The tangled web that tennis weaves (page 22) is increasingly confusing to a public already befuddled by the incessant wars among an alphabet soup of organizations—ILTF, USLTA, WCT, WTT, ad nauseam. The latest move, World Championship Tennis' declaration of independence from U.S. Lawn Tennis Association authority, seemed likely to set off another debilitating struggle between pro tennis and the national and international associations that traditionally have been the ultimate rulers of the game. So everyone waited as the International Lawn Tennis Federation met in London last weekend, just after Lamar Hunt made his announcement about the WCT going its own way. Curiously, and perhaps happily, no sounds of belligerence emerged. Maybe, then, this is the true dawn of peace in tennis. Maybe authority will be divided once and for all along the lines that golf has followed so successfully. That is, the professionals will run their own game, and the old associations will run Wimbledon and Forest Hills (akin to the British and U.S. Opens in golf), along with junior development programs and a lot of amateur tournaments. Which is the way it should be.
If not, tennis will be in danger of losing the widespread popularity it has recently come to command. Fans like historic events such as Wimbledon and Forest Hills, but they also like to see the stars of the game playing on these prestigious occasions.
February 3, 1974
Even though the Oakland A's all speak highly of Dick Williams, star Pitcher Jim (Catfish) Hunter does not want him to return as manager, unlikely as that prospect is. Hunter says, "I've come to the conclusion that we'll be better off in 1974 without Williams. All of us loved playing for him, but he has made a decision that he does not want to manage us. Now if, by some strange fate, he were to come back and manage us, I think it would hurt. How can you play for a man who does not want to be your manager?
"He doesn't want us, so we shouldn't want him."
KANSAS CITY: UP TO DATE
A counterpoint to the current chorus of antistadium sentiment (new stadiums are too expensive, too much of a tax burden, not really needed) is the voice of Joe McGuff, sports editor of the Kansas City Star. "I've become a city watcher in this job," he says, "and I like to compare my town with others. What I saw in the 1950s and '60s didn't please me. Kansas City was standing still. Forward-looking cities were accomplishing so much more, while Kansas City stagnated.
"That's not true anymore. We've got a vibrant, improving city, and you can ask anybody in our town and they'll tell you it all stems back to 1967, when we passed the bond issue that included the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex, with its stadiums for football and baseball.
"These were general obligation bonds, backed by public funds, and they had to pass by a two-thirds majority. There was some very vocal opposition, but enough support developed to just barely push it over the top. The next thing to pass was the Kemper Arena. This opens next fall, for pro basketball and pro hockey. And last December a bond issue was passed to build a convention center.
"These things—the sports complex, the arena and the convention center—are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in new, privately financed business. The town is coming alive again. We're no longer in danger of falling to second-class status, which was certainly where we were headed. The stadiums cost $71 million, the arena $18 million, the convention center $30 million. A lot of public funds were committed, but I don't know anybody who wouldn't do the whole thing over, now that we've seen the results.
"Critics make the mistake of opposing sports facilities because they won't pay for themselves. Certainly they won't, not if you expect payment in dollars and cents on their own ledgers. What you have to consider is what they do for the entire community."
LUCK IS A LADY
A British psychologist has advice for male gamblers. Take a lady along. Dr. Julian Tynner discovered during research at Monte Carlo that men who gambled with female companions at their side were three times as lucky as men who gambled alone. He obtained similar results at casinos in Great Britain and West Germany, and at Las Vegas he found that men-only gambling clubs showed a 450% higher rate of profit than clubs that catered to a mixed audience. When one all-male club in Las Vegas switched to a mixed clientele. Dr. Tynner claims, revenues fell more than $600,000 in three weeks and the club had to rush back to its former status.
While it is hard to believe that any Vegas gambling hole ever lost money doing anything, it's fun to listen to the doctor. "In the highly concentrated ethos of a casino," he says, "a woman gets a flash of what the immediate future holds in terms of what a winning number will be. Sometimes a wife will tell her husband what numbers to play. In other cases, she will merely glance at him and transmit it by thought transference."
