THE HEADIEST HORSEMAN
Senior writer William Nack recalls jockey Eddie Arcaro, who died
of liver cancer last Friday at age 81.
Between 1938 and '61, from the afternoon when he won his first
Kentucky Derby, on Lawrin, to that autumn day when he hung up
his tack for the last time, Arcaro came to be known as more than
merely the ablest, most resourceful rider to sit on a
thoroughbred. Indeed, his name became a synonym for jockey, his
career an enduring lesson in the art and craft of race riding.
Many of the sport's old-timers still see him as the standard of
In his 31 years in the saddle, beginning in 1931, Arcaro won
4,779 races on 24,092 mounts and more than $30 million in
purses, but he's not remembered for his numbers. Though Bill
Shoemaker won almost twice as many races (8,833) as Arcaro, and
Laffit Pincay Jr. more than six times as much money
($190,089,776), no jockey ever dominated the sport at its
highest levels as Arcaro did. He's the only rider to win two
Triple Crowns, on Whirlaway in '41 and Citation in '48, and his
17 victories in Triple Crown events--five Derbys, six
Preaknesses and six Belmonts--is a record that is unlikely to be
broken. Whirly and big Cy aside, a list of Arcaro's celebrated
mounts reads like a Burke's Peerage of horses: Kelso, Nashua,
Assault, Bold Ruler, Native Dancer, Sword Dancer and Busher.
The horseplayers called him Steady Eddie and Heady Eddie and bet
him with both fists. He was a strong finisher, with sure and
sensitive hands, but it was his keen sense of pace and his
riding savvy that set him apart. He was simply smarter than
everybody else on the track. On the day of the historic 1955
match race between Derby winner Swaps and Preakness and Belmont
champion Nashua, Arcaro had bettors at Washington Park in
Chicago scratching their heads when he climbed on a cheap
claimer named Mighty Moment in the fourth race. What was the
great Arcaro doing on that plug? They soon learned. All the way
around the track, on his way to finishing sixth, Arcaro was
looking down and studying the muddy course, scouting it for
Nashua in the seventh.
In that race Swaps, Shoemaker up, figured to go to the lead, and
Arcaro knew that match races are won on the front end. So,
waiting in the gate for the start, he began hollering and
thrashing Nashua with his whip; as the gates popped open, the
wide-eyed bay burst to the lead. Arcaro then herded Nashua into
Swaps on the first turn, forcing Shoemaker's horse to the deeper
going on the outside, and won the race right there. Nashua led a
tiring Swaps by six at the wire.
Heady Eddie. There was only one.
Texas football fans can be ruthless when they're riled up, and
now they've found a new way to vent. The Longhorns' 4-6 record
has spawned www.sackmack.com, a Web site that chronicles the
lowlights of John Mackovic's six years as Texas coach, and what
are deemed his effete ways, under the headline THANKS FOR THE
MEMORIES, PRISSY JOHN. Visitors to the site can also buy a
T-shirt emblazoned with a cartoon that shows Bevo, Texas's
longhorn mascot, stuffing a loafer-clad man into a sack.
WORLD CUP SKULDUGGERY
On Nov. 10, during a break in training for Sunday's U.S.-El
Salvador World Cup qualifier, U.S. captain John Harkes returned
to his hotel room in Providence and listened with mounting anger
to a message that had been left on his phone. As Harkes, a
midfielder, later reconstructed it, the man said, in part, "Mr.
Harkes, I'm contacting you because I represent El Salvador.
You're experienced. You understand what this game means. If you
have any interest at all, please call me back." He didn't
identify himself. In another hotel room U.S. forward Roy Wegerle
received a similarly suggestive message. Harkes and Wegerle had
little doubt about what the caller or callers wanted to discuss:
throwing the game for money.
This sort of intrigue is nothing new to international soccer,
and perhaps it should have been expected after the U.S.'s
victory over Canada on Nov. 9. For the first time the Americans
had qualified for the World Cup with a game to spare. Meanwhile
El Salvador's hopes of making it to France next summer rested on
beating the U.S.
Harkes and Wegerle told U.S. coach Steve Sampson about the
calls. Sampson responded by engaging in some defensive
maneuvering. In addition to giving the American players code
names and telling the hotel operator not to put through callers
who didn't use them, Sampson--code name Smitty--talked to his
players at a Nov. 11 practice. "Please understand the
ramifications of any action that you take based on these calls,"
he told them. "You could lose your international career, and it
could be an enormous black eye to the federation. Don't take any
Harkes and Sampson reported the contacts to U.S. Soccer, which
monitored the situation but took no action. Then, proving they'd
been listening to Smitty, the Americans went out on Sunday and
scored the first three goals against El Salvador on the way to a
convincing 4-2 victory. El Salvador closed its locker room after
the game; the country's soccer federation could not be reached
"This has never happened to me before," Harkes (code name Ian)
said after the game, "but I guess it happens all over the soccer
world. People talk about it all the time." U.S forward Eric
Wynalda explained, "A game of this magnitude meant millions and
millions of dollars to a little country in Central America. And
people will do strange things when money's involved."
