Baseball's spring-training experiment—with a permanent pinch hitter in place of the pitcher—struck an early snag when the San Francisco Giants came out strongly against the idea. Chub Feeney, the Giants' vice-president, said, "We've got lots of learning to do in spring training. Why bother with something we won't be able to use in the regular season?" Feeney said the Giants would exercise their right to refuse to have the permanent pinch hitter used by either team in every exhibition game they play. "It's a gimmick to help spring training gate receipts," he said. "We're against gimmicks."
Willie Mays, approaching his 38th birthday and his 18th big-league season, has a different opinion. "Hitting for the pitcher will keep a lot of us old-timers in the game longer," said Willie. "I could go on at least five more years."
Here is baseball, worried sick about the failure of young hitters to take over for retiring musclemen like Mickey Mantle, and there is ice hockey, up to its penalty boxes with nothing but eager young sluggers. Barely five minutes after the start of a game in Ontario's crack Junior A league between the Oshawa Generals and the Montreal Junior Canadiens, one of the worst brawls in hockey history erupted. When it finally subsided, 14 minor penalties were meted out, 25 major penalties, 15 misconduct penalties and seven match penalties: a total of 373 minutes in penalty time. In comparison, the entire National Hockey League incurred only eight major and six misconduct penalties in 19 games played during a recent week, plus 310 minutes in minor penalties. Maybe baseball could switch from bats to sticks and thus bring back the big inning.
COACH WHAT'S HIS NAME
It is only normal for a football player to say he played for Bear Bryant in college, or for Woody Hayes or for John McKay. But whom does Bill Lalla say he played for? Lalla was a freshman at Oklahoma in 1965 when Gomer Jones was head coach there, but Jones left after the season and was replaced by Jim Mackenzie. Lalla was on Mackenzie's team in spring practice in 1966 and was a redshirt under him (Lalla had hurt a shoulder in the spring) the following fall. Then Mackenzie died suddenly early in 1967, and in spring practice Lalla played under new Coach Chuck Fairbanks.
That summer Lalla transferred from Oklahoma to Wichita State where, under Coach Boyd Converse, he was red-shirted again, since as a transfer he was ineligible to play in 1967. Converse later got into difficulties with the NCAA because of his recruiting practices and lost his job to Eddie Kriwiel, for whom Lalla played last fall. But Wichita State had a dismal 0-10 record under Kriwiel and he was replaced this January by Ben Wilson, who thus became the sixth head coach Lalla has had in five years.
Lalla might end up as a coach himself. It is hard to say how good a football mind Bill has, but if anybody should be an expert on the methods and techniques of coaching, he's the man.