E.B. White, who died last week at the age of 86 at his saltwater farm in Maine, was a children's-book author, poet, essayist and writing stylist. He wrote with wit and grace. He was an astute commentator on a great variety of subjects, sports included. White's favorite sporting pastime was sailing, and the sentiment he expressed in 1963 could be understood by any athlete who finds his skills eroded by time:
"With me, I cannot not sail. Yet I know well enough that I have lost touch with the wind and, in fact, do not like the wind anymore. It jiggles me up, the wind does, and what I really love are windless days, when all is peace. There is a great question in my mind whether a man who is against wind should longer try to sail a boat. But this is an intellectual response—the old yearning is still in me, belonging to the past, to youth, and so I am torn between past and present, a common disease of later life."
HOLD THAT LINE
On March 30, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute beat Providence 2-1 in Detroit to win the NCAA hockey championship. The next morning two RPI students, Bruce Carroll and Jamie York, showed up outside the student union on their school's campus in Troy, N.Y. and formed a line to buy season tickets for the 1985-86 season. The tickets weren't due to go on sale until Sept. 25, but Carroll, York and their brothers in the Psi U fraternity were willing to take turns waiting 179 days for the window to open. Anything for good seats.
Carroll and York were upholding a three-decade-old RPI tradition of student groups trying to outdo one another in line-sitting for hockey tickets. The previous long-wait record was 33 days, set by a group of ROTC students in 1983, but now, with the Engineers the NCAA champions, tickets obviously were really worth waiting for.
The Psi U effort took stamina. During the summer term, fraternity members studied as they sat in a wading pool brought to the scene. They also hooked up a stereo system, for where would the guys be without their rock 'n' roll? As Sept. 25 neared, other students joined the Psi U contingent on the line. During the last week of waiting there were egg fights and keg parties.
Two weeks ago, a few hours before the ticket window opened, members of RPI's hockey team waited on the waiters, serving them a continental breakfast. RPI president Daniel Berg doled out doughnuts. Then, at last, the window opened. The fraternity had the right to purchase 32 seats, but bought only 19. Was the wait worth it? "Sure," said junior Bryan Basham. "It was a lot easier to study on line than in the frat house."
OOPS, GUESS WE JUST DID
Reggie Jackson has had it with sports-writers questioning whether he and Dave Kingman, another home run king with a middling lifetime batting average, belong in the Hall of Fame. "You can say I stink," says Reggie. "But don't put me in the same story with that guy."
400 WINS AND COUNTING
So Grambling's Eddie Robinson now is the winningest coach in college football history with 324 victories (page 32). And the late George Halas owns the NFL record with 326 wins. But who's the winningest football coach of them all? Gordon Wood, 71, who last Friday rang up victory No. 400 as Brownwood ( Texas) High beat Crowley 15 to 9.
SOME GOOD NEWS FOR MEXICO
In the wake of the two massive earthquakes that caused more than 5,500 deaths in Mexico came rumblings that next year's World Cup soccer tournament, scheduled from May 31 to June 29 in Mexico City, might have to be moved to another country. Two weeks ago the International Soccer Federation ( FIFA) chose to stick with Mexico City. Nervous Mexican soccer officials had flown to Zurich to assure FIFA that the stadiums and hotels planned for World Cup use were intact, and that "The safety of players and visitors is guaranteed." They pleaded that depriving their already distraught country of the tournament would be "a cruel blow." The last World Cup netted host Spain some $15 million, and quaketorn Mexico, more than ever, needs the money the event can generate.