Villanova University lost six football games out of ten last year. There is not the slimmest likelihood that this year's team, by no means drenched in talent, will win a bowl bid. Still, Villanova looks forward serenely to a 100,000 sellout for its game with University of Mississippi at Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia on October 2.
Whoever wants tickets to this game can buy them in the usual way or pick them up free with the week's grocery order at an Acme Supermarket. Acme has bought 85,000 tickets to the game. Last week the chain began giving them away with the groceries in 165 of its stores, just as last year it gave away 58,000 to the Villanova-Georgia game. Ninety-eight thousand persons showed up for that one, many of them housewives who never before had seen football but could not resist a bargain. Average attendance at Villanova games in recent years has been ten or twelve thousand.
Villanova's inventive approach to ticket selling, from the promotive brain of Ambrose Dudley, athletics director, has inspired merchandising schemes at other colleges. A chain-store company guaranteed Akron University $10,000 for its game with Wittenberg College on September 25, the chain selling tickets at half price, two for a dollar. For $5, Stanford University is putting out a "sports sampler" book, not altogether a novelty, admitting the holder to skating and the Washington State game on October 30, with the opera and dancing, too. Fordham University will offer business houses blocks of seats for some of its games, the tickets to be distributed to customers as entertainment expense.
Entire families turned out for the Villanova-Georgia game last year, with Mom supplying the tickets, Dad advising on the finer points of the game, like who's got the ball. This year, as last, Villanova is holding out 15,000 seats for students, alumni, opponents and regular customers and expects them to be mightily outnumbered.
With a $10 grocery order the customer gets a $2.50 ticket, and a $3.80 ticket with each $15 order. Last year people came to Philadelphia from as far as Allentown, 50 miles away, to do their week's food shopping.
S. Spencer Heaney, Acme sales manager, recalled the poignant predicament of a husband whose wife, seeing the final-day advertisement for free tickets, shooed him out to the store with a long grocery list and $30. At the checking counter, his shopping done, the husband asked eagerly for his three football tickets. The checker looked at him blankly. The unfortunate fellow had done his shopping at the A & P. Almost in tears, the husband appealed to Heaney as a sales manager and a member of the sex and Heaney, understanding the confusion which overwhelms men in supermarkets, gave him three tickets.
Ed Rommel, the American League umpire, received a summons to grand jury duty in Baltimore last week but asked for and received a stay until the American League season is over, a gesture of professional courtesy if ever there was one. When Rommel does sit with the grand jury it would be fascinating to breach the privacy of the hearings and watch him in action. Does he sit quietly, listening and deliberating? Or does he, when the district attorney raises his voice in loud argument for indictment, glare back, draw out his watch and indicate just 20 seconds more of this, Buster, and out you go?
Polo for the people
While the country has been gawking at attendance records set by Milwaukee's Braves this year, few have noted another Milwaukee sports miracle, of lesser stature but no less extraordinary?a sudden upsurge of popular, shirt-sleeved interest in polo.
Not since the 1930s, when international matches on Long Island drew crowds of 40,000 or more, has there been so much broad interest in polo?not just on Long Island but throughout the country, especially in the Middle West and most particularly in Milwaukee. On a farm eight miles north by northwest of the shrieking home of the Braves, 51,869 spectators have attended 13 games this season, almost four times as many as were drawn all of last year.