now thought to be experiencing reproductive difficulties and population decreases from the widespread use of pesticides, though "hard evidence is difficult to come by."
"The elimination of these robins," the Fund asserts, "could result in a proliferation of insects on which the robins normally prey, which will inevitably lead to more widespread use of dangerous pesticides, which appears to be the main cause of the present problem."
Since the robin is covered in America's migratory bird treaty with Canada, Fund officials hope that the U.S. Government, specifically the Departments of Interior and State, will request that the Canadians spare the birds.
PASS, PLACE AND SHOW
The University of Washington's contribution to "practical education," in which students acquire knowledge and skills they will need to get along in the world, is a non-credit course in thoroughbred handicapping. For their final exams a class of 33 attended Longacres racetrack and 25 passed—by having a winning day.
NAMES MAKE NEWS AGAIN
At the Wonderland Dog Track in Revere, Mass., greyhounds racing in the current meeting are named Nixon Victory Lane, Spiro, Mr. Wiretapper, No Peeking, Not Me, Deluded, Some Nightmare and Jailed.
Then there are the Love Bugs, a softball team in San Jose, Calif. for girls ages 10 and 11. Nothing to do with the Watergate buggings, however. The Love Bugs are sponsored by the Sure Kill Exterminator Company.
Peter Lollar, a defenseman for the Kingston Aces of the Ontario Hockey Association, obligingly agreed to sign an autograph for 9-year-old Whitney Haynes, a little girl who much admired him. But Whitney did not have a hockey program or even a scrap of paper. So she asked Lollar to sign a dollar. He did, and Whitney turned the keepsake over to her dad. That was a mistake.
Inadvertently, Bob Haynes spent the dollar at the arena. That was last October. The dollar was gone forever, everyone assumed. But the other day Mary Jeffrey of Napanee, Ont., 28 miles from Kingston, found she had a dollar with Peter Lollar's name on it. Mary is a housekeeper at the Napanee Home for the Aged and the administrator of the home is Walter Gerow, coach of the Kingston Aces. So Mary gave the dollar to Walter, who gave it to Lollar, who, after some searching, found Whitney and returned it to her. She'll be a fan for life.
JUDY IS A LADY
Prizefighting between ladies has long been frowned upon or prohibited by law the world around. Except now in Pennsylvania, which recently took an exaggerated view of the Women's Lib movement and lifted the restrictions against such exhibitions.
So Philadelphia promoters, historically never too concerned about the ethical considerations of sport, went on a frantic search for female talent to provide a spicy fillip of interest for another version of Ladies' Night. There are not too many girl boxers about, though, and the promoters found themselves hard put. They concentrated, naturally, on the girls of the roller skating derbies, in which fist-fights between the lady competitors are a common attraction. As their principal target they settled on Judy Arnold, star of the Roller Games and a frequent participant in rough stuff on the banked track.
Ms. Arnold, it turns out, is having no part of taking somebody's best shot with a pair of Everlast eight-ouncers. She gave the promoters her decision:
No punchin' Judy show.
THEY SAID IT
•Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh slugger with more than 300 career homers, saying he is 10 behind Henry Aaron: "Ten years, that is."
•Frank Quilici, Minnesota manager, on his 12 moves in 12 years: "We sometimes forget our daughter's age, but we know she's got 80,000 miles on her."
•Golfer Bob Charles: "Being left-handed is a big advantage. No one knows enough about your swing to mess you up with advice."
•Charlie Waters, Dallas Cowboy cornerback, after doctors inserted a steel rod to hasten healing in his arm, broken in December's NFL playoff game against Washington. "Many more experiences like this and I'll have a recyclable body."