Not bad, sports fans, you have just told us the name of the third-string catcher for the 1938 Chicago Cubs, the amount of tread remaining on the right rear tire of the car that won the 1946 Indianapolis 500 and the date of birth of the maiden aunt of the guy who carried the water bottle for Primo Camera in his second fight. Now for the $64 question—who won the silver medal in the shotput in the 1968 Olympics? Tell you what, you can have the fully equipped camper and the year's supply of bubble gum if you just tell us his nationality. His name was George Woods. Now, where did he come from? "Obscurity," answered George Woods last week in Los Angeles. "And after Mexico City that's where I went back to. My fame might not be much but there's nothing wrong with my timing."
Woods is not entirely unknown, of course, if only because people like Randy Matson and Al Feuerbach, who have pretty much dominated the event for the last two years, have kept an eye on the 6'2" 300-pounder out of, in truth, Worden, Ill. (pop. 1,100). All year long, when people asked who would represent the U.S. in the shot at Munich, Matson and Feuerbach insisted it would be themselves and George Woods.
"And people kept asking them who Woods was," said Woods. "Finally, I figured it was time to show them."
Two weeks ago he did. In the Compton Invitational at the Los Angeles Coliseum Woods got off a put of 70'1�". Only Matson, who has the world record of 71'5�", and Feuerbach, who did 70'3�" earlier this year, have also surpassed the 70' barrier.
"And now it's me and Feuerbach," said Woods, dismissing Matson, the 6'6�" 265-pound giant who, until running into problems in 1971, had outclassed the competition for years.
"And now it looks like me and Woods," said the 6'1", 255-pound Feuerbach, also ignoring the 1968 gold medal winner.
"Woods and Feuerbach," mused Matson. "How nice. It should be an exciting duel. For second place."
And that's how it stood last week going into Friday night's Vons Classic (named after the sponsoring supermarket chain) in Los Angeles, followed by Saturday's Kennedy Games in Berkeley: Woods looking at Feuerbach; Feuerbach looking at Woods; and Matson looking down at them both. Six thousand miles away, East Germany's Heinz-Joachim Rot hen burg (personal best of 69'11�"), Hartmut Briesenick (69'2") and Hans-Peter Gies (69'1�") were keeping a figurative eye on all three.
"I hear Woods said he's worried about Feuerbach and the East Germans," said Matson, who came to Los Angeles five days before the meet to work with UCLA Assistant Coach Tom Tellez. "That doesn't bother me. In fact, it kind of helps. They are concerned with each other and I'm only concerned with myself. If I can work out my problem, if I can throw as well as I am capable, I feel I can beat them. If I can't, well, there are a lot more people around than those two who can beat me. But it's the same for them. Anybody can run into problems and miss the plane to Munich."
By Thursday afternoon Matson was confident that he and Tellez had finally pinpointed what had been bothering him since 1970. As Paul Waner, the old National League baiting champion, would have said, Matson was a victim of a slow belly button. "In any sport," preached Waner, who was also a superb golfer and bowler, "you gotta have a quick belly button. That snaps around first and the rest of the body follows." Or, as Matson more delicately put it, his hand was getting ahead of his hips and he might as well have been throwing the shot left-handed. "Now it's just a matter of time," Matson said. "Woods says I'm through. We'll see."