A MEMORABLE BOND
Former Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal was there. So was NBA
great Willis Reed. But there was no question who the star was
last Thursday night at Manhattan College's Smith Auditorium.
There, 70-year-old Junius Kellogg was honored for an act of
courage that rocked college basketball.
In January 1951, Kellogg, Manhattan's star center and its first
black player, declined a gambler's offer of $1,000 to shave
points in a game against DePaul and then blew the whistle on
what turned out to be a nationwide scandal. By the time the
investigation was over, 32 players from seven national powers
were found to have fixed 86 games between '47 and '50.
When Kellogg told Manhattan coach Ken Norton about the gambler's
offer, he had no idea of the scam's scope. "I grew up in a small
town in Virginia, and I'd never heard of shaving," says Kellogg,
who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in 1954
left him a paraplegic. "Every time I went out on the field of
competition, my goal was to win. But I thought it was just a
one-on-one situation. I didn't know the whole world was going to
Among the guilty parties was CCNY's Floyd Layne, who at the time
of the scandal was--and still is--one of Kellogg's best friends.
A surefire professional player, Layne was suspended from school
and banned from the NBA. "Life carries us in many different
directions," Layne, a retired physical-education teacher from
CCNY who now coaches at a Brooklyn high school, said at last
week's benefit to raise money for Kellogg. "Junius and I know
that each of us has had his trials and tribulations, but we've
For four decades Kellogg and Layne have been active members of
the Courtsmen, a group that counsels and provides scholarships
to inner-city children in New York. They see each other at
meetings once a month and often talk on the phone--usually about
basketball. "Of course Floyd was hurt in the situation, but he
understood," says Kellogg, who still goes to work every day as a
program director for the city's department of youth and
community development. "We've been stronger for it, I think. I
know we have. We're friends."
A PIECE OF THE PACK
The Green Bay Packers' ballyhooed offering, on Nov. 14, of
400,000 shares of common stock as a way of raising $80 million
for the Pack's building fund has stirred the interest of
cheeseheads everywhere. With certificates for the $200-per-share
issue almost certain to become hot gift items for Packers fans
this holiday season, prospective buyers might want to check the
According to the offering, purchasers receive no dividends, get
nothing for the stock if the Packers are liquidated or sold,
cannot sell the stock in any market, receive just 2.5 cents per
share if the team chooses to buy back the stock and could even
be assessed $200 per share if Green Bay for some reason can't
meet its payroll.
What's more, as part owners, shareholders come under the
jurisdiction of the NFL's "detrimental conduct" clause, meaning
that should the proud owner of a $200 share in the Packers
publicly criticize any team or referee, said proud owner could
find himself or herself fined as much as $500,000 by the league.
Any wager on a game could draw a $5,000 fine. And, of course,
the NFL is authorized to run credit and background checks on an
Don't worry, cheeseheads. Painting yourself green and gold and
drinking too much of what made Milwaukee famous isn't considered
Stray bullets and wayward arrows pose the most well-known
dangers to hunters, but with deer season upon us, doctors warn
of a more perilous threat: buck fever. That's the phenomenon
that each season causes scores of heart attacks in hunters
overexcited by the sighting or shooting of a deer, or overcome
by the exertion of dragging their kill out of the woods.
"Hunting is much more strenuous than we imagined," says Susan
Haapaniemi, an exercise physiologist at William Beaumont
Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. Over the last few years Haapaniemi
and her colleagues have strapped monitors on 25 middle-aged male
hunters who had at least one complicating health condition (high
cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, a smoking habit, a
sedentary lifestyle or a family history of heart disease) and
discovered that when a deer came into view the men's heart rates
jumped to as much as twice their normal rates.
That explains the reports of hunter heart attacks that flood in
each fall, including the case of Roger Pawlovich of Royal Oak.
The then 51-year-old Pawlovich was hunting in the mountains near
Trout Creek, Mont., on a cold October day in 1994 when he
spotted a mule deer. He says he felt the familiar surge of
excitement as he aimed and shot the deer cleanly. After claiming
his kill, Pawlovich knew something was amiss. "I could hardly
lift my legs. I had no strength," he says. Several hours later
Pawlovich got himself to a local hospital, whence he was swiftly
flown to Missoula, Mont., to be treated for an attack that had
destroyed the lower third of his heart.
