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Fred Spiller, truck driver, father of five, peaceful Wichita ( Kans.) citizen, is now out $25 and has a police record. Or he will have if he loses his appeal. The crime? He picked up a baseball hit 390 feet over the fence and into the gutter of a neighboring street.
Detective Floyd Powell, assigned to the intracity game between the South Riverside Baptist Church and the Service Auto Glass teams, came down from the bleachers and ordered Spiller to return the ball. Spiller refused, contending that a ball hit into the stands or over the fence belongs to the spectator. "Come with me," ordered Powell.
Judge Cliff W. Ratner agreed with the detective that in non-league games the ball belongs to the team even though, as expert witnesses testified, it is the custom in major league games to let the finder be the keeper. The municipal court judge ruled against Spiller despite what the judge called his lawyer's "poignant and beautiful" arguments, finding him guilty of petty larceny. Spiller feels there is a principle involved and plans to appeal to the district court, where he will be entitled to a jury trial. And if he loses there, he will go even higher. Apparently there has been no court ruling on a similar case in baseball history. Go get 'em, Fred.
In late summer each year flocks of migrating robins gather in Canada's maritime provinces on their way to the U.S. They are a hungry lot because extensive Canadian crop spraying has largely eliminated the bud worms and other insects that are the natural food of the robin. What they have turned to as a substitute is the blueberry. As a result, the Canadian government is contemplating a massive slaughter of tens of thousands of the birds this August and September.
Last year, according to The Fund for Animals, Inc. of Washington, D.C., one Canadian farmer boasted that he had shot some 7,000 robins on his 200-acre farm. One of America's most popular songbirds and the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin, the robin can be prevented, by nonlethal means, from devastating blueberry crops. In the northeastern U.S. this is done by placing netting over the berries.
Though conceding that the robin is not yet an endangered species, The Fund for Animals fears that it will become one if its mass destruction should develop into an annual event. According to the Fund, robins are even now thought to be experiencing reproductive difficulties and population decreases from the widespread use of pesticides, though "hard evidence is difficult to come by."
"The elimination of these robins," the Fund asserts, "could result in a proliferation of insects on which the robins normally prey, which will inevitably lead to more widespread use of dangerous pesticides, which appears to be the main cause of the present problem."
Since the robin is covered in America's migratory bird treaty with Canada, Fund officials hope that the U.S. Government, specifically the Departments of Interior and State, will request that the Canadians spare the birds.
PASS, PLACE AND SHOW