WAR OVER ORR
Bobby Orr, who has been sidelined with knee trouble since November, may not play anymore this season and, indeed, may never play for the Boston Bruins again. Or so says his agent, Alan Eagle-son, who has been trying to negotiate a new contract for his star client since last summer. Whatever happens, Orr's future will have a profound effect on the National Hockey League's future.
Orr's five-year, $200,000-plus contract with the Bruins expires on June 1. Eagleson originally suggested an increase to $500,000 on an unconditional five-year contract but raised that to a somewhat vague $10 million lifetime package last summer after receiving a $6.5 million bid for Orr's services from the now defunct Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association. In round figures the Bruins originally offered $325,000, upped that to $500,000 after Minnesota came into the picture and, after Orr's knee was twice operated on last fall, lowered it to $350,000 for five years, with provisions for reduced payments if he is injured yet again.
And that's where it stands. Eagleson accuses the Bruins of being heartless. "They're not giving Bobby five cents worth of security," he snaps. "They don't look at the record book and see what he has done for the team. Or recognize that Bobby Orr gave his knees for the Bruins."
March 15, 1976
Eagleson says he may offer Orr's services to other NHL clubs when the player's contract with the Bruins expires in June. An agreement reached last autumn between the owners and the players includes a provision that obliges the team signing such a free agent to compensate the team that loses him. Eagleson, who is executive director of the Players Association but who has put off signing that agreement, says Orr has a "very special contract" that exempts him from this provision. But NHL President Clarence Campbell denies this, saying no player is exempt.
If Orr attempts to sign with another team and is rebuffed, or if he signs and Boston is not compensated, litigation will certainly ensue. The peace that appeared to come to the NHL with last fall's agreement will disappear. As one NHL club official warned, "We'll have a war."
JOY IN THE PLAYGROUND
The all-consuming demand for victory in sport calls to mind the comments of Marquette basketball Coach Al McGuire on the carefree behavior last year of his star guard, Butch Lee.
"I'd take him out of a game," McGuire says, "and he'd be up and down the bench slapping hands with the guys. I'd say, 'Hey, Butch, what are you doing? We're down by nine points.'
"It's tough to get players like Butch to realize this. They're so used to playground games. Everybody just comes and plays. The game is just for the joy of playing. Somebody beats somebody else, and then they all go down to the corner and have hot dogs and a Coke."
No one seems able to recall a football team with the sheer speed that the University of Florida expects next season. At flanker will be freshman Houston McTear, co-holder of the world record (9.0) in the 100-yard dash. At running back will be junior Willie Wilder, a 6'1" 195-pounder who ran a 6.0 in the indoor 60-yard dash this winter. At quarterback will be junior Terry LeCount, a 9.5 sprinter who used to be a flanker. And at fullback will be the slow man, Robert Morgan, who at 6'2" and 219 pounds runs the 100 in a plodding 9.8.
CALL OF THE MILD
Speaking of Florida, 1976 has not been a good year for Woody Hayes of Ohio State. First there was the Rose Bowl, and now Joe Portale. Portale is a 6'3" halfback from Cleveland who had indicated he was going to Ohio State and who had been to the campus on a recruiting visit. His roommate during that visit was Scot Brantley, an All-America high school linebacker from Ocala, Fla. Brantley was leaning toward the University of Florida but had come to Ohio State to see what it was like.
After two days with Brantley, two days of small talk about balmy breezes, swaying palms, suntanned girls and whatever else a youngster from Florida would tell a kid from Cleveland, Portale announced he would not decide definitely on Ohio State until after he had visited the University of Florida.
When he left Cleveland, snow was falling at the airport. During his two days in Gainesville the temperature nudged 82°. Result: Portale and Brantley have signed letters of intent with Florida.
DEAR OLD ARMY TEAM
On Oct. 8, 1975 President Ford signed into law a bill directing all service academies to accept women. Harrumphs were heard from the Rockies (Air Force) to Chesapeake Bay (Navy), and at West Point the superintendent, Lieut. General Sidney Berry, supposedly considered resigning his commission rather than face an invasion by females. After 174 years of "males only," the addition of hemlines to the Long Gray Line was about as welcome as another Benedict Arnold. However, this case of mind-set was temporary, and preparations are under way for the arrival of some 100 women cadets on July 7.
Last year, after testing more than 2.000 women between the ages of 17 and 22, the Military Academy decided that because of an inherent lack of upper-body strength women could not pass the Physical Aptitude Examination. Few women could do even one pull-up, and fewer than one-tenth of 1% of those tested managed the Academy's minimum requirement of six. West Point therefore substituted a "flexed arm hang" for women candidates, but wondered whether other programs, such as the rugged seven weeks of training that is sometimes known as Beast Barracks, would also have to be modified.
