BASEBALL—In a surprise move, the major league owners hired LIEUT. GENERAL WILLIAM D. ECKERT, USAF (ret.), 56, whose experience lies wholly in the field of military logistics and business administration, as Commissioner of Baseball for seven years, to replace retiring Ford C. Frick. Eckert's chief assistant and administrator of his office will be LEE MacPHAIL, president and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles the past seven years.
Zoilo Versalles, the talented but temperamental shortstop who sparked the Minnesota Twins to the pennant with his aggressive play on the bases and in the field, was named the American League's Most Valuable Player. Versalles, a 155-pounder with surprising power, hit 19 home runs, stole 27 bases, had 77 RBIs, batted .273 and led the major leagues in runs scored with 126 and the American League in total bases with 308.
Wes Westrum, 43, acting manager of the New York Mets after Casey Stengel retired in August, was hired as the official manager for next season.
BASKETBALL—NBA: BOSTON (11-5), with three wins and a 125-115 loss to the Lakers, and CINCINNATI (11-5), with victories over the 76ers and the Bullets plus a 129-103 loss to the Celtics that ended the Royals' seven-game winning streak, shared first place in the East. PHILADELPHIA (10-6), the leader when the week began, slipped to third after losing three straight, including two to the Bullets. The 76ers' only victories were over the Hawks 107-98 and the Lakers 110-104. NEW YORK (6-11) split four games, beating the Pistons twice and losing to the Bullets and the Celtics. Western leader LOS ANGELES (12-7), with Jerry West totaling 144 points, won three out of four and moved 2� games ahead of second-place SAN FRANCISCO (9-9), which won only one out of four. Guy Rodgers, the Warriors' fancy playmaker, broke his personal scoring record twice with 39-point and 47-point games. ST. LOUIS (6-7) split two games, BALTIMORE (8-13) took three and dropped two, and DETROIT (4-14), at the bottom of the Western pile, was 0 for 3.
BILLIARDS—Former world three-cushion champion HAROLD WORST of Grand Rapids, Mich. won the All-Around Pocket Billiards Tournament in Johnston City, Ill. by defeating Larry (Boston Shorty) Johnson in the finals, 125-40 in straight pool and 11-5 in nine-ball.
FOOTBALL—NFL: CLEVELAND, the Eastern leader, stopped a rallying Dallas team with two big interceptions in the fourth quarter to win 24-17. The victory lifted the Browns three games ahead of St. Louis and NEW YORK, who tied the Cards for second by beating them 28-15. WASHINGTON turned two fumble recoveries and an interception into three touchdowns to crush Pittsburgh 31-3. BALTIMORE held a not-too-secure three-point lead over Philadelphia in the fourth quarter when Jimmy Orr raced into the game from the hospital and almost immediately caught a touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas that clinched the game for the Western Division-leading Colts 34-24. GREEN BAY remained one game behind the Colts, with a ferocious 28-point fourth quarter for a 38-13 win over Minnesota. Rookie Gale Sayers ran 20 yards for the third-quarter score that gave third-place CHICAGO a 17-10 victory over Detroit, while SAN FRANCISCO defeated Los Angeles 30-27 when Tommy Davis kicked a 23-yard field goal with six seconds left in the game.
AFL: Rookie Joe Namath completed 17 of 26 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns to lead revitalized NEW YORK to a 41-14 win over Houston. It was the Jets' fourth victory in a row and moved them past the Oilers into second place in the Eastern Division, 3� games behind first-place Buffalo. In the West, OAKLAND broke a tie for second with the Chiefs by defeating Denver 28-20 on two last-period pass interceptions that were run back for TDs (Gus Otto 68 yards, Dave Grayson 47 yards), while KANSAS CITY was held to a 10-10 tie by Boston when Babe Parilli threw a short TD pass late in the fourth quarter. The victory lifted the Raiders within a game of first-place San Diego.
GOLF—Australia's PETER THOMSON won his eighth New Zealand Open, in Auckland, when he finished eight strokes ahead of the field, with a 278.
HARNESS RACING—BRET HANOVER wrapped up the Triple Crown of pacing and his 21st win in 24 starts this year when he took the $151,000 Messenger Stakes at Roosevelt by half a length over Tuxedo Hanover (page 74).
HOCKEY—NHL: MONTREAL (7-4-3) held its two-point first-place lead over the Black Hawks by winning one and losing two. Ralph Backstrom and Bobby Rousseau each scored the hat trick (three goals) in a 9-3 victory over the Rangers. Bobby Hull scored three more goals to lift his total to 15 in 12 games as CHICAGO (7-4-1) also won one and lost two. TORONTO (6-6-2) whisked by the Rangers into third place, only a point out of second, by winning two games from the Hawks and one from the Canadiens, while NEW YORK (4-5-4) dropped two and tied one. DETROIT (3-5-4) moved within two points of the Rangers with a win and a tie, and last-place BOSTON (3-6-2) beat the Canadiens 3-2 after losing to the Red Wings 4-2.