NO LAUGHING MATTER
Members of the Baseball Writers Association will be voting for, and possibly electing, new members of the Hall of Fame during the next few weeks. High on the list of eligibles is Ralph Kiner. His credentials—National League leader in home runs for seven straight years while playing half his games in Pittsburgh's cavernous Forbes Field—are impressive, but not a bit more so than those of Ernie Lombardi, who despite 17 mostly brilliant seasons has failed to generate much enthusiasm among the writers. One wonders sometimes what the criteria are.
Lombardi often was described as lumbering, which may be why he has been slow getting support. Butts of jokes do not make the Hall of Fame. Opponents hardly considered Lombardi a clown, however. Knowing he was one of the slowest men ever to run up a first-base path but one of the hardest hitters the game has seen, infielders played him partway into the outfield. But there was no stopping him. He won the batting crown twice, with .342 in 1938 and .330 in 1942. He batted over .300 10 times—only Bill Dickey among the 10 Hall of Fame catchers did better, with 11—and had a lifetime average of .306, third best among modern Hall of Fame catchers. In all the statistics having to do with hitting and catching, only Gabby Hartnett, Dickey and Yogi Berra topped Lombardi, who was 6'3" and 230 pounds in an era when a 180-pounder was considered large. Another of his accomplishments was that he rarely struck out—six times in 1935, 11 in 1943 and 1945, 12 in 1942. Known as Schnozz for his outsized nose, Ernie spent most of his playing days with Cincinnati. Funny he was and sad it is that he has had few advocates.
Sandy Allen of Shelbyville, Ind. is 19, weighs 421 pounds, wears size 16EEE shoes, likes basketball and volleyball and, oh yes, stands 7'5½" tall. Sandy is a she, the world's tallest woman, to be precise. Her playing has been limited somewhat by a bum knee that has been operated on, but her humor is intact. Introduced to pro basketball players George McGinnis (6'8") and Mel Daniels (6'9") recently, she said, "They seemed sort of short to me."
December 23, 1974
This has been a hard year on pro basketball players. When the Knicks' Bill Bradley, who had played in 200 consecutive regular-season and 45 playoff games, was forced out of the lineup several weeks ago, he was the 44th player to have missed at least one game this season because of illness or injury.
Roughness in all basketball has been on the increase. ABA Commissioner Tedd Munchak became so angered that he fired off a memorandum to the ABA clubs warning that detrimental conduct would be punishable "by fine, suspension, or both to the limits, at my discretion, not to exceed $25,000." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has resorted to goggles to forestall further scratching of his retina. Eye injuries have become so common, in fact, that soon everybody may be wearing some sort of protective device, perhaps soft, uncorrected contact lenses.
But it is not just rough play that is responsible for the mass trauma. Dr. Martin E. Blazina, director of Clinical Research of the National Athletic Health Institute of Inglewood, Calif., believes that the nature of the game itself is at fault. Endless seasons, protracted athletic careers and intensive conditioning and training techniques take their toll, he says. The repetitive movements demanded by the sport, including running, jumping and sudden starting and stopping on unyielding surfaces, are contributing to three major injuries—jumper's knee, Achilles tendinitis and fatigue fracture of the tibia.
Jumper's knee is a kind of tendinitis that if untreated can cause a catastrophic rupture of the knee mechanism, necessitating surgery. Operations are not always successful. Rupture of the Achilles tendon often occurs after a player has suffered prolonged pain and discomfort. Surgery is required here, too, and about a third of the operated cases Dr. Blazina studied were unable to return to basketball. Most problems with the tibia—the large bone in the leg—have been thought to be shin splints, Dr. Blazina says. Rest, arch supports and physical therapy are the best treatment.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...
It is hard to know where to begin with these two doughty young men. Suffice to say, if they are any example of the rising generation, we are in for an age of strivers the likes of which we have seldom known.
First, Bill Walder of Manchester, Ohio. As a sixth-grader his hopes to make the basketball team suffered a sudden but sure setback: broken elbow. In the eighth grade it was football: broke a finger. By December of that year Bill was back in basketball. Not really. He fell off his bike and fractured his skull. Out for three months.
After assorted arm sprains, a concussion and a knee sprain that prevented him from playing freshman football this fall, Bill for some reason thought he had it made in basketball. Nope. Broken finger. But there's no discouraging him. As he told his mother, "If it's true that every time you break a bone it heals stronger, then I'll be a superman when I'm 21."
Now Stan Cadow, a real case. Stan is 18, a 135-pound senior at East Jefferson High, outside of New Orleans. Last summer he hitchhiked 600 miles with 75¢ in his pocket to run a marathon. He arrived starving at the starting line a day and a half later but covered 24 miles before a Red Cross worker induced him to quit because he was ripping a calf muscle in two. Earlier he had hitched even further for a mile walking race, arrived in the dead of night and slept out, catching a horrible cold. He finished fifth out of 25 starters, about 20 seconds behind the leader.
