SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
September 10, 1973
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September 10, 1973


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The former Baltimore Bullets, who have moved to a suburb of Washington called Largo, have been renamed the Capital Bullets, and Owner Abe Pollin has gone all the way to make capital of the new name. The seats in the new Capital Center will be red, white and blue and will be adorned with patriotic symbols: the flag, the Liberty Bell, the American eagle, the Capitol building. The players will wear red, white and blue uniforms; the shirts will have red and white horizontal stripes, and the shorts will have blue stars on a white background with red and blue trim. Opponents won't know whether to guard them or salute.

Pollin, chairman of the National Basketball Association's merger committee, has been a strong advocate of peaceful union with the rival American Basketball Association. He must want merger more than ever now, if only so his gaily bedecked team can complete the picture by using the ABA's red, white and blue basketball.


Little Fred Patek, the 5'4" shortstop of the Kansas City Royals, blew his low-level top recently at American League umpires, all of whom tower over the tiny shortstop. Patek, who used to play in the National League, said that instead of plumping for interleague play, the majors should adopt interleague umpiring, just to even things out.

"The difference between the two leagues is the umpiring," he argued. "The National League is so much better. American League umpires don't take pride in their work. They don't know what they're doing, and they don't care.

"The whole system is wrong. The umpires are always on the run and out of position. Take a steal of second. They're behind the base, on the wrong side to see the play, and they have to run to get into position to make the call. They're always running. In the National League the umpire stands in front of the base on the edge of the grass. All he has to do is turn his head and lean, and he's got the play in front of him.

"And they should do away with those big balloon chest protectors they wear behind the plate. The National doesn't have them. They get in the way. The plate umpire stands there behind that balloon and calls every pitch from the same angle. I'm 5'4" and the average player is maybe 6'1", and yet these umpires stand at the same eye level all the time. They're calling strikes on me up around the eyes. It may be a strike for taller guys, but it isn't for me. It's the same with low pitches, because they don't get their faces down there to see where the pitch is.

"I'll bet there's more griping about the umpiring in the American than the National. You come on a field and see who the umpires are, and you say to yourself, 'Oh, no, not them.' And the first thing you know you're fighting two elements, yourself and the umpires. You can't be relaxed."


A Sarasota, Fla. lawyer named Gerald C. Surfus took his family to Key West earlier this summer for some vacation fishing aboard his new 26-foot twin-engined boat, which was equipped with several thousand dollars' worth of electronic fish-finding gear. For several days the boat performed beautifully. Then one day, about 35 miles offshore, a large crack appeared across the bow. Moments later the entire front end broke off and sank. The 10 people aboard (Surfus, his wife, his sister, his parents and his five daughters) spent more than 24 hours hanging on to the remainder of the hull, which fortunately stayed afloat. During this lime they were passed by five commercial shrimp boats, none of which stopped to pick them up, even though Surfus stood on the overturned hull and waved frantically.

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