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After the owners of the contraband signed documents declaring that the seizure had taken place and agreed that the golf equipment would not be removed from club property, the Mounties released everything to the technical custody of club professionals. Duties and penalties could double the original cost of the U.S. purchases, but Inspector Paul Thivierge of the Mounties indicated that the bite might not be that severe. The point of the raids, apparently, was to remind Canadians that they better remember to whip out their pitching wedges and gooseneck putters at customs as they stream north with bargains.
SEX AND THE SINGLE MONSTER
The hunt for the Loch Ness monster goes on, perhaps now to become an X-rated attraction. Members of a fire station at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England decided to try raw sex as a lure to catch the beastie. They built a female monster siren of wood and papier-m�ch�, with enormous eyelashes, pink lips, red eyes, smoke-snorting nostrils and a truly grotesque mating call—a tape recording of a love-starved bull walrus. The sex machine was floated across the lake on six 40-gallon oil drums with two intrepid firemen inside operating the controls. The firemen had a safety hatch handy to escape a fate worse than death in the event Nessie appeared, eyes gleaming. But, alas, no Nessie, and the contraption was raffled off to raise funds for the firemen's benevolent fund.
In 1970, Charles S. Feeney's first season as president of the National League, Pitcher Juan Marichal swore he could feel a difference between baseballs bearing Feeney's signature and those signed by outgoing President Warren C. Giles. That's how players are. The slightest change in a baseball, real or imaginary, becomes the cause of wild pitches, home runs, batting slumps. Imagine, then, the avalanche of complaints we'll be hearing beginning in 1977, when for the first time in 101 years the name Spalding will not appear on a major league ball.
Last week, Feeney and American League President Lee MacPhail signed 10-year contracts with Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., which will supplant Spalding as the exclusive supplier of baseballs to the majors. Anticipating criticism, Feeney, MacPhail and Rawlings assured the 24 big-league clubs that the switch was made with "quality as the No. 1 criterion." Sharing that No. 1 spot was money: for the last few years Spalding and professional baseball have haggled long and hard over costs and, considering a well-kept secret the Rawlings people divulged last week, it is no wonder.
For despite the new name, the Rawlings baseball is no stranger to the majors, and in recent years Spalding has functioned as something of a middleman. From 1968 to 1970 Rawlings supplied Spalding with 70,000 dozen blank baseballs, which the latter stamped with its own trademark and distributed. In 1971 and 1972 Rawlings even stamped "Spalding" on the balls before handing them over. Finally, in 1973, when cowhide replaced the traditional but increasingly scarce horsehide in the manufacture of baseballs, Rawlings decided to let Spalding fend for itself. That didn't work out too well, either for Spalding or the majors. Now Rawlings is back, out of the closet, stamping its own name on cowhide balls headed for the majors.
Of course, it's only a matter of time until the first pitcher mutters that he can't get a proper grip on the new balls, the first fielder complains that they take funny bounces and the first batter says they don't sound right when you hit them.