But all along Stan's real event was the decathlon. Without filling in the gory details, when he was 16 he qualified for the AAU nationals in Philadelphia and finished 11th. This year he went to Jackson, Miss, for the AAU regionals, but with certain misgivings. For three months he had been wrapping a sore left wrist in an Ace bandage, the three nights before the meet he had gone almost sleepless fulfilling his duties as student assistant to the executive secretary of the State Association of Student Councils, and he arrived by bus in Jackson two hours late.
Stan was permitted to compete, anyway, and promptly bruised his heel in the long jump. The pain became so intense that he forgot about his wrist. Even so, he hung on grimly through the pole vault and the other eight events in the two-day contest, at the end running his best 1,500 meters ever. He finished a close second. The next week his mother had the wrist X-rayed. It was broken.
SOCCER TO 'EM
The name of the new North American Soccer League team in Tampa is the Rowdies. The team slogan is, "Soccer is a kick in the grass." Rough.
COMING UP WEEDS
The recent retirement of Cannonade is one more reminder, if reminder there need be, that winning the Kentucky Derby is not always a bed of roses. John Olin's colt was the 13th first-place finisher in the 100-year history of the Derby that never won another race. He started only three more times, coming in third in the Preakness, third in the Belmont and fifth in the Dwyer.
The others that found the going all up hill? Fonso (1880), Manuel (1899), Pink Star (1907), Behave Yourself (1921), Morvich (1922), Flying Ebony (1925), Bubbling Over (1926), Broker's Tip (1933), Hoop Jr. (1945), Jet Pilot (1947), Dark Star (1953) and Dancer's Image (1968). Those four in the '20s don't say much for the gaiety of the decade, or maybe they say too much.
Oregon had recently acquired the land for Cape Kiwanda State Park, and parks designer Larry Jacobson was waxing eloquent. "It is an area with one of the most varied uses on the coast," he said. "We've got dory fishermen, we've got hikers, we've got surfers, picknickers and hang-gliders." He paused reflectively, then added, "What we've actually got is a mess."
CLIMBING OUT OF THE POLITICAL SWIM
Dr. Edwin Paget, the North Carolina State professor who advocated more vigorous workouts for President Ford to increase his brain power (SCORECARD, Sept. 9), was in receipt of depressing news from the President's press secretary, Ron Nessen.
"Efforts were being made by various groups to raise funds to build a swimming pool for President Ford," Nessen wrote. "However, due to the current economic situation the President decided the plans should be delayed." Professor Paget fired a note back to Nessen informing him that the President could get a fairly good workout by running up and down the steps between the second and third floors of the White House 30 minutes a day. At that, he was letting the President off easy. Had Paget anything to say about it, he would insist that all officials having important decision-making functions run at least an hour a day. As a consequence, they would presumably not only make decisions, but the right ones.
Richard Petty, who won an unprecedented fifth straight Grand National championship this year, may have a new advantage going into the new season—an antismog device. If it works out as well as Petty's brother Maurice thinks it will, sooner or later, he says, "everybody will have to come around to it."
The Pettys used the unit in competition for the first time several weeks ago in the Los Angeles Times 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway. Richard was in second place with just 12 of the 200 laps to go when his engine blew. The antismogger, says Maurice, who heads the Petty pit crew and mechanical operation, "had absolutely nothing to do with the trouble. We'll use it again at Riverside in January, and if it keeps working we'll keep using it."
The contrivance is similar to the anti-nitrogen oxide retrofit unit approved by the California Air Resources Board and sold to the public from 1966 to 1970 for $35, including installation. It recycles exhaust fumes through the manifold, burning the fumes twice. The second burning cuts down the heat in the combustion chamber. The lowering of peak temperatures, says Maurice, should prolong the life of the engine and it could increase power.
The Montreal Gazette takes responsibility for this one about the European visitor watching her first football game. The rain was falling in sheets, the field was a swirl of water.
"I think I understand the game fairly well now," she said, "but I still have one question."
"What do they do if it doesn't rain—water the field before the game?"
REARVIEW MIRROR OF LIFE
Cars around Boston have broken out with a new bumper sticker: HELP PRESERVE OUR WILD LIFE—THROW A PARTY.
THEY SAID IT
•Dave Green, Cincinnati Bengals' punter, quoting his mother: "Your average would be better if you didn't have to kick to the cemetery corner."
•Bernie Geoffrion, Atlanta coach, after the Flames' fifth straight loss: "I'm going home and watch Tarzan on the late show. I wish I could sign him, Jane and the monkey. Then I'd have a line."
•Hunter Enis, New York Giants' assistant coach from Fort Worth, asked how he liked life in the big city: "I live on the Connecticut line, our offices are in White Plains and we play at Yale. The only way I get to New York is by taking the wrong turn on the parkway."
•Red Kelly, Toronto Maple Leafs' coach and former NHL All-Star defenseman, asked if he would come out of retirement to help his club: "Not for a million dollars. No, I have to take that back."