The Olympics are definitely moving East, figuratively and literally. Not only does Moscow have the 1980 Summer Games, but now the Czechoslovakian resort at Vysoké Tatry is talking of applying for the 1984 Winter Olympics. It has handsome new hotels all ready and expects to have the necessary sports installations built by 1978. Next stop, Red China.
DUCATS AND DOLLARS
Despite reports to the contrary, rumor has it that quite a few tickets to key Olympic events are still floating around, although they are selling in unofficial markets at prices well above face value. One entrepreneur claims to have amassed substantial numbers of such tickets by shopping for them in foreign countries, picking them up from the supply allotted to those countries by understanding the simple rule of inverse interest. That is, don't bother to look for gymnastics tickets in a country such as Japan, where interest in that sport is high; track and field ducats are easier to come by there. While Lord Killanin himself would have trouble finding a loose track ticket in one of the East African countries, choice seats for swimming and diving might just be sitting there. And so on. As a result of this international poking around, people with money to spend are still able to find and buy good seats.
As for sleeping accommodations, the Quebec Lodging Bureau says it already has overseen the rental of more than 25,000 rooms—not including hotels and motels—and still has a few thousand available. The bureau, established in 1974 to prevent rent gouging during the Games, has had trouble with some would-be landlords, including a few who asked to be on the approved list but were turned down. A bureau spokesman explained, "We get people coming in here with nice places who say, "We wouldn't want to have any niggers rent them.' Of course, we can't put up with that. Others want $150 a night for a room because it has a Gauguin in it. We turn them down, too. We tell them that all we really need is a bed and a sink."
June 13, 1976
The bureau has had furnished houses and apartments listed at rates of around $50 a day. Now some unlisted homeowners, defying the law, are asking between $4,000 and $6,000 for the month of July, and choice one-room apartments in downtown Montreal are going for $100 a day during the Games—although the standard unlisted apartment rental for the Olympic period (16 days of events, plus a few days before and after) is a flat $1,000, just about the same as the listed $50-a-day rate.
In any case, says the bureau, "We are confident that everybody who comes can get a bed." Just bring money.
"I hadn't expected to hear The Red River Valley played on a harmonica at midnight in Oslo, Norway," wrote columnist Tom Fox of the Philadelphia Inquirer. But hear it Fox did, lovingly rendered with all the mournful longing of a homesick cowpoke who had just ridden in off the range. He investigated and found the harmonica player slouched against the fender of a taxi outside the Oslo airport. Then came Fox's second surprise. The virtuoso was Stan Musial.
Fox had flown across the Atlantic with Musial to begin a two-week tour of Europe but had no idea of the ex-ballplayer's musical talent. He subsequently learned that the 55-year-old Musial had been invited to play the harmonica with the St. Louis Symphony, is expert on the accordion and can even whistle superbly ("You'd have thought somebody was playing the flute," said the awed Fox).
Musial's wife Lillian says, perhaps facetiously, "When Stan was a boy, he didn't want to be a baseball player. All he wanted to play was the accordion. He bought one with his first World Series check, in 1942. He promised me he'd buy me a diamond ring and get himself an accordion. He paid more for the accordion than he did for my diamond."
Musial was a smash hit in Poland, where his father was born. In a Warsaw restaurant he engaged in a harmonica-accordion duet with the house musician and played for hours, to the delight of the Polish crowd, which was unaware of his fame as an athlete. On another occasion he played at the home of Czeslaw Petelski, a film maker, who reacted by offering Stan a role in a Polish movie. "We'll film part of it in Chicago," he promised.
"Aw, look, I'm no actor," said Musial, grinning. "I'm just a cowboy."
Edward F. Murphy, the man who applies Shakespeare to sports, went to the races with the Bard, who sounds as though he had a bet on McKenzie Bridge last Saturday in the Belmont:
"Hark, what good sport is out of town to-day!" Troilus and Cressida.
"Now is the day we long have looked for." The Taming of the Shrew.
" 'Tis a lucky day...and we'll do good...." The Winter's Tale.
"I must go with you to Belmont." The Merchant of Venice.
"The gates are open...." Henry VI (Part III).
"I have a way to win...." King John.
"Well, I will back him straight." Henry IV (Part I).
"He can command, lets it straight feel the spur." Measure for Measure.
"Be thou as lightning...." King John.
"On, on, on, on, on!" Henry V.
"I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better." The Winter's Tale.
"The steed is stalled...." Venus and Adonis.
"The bloody spur cannot provoke him on...." Sonnets.
"Come from behind." Henry VI (Part I).
"Where be my horses?" The Merry Wives of Windsor.
"...I am burn'd up...." King John.
"O, that I knew...the beast, that I might rail at him, to ease my mind!" Titus Andronicus.
"All lost!...all lost!" The Tempest.
"Accurst, unhappy, wretched, hateful day!" Romeo and Juliet.
