Seattle Slew, named Horse of the Year, has had a crazy year. After concluding his sweep of the Triple Crown at Belmont on June 11, Slew raced only once. That was on July 3, when he lost the first race of his career to J. O. Tobin at Hollywood Park.
Then Slew was out of action for a month while Dr. Jim Hill, one of his owners, was under suspension for his "hidden ownership" of the colt. Slew next suffered a coughing spell, and by the time he got better there were no important races left on the calendar.
In recent workouts at Belmont, Slew has looked great. He will return to racing at Hialeah on Jan. 16, but he will do so without his trainer, Billy Turner. Last Sunday morning just before Slew was shipped to Hialeah, his owners, Jim and Sally Hill and Mickey and Karen Taylor, fired Turner. "Our goals were different," says Sally Hill. Turner will be replaced by a virtual unknown, Doug Peterson.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
In addition to noting a player's birth date, height, weight, college and marital status, the 1978 New York Yankee press guide will list the name of his agent.
Bob Harmon of the Harmon Football Forecast in Middletown, N.Y. does more than pick the top 20 college teams, he also rates the top 20 conferences based on what he calls a "power quotient average," which is derived from his ratings of all the teams in every conference. Here in order, with power quotient averages, are his top 20 conferences for 1977: 1) Big Eight, 94.4; 2) Southeastern. 92.9; 3) Pacific Eight, 90.1; 4) Southwest, 89.3; 5) Big Ten, 87.9; 6) Atlantic Coast, 87.2; 7) Western Athletic, 79.0; 8) Pacific Coast Athletic, 73.4; 9) Mid-American, 70.6; 10) Southland, 68.8; 11) Ivy League, 63.8; 12) Southern, 63.4; 13) Missouri Valley, 62.7; 14) Gulf South, 61.3; Big Sky, 59.2; 16) Yankee, 56.0; 17) Ohio Valley, 55.7; 18) Lone Star, 55.2; 19) Southwest Athletic, 54.6; and 20) North Central, 52.8.
Yell at Harmon, not us.
THE OTHER FOOTBALL
Hamilton Fish Sr., Harvard '10 and the only surviving member of Walter Camp's All-Time All-America football team, celebrated his 89th birthday last week ("Dec. 7th, Pearl Harbor Day"). He still follows football. "I went to the Harvard-Yale game this year, and I go to West Point games because I live nearby," says Fish, who resides in Balmville, in New York's Orange County. "And of course I will listen to the Notre Dame-Texas game.
"I think football is a great game and more popular than in my time. Then it was mostly amateurs. Southern and Western teams weren't as good as they are today because the colleges were much smaller. Now there are colleges out there with enrollments of 30,000 and 40,000. In my time, the players came East. Hefflefinger and Shevlin came to Yale from Minnesota. Why, in 1908, when I was acting captain in my junior year. Harvard was the national champion.
"I think amateur football is very good today," Fish continues, "and, of course, professional football is attracting many people. Whether professional football will keep its standing, I doubt. Paying players hundreds of thousands of dollars becomes mercenary. The reason I am saying this is that although I am all for football, I'm inclined to believe that 25 years from now soccer football will be on a par with American football. And it will be for the better of the country! Because you can play it from seven to 40, maybe more. All you need is a pair of shoes and running shorts, and it's very good for exercising the legs. And in 50 years soccer football will be superior to American football, and then we will have the greatest championship teams in the world.
"This year in Orange County I decided to give a cup to the best high school soccer football team, and I think I may do the same for Dutchess County. I like to do this to show my interest in soccer football, but I have nothing against the other football."
Needling a horse at the racetrack is ordinarily a no-no, but Dr. Paul Schmaltz, a veterinarian who runs the Albuquerque Animal Acupuncture Clinic, has built a fine reputation and a tidy bankroll using the ancient Chinese art on quarter horses. According to the Chinese, a needle inserted at the proper point in the body can change the energy flow so the body can heal itself without drugs. Schmaltz says that a horse has more than 1,000 acupuncture points, and he has more than made his point with a couple of quarter horses this year. One of them is My Easy Credit, winner of the quarter-horse triple crown and more than $500,000 in purses.
Then there is Hot Idea, sold last year for only $4,000 because she was born with a crooked front leg. Hot Idea wore a cast for six months, and then, when she was ready to race, chipped a bone in her right front ankle. Schmaltz had the horse swim six days a week, and he also placed 11 needles 2½" deep in her right foreleg and shoulder. Connected to electrode wires, the needles sent a current of 150 volts into Hot Idea. She was fit after six weeks, and last September she won the world's richest horse race, the $1,030,000 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N. Mex.
"When you talk to people about acupuncture, they don't believe it, and I don't blame them," says Schmaltz. "But acupuncture is perfect for racehorses. I give a horse a general treatment the day before a race. By post time the horse is feeling supergood. Its ears are up, its eyes are open and you can hardly keep it on the ground."
