GRAND OLD GAME
Here is a little more detail about the decor of the new Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia (SCORECARD, July 27), which is surely going to open in 1971. When a Phillie player hits a home run a 15-foot figure called Philadelphia Phil, dressed in Revolutionary War garb, will swing a baseball bat against a 20-foot replica of the Liberty Bell. The clapper hanging from the bell will strike, a bong will resound over the public-address system and a crack will appear in the bell. Several feet to the right, a second 15-foot figure, this one a Revolutionary lady called Philadelphia Phyllis, will pull a lanyard on a cannon aimed toward right field. Noise, smoke and flashes will come from the cannon and an explosion will appear on the huge message board in right. A Colonial flag will unfurl between Phil and Phyllis. Beyond the center-field fence a fountain will spurt 30 feet into the air. A picture of the player who hit the homer will appear on the message board, and the P.A. system will blare The Star and Stripes Forever.
That's for a home run. A triple with the bases loaded will pass unnoticed.
In this era of extreme praise and extreme criticism for football, it is refreshing to hear the reasoned pros and cons of Tim Oesterling, UCLA's 260-pound defensive left tackle, as abridged from The UCLA Monthly. "One day I was in the cafeteria with some of the other players getting a Coke," says Oesterling, "when some kid said, 'What are you guys, some kind of animals or something?' That really upset me, because that's the stereotyped way a lot of people think of football players. About the only thing some people will ask me is, 'How is the team going to do next Saturday?' or 'Will so-and-so be ready for the such-and-such game?' I figure there are two reasons for this. People want to confine the discussion to what they assume is the scope of my consciousness, but they also want to know what it's like to be a football player. Football, you see, acts as a catharsis for the masses. All it is is a relatively civilized Circus Maximus."
Oesterling, an outstanding high school player, dropped out of football for a time in college. "During one game as a freshman," he says, "I discovered I had a real desire to kill the man across from me. That's just not my style of morality, so I decided to get out. I go along with the idea of a natural ego drive to compete, but I can't agree with the stab-your-buddy-in-the-back-to-get-ahead philosophy. I can't find that hostility—to kill—in me anymore, which will probably hinder me somewhat as a player. But that's the way it goes."
The question of whether or not to try pro football bothers him, too.
"I can get by on my physical qualities—size, strength, a certain amount of quickness—but the denominator is the mind. I'm very tempted to hang it up after this season. At 260, clothes don't fit comfortably, there's no bounce in your step, you seem to age more quickly. I feel that any vestige of youth I have is slipping.
"The problem is, it's very difficult to turn down the bread. And it would get me out of the 9 to 5 hassle, which everybody is trying to avoid these days; nobody wants to be an organization man. We all want to find a niche we can fit into and be creatively productive. The only trouble is, that's awfully hard to do."