It took major league baseball 99 years to score one million runs, which historic event, you may recall, occurred May 4 when the Astros' Bob Watson touched home plate. Now, how soon can we expect Run No. 2,000,000? The Seiko Time Corp. has projected that it will take place on June 12, 2042. What odds would anyone like to give that it will be scored by a woman?
Among the 37,000 spectators at last week's two-day U.S.A.-Pan Africa- West Germany track meet in Durham, N.C. were a dozen gimlet-eyed observers from American colleges who had come to recruit from the ranks of the foreigners. Top prospects were Kenyan quarter-milers Stephen Chepkwony and Francis Musyoki (although neither did particularly well in Durham), German hammer thrower Walter Schmidt (who was spectacular) and a woman high jumper from Germany, Ulrike Meyfarth, who won a gold medal at Munich when she was 16.
When Ted Banks, coach of NCAA champion University of Texas at El Paso, was told that one prospect he coveted spoke almost no English, he replied cheerily, "If the kid's good enough, there are always ways of overcoming these little obstacles."
Since parental and official forces are constantly tugging and pushing at the Little League, it is comforting to hear that the pressures of play itself are not as great as many have feared. In fact, tests on kids in action suggest that the games trigger little stress, and whatever minimal tension they produce quickly subsides. So says Dale Hanson, a phys ed teacher from the University of New Mexico, citing studies on the subject and adding a clincher based on his own research. Not only is the emotional stress inconsequential, but the games don't provide much exercise either, Hanson says; except for the pitcher and catcher, not even enough to contribute to the players' overall physical fitness.
Lest we forget, all games are played at all levels. The lowest and the least also perform, and there are standards down there, too, to be revered. Herewith, a tip of the hat to a couple of anti-winners:
The Bellingham (Wash.) Dodgers of the Class A Northwest League have just stumbled through to professional baseball's alltime worst start, with a 0-25 record (the old mark was 23, set in 1937 by Lewiston, Idaho of the Western International League). Another alltime low-water record loomed for the Dodgers last week: Granite Falls of the Western Carolina League dropped 33 games at the end of the 1951 season, the most consecutive losses ever registered in organized baseball. But Bellingham simply didn't have the non-stamina or the anti-talent to last through the long haul to 34 straight defeats: the team won last week, defeating the Eugene Emeralds 5-1 in the first game of a doubleheader.
With the pressure of maintaining a perfect record off, Dodger Manager Bill Berrier, whose club lists a 19-year-old as its oldest player, plus 12 Latins of whom 11 speak no English, sighed with relief between games. "I've never had so much notoriety for a win in my life," he said. "For the first time we've put pitching, hitting and fielding together—in some games we've had one of them, sometimes two. We got that first win, we might win 25 in a row now." Unfortunately not. In the very first inning of the second game of the doubleheader, no fewer than 13 Emeralds went to the plate, scored nine runs and went on to start a new Dodger losing streak by beating Bellingham, 14-5.
Also notably high in the ranks of sport incompetents is one Hotsy Alperstein of Chevy Chase, Md., who runs the recreation-equipment division of his family's business and claims to be America's "high gross golf champion." According to Tom Boswell of The Washington Post, Hotsy has been playing golf once a year for 17 years and has averaged 23 lost balls per round. His first 18-hole score was 137 and he has increased it annually, this year reaching 189, which Hotsy considers his alltime best. On that round he hit 14 balls into one water hazard, and he didn't count whiffs. Hotsy habitually carries five dozen balls with him when he plays. He says he once bought a new set of clubs wholesale, but "the manufacturer made me file the brand name off." He feels certain that the incredible awfulness of his golf scores constitutes a certifiable world record, but Hotsy realizes it could be even more ephemeral than most. "I guess my record could easily be broken by anyone who wasn't really trying."