TAKE A MILLION GIANT STEPS
"Eight to five Sawyer makes it," quoted Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder on the Las Vegas morning line the other day. Snyder's odds on Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer, who proposed a 25-mile march from Carson City, was epigrammatic of the walking-for-fitness fad that has suddenly taken on the proportions of a national frenzy. Provoked by a lighthearted correspondence between Marine General David M. Shoup and President Kennedy (which raised the question: Can today's Marine measure up to 1908 standards set by another vigorous president, Teddy Roosevelt?), Americans everywhere are on the march.
First to go the 50-miles-in-20-hours route were, of course, the Marines. But then others, with no honor to defend, started walking, too, and trod everywhere from 6� miles (sedentary Press Secretary Pierre Salinger) to 62 (two St. Bonaventure students who walked to see a basketball game). Thirteen chilled models stepped stiffly around the turf at Laurel race track. A Massachusetts politician made ready to push off the 50 miles with a member of the clergy, who said he'd skip rope to vary the pace. Seven Congressional secretaries limped into the Maryland countryside. Said one, after 30 miles, "Another mile would have been like taking that extra Martini." Peter Frelinghuysen, Republican Congressman from New Jersey, walked from the Capitol to pay his respects to the Lincoln Memorial, and California's Marin County dispatched 400 students into the hills. A task force of journalists, on the march north from Syracuse, ran into a blizzard, but made 29 frozen miles anyway. A dozen Southern Illinois boys dribbled a basketball for 55 miles. Regular fitness advocates like Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, the Boy Scouts and Sierra Club members acquitted themselves dutifully.
To all this champions of walking like Dr. Paul Dudley White nodded vigorous approval, but other doctors anxiously cautioned against pacing off too much at a whack. There were some complaints, naturally, like that of the weary Boston lady reporter who said, after 26 wind-whipped miles, "Don't take the first step, or, if you do. break a leg." But on the whole, the marchers were extraordinarily cheerful.
General Shoup, President Kennedy and the Marines may be thanked for provoking a massive step away from the TV armchair.
With contract offers from five major league baseball teams, All-America Guard Rod Thorn of West Virginia has decided not to play pro basketball, a decision that cuts deeply into what was already the National Basketball Association's weakest draft list in years. After Art Heyman of Duke, the pros see little else in the way of talent. Thorn would have gone early in the draft to either the Chicago Zephyrs or the San Francisco Warriors, teams that need backcourt help. Now the Zephyrs—if they don't get a shot at Heyman—will go for Jerry Harkness of Loyola of Chicago, a 6-foot-2 forward who would be switched to guard.
Heyman should go to the New York Knickerbockers as long as they can maintain their last-place, first-draft ranking, but no one is ever sure of the Knicks, who lean to picking big centers—with a notable lack of success. This year the only esteemed big man coming off the campus is 6-foot-11 Nate Thurmond of Bowling Green, who'll probably end up with Detroit.
Other first-round picks are likely to include Tom Thacker of the University of Cincinnati (to the Royals), Gus Johnson of Idaho and Bill Green of Colorado State. Johnson is eligible for both the draft and another year of college play. But he is married and aging at 24, and says that he will turn pro if the right offer comes along. Green is the leading scorer of the college seniors, but at 6 feet 6 he is too small, pro scouts say, to score in the pros as he does in college—from in close.
Such slim pickings are leading the NBA table talk right back to where it was a year ago—to Jerry Lucas. If Lucas comes in, a mediocre rookie crop would come up smelling like roses.