Actor Paul Newman, who shares with Steve McQueen and James Garner the dreams of checkered flags, checked his initials on the side of his Datsun 510 before settling in for a practice run at the Road Atlanta Raceway in Flowery Branch, Ga. He said this was not for publicity and, honest engine, it wasn't. He smashed against an embankment, badly damaging the Datsun, but escaped only shaken. Car and driver patched up by last Sunday, Newman finished ninth in a field of 24 cars.
From bottom man in a human pyramid to bottom man in human pileups, that's the story of University of Miami Middle Guard Tony Cristiani. He is a member of the Cristiani circus family and has been a bareback rider, wire walker, trapeze acrobat and even a clown, but he is certainly no clown on the football field. He began sneaking off to high school practices when he was 15 and became so good that Baylor Coach Grant Teaff said, "He's the kind who makes you demote your center after you've played him."
Debbie Van Kiekbelt, Canada's pretty pentathlon gold-medal winner at the 1971 Pan-American Games, intends to be a sportswriter. She has enrolled in the three-year journalism course at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, motivated in part, she says, by all the inaccurate stories that have been written about her. She has already formulated a golden rule of accuracy: "Before my story goes to press, I'm going to check back with the source and see that all the facts are straight." And how has she progressed? "I haven't been able to do that yet. All they want me to practice is obituaries."
Here is a nice, dryly ironic little report from Our Man in Boston: "Bob McManama is a rookie center for the Pittsburgh Penguins who played hockey at Harvard the past four years," OMiB says. "McManama was not drafted by any NHL club when he was 19, the draft age, but when he finished his last college season two clubs put him on their negotiation lists. Buffalo put the name of one Bob McNamara, Harvard, on its list. Pittsburgh, noting Buffalo's mistake, carefully wrote down 'Bob McManama, Harvard.' " Pittsburgh was given the rights to McManama, and Buffalo lost him—and that could spell disaster.
The Collectors' Corner: autographed baseballs are the current hot items. John Bolig, a University of Delaware researcher, went to a New York auction of memorabilia from the estate of baseball nut Alphonse Leveque and got a Babe Ruth-autographed ball for $200. He would have been willing to go as high as $500 to get the sportsman's treasure. A 1936 Yankee ball with the signatures of Ruth and Casey Stengel brought the day's high bid at $320. And the bidding has already begun for Henry Aaron's 715th home run ball, sure to come early next season. San Francisco restaurant owner William Monro says he'll pay $10,000 for the ball, which he hopes will be struck in Atlanta's first series of '74, versus the Giants in Candlestick Park.
If Cincinnati Lineman-Pianist Mike Reid has not already persuaded the public that athletics and art can mix, Harvard Defensive Tackle Mike O'Hare has the convincer. He toured Europe last summer to sing with the school's glee club. "We visited a little village back in the Welsh coal-mining country," said the 225-pounder, "and they had an all-male choir of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard. Now these guys were all coal miners and rugby players—some of the strongest men I've met. But they thought nothing of getting off work, practicing their rugby for a couple of hours, then going inside and practicing choral numbers. It's a real thrill to find a combination of strength and beauty like that."
When Goalie Ken Dryden decided to sit out his option rather than stop pucks for the Montreal Canadiens for a measly $120,000 a year, he took a relatively safe $7,000-a-year interim job with a Toronto law firm. But Dryden could not resist getting out on the ice twice a week with the Vulcan Industrial Packaging team, even paying a share of the club's ice-time fees. Although he still wears his goalie's skates, he's a defenseman. In one game he was checked headfirst into the boards. The result: seven stitches and a puffy right eye. "It's three more stitches than I received in the last 10 years playing goal," Dryden said.
Amazing sights are commonplace in Pennsylvania high school football—after all, Joe Namath, George Blanda, Leon Hart and recruiters know who come out of the state. But a four-armed official? Not even in Pennsylvania. What happened at this game between Bedford and Ligonier Valley was that photographer Ernie Sistek, with a sharp eye for symmetry, caught two officials signaling for a time-out. So what if one of them forgot that arms widespread denotes unsportsmanlike conduct?