First came word from Florida about fiddling for worms. A man named Robert Taylor won the first annual International Worm Fiddling championship before a crowd of 700 by fiddling 21 crawlers out of the ground. There were 58 people in the squirming field, including several ladies, one of whom finished third to Taylor with 19 worms. You fiddle for worms, it was duly explained, by pounding a stick into the ground and rubbing it so that it vibrates. The vibrations bring worms to the surface. Different folks have different strokes, some using an ax handle, others sticks of wood. Taylor himself used an ax head. Each entrant had a 25-foot square surrounding the stake, and all worms that surfaced in that area counted. Taylor's 21 wrigglers gave him possession of a three-foot-high trophy surmounted by—what else?—a six-inch worm.
A few days after the big contest, London's Daily Telegraph ran an item about Taylor's victory in a column called "Around America." In the U.S., when an oddball item like this appears, people chuckle and show it to their neighbors. In England, they write letters. One to the Daily Telegraph said, "Reading your report of America's latest sport, I was reminded of an incident which occurred in 1958.... On August Bank Holiday, British European Airways chartered a helicopter to Cadbury's of Bournville to publicize their products. It landed on the firm's smoothly rolled playing field adjoining the factory. The ground was soft, and as the machine moved across it thousands of worms wriggled up to the surface to greet the pilot. Everyone present was mystified, not to say slightly alarmed, but experts later decided that this Pied Piper act was caused by the vibration set up by the rotor."
In England, letters bring more letters. A few days later the Telegraph printed two more messages. One said, testily, "It is not necessary to call up worms with the aid of a helicopter. Years ago, to our great astonishment, worms came up after we danced eightsome reels on our grass tennis court." And the other: "Worm fiddling? Nothing new. While staying at an hotel in St. Ives, Cornwall, I watched a gull lustily stamping the greensward, collecting the worms and then moving to another patch to repeat the operation."
And that's about it on worm fiddling.
It was a time of extremes for basketball teams from Jacksonville. Jacksonville University went north to New York City and ran up the highest point total ever achieved in Madison Square Garden by a college team (and tied the best ever by the pros) when it beat St. Peter's 152—106. Back home, Country Day School of Jacksonville was having trouble with Callahan Junior High. Country Day was 0 for 20 from the floor, 0 for 7 from the foul line and lost 70-0.
THE LITIGATION HANDICAP
Lester Piggott, the preeminent British jockey (SI, Oct. 26), has instituted a suit against a French racing paper for defaming him in an article that appeared last August, and he is thinking about suits against other publications for similar derogatory comments on his riding. Piggott says of the article, "It was such a load of rubbish I ignored it at the time, but when it was followed last month by more outrageous comment in another French paper, something had to be done."
At first glance, Piggott appears to be surprisingly sensitive for a professional athlete. But he does a great deal of riding in France, and in France a jockey does well to keep his riding tactics above suspicion. The renowned French rider named Roger Poincelet was set down for eight days in April 1966 by racing stewards at Longchamp for a questionable ride on a horse named Scallywag. A man named Luca, who had bet on Scallywag, sued Poincelet for 100,000 francs; after years of hearings and judgments and appeals, Luca last month was awarded 15,000 francs ($3,000). Poincelet is appealing.
The decision seems fraught with significance, not just for Piggott and other jockeys, but for bettors, too. Now when a man with a losing ticket complains, "The boy give him a bad ride," he won't be inclined to let it go at that but will start looking around the clubhouse for a lawyer.
LOT OF HEART