Floridians seem to be captivated by computers nowadays. A computerized tote system at Pompano Park allows a bettor to make 12 varieties of wagers on a single ticket from one window, at which the clerk can be both seller and cashier. For instance, a bettor can ask for a straight win, place or show bet, play a quinella or perfecta, and box or wheel a trifecta, all at once. And he can cash his ticket from the previous race at the same time.
Nicknamed the "Spanish Tote," the system is the creation of Juan de la Cierva, an inventor from Madrid. Pompano Park first tried it at its quarter-horse meeting last summer, then put the system into full gear for its current harness-racing season. The results have been spectacular. The meeting's average handle is up from $293,000 last year to $359,000 this season. The new prosperity has enabled Pompano to increase its purses to attract better horses, which in turn attract more patrons.
However, the new system is not without its bugs. One night in January the computers broke down and Pompano had to run its 12-race program without wagering, and refund admission money for some 7,000 bettors. But the track remains enthused. The next step in automated betting will be do-it-yourself wagers, in which horseplayers will have their own accounts to bet with, similar to the automatic cash machines used by banks.
One interesting side effect of the Pompano system: the floors are cleaner because there are fewer tickets and the tickets that are sold are more likely to have a winner on them. That's bad news for "stoopers," who search the floors for winning tickets inadvertently discarded.
THE OLD SHILL GAME
Rod Hundley, who broadcasts New Orleans Jazz games, was in Atlanta last week with the team when he was interviewed by a sportswriter for The Constitution. In the interview, Hundley called Jazz Coach Elgin Baylor "stubborn as hell...not a student of the game...lazy," and added that Baylor "doesn't take as many time-outs as he should. A lot of time our players' tongues are hanging out, and he doesn't call time." The interview appeared on a day the Jazz lost to the Hawks in overtime, and the incensed Baylor said the remarks upset both him and the team. " Hundley's remarks were ill-timed," says Jazz chief operating officer Larry Hatfield, who fined Hundley an undisclosed amount. The fine is another reminder that although pro teams like the public to think their broadcasters are independent journalists, they often regard them as little more than shills.
NOT SO HEADY EDDIE
Eddie Stanky, who was known to look for the edge when he was playing and managing in the major leagues, is the baseball coach at the University of South Alabama. In the top of the first inning of the first of two games against the University of New Orleans last week, Stanky, who was wearing a business suit and his red South Alabama hat, called from the dugout for the removal of Assistant Coach Tom Schwaner of New Orleans from the first-base coaching box. New Orleans Coach Ron Maestri was in the third-base box, and Stanky pointed out to the umpires that the collegiate rule book says a player has to coach at either first or third.
After Schwaner left the field, Maestri shouted, "We can play like that, too!" So in the bottom half of the first, he told the plate umpire the rule book says the coach of a team must be dressed in a uniform. Stanky had to leave. New Orleans won 10-3. For the second game, Stanky put on his uniform, and South Alabama won 6-4.