So very early Wednesday week, Campbell stuck his mascot—a teddy bear named Mr. Whoppit, dressed in blue coveralls like Campbell's own—into Bluebird's cockpit, strapped himself in and handed a pipe and tobacco pouch to an aide. "Hang on to these," Campbell said. "They're sticking into me." After hitting 297 mph on the first of the two requisite runs over the measured kilometer, Campbell turned and radioed, "The water is dark green, and I can't see anything." Seconds later, gathering speed, he said, his voice pitched higher, "She's tramping! She's tramping! I'm on my back! She's going!"
APPEAL TO THE ANT LOVERS
If NBC doesn't beat CBS in the ratings for their simultaneous telecast of the Super Bowl, it won't be because they didn't try to get out the viewers. Last Saturday NBC was touting its Super-coverage on a show called Atom Ant, which goes on the air at 9:30 a.m., and appeals to pro football fans aged 3 to 8.
SON OF ELEPHANT JOKE
As you no doubt recall, a few years back elephant jokes (e.g., "Why don't elephants like Martinis?" "Did you ever try to get an olive out of your nose?") were all the rage. Now the Mecoms—John Sr. and John Jr., of Houston and thereabouts—have learned, to their sorrow, that the genre has not entirely been laid to rest.
One day last month a press release, issued on behalf of the South African Tourist Corporation, stated that John Sr. had ordered 20 elephants from South Africa's Kruger National Park for delivery to his private Texas game reserve in late January. At about the same time John Jr. got a call from the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. informing him that 18 elephants were on the way. Eighteen elephants? Twenty elephants? What's two elephants, more or less, to a press agent? However, neither John Jr. nor Sr. knew anything about one elephant.
The Mecoms keep zebras, oryxes, llamas, impalas, gazelles and giraffes at their Laredo ranch, but, said John Jr., "We have only one elephant, and it's of the Indian variety. These people are talking about African elephants. They're twice the size of Indian elephants, and I don't plan to turn 18 African elephants loose with that Indian elephant. My dad and I think this is some big joke by our friend Ray Ryan of the Mount Kenya Safari Club. I understand Lykes is perturbed that I haven't been answering their calls, but I hate to return them because I'd have to ask what's going to happen to all those elephants, and I don't want to know."
The best sportscaster in the country is a crusty middle-aged man who, on occasional Saturday nights, does the color for the college basketball games on WPIX in New York. His name is Red Auerbach, the same one who is the former coach and the present general manager of the Boston Celtics.
But if you want to catch Auerbach, hurry: he's too good and too honest to last on TV. For one thing, he gives everybody the business: players, refs, coaches. During the Columbia-Dartmouth game last week, he was muttering, "That Stableford, he doesn't even look at the basket. He's no threat out there." And "I honestly believe it was the official's fault." And "That's a classic example of what to do wrong against the full-court press." Auerbach also tells you why kids raised in New York can't shoot layups (because they started out in playgrounds, where the baskets are on poles, and if you drove in you stood a good chance of getting banged up), how to shoot, how refs get themselves off the hook and the secret of coaching. At the close of the game, when Columbia cleared its bench, Auerbach said: "Notice how some of these second-stringers are out of condition?" Aghast, Marty Glickman, the play-by-play announcer, ventured that the subs were probably a little nervous. "The secret of coaching," Auerbach persisted, "is keep your bench in as good condition as your starters, even though they don't play." Glickman suggested that it was exam time. "They are a little fatter than the first-stringers," said Auerbach with finality.
But the best part of listening to Auerbach do a game is that every once in a while, following an exceptionally pretty play, you will hear a soft "ooh." It's Auerbach, still a fan after 27 years of making his living from the game, expressing his admiration.