Not long before Charlie Finley fired Hank Bauer as manager of his Oakland Athletics (the ninth time in nine years that a Finley manager has gone the way of all managers), an article in The Wall Street Journal commented, "The Oakland Athletics are one of the worst-run outfits around. If Finley ran his insurance business the way he runs his ball club, he'd be broke in a week."
Finley's reaction was a remarkably calm one for the volatile Charlie. He said, "The man is correct, if he means it the way I think he does. If anyone had to operate other businesses the way baseball owners must operate theirs, they'd all go broke. I gave Rick Monday $100,000 and a new automobile to sign with the A's. In my insurance business I don't give some college graduate $100,000 to come work for me. And the system is unfair. I have another star, Campy Campaneris, who got only $580. Lew Krausse got $125,000, Jim Nash only $4,000. Is that good business?
"If that fellow in the article meant something else, if he was just being facetious...well, it's none of his damn business how I run my ball club. It's my money. All I'm interested in is producing a winner."
PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE
"Gentlemen, start your pipes," called the timekeeper, and the world pipe-smoking championship was under way in Washington, Mo., the corncob pipe capital of the world. Eighty-six minutes and three seconds later it was all over, when winner Nelson Hall's pipe finally went out. Hall had a comfortable eight-minute edge over Paul T. Spaniola, who had won the championship twice previously. Another double winner, Frank J. Frankenberg, a local boy, stunned his followers by being the first contestant ruled off; his pipe went out after only 28 minutes, which is like stumbling in the starting gate. "I don't know what happened," said a badly shaken Frankenberg. "It just went out. I guess I didn't smoke it fast enough."
Each contestant was given 3.3 grams of cube-cut burley and each was allowed two kitchen matches. They had one minute to light their pipes and at any time during the contest were obliged to emit smoke from their mouths, if so requested by the judges. The field included two women and entrants from Italy and England. Gianni Davoli of Milan said when his pipe went out, "A big wind came by." Teammate Umberto Montefameglio commented, "The tobacco tastes good but it doesn't burn very well." Peter Fischer of London blamed his failure on "a sudden obstruction."
Hall's winning time was 39 minutes short of the world record that had been set in 1954, but he was happy just to have won the championship. "I was relaxed from the start," he said. "That's what it takes."
John Ulmer, yet another two-time champion, who finished fourth this time, said, "The way you pack the tobacco is more important than the way you puff on the pipe. If you pack it too loose, it burns too fast. If you pack it too tight, it smothers the fire. I pack my pipe by hand rather than with a tamper. You get a better feel that way."
FACTS OF LIFE
Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, has told the education committee of the state assembly that the university needs additional athletic scholarship funds in order to be able to compete with other Big Ten schools ( Wisconsin has had terrible football teams in recent years). Hirsch was speaking in support of a proposed bill before the legislature that would provide about 750 athletic scholarships—up to 280 for Wisconsin and 40 each for 12 other state schools. The new bill would replace an existing legislative scholarship plan under which each of Wisconsin's 133 legislators can select a scholarship student annually. Less than half of these legislative scholarships go to athletes.