Whatever happens to our Davis Cup team in Australia later this month, it is clear that the U.S. has already won the international tennis competition for poor sportsmanship and bad manners. In tournaments leading up to Davis Cup play, our boys, when annoyed, have been heaving their rackets into the air and the nets, banging balls into the crowds and swearing under their breath loudly enough to be heard around the world. Barry MacKay, as might have been expected from past performance, has led all the rest, but Earl Buchholz has thrown his racket skillfully, Dennis Ralston has proved a dedicated sulker and Chuck McKinley has shown ability to drop-kick either the racket or the ball when he doesn't agree with an official call.
There are, of course, many precedents for tennis tantrums. Bill Tilden was the terror of linesmen and spectators alike; Suzanne Lenglen often behaved in a manner that would make Maria Callas sound like Goldilocks; Pancho Gonzales has done everything but take off his sneakers and pound them on the court a la Khrushchev. While there is never an adequate excuse for bad manners in sport, it is worth noting that Tilden, Lenglen and Gonzales were champions. Perhaps their excellence earned them a special measure of tolerance. MacKay, Buchholz, et al. aren't good enough to be rude.
George MacIntyre enjoyed a brief and spectacular career as a University of Miami quarterback. MacIntyre went into Miami's final game with a record of having played exactly zero official minutes this year. All he had done was hold the ball for place kicks. Then came his big moment. Against Air Force he went in to hold for a field goal, took the snap from center and fired a nine-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful fake. Coach Andy Gustafson was so impressed he left MacIntyre in. MacIntyre quickly responded by calling his own number. He hurtled into the line and broke his ankle.
UP IN TEXAS
Houston engineers are addressing themselves to an age-old riddle: How high is up? They're building an enclosed stadium for the new Houston entry in the National League, and the translucent plastic dome must be high enough to clear pop-ups, home runs and foul balls. How high is up?
Nobody knows. One study produced the figure 176 .feet. But this study was made in Brooklyn, and therefore is suspect. The generally accepted figure is 200 feet, but nobody knows whether this is correct, either. Some oldtimers claim that Babe Ruth hit pop-ups that came down covered with hoarfrost from the high reaches of the atmosphere. In this era Mickey Mantle and Rocky Colavito are noted for the altitude of their pop-ups.
The Houston club officials have vowed that no athlete appearing there shall be inhibited by the roof. This week a helicopter will fly over the site of the park. Down below, a bunch of the boys equipped with fungo bats will have the time of their lives smacking pop-ups and tipping fouls. The 'copter will take precise measurements, and the question of how high is up will finally be answered.
THE INSIDE TRACK
?Athletic directors who believe college football and marriage do not mix well (and there are many such gentlemen) should know that of the 11 men chosen for the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Star team, nine are married, three are fathers.