About the last thing that 11-year-old Ralph Bravo remembers was that he was baiting his hook while standing in the stern of his dad's 15-foot boat off Key West last week. That's when a nine-pound king mackerel came flying out of the water, sailed through the air for 18 feet and hit Ralph smack in the ribs with its torpedo-like snout. The force of the blow knocked the boy into the water, while the fish fell into the boat—both of them out cold.
Dad leaped in and rescued Ralph, got him to shore and to the hospital. It turned out that the impact had ruptured the boy's spleen, which was removed in emergency surgery. The next day Ralph was sitting up in bed eating ice cream.
King mackerel are frequently spectacular jumpers, usually while in pursuit of fast-swimming baitfish, but this one picked the wrong target. The Bravo family got even by eating the fish for dinner. Bravo!
Adolph Rupp, the former University of Kentucky basketball coach, died in Lexington last week at the age of 76. With 874 victories, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history.
There were many who took issue with Rupp—he was called dictatorial and sanctimonious—but it is difficult to fault the trapper with the skins on the wall. He summed up his view of life with the following words he wrote for this magazine 19 years ago:
"Unfortunately, the road to anywhere is filled with many pitfalls, and it takes a man of determination and character not to fall into them. As I have said many times, whenever you get your head above the average, someone will be there to take a poke at you. That is to be expected in any phase of life. However, as I have also said many times before, if you see a man on top of a mountain, he didn't just light there! Chances are he had to climb through many difficulties and with a great expenditure of energy in order to get there, and the same is true of a man in any profession, be he a great attorney, a great minister, a great man of medicine or a great businessman. I am certain he worked with a definite plan and an aim and purpose in mind. Any man who is successful in life will be envied by those less successful. I have always thought that an excerpt from Parkenham Beatty's Self Reliance contained a good philosophy for each coach:
By your own soul learn to live,
And if men thwart you, take no heed,
If men hate you, have no care;
Sing your song, dream your dream, hope your hope and pray your prayer.
"I am sure that if a coach will follow this philosophy of life, he will be successful. To sit by and worry about criticism, which too often comes from the misinformed or from those incapable of passing judgment on an individual or a problem, is a waste of time."
Ye Olde Bridge Grill in Westport, Conn. gives customers a drink on the house if they can correctly identify all 28 NFL teams by means of puns on their names. Some of the puns are so simpleminded—such as "class of Boy Scouts" to which the answer is Eagles—that they would drive a teetotaler to drink, so we'll just quiz you on some of the better ones.
Name these teams (the answers—don't peek—are given below): soldier insects, streakers, IOUs, Washington's Fisher goes wild, six rulers, used to be girls and $1 for corn.
The answers: Giants (GI-ants, get it?), Bears, Bills, Pat-riots, VI-kings, Ben-gals and Bucc-an-eers.
A woman called the Louisiana Super-dome in New Orleans to ask the price of tickets to Jazz basketball games.
"They are $7.50, $6, $4 and $1.50," she was told.
"Why the different prices?" asked the woman.
"They depend on how far away you are."
"Oh," she replied. "I'm in Baton Rouge."
The recent 12-12 Davis Cup set between Tony Roche of Australia and Corrado Barazzutti of Italy, which was called on account of darkness, has prompted Jimmy Van Alen to note that the Davis Cup is the only organization in tennis that has not adopted any form of his VASSS sudden-death tie breaker. Says Jimmy, "The Davis Cup are just stick-in-the-muds."
After Los Angeles disk jockey Gary Owens heard that Pat Haden, the Rams quarterback and Rhodes scholar, had complained that sportswriters always asked him the same questions, he interviewed Haden.
Owens: What color is mimosa?
Haden: I believe it's light yellow.
Owens: O.K., that's right. By the way, who discovered oxygen?
Haden: A man named Boyd.
Owens: Very good, Pat. Now listen closely. Which of the following is not an amino acid: leucine, valine, choline, lysine, alanine?
Haden: Just a moment, Gary. You said not an amino acid?
Owens: Yes, not.
Haden: That would be choline.
Owens: Fantastic. Incidentally, do you know the exact date of the first St. Patrick's Day Parade held in New York?
Haden: Let me take a stab, Gary. I believe it was March 17, 1762.
Owens: Splendid and correct. Thanks very much Rams Quarterback Pat Haden....
Haden: My pleasure, Gary. Thank you.
P.S. Haden really wasn't all that knowledgeable. Owens sent him the questions ahead of time, and Haden did research to get the answers.
But back to the books, Pat. Oxygen was discovered between 1770 and 1773 by Joseph Priestly of England and Carl Scheele of Sweden.
THEY SAID IT
•Pete Gent, former Dallas wide receiver, telling a rookie about Coach Tom Landry's massive playbook: "Don't bother reading it, kid—everybody gets killed in the end."
•Lou Holtz, coach of Orange Bowl-bound Arkansas, asked about fans who pelted the field with oranges during the SMU game: "I'm glad we're not going to the Gator Bowl."