One can imagine the dialogue after a losing play, particularly for couples who rely on the glance system.
"Why did you bet on 27?"
"Didn't you glance 27?"
"No, I didn't! I glanced 23. If you'd pay a little attention to me instead of that blonde over there, you might win once in a while."
Loyola of Chicago plays its basketball games in ancient Alumni Gymnasium, which seats fewer than 3,000 people. Coach George Ireland, who guided Loyola to the NCAA championship in 1963, looked enviously at the glistening new sports building that Marshall University has on its campus at Huntington, W. Va. "I sent my president a picture of their new gym," Ireland says, "and I wrote on it, 'Isn't money something?"
"My president wrote back, "Money is the root of all evil.' "
One of the pleasanter traditions in sport—the postgame handshake at center ice between the players of rival hockey teams—has been halted by high school hockey leagues in Rhode Island. The supposedly sportsmanlike gesture was leading to nasty words and occasional fights. The Rev. Robert C. Newbold, executive secretary of the Rhode Island Principals' Committee on Athletics, said, "Officials strongly recommended dropping it. We agreed. It was too artificial to have real meaning, and it presented a constant threat of a serious explosion. Hockey has so much contact that the atmosphere can be incendiary right after a game."
Tom Eccleston, president of the Rhode Island Hockey Coaches' Association, said, "I'm not opposed to handshaking if it's a genuine and spontaneous thing between opponents who have real admiration for each other. But the ritual we've had is phony, and it is so dangerous that I won't let my players do it if I believe the other team is not under control."
One of the few coaches who wanted the tradition continued is Lou Cimini of LaSalle High School in Providence, whose son was punched during a handshaking ritual a few years ago.
"I was very upset when that happened," Cimini said, "but why condemn something basically good because of one bad incident? For a team to behave properly during handshaking is simply a demonstration of discipline, which we coaches should teach."
Perhaps the trouble is caused by the use of the ceremony after all games. In the National Hockey League the tradition is followed only after the last game of each Stanley Cup playoff series. Going through the handshake after every game is parallel to the unfortunate practice of playing the national anthem before every sporting event. Something that should have special significance becomes meaningless ritual.
Allegheny College had a swim meet scheduled with Kenyon College. Some of the Allegheny swimmers were hit with 24-hour virus. They recovered quickly enough, but Coach Sam Freas did not want to subject them to the 190-mile bus trip from Meadville, Pa. to Gambier, Ohio. Still, he did not want to cancel the meet. The result? The meet was held, even though both teams remained at home. Freas worked out a deal with Kenyon Coach Dick Sloan, and each team swam in its own pool. Times in each event were noted, and the coaches got on the phone and compared them. Allegheny, virus and all, won 71-42. Times were not as fast as in head-to-head competition, even though both teams had the home-pool advantage.
FOGGY BOTTOM, INDEED
The proliferation of professional sports leagues and teams, and the easy switching of franchises from city to city, has led to confusion in the Washington-Baltimore area. Let's see. The Washington-Baltimore franchise in the new World Football League is running a contest for a nickname (first prize is $1,000), but the legal name of the corporation is Washington Capitals Inc. The new football team is not to be confused with the Washington Capitals, the new National Hockey League team that will begin competition next season. These Washington Capitals are not the Washington Capitals who used to represent the District of Columbia in the American Basketball Association; those Washington Capitals moved across the Potomac and changed their name to the Virginia Squires. These Washington Capitals will play their home games in Largo, Md. Largo, Md. is also the home base of the current local entry in the National Basketball Association, who used to be the Baltimore Bullets. They are now the Capital Bullets. There is also the North American Soccer League. The Washington team, known as the Diplomats, is owned by Nick Mangione, who is from Baltimore. The Baltimore team, once the Bays, now the Comets, is owned by Lou Foreakre, who is from Philadelphia. The Washington baseball team is called the Senators. It plays its home games in Minnesota, Texas and San Diego.
