SI Vault
Edited by Andrew Crichton
March 04, 1974
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March 04, 1974


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In agreeing to sit out the first three games of the season in Cincinnati so that the home fans in Atlanta might personally see him tie and/or break Babe Ruth's career home-run record of 714, Henry Aaron gets points for candor, but certainly not for logic. "What the heck, you have to look at it from the financial standpoint of the Braves," their star outfielder said last week and added, "...let's be realistic, we're not going to challenge for the Western Division title."

All right, let's be realistic. If the object is to sell seats in Atlanta Stadium, something Brave Chairman Bill Bartholomay has not been very successful at in recent years, then it is to everybody's advantage that Aaron does not hit a homer in the first game he plays there, nor in the succeeding ones. With a bum start, Aaron could fill the place for days, or until everybody got so bored with waiting they turned to spring football practice at Georgia Tech.

Not using your best—and nobody in the Braves' organization is claiming that after 20 brilliant years Aaron is now a bench sitter—is hardly better than shaving points. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn exacerbates the Cincinnati-Aaron- Atlanta situation when he intimates he is powerless to act, that it is not for him to tell a team what players' names to write on the lineup card. Ordinarily he would be right, but this is no ordinary circumstance. If, finally, only quick dollars and cents count, they are illusory. Aaron may sell out the stadium once or twice, but after that only a team with a chance to win the division title is going to keep the crowds coming. To build a better house, you use your hammer. Starting with the first nail.

Streaking, for gentler readers who may not have heard, is the latest campus craze. The beauty of the sport, which is played by boys and girls, is that it does not require shoulder pads or monogrammed sweaters or field-hockey sticks. At any old hour of the day students by the horde erupt from their dormitories and go dashing around the campus for half a mile or so until exhaustion or the cops overtake them. At the moment Western Carolina U. of Cullowhee, N.C. is claiming the championship on the basis of 141 streakers: 113 men and 28 women. But raw data are hard to come by and as the weather ameliorates the figures are bound to increase. The naked truth is, streakers do their thing bare.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture can get sticky when it comes to importing parrots, which are notorious disease carriers. But where there's a dollar there's a way, or at least so thought some smarties. Recently U.S. Customs men searching a car at Laredo on the Mexican border discovered a secret compartment in the firewall. It was filled with socks and each sock contained a parrot too drowsy to talk. The birds had been fed corn drenched in tequila to keep them from chattering till they got across the border. After testing the parrots for psittacosis, the department might ask Alcoholics Anonymous what to do next.


False starts are the bane of track meets. This year, promoters of the Texas, Kansas and Kentucky relays are going to do something about them, but if there ever was a case of the cure being worse than the disease, this seems to be it.

Beginning with the Texas Relays in mid-April, only one false start will be permitted in each race, including preliminaries and finals. The very next racer to jump will be disqualified, even if he was not responsible for the first bad start.

Fine, except consider the good starter out to get an edge on the field, presumably made up of more nervous types. He jumps the gun purposely. Then at the next crack of the gun he is off to his usual smooth start while the others are sitting on their heels, terrified of being summarily dismissed. Gentlemen, restart your engines.

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