Now that the subject of a black manager for major league baseball has been disposed of for yet another season and Bowie Kuhn has made assurances that his efforts in that direction are "constant and ongoing," and now that it has been explained that Ernie Banks and Frank Robinson and the Aaron brothers were passed over by the Cubs, the Angels and the Braves because they lacked interest or experience or were otherwise occupied, we are free to turn our attention elsewhere.
To pro football, for instance.
"I have never been offered a position in the pros," says Eddie Robinson, who for 33 years has been head football coach at tiny Grambling College and whose school has sent as many players into pro ball as any college in the country over the past 10 years. "I really love what I'm doing at Grambling, but I would at least like to have had the opportunity to turn down a job. Every white coach in the country with my tenure has had that opportunity."
August 18, 1974
Even the creation of a whole new league has not altered the situation. "Do you know," says Robinson, "I read that the Jacksonville team in the WFL has a coach who worked in high school last year? Wasn't there a black man anywhere that had his qualifications?"
For the record, Eddie Robinson's record is 225 wins, 80 losses and 11 ties, and 32 of his former players are currently on NFL rosters.
THERE'S NO CATCH TO IT
Sitting around the bar of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles telling tales one evening last week during the Reds-Dodgers series (page 22) were a group of major league scouts and onetime players, among them former National League Pitcher Bill Werle, now a scout for Baltimore. When Werle's turn came up he recalled how once in 1949, when he was on the mound for Pittsburgh against the Phillies, Bill (Swish) Nicholson came to bat and hit an extraordinarily high pop fly.
Werle, as was expected of him as the pitcher, called out the name of the in-fielder who would take the catch. "Eddie, get it! Eddie!" hollered Werle.
The ball fell to the ground, untouched, as Catcher Eddie Fitz Gerald, First Baseman Eddie Stevens and Third Baseman Eddie Bockman looked on.
Just as it took courage to admit in certain circles a few years ago that one did not understand the Wishbone, so today the Veer is making chickens of us all. Well, the time has come to own up and bone up, because the Veer will be this fall's fashionable offense. A survey taken by National Collegiate Sports Services reveals that the triple-option Veer, made famous by Bill Yeoman of Houston, has outstripped the I formation, popularized by John McKay of USC, 36-35 among major college coaches. Last year 51 schools used one version or another of the I (there are at least six of them) and only 24 the Veer.
The Veer, fans, is derived from the old Split T, in which a defensive end was not blocked and the quarterback either kept the ball or pitched out, depending on what the end did. In the Veer, neither the defensive end nor the defensive tackle is blocked, thus freeing the offensive end and tackle to block downfield, and the quarterback reacts to what the end and tackle do by keeping, pitching out or handing off to the fullback. The Veer also facilitates a drop-back passing game with the split end and flankerback as the wide receivers.
Oddly, the switch is on from I to Veer rather than I to Wishbone, the other celebrated triple-option offense, despite the fact that the 10 teams using the Wishbone last year had a higher winning percentage than those employing the Veer or I. Apparently the trouble with the Wishbone is that it requires more talent than most college teams can come up with.
Coach Bob Tyler of Mississippi State, who is planning to switch from the I to the Veer this fall, says, "You must have a minimum of four running backs for the Veer to six for the Wishbone (Alabama used nine) and the blocking for the backs isn't as tough."
Watch this space for a pop quiz.
By profession Barney Corrigan is a golfer. He teaches and runs the pro shop at the IBM Country Club in Sands Point, N.Y., close by the edge of Long Island Sound. A year ago Corrigan began fishing for striped bass on the Sound and taking his 10-year-old son Kevin along for company. Kevin's interest tended to wane after too many hours in a small boat, so Corrigan retreated to the beach. He soon found, however, that his surfcasting form was not yet good enough to reach the rocks at the edge of Hempstead Harbor where the stripers lay in wait.
Indefatigable as only a surf fisherman after striped bass can be, Corrigan took stock of his assets and found a solution. He now tees up a yellow golf ball to which a leader, hook and bait are attached, pays out about 50 feet of line to absorb the initial shock, and with the bail open on his spinning reel, drives the ball with a three-wood.
Corrigan's average tee shot travels some 240 yards, but with a worm attached it is 180 and with a chunk of mackerel 140.
There are still a few kinks in his cast-drive method to be worked out, such as how to keep a worm attached to a hook that has been whomped with a three-wood. But the method has already produced an 18-pounder, "or close to it," says Corrigan, and it beats an afternoon on the practice tee.
For the fight fanatic who never misses the big ones, a ringside seat at the Ali-Forcman title bout in Kinshasa, Za√Øre next month is going to cost $2,492, minimum. Thrown in, whether he wants it or not, by an organization called Festival in Za√Øre, the sole dispenser in the U.S. of tickets to the fight, are "7 Nites-8 Days—deluxe accommodations—hotels or villas in Kinshasa, includes one night and sightseeing in Zurich, special tours of Kinshasa, and tickets to a 3-day music festival...escorted thruout."
