REVERSION TO TYPE
In the old days, when prizefighting was illegal here and there, the laws were evaded by the use of barges as arenas. Fighting is quite legal these days in Florida, but some ambitious promoters feel hampered by the existence of boxing commissions, which have rules about proper matchmaking, physical examinations and other safeguards. Well, the barge, or a reasonable facsimile, is back, and many safeguards are out. A liner called the Orange Sun now puts out of Miami on Saturday nights, chugs beyond the three-mile limit and stands by while an evening's card of boxing is presented in a below-decks salon. The fighters punch it out in a 12-by-16-foot ring billed proudly as "the world's smallest." It is the sort of ring that encourages slugging and discourages footwork and other defensive subtleties of boxing. One recent passenger was Willie Pastrano, light heavyweight champion and a superb defensive boxer. "Boy," said Willie. "How'd you like to fight Sonny Liston in that ring?" No one said he would.
Customers are charged $5 apiece for the Saturday-night trips, which begin at 9 o'clock and end about 3 a.m. For patrons who are not fight fans, there are other diversions: slot machines, blackjack, a crap table and, of course, a calypso band.
All of which seems to duck the law, so far as it exists in the state of Florida. But one wonders what would happen if, in a bout supervised only by what the promoters factitiously describe as "The High Seas Commission" (which is no commission at all), a fighter should be killed. Would it then become a federal case like a murder on the high seas?
SCULLY'S WAY AND ALLEN'S WAY
Some of the superstitions of baseball are amusing and some, like the injunction against mentioning the fact that a pitcher has a no-hitter going, are downright irritating, especially when observed by broadcasters. We have said it before (SI, May 13, 1963) and we say it again, because when Sandy Koufax had not only a no-hitter but the third of his career on its way to history, it went un-mentioned, except by coy insinuation, on some broadcasts. But not, praise be, on Vin Scully's report to Los Angeles Dodger fans. He has been steadfast in calling a no-hitter a no-hitter from the start of his announcing career.
"There are a lot of youngsters on our club that throw very hard," Scully said the other day. "It is not uncommon for one of them to have a no-hitter going through four, five or six innings. If I did not call them I would be talking nonsense most of the time. Why, the other night Koufax and his teammates were talking about the no-hitter during the game. Why shouldn't I?"
One of the old school, though, is Mel Allen. Just recently, during the broadcast of a Yankee game, Allen received the line score of the Mets- San Francisco game in which Jack Sanford was surrendering no hits. "In the seventh inning," Allen babbled, " Jack Sanford is pitching the type of game every pitcher dreams of having."
THE FISH WHO COME FOR DINNER
Naturalists are familiar with, and wary of, the dangers inherent in introducing a species of animal or even plant into a new habitat. The pestiferous nutria, brought into the U.S. from southern South America 65 years ago, today contaminates millions of acres. The water hyacinth, native of tropical America, chokes vast expanses of Florida's lakes and rivers and requires constant, expensive control. Now another South American intruder, the deadly piranha of the Amazon River basin, has become a potential menace. Florida naturalists, who say the piranha probably would thrive in that state's subtropical waters, are worried because piranhas turn up from time to time in Florida pet shops, though it is illegal to bring the fish into the state. They are sold to fish fanciers who want something more spectacular than guppies and goldfish in their home aquariums. But should some gentle aquarium owner, wanting to get rid of his pet piranhas and reluctant to kill them, ever dump a loving couple into a river the consequences could be most serious. A school of piranhas can reduce a swimmer to a skeleton in seconds.