BETWEEN THE LINES
The Washington Redskins recently announced a rise in ticket prices of from 12.5% to 22%. The average seat in Robert F. Kennedy Stadium next year will cost $11.28, with a top price of $18, easily the highest in the league. In an explanatory letter to season-ticket holders, management pointed out that the fans must pay the price of continued success, that achieving four consecutive playoff appearances costs money. The letter also mentions last year's player strike, increased operating costs and inflation. "Unfortunately," it goes on, "with a fixed and inadequate stadium capacity, the only true source left to us is a ticket price increase."
At the bottom of Washington's financial woes are the carefree spending habits of Coach George Allen, which alarmed Redskin owners are beginning to restrain. But the single item on the Redskin balance sheet that most clearly made the difference between finishing the year in the red instead of the black had nothing to do with Allen. Washington fans deserve to know how that item relates to the increase in ticket prices.
Pro Football, Inc., the corporate name of the Redskins, was originally comprised of 1,000 shares. The shares held first by the late C. Leo DeOrsey, then by the late Vince Lombardi, were retired upon Lombardi's death. Last year an additional 430 shares, representing the estate of the late George Marshall, founder of the Redskins, were also retired. To pay off the beneficiaries of these blocks of shares, loans had to be taken out that are now estimated to cost the Redskins almost $1 million a year in interest. Remove that one item from the balance sheet and the Redskins made a profit in 1974.
March 16, 1975
Why retire the stock when the cost is so high? Well, here's a possible explanation. The 250 shares owned by Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the L.A. Lakers and Kings, which previously represented only 25% ownership of the Redskins, will now, with the DeOrsey-Lombardi-Marshall shares retired, represent 72% and controlling interest. The 10% owned by the other two shareholders, Edward Bennett Williams, president and chief administrative officer, and Milton W. King, an attorney who is vice-president and treasurer, will become 28%.
Although it was understandably omitted from the letter to ticket holders, the fact is that Cooke and Co. are, in effect, asking the fans to buy the team for them. Maybe Redskin fans won't care. But the warning of the marketplace is still caveat emptor, and it does seem that the emptors in this case ought to know what they're really buying.
Setting out to break down the barriers of indifference that stood between the Berkeley student body and his beloved team, University of California Baseball Coach Jackie Jensen donned a sandwich board one day last week and strolled through the campus talking to people. Coming and going his message was the same: BASEBALL GAME TODAY, 2:30, EVANS FIELD.
"It was embarrassing at first," says Jensen, star of Cal's 1949 Rose Bowl team and the American League's MVP in 1958, "but it was no worse than facing a major league fastball pitcher and there was no other way to get the message across. We have a good team."
Jensen's campaign was a smash. Bay Area pundits even likened him to one of San Francisco's long line of lovable eccentrics, a multimillionaire known as Foghorn Murphy, who in the 1920s used to ride a white horse up the middle of Market Street, bellowing, "Play ball, play ball."
If you have any nagging doubts about owning a thoroughbred racehorse, these sobering figures compiled by the Daily Racing Form may help: 56,520 horses raced last year for total purse money of $263,950,955, or $4,670 a horse. Depending on where it is stabled, the cost of keeping a thoroughbred in training for a year ranges from $7,000 to $14,000. That works out to an average loss per horse of $2,330 to $9,330.
Hardly had the chimpanzees in the Portland, Ore. zoo been introduced to poster paints than the talented little critters turned art into a cottage industry, and the zoo, which began selling their paintings last fall, is making a killing. The chimps' work has been so well received that the zoo has a backlog of 200 orders.
Now a Seattle organization, the Foundation for the Advancement of Human Awareness, has presented the chimps an award "for advancing a better understanding of animals among the human population...."
The last recipient of an award from the foundation was Henry Kissinger.
Julie Anthony is a 27-year-old clinical psychologist who is earning her doctorate while playing professional tennis. She has just finished a paper, written at the behest of the promoters of next month's $100,000 L'eggs World Series of Women's Tennis, on the emotional makeup and differing approaches to the game of the four players who will participate—Chris Evert, Olga Morozova, Evonne Goolagong and Billie Jean King.
Anthony's thoughts carry the special weight of firsthand experience. For instance: "Chris makes one feel as though she is enacting a role from a very familiar script in which she is always victorious in the final act." And Goolagong: "She can be a deceptive adversary because she perversely seems to come into her own when the odds of her winning seem the slimmest."
Morozova, Anthony says, will suffer from inexperience. "I think there is a tendency when one feels outclassed (realistically or not) to hurry the point...which often results in committing errors.... Olga can fall into a pattern of being impatient and trying to end the point too soon."
Finally King: "Moody, volatile, her game can rise to inspired heights or sink to abysmal depths. The energy and intensity she uses to argue for hours about hypocrisy in amateur sports comes from the same vast reservoir as the energy she uses to explode into a backhand volley."
Anthony's prognosis: King, if she's fit; Evert if she's not.
