The cancellation of numerous sporting events as a consequence of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a proper—if incidental—response to the tragedy and its riotous aftermath. But the killing may have a deeper effect on sport than the mere rescheduling of this week's athletic competitions. In particular, it may influence the decisions of some of our black athletes in regard to participation in the Mexico City Olympics.
Long-jumper Ralph Boston, who has steadfastly refused to join a Negro boycott of the Games, says he is now reassessing his position. "For the first time since the talks about the boycott began," Boston says, "I feel that I really have a valid reason to boycott. I sat and thought about it, and I see that if I go to Mexico City and represent the United States I would be representing people like the one that killed Dr. King. And there are more people like that going around. I feel that I shouldn't represent people like that. On the other hand, I feel if I don't go and someone else wins the medal and it goes to another country I haven't accomplished anything either.
"It is disturbing when a guy cannot even talk to people and he is shot for that. It makes you think that Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown are right. All my life I felt that violence wasn't the way to deal with the problem. How do you keep feeling this way when things like that keep happening? How?"
Waiting for his spring fashion show to begin last week in Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall, Designer Bill Blass was complaining about his male models: "They take so much longer to dress than girls do." You could hardly blame them. Who, for instance, wants to rush right into the Philharmonic in yellow, square-toed gillie shoes ($55), or in the blue-velvet dressing gown($175) that Mr. Blass suggests is perfect for shooting pool?
There were a number of other sporting outfits in the collection—a $1,000 raccoon coat that doubles as a bedspread and a "non-shooting shooting jacket for bird watchers." Blass capped his show with a battered-looking fisherman's hat ($20) worn by a model with a day-old beard. The beard was a nice touch, but the hat needed something—perhaps some sweat around the hatband.
GIVING THEM THE RASPBERRY
As might have been expected, it is Leo Durocher who has come up with the most distinctive interpretation of baseball's contentious new spitball rule. He has been using it to give an intentional walk. The rule, its amendments having been amended, now reads, "The pitcher shall not bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber. Penalty: For violation of this part of this rule, the umpire shall immediately call a ball."
In the eighth inning of a recent game between Cleveland and Chicago, Cub Pitcher Jim Ellis had a 3-and-0 count on Dave Nelson with a runner on third. The game was tied. Durocher leaned out of the dugout and yelled to Ellis, "Go to your mouth." Ellis dutifully licked his finger, flagrantly, defiantly and shamelessly. The umpire immediately called ball four, and the batter went to first. Ellis struck out the next man, ending the inning. In the ninth, the Indians got runners on first and third with nobody out. Strategy called for an intentional pass, and Durocher ordered Ellis to lick his fingers again—four times. Another walk.