This year Penn State's play-by-play football announcer, Fran Fisher, is going to have his hands full, not to mention his mouth. The roster includes Carl Schaukowitch, John Skarzynski, Charlie Zapiec, Jack Koniszewski and John Skorupan. Fisher might practice by reciting, " Joe Paterno picked a peck of polysyllabic players."
Gimmick-of-the-Month Award goes to Tom Diskin, who works hard at promoting dog races at Pueblo Greyhound Park in Colorado. Browsing through a couple of telephone directories, Diskin came across 14 famous name-alikes, including Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Manuel Ortiz and Richie Allen, whom he promptly invited to a "celebrity" evening at the races. None of his counterfeit sports personalities turned up, but he landed the biggest, hardest-to-get prize of all: Howard Hughes, a fire fighter from Colorado Springs.
Alex Hawkins, former Baltimore Colt, got invited up to the mountains of northern Georgia, where Warner Bros. is filming James Dickey's Deliverance, which stars another ex-football player named Burt Reynolds. The producers must have decided one football player was enough, because Hawkins didn't get a part in the film. Later he explained why. "Director Boorman decided I wasn't tough enough for the role. He must have seen me play football."
Someone's always trying to puncture President Nixon's efforts in behalf of the common folk. Take bicycles. Up to the White House rolled 16 young cyclists who had just pedaled 3,617 miles from Seattle to Washington. The President, after confessing that he was no great shakes on a two-wheeler when he was a kid, lauded the youngsters for their feat. Then along came grumpy H. A. Shapiro of New York's Taxi News to take issue with the President. "Cycling," said Shapiro, "offends the environment. They are just substituting B.O. for pollution."
Here is Red Dog riding down the San Bernardino Freeway, as is his wont, with Electronics Engineer John Miller, his owner, when along comes the California Highway Patrol, which cites Miller for carrying an "unsafe load, a dog standing on its hind legs astride the seat, its front paws on the shoulder of the motorcycle operator." The "unsafe load," alias Red Dog, half chow, half German shepherd, frequently wears a red-orange and white scarf, leather flying helmet and goggles to promote his image as a carefree backseat driver. He and Miller have been cycling thus for five years now and, though obviously a ham, the mutt refused to pose for photographers, reporters or the judge at his arraignment in Alhambra Municipal Court. Said Miller: "I felt like turning him into a rug."
High-ho citation to New York's Mayor John V. Lindsay, the lately turned Democrat, who spent his vacation hiking and riding at the 10,000-foot level in the Rockies. Chatting with reporters one day, he allowed as how this lofty interlude probably represented the "peak" of his political career.
Mirror-Mirror-on-the-Wall Award to Alex Karras, who once called Tom Matte of the Baltimore Colts nothing but "a garbage-can runner." Karras, who has become something of a superstar on TV talk shows and commercials, recently spent several hours at the Detroit Lion training camp filming a new ad on guess what? Plastic refuse bags. Over to you, Matte.
Not since Lady Bird Johnson took an interest in the greening of America has anyone made so noble and selfless a gesture to freshen the environment as that of Governor Bruce King of New Mexico. The chief executive recently asked his tourist bureau to dress up the new state road map by replacing his photograph on it with "some beautiful and attractive scene."
Milton Berle's feelings were a bit wounded when only four out of 20 Los Angeles Dodgers showed up to use the free tickets he offered them for his performance in the St. Louis Opera's production of Two By Two. Insult was added to injury a few days later when Uncle Miltie was introduced to Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, who mistook Berle for Jack Benny—asking things like, "How's your old car?" and "Is that a cheap cigar?" Berle came back at Bonds, sometimes known as Superwhiff, with a high, hard one: "Yeah, well, who's got the major league record for strikeouts?"
The first Milk Carton Boat Race, held recently at Minneapolis' Lake Calhoun during Minneapolis' Aquatennial, drew 1,200 entrants and attracted an estimated 20,000 spectators. Rules required that the flotation of the boats must be provided by milk cartons held together by wood, string and glue. Most spectacular entry was the 50-by-six-foot job constructed by John Gamec and friends out of 2,600 cartons and paddled galley style by 37 rowers. Said Alvin Hohlbein (not Holstein) of the sponsoring Milk Foundation, "Our slogan was EVERYBODY NEEDS MILK." A little wood, string and glue helps, too.