SI Vault
December 23, 1968
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December 23, 1968


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Chapman says he can tell him. "The fielder has played this game many times and has a good memory of fly-ball experiences," he points out. "He knows what a long hit sounds like. His sensory elements are well coupled to his built-in computer, developed by the good Lord over the millennia.... The question is, what information must the fielder sense in order to know where the ball is going?"

Well, we will not attempt to reproduce Dr. Chapman's formulae, since we hate to see proofreaders cry. Suffice it to say that Mays, or any other seasoned ball hawk, can tell whether or not he is already in the right place to catch a fly ball, because if he is, says Chapman, "the tangent of the [ball's] elevation angle increases uniformly with time." And if he is not, he "will arrive at the right place at the right time...if he runs at the only constant velocity for which the rate of change of tangent of the elevation angle of the ball and the bearing angle of the ball both remain constant."

Got it? If you have, let's hear you holler something.

After denying for years that it is one, while functioning as one of the most formidable ones in the country, the National Rifle Association has now registered with Congress as a lobby.


Early this season Larry Csonka, the Miami Dolphins' 235-pound rookie fullback, suffered two brain concussions from being kicked in the temple. As a result, he had severe headaches and double vision and couldn't keep his balance when he tried to cut. It appeared that the Dolphins' No. 1 draft choice might never play again. But his health returned, and to preserve it the Dolphins got him a crash helmet. They had John T. Riddell, Inc., a sporting-goods company, fashion a special headgear that contained eight sponge-backed air cells at points where Csonka most needed protection. Before game time Csonka inflates each cell individually to conform to the shape of his head. Thus adjusted, the helmet fits so tightly it can't be knocked off, and it absorbs impact amazingly. "Before I got the new helmet," Csonka says, "I would put my head down to spear and feel the shock all the way to my legs. Now I feel no shock whatsoever, not even in my head."

The Dolphins say they are going to order 40 of the helmets for next season, and Riddell is working on an improved model for mass production. It will be rounder on the sides than the currently accepted models, and will contain not only the air cells but also, like the helmet developed by Gatorade Inventor Dr. Robert Cade (SI, July 1), liquid-filled cells. As impact forces the skull toward the shell of the helmet the head will first deflate the air cells, then flatten the hydraulic ones before reaching the sponge. When a man has a helmet like that, there is not much point in kicking him in the head at all.


The recent Oscar Bonavena-Joe Frazier fight in Philadelphia produced nothing but losers. Lou Lucchese, the nervy little promoter, put together a good show but took a $100,000 bath. Bonavena lost the fight and had his hotel room burglarized. And although Frazier won a 15-round decision, he left the impression that, despite 19 knockouts in 22 fights, he really can't punch.

That last conclusion is nonsense. Frazier is a two-fisted, hard-hitting fighter whose heavy handiwork was reflected in Bonavena's lopsided face. What the Bonavena fight did reveal was Frazier's lack of expertise. Frazier won by pressure—moving in constantly and punching nonstop. "He out-indomitables everyone," remarked a fight manager recently, and indeed Frazier may be the most determined, most competitive heavyweight ever. He is certainly the busiest.

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