"Then with the losers...sympathize, for nothing can seem foul to those that win." Henry IV (Part I).
In "They Said It" a couple of issues ago, Basketball Coach Abe Lemons of the University of Texas said, apropos the practice of college recruiters roaming far and wide, "One of these days the NCAA might put in a rule that says you have to have one player a year on your team from your home state."
If the NCAA had rushed such a rule through, Abe and Texas would be on the right side of the law—just. The other day the Longhorns released the names of four incoming basketball freshmen and said they would probably be all the players Texas would sign this year. One was from California, one was from Oklahoma, one was from Kentucky. But the fourth good old boy was from Waxa-by-god-hachie, Texas.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers were floundering in last place earlier this season, an old familiar cry rang out: Fire Walter Alston! It was not a new experience for Alston, who must hold the major league record for Pennant Winning Manager Most Frequently Criticized. After the Dodgers went on the winning streak that took them into the fight for the divisional lead, the yapping quieted. When they go into another decline—this year or next year or whenever—it will start up again.
This perennial criticism is unjust, as a perusal of Alston's record over the last 23 seasons shows. And now a wanderer through baseball statistics has unearthed one more bit of evidence to show that the Dodger manager has earned a major place in baseball's pantheon. After 100 years of big league competition only six managers have won pennants in three different decades. Alston is one. The others are Connie Mack, John McGraw, Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie and Casey Stengel.
You know a man by the company he keeps.
ICING THE BLOOD
Paul Newman and a company of more than 100 film makers left Johnstown, Pa. a week or so ago after spending two months there shooting a movie called Slap Shot! about the rigors of minor league hockey. They spent more than $1 million, used thousands of local people as extras (mostly for crowd scenes in the local rink) and created quite a bit of controversy, partly because of the hard language used in the film to help convey the image of violence in hockey.
Jim Cardiff, coach of the local Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League, turned down a $600-a-week acting job in the film because, he said, "I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. I don't use profane language in everyday life. No doubt there is profanity in hockey, but not to the degree it is used in the movie."
Nicholas Visovsky, whose home was a set in the film, was not bothered by the language. "I don't think it's a legitimate complaint," he said. "Professional sport has vulgarity." As for the presence of the film company in town, he said, "I don't recall anything as exciting as this since World War II."
Minor league players were active in the violence-on-ice scenes. One of them, Ray Schultz, said, "It was a lark. My part was like an Indian getting shot off a horse. Fighting, Hollywood style, is a highly technical art. Makeup puts scars, stitches, fat lips, that sort of stuff, on your face. You'd be going at it and some guy would say, 'Cut.' You'd go to makeup and get smeared with a little blood and resume your position. In one scene a guy getting stitched on the bench jumps back into action, the needle and thread still dangling from his face. Crazy!"
John Rubal, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said, "We don't usually get this much publicity unless it's Bethlehem Steel closing down. Some people can't believe that Paul Newman was really in Johnstown. But it didn't impress me. Now maybe if it had been Raquel Welch...."
Well, folks, here it is Eddie Andelman time again, and the demon Boston broadcaster is back with a list of proposed sponsors for his Sports Huddle show. With so many athletes picking up lucrative commercial deals outside sport, Andelman figures their names could eventually become an integral part of the brand names you hear in commercials. For instance, he feels there could be a Pete Rosé winegrower, a Bob Locker dealer ("Put a Bob Locker in your clubhouse") or—another part of the vast Bob conglomerate—a food distributor pushing Bob Veale Cutlets ("From pasture to patio in less time than it takes to say Jack Ham"). Eddie believes that Wilbur Wood, maker of bats, benches and basketball floors, would be a natural advertiser on his show, but is not so sure about a plumbing supply house called the Tommy John Company. He wants to hear commercials for Murray Wall Paper, Salty Parker House Rolls and Gary Player Pianos, as well as an announcer advising listeners to visit their nearest Frank Tanana Amana dealer. Andelman is even thinking of moving to Ohio so that he can be sponsored by the Gates Brown Brown Gates Company, official supplier of gates for the Cleveland Browns.
THEY SAID IT
•Steve Renko, traded from the Montreal Expos to the Chicago Cubs, on what it is like to play in Montreal: "There ought to be a clause in our contracts allowing a player to veto a country. We have to pay two taxes, ours and Canada's. The only way to beat it is to move there, and I wasn't about to do that. And then there's the weather—awful."
•C. M. Newton, Alabama basketball coach: "When a coach is hired, he's fired. The date just hasn't been filled in yet."
•Bev Norwood, Winston-Salem, N.C. sportswriter, reporting on the Memorial Tournament played recently at Jack Nicklaus" Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio: "Sam Snead, trying to shoot his age the day after his 64th birthday, instead shot Cliff Roberts' age (83) arid missed the cut by two shots."