STILL FAR APARTHEID
The skepticism expressed by nonwhite South Africans about the government's widely publicized announcement that it was moving to reduce apartheid in sport (SCORECARD, Oct. 4) appears justified in light of the refusal last week of a provincial official to sanction a rugby match in Port Elizabeth between two racially integrated teams. The teams played anyway (and afterwards cheering black spectators carried a white player off the field on their shoulders), but there was official disapproval. Piet Koornhof, minister of sport, said the match was "contrary to policy." E. J. D. Pienaar, the provincial official, had said earlier, "There is no way that we will issue a permit for this match to be played." The new sports policy, he said, was designed only to let teams of different races play each other, not to encourage racially mixed teams. Matches between racially integrated teams would therefore be illegal.
All aspects of mixed sport are supervised by the government. After a schedule of games for leagues that now include teams of different races has been approved, no other games, such as exhibitions (known, ironically, as "friendlies" in South African sporting jargon), can be arranged. "We will not even consider applications to play friendlies between white and Bantu clubs," Pienaar said.
October 17, 1976
After Bill Rigney quit as manager of the San Francisco Giants, co-owner Bob Lurie offered the job to Vern Rapp, an outstanding minor league manager. Lurie even called a press conference to announce Rapp's appointment.
Before the conference could take place, the St. Louis Cardinals fired their manager, Red Schoendienst, and began to look around for a replacement, too. They invited Rapp and Joe Altobelli, another fine minor league manager, to come to St. Louis for interviews. Then they offered the job to Rapp.
Rapp, a native of St. Louis who used to work in the Cardinal organization, leaped at the chance. He rejected the San Francisco job, thus leaving both the Giants and Altobelli high and dry. Lurie, who has a penchant for quick decisions (last winter, when he was trying to buy the Giants, he took in Bud Herseth as his partner only hours after first hearing Herseth's name), turned to Altobelli and within 24 hours asked him to be the new Giant manager. Altobelli said fine. "I don't care if I was second choice," he said. "There are only 26 of these jobs, and I got one of them."
Exhibiting efficiency and economy, Lurie introduced his new manager at the same press conference he had scheduled to announce the hiring of Rapp.
Ermal Allen, the Dallas Cowboys' computer coach, who is primarily responsible for keeping his club aware of trends in pro football, says that smaller running backs, like Greg Pruitt of the Cleveland Browns and Lydell Mitchell of the Baltimore Colts, are coming to the fore in the NFL because the game is turning to elusive runners who can carry the ball both inside and outside and catch passes as well. This does not mean that the Larry Csonka-class runner is obsolete, but only that offenses are opening up more. Allen also points out that the seeming abundance of good young runners coming into pro ball the last few seasons is a result of the college game's emphasis on the wishbone offense. "We don't like the colleges using the wishbone so much," Allen says, "because the quarterbacks don't pass enough, blockers don't get used to enough pass-protecting, and running backs don't get to catch enough passes. But the wishbone does get the backs ready to be pro runners."
Commenting on the high turnover of star running backs in the NFL, Allen said the reason was obvious. "It's the constant beating the running backs take. They get tackled so much more than receivers or quarterbacks. If a wide receiver averages four catches a game, he's having a hell of a season. That means he gets tackled four times a game. A back carries maybe 20 times—and is frequently hit by more than one defender."
HULL LOT OF MONEY
For years Australians have been racing sailboats in Sydney Harbor for money, mostly supplied by companies whose trade names, such as "Toyota" or "Century Batteries," are emblazoned on the hulls and sails of the competing boats. To add to the professional tone, bookies handle bets from spectators on the ferries that chug out to watch the races.
But that's Australia. Such commercialization of the pristine world of yachting, in which you race your boat for the sheer fun of it, could never happen here in the States. Right? Wrong. Two weeks ago America's first formal professional sailboat races took place in the waters around Montauk, N.Y., at the tip of Long Island. Approximately 90 vessels, ranging in size from striking 68-foot trimarans down to 12-foot windsurfers, competed for prize money totaling $6,000. Skippers came with their boats from as far as Florida in pursuit of the cash, which was put up by GD Productions, a New York film company that shot footage of the races for a projected movie.
Headquarters for the competition was the palatial Montauk Yacht Club & Inn, where one member of the old school was heard grumbling, "Is nothing sacred? This is like putting blue trim on white tennis shorts." Sacrilegious or not, the skippers at Montauk were heartily in favor of the idea of racing for money. Al Constantine, owner and helmsman of a $270,000 trimaran called Spirit of America, said, "Sailing is a wealthy man's sport. But cash prizes, corporate sponsorship and, eventually, a pro circuit will make it possible for the average guy to compete."
Eric Eastman, a 31-year-old Long Island high school teacher who conceived and promoted the pro racing idea, called the inaugural meeting a distinct success and said, "Next year I'm inviting multihulls from every maritime nation." Apparently well aware that Maryland is yachting territory whereas Kentucky is not, he added, "My Montauk event will be the Preakness of sailing."
