THE WAR OF THE POSES
No progress said the headlines day after day. "The two sides are a punt return rule, a commissioner and about $36 million apart," said John Thompson, executive director of the NFL's Management Council. "They [management] did not agree to any demand during the past three days," said Bill Curry, president of the Players Association. "They continued to try to bust this union."
There are indications, though, that everybody is beginning to hurt, and in labor negotiations, when both sides are hurting, progress is probably being made whether anyone wants to admit it or not.
The veterans were hurting because their united front was showing signs of wear. Cowboy Quarterback Roger Staubach's defection last Sunday was a blow, and it raised to 311 the number of veterans who have crossed the picket lines. 87 of them regulars, or so management reckoned. The Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills were bastions of solidarity, but they were the only ones and O.J. Simpson said the Bills were 90% sure to be back in camp this week if the negotiations that were to begin again Tuesday produced nothing. As the number of defections increase, so will the pressure on those who remain outside the fences.
August 11, 1974
But the owners were feeling the pinch, too. The first full weekend of exhibitions set records for low attendance everywhere. In Washington the smallest crowd ever to watch pro football in RFK Stadium (16,403) turned out for the Redskin-Patriot game. The Los Angeles Times charity game between the Rams and the Browns drew the smallest crowd in its 29-year history: 28,021. At Rich Stadium in Buffalo, where 80,820 showed up last year for the opening game of the exhibition season, 30,119 watched the Bills and the Packers.
Although the fans, whenever they are polled, voice no sympathy for the striking veterans, their spontaneous boycott of these rookie games was support for the players' basic contention—that they are the entertainment, and therefore deserve a better share of the box office.
In the meantime the war of nerves continued. Wellington Mara of the Giants, while insisting his remarks should not be interpreted as threats, said, "I have to think there will be a terribly large turnover on our squad." And Greg Landry, the Detroit Lion quarterback who crossed the line with the blessing of his teammates to help out new coach Rick Forzano, left camp after two days because, he said, "It got around that Landry was a strikebreaker."
When the greatest third baseman alive feels like talking about gloves, it is a good time to shut up and listen. That's what Seymour Smith of the Baltimore Sun did when the Orioles' Brooks Robinson was feeling expansive recently.
"I'm the biggest glove hound in baseball," said Robinson. "I'm always searching for the right one. I wander around the locker room testing the feel of extra gloves that players have in their bins. I've traded with lots of players over the years—both leagues—and it usually costs me two for one."
Getting the one he wants means trying out 10 to 15 different gloves. "When I find it," Robinson says, "the first thing I do is tighten up the laces to my needs. Then I usually take a little padding out of the side of the thumb and down by the heel. Then I use it in practice for about a year before I'm ready to use it in a game."
When he is packing for a road trip Robinson wraps his gloves inside his uniform to protect them from damage in transit.
"I keep three gloves," he says. "I never use my game glove except for game play. I have a second when I field batting practice and another for infield workouts. Usually the infield glove is the one I'm breaking in to replace my game glove."
Because of bigger gloves and improved playing surfaces Brooks believes that fielding is better today than 40 or 50 years ago. "I've seen the kind of glove Pie Traynor had to use to play third base," he adds in a salute to his only real competition.
LATE SUMMER LUNACY
The dog days of summer are here, signaled as always by the onset of the marathon season. Or vice versa. In Boise, Idaho, Lisa Castro and Melodi Westfall, both 11, dribbled a basketball for 43 hours. Local radio stations helped out by playing proper dribbling music. In Danville, Ill. 125 people played basketball in shifts for 300 hours, or 12½ days, for charity and because they had heard the record was 270 hours.
But it is Monopoly, which so far has been played underground, underwater, upside down, in a tree house and on moving elevators, that inspires unparalleled zeal among its devotees, in North Carolina two teams of players, one at a Dairy Queen in Kernersville, the other at a shopping center in Winston-Salem, vied simultaneously last week for the three-player endurance record. The Dairy Queen crowd gave out after 242 hours; the shopping center kids held on for 250. In the budget boys' wear section of a Denver department store a 34-person high school team played 1,008 hours and broke the three-year-old unlimited mark.
And in San Francisco four college students have inaugurated micro Monopoly, the same old Depression game but played on a one-inch-square board under a high-powered microscope.
Why? Why not.
One of the finest roller coasters left in the country is the Cyclone at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Anyone who has experienced the descent of 97 seemingly vertical feet from the crest of its first hill becomes a roller-coaster lover for life or never goes near one of them again.
So it is sad news for coaster buffs that New York City is planning to demolish the Cyclone at the end of the summer in order to add one of those ubiquitous dancing dolphin/killer whale marine circuses to the New York Aquarium, which is on adjoining land.