To find out, a 10-week program called "Project 60" was started this January. During Project 60, which ends this week, a group of 20 girls from a neighboring high school did the same calisthenics, "gorilla drills" and running exercises as those done during Beast Barracks. A second group of 20 girls undertook a strength-training program that included bicep curls, bench presses and leg extensions on body-building machines; while a third group, serving as a control, did no more than normal, everyday physical activity. "At times I thought I was going to die, but I kept running," said one panting volunteer in the Beast Barracks group after completing an 8:15-mile run dressed in combat boots and carrying a nine-pound M-14 rifle.
At Annapolis, Navy brass were anxiously awaiting the results of Army's Project 60. Says the athletic director, Captain John Coppedge, "There's no telling how our women plebes will fare, but we will modify our physical education program on the basis of the West Point tests." Go Army, help Navy.
Houghton Academy, a small private high school in western New York State with a student body of 65 students, only 38 of whom are boys, has set what it feels is a national, and perhaps international, record for one basketball game. During a 47-30 win over Faith Christian Academy of Buffalo, Houghton used 21 players, every man on the varsity and junior varsity squads. More than that, all 21 of them scored.
"Many of our players would never make the squad at an average high school," concedes Coach Phil Stockin. "Our emphasis is on participation. We try to get as many students as possible involved. I guess this game carried that philosophy to its zenith."
Three Houghton players shared team scoring honors—with four points each. One man had three points, 15 had two apiece, two had one. "We kept two ball-handlers in," Stockin explains, "and they concentrated on feeding everybody. The last player scored with 35 seconds left."
THE BOB AND BUD SHOW
Seldom have the negotiations of a business deal been as public as those having to do with the sale of the San Francisco Giants. Former Owner Horace Stone-ham's financial difficulties with the Giants, his going into debt to the National League, the aborted transfer of the team to Toronto, the on-again-off-again sale to Bob Lurie and Bob Short, the abrupt departure of Short from the negotiations, the sudden appearance of Bud Herseth, the final sale of the club to Lurie and Herseth—all were known publicly almost as soon as they happened. But who are Lurie and Herseth?
Lurie, 47, short and stout (5'7", 180 pounds), is the unobtrusive son of a famous San Francisco extrovert, Louis Lurie, who died three years ago. The elder Lurie, Chicago-born, began as a newsboy, made millions in real estate, was a close friend of politicians, socialites, actors and wheeler-dealers, and was a daily habitué of Jack's, one of San Francisco's renowned restaurants. His son ("He's worth $26 million in his own name," his father once said) has most of his wealth in real estate, which may explain why he was unable to come up with more than $4 million when he learned the Giants were for sale. A 10-handicap golfer, a domino and gin-rummy player, a diligent businessman who seldom attended his father's lively luncheons at Jack's, Lurie became a member of the Giants' board of directors 15 years ago but had little to say, although he was a close friend of Charles S. (Chub) Feeney, Stoneham's nephew and de facto general manager of the Giants before he became National League president six years ago. Now in the spotlight at last, Lurie has impressed San Franciscans with his warm smile and easy manner. "We'll turn it around," he promises. "We're going to make baseball an enjoyment again."
His partner, Bud Herseth, is 55, big (6 feet, 210 pounds), energetic, open. Born in South Dakota, he began working in cattle with his father when he was only eight. He went to Indiana University, dropped out, moved to Phoenix because of sinus trouble, founded the Herseth Meat Company and made a fortune. "We kill about as many head as Cudahy," he said last week. His lawyer suggested "processed" as a more appropriate word. "See?" said Herseth, "I don't have much education." His first name is Arthur, but he signs checks and legal papers "Bud." Although the Giants train in Phoenix, he has never met Horace Stoneham and did not meet Lurie until last week. Herseth had phoned San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in February to say he would be interested in buying into the Giants if other investors dropped out. After hearing about Short's withdrawal, he phoned again on March 2. He and Lurie talked on the phone, agreed to a 51-49 split (Lurie is the majority owner) just like that, and on March 2 the deal was announced.
OTHER PEOPLE'S DUNNOCKS
There is no intent here to denigrate SPORTS ILLUSTRATED readers who write to 19TH HOLE, but how come we don't get letters like this one, which appeared in a British outdoors magazine called The Field?
"During the past two or three years the dunnocks in my garden have learnt how to get the nuts from those put out for the tits. I have used old nets, old cages and spiral springs but still they succeed. Have other people's dunnocks learnt to do this? Also has anyone found a means of seeing tits get their share?
(Signed) W. BURNARD PHILLIPS
BARLEY CROFT GREEN
WELWYN GARDEN CITY
THEY SAID IT
•Valentine Petrovsky, Soviet track coach, basking in 85° weather in Los Angeles during a Russian tour of the indoor track circuit: "Napoleon should have invaded California."
•Bill Lee, Boston Red Sox pitcher: "I'm mad at Hank Aaron for deciding to play one more season. I threw him his last home run and thought I would be remembered forever. Now I'll have to throw him another."
•Dave Williams, who played for the Southern California Sun in the now-departed World Football League, appearing at a press conference: "This is the largest crowd I've performed before in two years."