Now there is one more. It is called Bang the Drum Slowly, based on Mark Harris' novel about a baseball catcher who is dying of Hodgkin's disease but persists in playing out his season. No one will admit that he is dying, least of all the catcher. In due course others learn of his sickness and rally to protect him, to prolong, for no matter how short a time, his participation in the sport he loves.
It sounds sentimental and, of course, it is. But the movie treats it all with wonderful restraint. Nothing sloppy intrudes. It will be well worth seeing when it comes your way this summer.
THERE'S GOLD IN THEM WHEELS
Mike Maaranen of the Amateur Bicycle League of America is considered an expert in cycling bylaws and is certified to act as the final rules authority at meets all over the world. He is not unlike many amateur officials, however, who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the professionalism that abounds in their particular sports.
"Our rules are tied to the International Olympic Committee, like those of most other amateur sports, and we are bound to at least say we enforce them whether we do or not," says Maaranen. "It is quite obvious to everyone that the rules are being broken. Prize money is given, expense money is given, athletes are subsidized by governments. To me an amateur is someone who doesn't make a living from his sport. But even by that standard there are five or six riders in each of the 10 or 12 top cycling countries who probably wouldn't qualify."
Maaranen says the International Cycling Union will act against professionalism "only when it is forced to. Besides, no one has anything to gain by making a big issue of the undercover stuff, because everyone is involved. The only mandatory penalty is a 30-day suspension."
Amateur cycling rules allow room, board, transportation and a modest per diem ($5 a day at the recent Grand Prix of the United States), but cash prizes and appearance money are supposed to be no-no's. In reality, the top cyclists can make several hundred dollars just by showing up at a big meet, and several wins might put their take in four figures. Even at that, no amateur cyclist is getting rich. "It's money for a stereo or something like that," says one Olympic gold medalist, "not anything you could live off of year-round."
TRAIL OF THE GRAIL
One of the oldest of sporting trophies is hockey's Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup, which goes back to 1893. In prestige it ranks with the Davis Cup, first presented in 1900, and those horse racing trophies, the Woodlawn Vase and the Queen's Plate, both first presented in 1860.
Recently a $25,000 replica of the Stanley Cup has been transported from Toronto to Chicago to Montreal and back to Chicago in the custody of Maurice (Lefty) Reid, curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Even the replica (the original is securely ensconced in the Hall of Fame in Toronto) is a treasure and Reid carted it about in the trunk of his automobile as the playoffs progressed. Safer there, he says.