The idea behind it all is the rejuvenation of the decaying Coney Island community, and perhaps that is progress. But the plan strikes us as a little like floating the Statue of Liberty out to sea to make room for a miniature golf course on Bedloe's Island.
A CRACK IN THE BELL
When 55,534 people filed into Philadelphia's ancient JFK Stadium to see the WFL's Philadelphia Bell play the Portland Storm, pessimists said they were merely the curious, and wouldn't be back. But they were: 64,719 of them watched the Bell's televised game with the New York Stars two weeks later.
Suspicions that the house was heavily papered were allayed by Bell Vice-President Barry Leib who said, after the second game, that 10,000 tickets were "sponsorship giveaways" and 19,500 were sold at group discount rates. The implication was that the remaining 35,000 were sold at face value—$2, $5 and $8.
Then came time to pay city taxes on paid admissions, and the truth crept out—13,855 paid their way into the first game, 6,200 into the second. According to Leib mass papering was club policy. "We had to get people out to see the game," he said. "And we had to let them know that the stadium wasn't really in any kind of deplorable condition."
But the papering got out of hand. "If you give away 30 or 40,000 tickets," Leib continued, "who can figure that most of them will actually show up? If I had told the truth and said the house was papered, it would have been ridiculous. I repeated the lie to so many people that I almost started to believe it myself."
For its third home game the Bell claims to be playing it straight. "There will be no more discount rates, no more giveaways," says Leib. "From now on we're selling full-priced tickets."
A deal made before the change of heart, however, meant that even as Leib spoke, ads were running in Philadelphia papers that read: "Get your free ticket to the Philadelphia Bell vs. Memphis Southmen...take this coupon along with a full front panel from an 8 oz. box of Sweet'n Low...."
UP THE REVOLUTION
Anticipating an athletic budget of $3 million for 1975, the University of Oklahoma is tossing around another idea that is as sure to produce revolt as taxation without representation (SCORECARD, March 11). Athletic Director Wade Walker now wants to auction off season football tickets with bids starting at $1,000 for seats between the 40-yard lines and $100 for seats between the 20 and 40. At present the better seats are $7.25 for each of five home games. At Walker's prices they would cost $200 apiece.
We would like to report that when asked if he expected complaints, Walker said, "Let them eat cake." What he really said was, "I think you put it mildly."
After Bobby Nichols won the Canadian Open Golf Championship he posed for pictures with his family. At his elbow was the tournament trophy—an Eskimo sculpture in gray-black soapstone.
The Canadian Golf Association commissions a new work each year. This one is an Eskimo family group, the male's arms enfolding female and child. The proportions of the figures are stocky, the lines stylized, like the Mexican peasants in Orozco's murals. In short, Nichols won $40,000 and a work of art.
What a terrific thing it would be for the dens and game rooms of victorious athletes everywhere if the rest of the sporting world took its cue from the CGA. No more reproductions in silver plate of Victorian tea services, no leaping, hurling, diving figurines dipped in gold and perched atop Doric columns of pine and plastic. Instead, paintings and sculpture, antiquities and the work of superior artisans.
A town in central Illinois got its name, so the story goes, when the wife of a settler spun a globe and it stopped at the capital of China. Hence, Pekin, Ill., pop. 32,000.
About 30 years ago the Pekin Community High School athletic teams came to be called the Chinks, and for reasons too depressing to think about, they still are.
Now the state Human Relations Commission is requesting changes. "How about Dragons?" suggests its executive director, and preferably before a Chinese American civic group in Chicago brings suit, which it has threatened to do.
Pekin Mayor William Waldmeier, however, is not one to be pushed around. "There are better ways to help minorities than by changing names," is the way he sees it.
TEN FOR TEN
Our nomination this week for the Handicappers' Hall of Fame is Charles Lamb, racing editor of the Baltimore News American, who picked every winner on the 10-race card at Delaware Park on July 28.
A $2 parlay on Swift Kick ($7), Vanderbilt Ave ($5), Boabab ($6.60), Bavarian Cream ($4.20), Rash Man ($8), Admiral Jim ($5.60), Determine Pass ($3.60), Forage ($3.20), Honey Galore ($7.80) and Machu Picchu ($11.20) would have paid $77,448. Lamb, not a betting man, took his in kudos.
THEY SAID IT
•Pepper Rodgers, on retired Clemson Football Coach Frank Howard: "If Frank had known he was going to live so long, he would have taken better care of himself."
•Al McGuire, Marquette basketball coach, on the hardship status of Chicago Bull draftee Maurice Lucas: "Hardship is the height of your heel. Hardship is not eating. Lucas is dressed like Astor's plush horse."
•Jim Dent, longest driver on the PGA tour but not always the most accurate: "I can airmail the golf ball, but sometimes I don't put the right address on it."