AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN
After Jackie Robinson's death last week, one of our baseball writers was moved to observe:
"I met Jack many times, first when he was a ballplayer, later at various sporting and social functions. I had absolute respect for him, but each time I met him he seemed vaguely contemptuous of me. In truth, he almost certainly did not remember me particularly from one meeting to the next and had no special feelings one way or the other. But even when he was quiet he seemed to bristle with truculence, be inwardly steaming with repressed anger that might flare up at any moment. He never gave smooth, easy answers to questions, never resorted to the slick and the obvious. If you asked him something, he looked at you directly as if to challenge the motive behind the question. He had a passion for truth, for what he felt was the truth, and he could be a bit frightening at times. But he was always impressive. And refreshing. I don't remember ever talking to anyone else quite like him.
"He was unique on the ball field, too. In most of what has been written and said about him since his death, his talent as a ballplayer has been curiously obscured. He was the most aggressively exciting player of my experience. Ty Cobb was before my time, but I saw Babe Ruth and DiMaggio, Musial and Willie Mays, Aaron and Ted Williams. Robinson's statistical record seems meager compared with theirs, but if all of them were somehow playing on the same team I have no doubt that Robinson would be the dominating figure. He made things happen. He was an extraordinary man."
THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE
Despite—or possibly because of—the unsmiling rigidity of their government, Russians often possess a lively sense of humor. Last week they reported another world record for the Soviet Union. A Russian engineer, they said, had given up smoking 57 times in one year, breaking the old record of 50 held by America's Mark Twain.
Buffalo finally put aside its favorite sport, which is arguing, and got to work building its new 80,000-seat, $126 million stadium. Although the new arena is supposed to be ready for the 1973 football season, Buffalonians watching work progress were uneasy because they just don't feel right unless they are squabbling with one another. Relief came when the question arose as to what the new stadium should be named. In the old days you could settle for calling it after Millard Fillmore or Douglas MacArthur, but nowadays commerce comes into it. The New England Patriots, for instance, play in Schaefer Stadium, which is supposed to remind patrons to buy that brand of beer. In Buffalo, Rich Products Corporation, which has plants in Canada and Europe as well as in the U.S., offered Erie County $1.5 million over 25 years if the facility were named Rich Stadium. Actually, the company wanted the name to be Coffee Rich Stadium, after its best-known product, but opposition to this as maybe an eentsy bit too commercial moved the company to modify it.
Erie County Executive Edward V. Regan said he was against the Rich name in any form and wanted the place called Erie County Stadium. His argument was that "the combination of civic pride, nationwide identification and recognition that would accrue with a civil name" would be worth at least as much as the money the county would receive annually for accepting Rich Stadium as the name. County legislators argued right back that the stadium was a commercial venture and that the name should be considered part of its commercial aspect. In fact, the legislators passed a resolution last May that the sale of the name should be pursued, and during the summer the Chamber of Commerce was asked to round up some companies that might be interested. Merchants Mutual Insurance Company of Buffalo, the Erie County Savings Bank and Schaefer indicated interest, but when formal-bid time came only Rich Products put an offer on the line. Ralph Wilson of the Buffalo Bills said belatedly he would match the bid if the place were called Buffalo Bills Stadium.
If Wilson is bypassed and the original bid accepted, Buffalo should relax and count its blessings. Commercial it may be, but Rich Stadium is a little easier to take than Merchants Mutual Insurance Arena or Erie County Savings Bank Park.
THINGS THAT GO BUMP
The manufacturers of the Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce have agreed to add a warning notice to literature enclosed in cars sold in New York City. The warning states: "Due to the present condition of the streets in the city of New York, particularly the presence of potholes and debris, you are advised to exercise extreme caution when driving in that area and avoid such hazards, as your failure to do so may result in damage to your Alfa Romeo."