SI Vault
October 05, 1964
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October 05, 1964


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What is it about baseball? Why is it that despite everything that's wrong with it—and there's plenty—it can on occasion reach heights of sustained excitement unmatched by any other sport in the world, excitement that lasts and lasts, day after day after day?

Well, a man once said that baseball, for all its doldrums and dunderheads, maintained its hold on the imagination of the fan because it is "a game of almost limitless dramatic possibility." That limit was almost reached, again and again, in the National League pennant race these past two weeks, and the end is not yet. What a show it is. Unrehearsed, spontaneous, ad lib all the way, it is drama that show biz seldom attains and almost never understands.


When a college football game is televised nationally a total of 16 commercials are broadcast before, during and after the game. Ten of them must occur at some time during the playing of the game—during time-outs. Team captains, naturally, do not call their time-outs for the benefit of television and so, until this season, a little fellow in a red cap has been employed by NBC to parade the sidelines and rather conspicuously demand a time-out whenever he felt one was needed. He was not only conspicuous; excited crowds resentfully thought he was much too imperious about it and coaches thought he called them at most inappropriate times.

This year it is being done a little differently. Gone is the man in the red cap, replaced by a discreetly attired chap whose uniform makes him look rather like a sixth official except for the headset he wears. He is also much more knowing about football and vastly more judicious. The man on the sidelines is now either an active football official or one recently retired. Thus equipped with a working knowledge of football, he is charged with the responsibility of deciding whether an interruption might halt a team's scoring drive or otherwise influence the outcome of a game. He is instructed to try to work in his time-outs after a score or when the ball is changing hands. A definite improvement, for which the NCAA and NBC are to be commended.


Among the lesser-known water sports is surfboating, which is somewhat on the order of surf boarding. The boat is essentially a board—a thin slab of wood seven feet by four. It is propelled by a paddle and therein lies the main difference.

Surfboating is very popular in Lebanon, where its champion is sun-blackened, muscular little Bahij Zuhairi. Tired of paddling along the coast, Zuhairi set off across the Mediterranean last week, hoping to make the 110 nautical miles from Beirut's St. Georges Bay to Cyprus in 36 hours. The 42-foot power cruiser Riana escorted him and, through his first day and sleepless night, supplied him with food. All went well until the second evening, when the weather turned bad and the sea got rough. Ten miles off Cyprus, Riana lost sight of Zuhairi, last saw him still balanced astride his board atop wind-whipped waves, still paddling.

After 39 strenuous, sleepless hours, Zuhairi beached his craft on the sands of Famagusta's Greco Bay. "I feel fine," he said, "but I'm worried about the Riana."

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