THE FLOOD CASE
Early testimony at the Curt Flood vs. Baseball suit (Flood is questioning the legality of baseball's famous reserve clause, which binds a player to his contract for life) tended to sound more like something you might get at a congressional hearing than in a court of law. Comment and opinion flowed freely; factual evidence seemed in short supply. The old wheeze about whether baseball is a sport or a business was dragged out and run around, though that is not the issue here (it is not that baseball is a sport rather than a business that supposedly exempts it from the strictures that bind interstate commerce but the "special nature" of the business).
As the case moves on, testimony and evidence will probably be more factual and specific, but the outcome of the lawsuit seems inevitable: the reserve clause in its present form will disappear. Baseball is whistling in the dark if it thinks today's courts—either in hearing the case itself or an appeal—will give that antiquated stricture a blanket endorsement. Yet baseball has got to have some contractual arrangement that will give it a fair continuity of control over its players. Neither football nor basketball has a "reserve clause," at least not like baseball's, and they seem to be getting along fine. Baseball ought to stop dragging its feet and produce a new contract form of its own—and soon.
The U.S. is generally credited with being the worst nation in the world when it comes to polluting the environment, but don't feel too smug about that. The others are catching up. In the April 26 issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda a Soviet conservationist named Vladimir Peskov reported that oats poisoned with zinc phosphide had been spread by airplane in an attempt to kill gophers that were damaging Russian farmlands "The fate of the gophers is not known," said Peskov, "though it is highly probable that they withstood the chemical assault without great losses. But birds died en masse."
In one area 50 cranes and 11 wild geese were found dead. In another, fields were littered with the bodies of 200 great bustards, rare birds with wingspreads up to eight feet that are strictly off limits to Russian hunters. Several dozen foxes were killed, too; the foxes, of course, are the natural enemy of the gophers, but the oat shakers hadn't stopped to think about that.
The farmers responsible for the destruction of the bustards were fined 150 rubles ($166.50), and the Soviet government banned future aerial use of zinc phosphide. But, wrote Peskov, "Do [they] know the real price of the dead birds? The fine could only convince them that nature costs nothing. They would have grieved more if 200 chickens had died.
"It is happening everywhere," the conservationist lamented. "Why do we see almost no flocks of geese and cranes in April? Why can we hear no quail in the fields in June? The partridges have almost disappeared. Our woods, gardens and fields are becoming quieter and quieter." A silent spring, Miss Carson wrote.
Among safety devices being used in some cars in the Indianapolis 500 this weekend are full-strap harnesses, full-face helmets, foam-filled fuel tanks, more internal fire-extinguishing systems...and Gatorade dispensers from which a driver can drink through a tube attached to his helmet. Well, maybe the availability of Gatorade at 160 mph isn't necessarily a safety factor, but the drivers will be a lot less thirsty when the checkered flag comes down.
MAYBE YOU HAD TO BE THERE
Paul Hahn pulled a pretty good one on Gary Player the other day, heh-heh. Hahn, a trick-shot specialist (SI, March 5, 1956), was on the practice tee with Player before the Champions tournament in Houston. Their conversation had been casual—nothing much had been said one way or the other about the threats the harassed Player had been receiving because of his country's apartheid policy—when Hahn suddenly reached into his golf bag, took out a pistol loaded with blanks and fired it at Player. The South African was shaken, and Hahn roared with laughter at the look of shock on his face. Oddly, Gary didn't laugh at all.