THAT SLIPPERY SUBJECT
The other afternoon in Mexico City, baseball's Rules Committee wound up and unloaded on good old 8.02(a), the most circumnavigated rule in the game. Rule 8.02(a) pertains to the spitball, the pitch which umpires seldom see but pitchers throw all the time. Come April, umpires are supposed to first warn any pitcher who brings his hands in contact with his mouth and, should the pitcher do it a second time, disqualify him from the remainder of the game.
Perhaps you may remember the spring of 1963, when baseball tried to invoke another change in the rules of pitching. Back then the balk rule was reintroduced and enforcing it turned many games into a shambles. In the first 20 games of that season National League umpires called 20 balks against pitchers; American League umpires called none. Thus a rule was valid in one league and ignored in the other.
The one thing we like about the new spitball rule, however, is that if it is strictly enforced the hitter will get an advantage at a time when almost everything seems to be in favor of the pitcher. Instead of watching two hours and 45 minutes of pitch-and-catch between pitcher and catcher, men may actually hit balls with bats once again and go running around the bases as outfielders chase fly balls and line drives. Imagine, though, the role of the plate umpire who works the first 1968 meeting between Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants, two of the top pitchers often accused of throwing the spitter. They may be warned, but will they ever really be disqualified?
Everybody knows that sport made its contribution to the Manhattan Project when the squash courts of the University of Chicago were used as the development site of the atom bomb. But recently, at the 25th anniversary celebration of the project, a sports footnote was added.
At a "retrospective session" Dr. Walter Zinn, once a top aide to Enrico Fermi, recalled that the squash courts were unheated. The scientists managed, in part, by keeping in motion, but the guards at the doors suffered from the cold until the university unearthed—who knows where—a relic of the school's big-time football days, a large supply of raccoon coats.
"We had," said Dr. Zinn, "the best-dressed collegiate-type guards anywhere."
BREAD AND BUTTER
A tea shop on Coventry Street in London has decided to take out a gambling-casino license and set up baccarat, poker and blackjack tables for its clientele. Mr. Harold Young, a director of the establishment, which is one of the celebrated J. Lyons & Co. Ltd. shops, says, "Gambling is firmly entrenched as a national pastime, but it is not yet considered generally respectable. Perhaps we can help."