GULL OF MY DREAMS
For Roger Tory Peterson, who left his Connecticut home at 3:45 a.m. to get there, it was the 668th entry on his North American life list. To a lesser birder, one of more than 50 assembled on Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts one morning last week, it was "the birding event of the century."
The happy occurrence was the sighting for the first time in continental North America of Ross' gull, a delicate gray-winged Arctic sea gull with rosy chest, wedge-shaped tail, red feet and, in summer, a black collar. Ross' gull breeds in northeastern Siberia and migrates north toward the pole. It is seen regularly only at Point Barrow in northern Alaska during its fall migration, when it is flying east into the polar basin.
There had been reports as early as Jan. 12 that the bird had been seen near Newburyport, but no positive identification until three Massachusetts birders, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gruson of Concord and Paul Miliotis of Dunstable, all members of the Audubon Club and the Nuttall Ornithological Club of Cambridge, spotted it last week. They picked the bird out from among a flock of Bonaparte's gulls by his smaller size, the wedge-shaped tail, the pink blush of his chest, and because he cooperated by flying within 30 feet of where they stood.
Peterson, 66, author of the classic Field Guides to the Birds and the authority who confirmed the opinion of the Grusons and Miliotis, was as excited as anyone else. "It's just unbelievable," he warbled. "The old adrenaline's still working."
Thief River Falls (pop. 8,618) in extreme northwestern Minnesota was always known, if it can be said to have been known at all, for its production of snowmobiles and high school hockey players. Lately, though, Thief River Falls has turned into a basketball town.
The reason is Northland Community College's all-black seven-man squad and the 23-1 record it has run up while averaging more than 100 points a game to the opposition's 66. All seven players are from out of state, but Coach Chet Engleman says he didn't resort to high-pressure recruiting to get them. David Dickey, the 6'11" center, and Guard Bernie Stephens played on an Air Force team while stationed at Grand Forks, N.D., only a few miles from Thief River Falls, and thus were logical prospects. Dickey's cousin Preston Curtis came next, and the rest was word of mouth, with a little help from some of Engleman's coaching acquaintances.
Originally there were six other players, five of them white, but two withdrew and four were declared academically ineligible. Engleman, a cool man in a crisis, chose to stick with his seven ironmen, and his faith has been rewarded with the best record in Minnesota collegiate basketball.
Evidence that the town has fallen for the team is the tenfold increase in ticket sales at Northland's 575-seat gym. Proof that the team is happy is that nobody complains about the climate.
It has been suggested that because the squad the Russians sent to the fourth U.S.-U.S.S.R. indoor track meet in Richmond, Va. last week was not the varsity, the lopsided American victory (171-106) was a hollow one. But the records tell the real story. Despite the lack of competition, Francie Larrieu ran a 4:28.5 mile, a world record; Joni Huntley improved her U.S. indoor record with a high jump of 6 feet 2½ inches; and Americans set meet records in 11 events.
Best of all, there were promising youth all over the place. Ten of the 21 U.S. first-place finishes went to athletes age 24 or younger, and the women's medley relay team—Angel Doyle, 16, Robin Campbell, 16, Rosalyn Bryant, 19, and Kathy Weston, 16—epitomized the trend. The tykes ran a 3:25.3 to set one of those meet records.
MORE BREAD AND CIRCUSES
Seventy-year-old Henri LaMothe (SI, March 3), who dives from a 40-foot tower into one foot of water, has been signed to perform his wonders on an all-daredevil bill that so far includes Evel Knievel, a fire walker, two people who are blown up with dynamite, a blindfolded cyclist, and Evel's son Robbie.
The show is scheduled for London's Wembley Stadium May 26 with an 11-city English tour after that. It is another Bob Arum-Top Rank-Hemdale Leisure promotion, the same combination that gave the world Za√Øre not so long ago.
The promoters have not yet released Knievel's plans for Wembley but we suppose, lacking a canyon, he could go back to jumping Mack lorries.
A manufacturer in Whitefish, Mont. has come up with something he calls Campfire Memories, "tiny logs" that when burned smell of fir, balsam and cedar and "bring back memories of vacationing time, hunting trips...etc."
It is an evocative promotion, but one that could boomerang should those campfire memories get out of hand. What if all the smell of burning balsam brings back is the whine of a mosquito circling one's ear, or the fiery itch of a hundred chiggers under one's belt, or the feeling of futility that goes with watching on a cold morning as a full pot of hot coffee tips over, emptying itself inexorably into the ashes of what moments earlier had been a crackling campfire?
THEY SAID IT
•Bill Veeck: "Baseball is the only game left for people. To play basketball now, you have to be 7-foot-6. To play football you have to be the same width."
•Rene Muth, of the Immaculata College women's basketball team, on changes in uniform styles: "The year we won our first national championship  our uniforms were tunics with a blouse and a belt, and bloomers underneath a skirt. It looked like a maternity outfit. Some of the teams in the league offered to steal them so we wouldn't have to wear them."
•Johnny Miller, golfer: "Serenity is knowing that your worst shot is still going to be pretty good."