BASS OF BASSES
A news story out of Birmingham last week reported the death of George W. Perry, 61, in a plane crash on a mountain near the city. The story confined itself to details of the accident, noting only that Perry, who was the proprietor of a flying service in Brunswick, Ga., had been delivering a plane to a customer when he was killed.
Unmentioned was the fact that George Washington Perry was an almost legendary name to millions of anglers all because of something he did one day more than 40 years ago. On June 2, 1932, when Perry was only 19, he went fishing on Montgomery Lake in Georgia. According to the annals of the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society, of which he was a life member, he had no success all morning. But in the afternoon that suddenly changed. He cast a plug, a Creek Chub Wiggle Fish, toward a half-submerged dead tree. "I thought I'd hooked a log," Perry recalled not long ago. "It was heavy and cumbersome." The cumbersome log proved to be an enormous largemouth bass. Perry eventually boated it, and he and a friend took the fish into town and weighed it on a grocer's scale. He later submitted the verified weight in a regional Field & Stream contest and learned, to his considerable surprise, that he had a world record for largemouth bass. That record, an awesome 22 pounds 4 ounces, stood for the rest of his life. What happened to the massive fish? Well, 1932 was a Depression year. Perry and his family ate it.
LEVEL BUSINESS HEAD
When Henry Ford began mass-producing automobiles more than half a century ago, his basic idea was to sell a lot of cars for a little money: in sum, low price, big volume, plenty profit. Professional sport in this country likes the big-volume and high-profit part of Ford's philosophy, but it has long since abandoned low price—in most cases, anyway. But then we have Walter O'Malley's Los Angeles Dodgers, the best franchise in baseball and possibly in professional sport. When O'Malley moved his Dodgers from Brooklyn to California in 1958, ticket prices in the Coliseum, where the Dodgers played until their new stadium was built, ranged from 75¢ to $3.50. When Dodger Stadium opened in 1962 special club-level and dugout-level seats were priced at $5.50, but other tickets remained the same. This year, the Dodgers' 17th in Los Angeles and their 13th in their stadium (which, incidentally, was financed by the team, not the city), the price scale incredibly is still the same: 75¢ to $3.50, except for those special boxes. Other pro teams in Los Angeles have followed the national trend. The cheapest seat for Ram football has gone from $2.50 in 1960 to $4; Laker basketball, $2 to $4 in 1960, is now $4.25 to $7.50.
The explanation? "Mr. O'Malley is very happy with our attendance," says Red Patterson, a Dodger public-relations man. "When you average two million a season, you've got to believe our fans like things the way they are. We intend to hold the line on ticket prices." Henry Ford would have understood.
THEY SAID IT
•Aurel Joliat, 72-year-old hockey Hall of Famer who scored 270 goals in 16 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens: "I'm insulted that I haven't had an offer from the World Hockey Association."
•Paul Hansen, Oklahoma City University basketball coach, on an upcoming doubleheader: "Bethany Nazarene will play Oklahoma Christian College in the first game, and we Methodists will play Oral Roberts in the second. I don't know what kind of basketball you'll see, but it's gonna be a fine revival."
•Maury Wills, base-stealing record holder and now a special instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers, asked what new Dodger Jim Wynn had to do to steal more bases in 1974: "He has great speed and great power. The only thing he has to do to steal more is hit more singles."
•Gordon (Red) Berenson, Detroit Red Wing center, on his team's troubles: "I've been with Detroit for 3½ years. In that time we've had 11 goalies and four coaches. Once we acquire stability, I'm sure this club has potential."
•Hot Rod Hundley, television commentator, on his playing days with the Los Angeles Lakers: "My biggest thrill came the night Elgin Baylor and I combined for 73 points in Madison Square Garden. Elgin had 71 of them."