Although the ad which ran in a New York newspaper did not mention it, presumably airfare is included.
Professional volleyball is here, or so it was proclaimed the other day in the Burgundy Room of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills to the usual accompaniment of show biz and hard sell. "We are going to promote volleyball like no other sport in history," said founder-movie producer David L. Wolper, in a boast that came out sounding more like a threat.
The International Volleyball Association will have 10-player teams in 12 cities and a 40-game schedule that will begin in June 1975. It expects to draw its talent from colleges, beach clubs and, to some extent, pro basketball, as well as from Europe and the Far East. And, of course, talks with the TV networks are already under way.
There is one innovation, however, that by itself may be enough to guarantee the success of the project. Each 10-person squad must include at least two women, and one woman must play on the six-person team whenever it takes the floor.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
Douglas Scott, a Sierra Club official from Seattle, may have come up with the environmentalist's ultimate deterrent. He simply suggests that oil spills be named for politicians. "Each spill, like a hurricane," says Scott, "will have the name of a state legislator who votes in favor of bringing big oil tankers into Puget Sound."
NEW WHINE, OLD BATTLE
A lot of legends have grown out of a Harlem summertime institution once known as the Rucker Tournament but now called the Harlem Professional Basketball League. This summer, with the season only half gone, a new hero has joined such stars as Helicopter, The Destroyer and Pee Wee in the playground pantheon. He is Charlie (Mosquito) Criss, a pesky, 5'8" shooter who averages 30 points a game for a team called the Courtsmen.
Recently the Courtsmen beat the Sports Foundation paced by Larry (Fly Swatter) McNeil, 6'9½" center-forward of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, 163-124. Though McNeil is leading the league in scoring and blocked shots, in this game he was held to 30 points, five below his average, while Mosquito, being guarded most of the way by Henry Bibby of the Knicks, scored 37.
Ordinarily Criss plays for the Hartford (Conn.) Capitols, champions of the Eastern Basketball Association. During that league's playoffs this year he averaged 33 points a game. His reputation has attracted inquiries from the Seattle SuperSonics and the Virginia Squires but no invitations to try out have followed. So his heroics are reserved for the hometown crowds, who know a giant when they see one.
The abuse suffered by prizefight judges, though it sometimes takes reprehensible forms, is also sometimes deserved. As when American Light Middleweight Reggie Jones was robbed in his first Olympic bout in Munich's Boxhalle, or when Albuquerque's Bob Foster, world light heavyweight champion, got a hometown decision that saved him his title two months ago.
To purge boxing of the intimidation of crowds, the overtones of politics, even the capriciousness of human nature, an outfit called Electronic Sports Engineering, Inc. developed a computerized scoring system in 1971, named it Soctron, and gave it a tryout at last year's Golden Gloves tournament in Cleveland. The system not only operated smoothly, say the promoters, but saved three minutes per bout as well (for what, they don't say). Now World Team Boxing (SCORECARD, Aug. 5) is considering Soctron for its weekly matches, should that league get off the ground in February as planned.
Amid a lot of talk by Soctron people about "the integrity of first impressions," one learns that three scorers, each sitting in a soundproof booth, record each punch as it is thrown by squeezing the appropriate fighter's color-coded lever—one point for a punch landed, two for a clean, hard blow, five for a knockdown. The judges' impulses are transmitted to a memory bank, also at ringside, and a scoreboard in full view over the ring keeps a running tally on the fight—a tally of points, not rounds. The scorers cannot hear the bell ending a round, nor can they hear the crowd's reactions.
Then, at the final bell the winning score shines irrefutably overhead, eliminating the usual wait for fighters and fans and also the opportunity for last-minute considerations of crowd and country to give rise to second thoughts in the judges.
The next step is to eliminate the judges altogether. Just wire the fighters for impact, like pinball machines. Same point system, same scoreboard, but TILT for a knockout.
The organizing committee for the Montreal Olympics may know something we don't. The fourth sentence of a press release describing the invention of basketball by Canadian James Naismith reads: "The first game, using a large inflated ball thrown through fish baskets suspended at each end of a floor, was played in Springfield [Mass.] in December 1891."
Fish baskets? Whatever happened to the old peach baskets? What happened was they got translated: the French for peach is p√™che, but so is the French for fishing.
THEY SAID IT
•Will Perry, Michigan sports publicist, on ex-Wolverine Gerald Ford: "We are very proud. He is our first offensive lineman ever to become President."
•Woody Hayes, Ohio State coach: "Irecruited a Czech kicker and during the eye examination the doc asked if he could read the bottom line. The Czech kicker said, 'Read it! I know him.' "