Like many things bad for the heart, hunting can be addictive.
Pawlovich was back in the woods in Stephenson, Mich., last
Saturday, hoping--in vain, it turned out--to bag a buck on
opening day. "It's worth it to me," he says. "If I couldn't
hunt, I might as well die."
YOU KNOW WHO YOU IS
Florida coach Steve Spurrier is a tough man to please, so it's
nice to see that he accepted some of the blame when asked about
the Gators' poor special teams play this season. Said Spurrier
last week, "We've got some mentally slow guys on our team, but
we keep putting them out there."
With a game in the balance, most any athlete will sin to win by
intentionally violating the rules of his sport. Only a handful,
however, have been as quick to fess up as Nebraska receiver
Shevin Wiggins, who admits that with time expiring in the
Cornhuskers' Nov. 8 game against Missouri, he intentionally
kicked a passed football, an illegal move that led to teammate
Matt Davison's remarkable end zone catch. The touchdown helped
Nebraska tie the game, which it went on to win in overtime.
Shevin, you're forgiven (though you may want to catch a few Hail
Marys to be safe). Indeed, confession can be the path to
absolution, as it was for Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry,
long accused of throwing spitballs, an allegation that cast a
shadow on his brilliant 22-year career. Even before he retired,
Perry didn't simply own up to using a little saliva. "I reckon I
tried everything on the old apple but salt, pepper and chocolate
sauce," he wrote in his 1974 book, Me and the Spitter. With that
he won people's hearts.
In boxing, a sport with a tradition of rule-stretching, the most
revered instance of owning up comes from trainer Angelo Dundee,
who was in the corner of Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) for a
1963 bout against Henry Cooper. Decked in the fourth, Clay
wobbled to his stool, where Dundee noticed a small tear in
Clay's left glove. "I stuck my finger in the split, helping it
along," Dundee said 20 years later. The ensuing search for new
gloves gave Clay time to recover, and he went on to stop Cooper
in the fifth.
Others have been more coy in confession. With 13 seconds left in
the 1967 NFL Championship Game, quarterback Bart Starr followed
guard Jerry Kramer's block into the end zone, giving the Green
Bay Packers a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Everyone on
Dallas's side of the ball felt Kramer had left before the snap,
but Kramer kept mum until his 1968 book, Instant Replay, in
which he said, "I wouldn't swear that I didn't beat the center's
snap by a fraction of a second. I wouldn't swear I wasn't
Coyer still was New York Yankee Reggie Jackson, who in Game 4 of
the 1978 World Series moved his hip into a thrown ball, breaking
up a double play and helping the Yanks score a crucial run.
Jackson swore he hadn't had time to get out of the way, but when
asked if he would say the same under oath, he said, "I can't
answer that. That's a good question."
It would have been better for Kramer and Jax to just come clean.
Confessions like Wiggins's are the way to forgiveness, even when
the deity is evoked as a coconspirator. After getting away with
a hand-ball goal in the 1986 World Cup, Argentine soccer star
Diego Maradona first attributed the feat to the "hand of God"
but later acknowledged, "It was me."
Two Stanley Cup-winning coaches were back behind the bench in
the NHL last week. But neither Mike Keenan (Vancouver Canucks)
nor Jacques Demers (Tampa Bay Lightning) seemed quite himself.
The usually tempestuous Keenan spoke of having "patience" with
his players, while the usually amiable Demers ripped his players
for "cheating the fans" and angrily revoked Mikael Renberg's
team captaincy. It got us wondering just who was who.
Inches above the knee that NBA players must wear their shorts to
conform to league rules.
Dollars per inch the Minnesota Timberwolves drew in team and
individual fines after five players each broke the rule by about
Losses at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa this season for the
Alabama football team.
Losses at Bryant-Denny during Bear Bryant's 25 seasons (1958 to
Projected price, in dollars, of a lock of Mickey Mantle's hair
being offered at auction in New York City.
Rushing yards gained in one half by Zain Gilmore of Tampa's
Robinson High in the Knights' 49-7 intracity win over Blake.
1, 2, 3
Rank of basketball, freshwater fishing and fitness walking,
respectively, among Americans' favorite participation sports.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
A New York City sports-radio talk-show host has named his
firstborn son Shea after the stadium where the Mets play their
Los Angeles Clippers rookie center, after missing practices to
attend the funerals of his grandmother and his cousin: "I've
apologized, and it won't happen again."