When hockey players were entirely dependent on the weather, and the season might not get under way before Christmas, a Canadian could get along with one or two hockey sticks a year. But now, with artificial ice, any active Canadian boy can be counted on to go through a dozen sticks each winter. So can hockey players in France, Japan and even in warmer climates—a matter of intense interest to Canada's hockey-stick manufacturers, whose export business has jumped 50% or more in this past year.
The Dominion's Bureau of Statistics reports the gratifying fact that Finland, which bought only $342 worth of sticks in the first nine months of last year, bought 2,111 dozen sticks in the corresponding period this year for $22,050. Korea, which did not buy a single stick last year, got off to a promising start in hockey in the first nine months of 1963 by buying 21 dozen sticks for $418. For that matter, exports to the U.S. jumped from 24,083 dozen sticks to 32,508 dozen ($275,699 worth) partly because of the expansion of rinks as far south as California.
A National Hockey League team uses about 250 dozen sticks a season. A single player may account for 15 dozen. That may seem like a lot of sticks to break, but as many arc broken in practice as in games, and players often return sticks that are scarcely damaged. Canada's hockey-stick makers, naturally, encourage this sort of finicky behavior. And no wonder—they have turned out about 5 million sticks this year, compared to a little more than 3 million in 1959.
OH, GIVE ME A HOME
The unrest and uncertainty that for three years have surrounded the American League baseball franchise in Kansas City last week reached its most ludicrous plateau. Charles O. Finley, owner of the A's, once again got into a public argument about his lease of city-owned Municipal Stadium. He started to move his offices from the stadium, accepted a bank's offer (later withdrawn) of 8,000 square feet of office space—free of charge—and sent General Manager Pat Friday out to find a flat, open field on which the A's might play in 1964.
Flat, open fields with lights and seating capacities of 32,000 are difficult to discover these days. Finley will end up in Municipal Stadium next season, but that is hardly the point. The point is Finley himself and his relations with baseball. He has recently 1) called the Rules Committee "a pack of simple-minded fools" because it did not adopt a Finley proposal allowing him to use orange balls and green-and-gold bats and 2) suggested that the Hall of Fame in Coopers-town either be abolished or moved—no one is quite certain which. "Another thing I don't like," he said, "is the Hall of Fame. Where do they put it? In Cooperstown, New York. I don't even know where it is. That's some wonderful location!"
Baseball is in enough trouble with its image of greed and its lust for free stadiums built at public cost. Before any further damage is done by Finley it is time for Ford Frick, who accepts $65,000 a year as Commissioner of Baseball, to talk to the man. He might even invite Finley to Cooperstown, a fine place to begin learning about baseball.
The first cricketer ever to be knighted was Sir Jack Hobbs, who died at the age of 81 at his home in Sussex, England a few days before Christmas. The knighting was only one of his many records. From 1905 to 1934, when he retired, the man cricketers called The Master scored 61,237 runs. A roughly equivalent accomplishment in baseball terms would amount to a lifetime batting average of better than .360, which only Ty Cobb accomplished.
In cricket a century consists of scoring 100 runs in a single game. Sir Jack made the century 197 times. In 1926 Hobbs and his partner, the great Herbert Sutcliffe, between them beat the Australian team in a victory that secured for England, after 14 years, The Ashes, symbol of cricket supremacy between the two nations.