BETTER THAN TEA LEAVES
The pennant playoffs had only just begun when this item was written. Now, as you read it, they should be well along and perhaps even over, which means that the predictions here are wide open to the second guess. Ignoring the probability that this forecasting system has been proved fallible already, we push on bravely to inform you that the Phils should wallop the Reds, the Royals should beat the Yankees, and the Phils should then edge the Royals in the World Series.
This intelligence—even if wrong—is based on cold, hard fact: every winner of the World Series since 1970 has been the team with the most ex-Little Leaguers on its squad. A study of this year's rosters shows that the Phils have 15 ex-LLers, the Reds only eight; the Royals have 14, the Yankees 12. Quod erat demonstrandum: the Phils will win it all.
If it hasn't worked out that way, send your complaints to Little League Headquarters, Williamsport, Pa.
GET OUT THERE AND CHIP
Rah-rah coaches are common in team sports like football and basketball, and not unheard of in such endeavors as baseball and track, even though individual skills in those sports are often more important than group coordination. But golf, that sphere of silent effort in which a classic tableau is the athlete alone with his thoughts as he contemplates a difficult lie, does not seem to lend itself at all to fiery, extroverted leadership.
Don't try to tell that to Ron Roberts, new golf coach at Wake Forest. To hackers, Wake Forest is a sort of Notre Dame of golf, the hallowed grove where Arnold Palmer and other pro shotmakers did their undergraduate work. Now rebellion is shaking its woods and irons. Roberts called a team meeting to tell his charges that he "was tired of trying to hold the negative element together." He wrote out a "pledge of support" for members of the squad to sign. Among other things, the pledge said a player should sign "only when you are ready and able to make a 100% effort for Wake Forest and Ron Roberts. I make it clear that the two are inseparable."
A dozen players signed the pledge without comment, but three held off, notably All-America Bob Byman, a senior. Byman said he didn't mind pledging 100% to Wake Forest but, objecting to the rest of the proviso, quit the squad. Byman said he was contemplating leaving school, too, in order to try making it in professional golf.
Knute Rockne never had to put up with that kind of reaction from George Gipp.
Ron Johnson, the running back who played out his option with the New York Giants and signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys last June, says of the Cowboys, "The organization is unbelievable. The club treats players and fans like kings. They've got two phones for the players. Not pay phones, private. They've got a player lounge with free milk, soda, doughnuts. I lost my tickets to a game once and they replaced them right away. No hassle. There's a girl in the office whose sole function is to handle player problems. She finds apartments, jobs, discounts, whatever you need. I was set up with an apartment and a car, my wife with a job."
And so, said Johnson, who was cut by Dallas before the season began, "That's what made it all so shocking when I was released."
CHAMPIONS OR CHAMPION
After Forego wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 23—and who's going to beat him?—the best horse now running in America may travel across the country to compete in the $350,000 Champions at Santa Anita on Nov. 6. Victory in those two races would move the splendid gelding, who currently is third in career money winnings with $1,655,217, to the top of the list, edging him past the renowned Kelso, who won $1,977,896 in the 1960s while being named Horse of the Year five straight times.
On the same day as The Champions, Laurel Race Course is putting on the Washington D.C. International. Even if he does not go to California, Forego almost certainly will not run at Laurel because the International is a grass race. Forego has never run on grass, and he is unlikely to try that surface at this late stage of his career. But it's sort of a shame that he won't. The Champions is only a year old, having achieved its status by laying a lot of cash on the line. The International is 25 years old and has achieved its distinction by inviting fine racers from all over the world to come here each autumn at Laurel's expense to meet the best the U.S. has to offer. Kelso ran in the International four times, finishing second three straight years before finally winning in time that still stands as a record for the event.
The prestige of the Washington, D.C. International has slackened since Kelso's day, which is too bad. If Forego were to run in it and defeat the cream of the international set, including Ivanjica, the filly who won France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe two Sundays ago, the Laurel race would regain much of its old glamour and Forego's claim to being the best racehorse in the world would be unquestioned. Winning the Champions will only make him the richest.
THEY SAID IT
•Bum Phillips, Houston Oiler coach, after a heated vocal exchange in which Ed Biles, his 5'6" defensive coordinator, almost came to blows with John Mecom Jr., wealthy owner of the New Orleans Saints: "One was too little to fight and the other too rich."
•Sam Bailey, Texas Tech fullback, who sang and played the piano on Coach Steve Sloan's TV show, when Sloan asked him if he had ever appeared on television before: "Sure. Back in McKinney on those cameras they have in Gibson's store to see if you're stealing anything."
•Tom Nissalke, new coach of the NBA's Houston Rockets, when asked, during a question-and-answer session with a group of fans, how he pronounced his name: "Tom."